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Design Star recap and review

Alright, so the finale of Design Star is tonight, 9pm, down to Meg and Karl.  Man, i remember this day last year.  I was just so excited that the world would finally know and i didn’t have to keep it a secret anymore.  Such a relief.  These two (or mainly one) are probably freaking out, at least a little bit.  

I know i’ve been absent from Design Star reviews and here is the truth: i have more criticisms then praises so it makes it really hard to do a post because 1. i think they probably read the blog and obviously i don’t want to make anybody feel bad.  And 2. whoever ends up winning i’ll probably get to know and really like so i don’t want them coming in to the relationship with resentment.   Its so easy to pick these designs apart, but i’m putting on my design star ‘you’ve been there and done that hat’ and trying to remember how hard it is to be creative and resourceful under all the time and shopping constraints.    For the record i’ve seen their work and i think they are great designers, its just hard to be wowed by these teeny boxes.

But, at the same time I feel like i can’t start a season and not finish it and i’ve gotten many requests from readers to do the reviews.  I’m trying my best to be objective and reviewing just like i would a show that i had nothing to do with.  So here goes:   

Last week we were down to three people and they had to do this years version of the ‘Glass house’ challenge.  its like 4 square feet that apparently some people are choosing to live in.  Part of me has always wanted to live in a motorhome (oh yes, there is one in my future, i mean everything is just right there! so compact, so cute) so i kinda get it.  And lord knows i love me some miniatures (stay tuned for the dollhouse blog challenge that i’m putting together, i’m not kidding) but this challenge seems hard because its so limiting.  

It’s a total blank slate, but teeny, and they need to add in a bathroom, closet and sink area for the kitchen, plus create a second story for the bed.  

So here’s Mark.  Mark’s innovation is what i like best about him, his white box challenge is still the one stand out from this season.  Here’s what he did:

Let’s start with the positives: the area in the back has pretty great furniture and accessories.  Nothing ground-breaking but all super tasteful

I love that chevron throw and you know i love that Dwell Studio throw pillow (that is my duvet set, in that pattern an i’m telling you, its awesome…will take pics soon).  He broke up a sectional, which clearly no one would want to do, a loveseat would be better, but i’m sure the shopping constraints didn’t let him find one.  I think that the person that lives in this space is the ‘coolest’ of all three houses.  They have the most style and ultimately, yes, this is the one i would choose.  

But then there is this argyle/belt situation:

You really have to look past what it is and think about the idea behind it.  The belts could be a weird installation on a huge white wall in, say, an urban loft. Like this artist, Matthew Gibson:

worn brown leather belts woven together with vintage brass hardware could be awesome.  But his just failed.  

And i love me an argyle so i have no problem with that.  And i appreciate that he put a pattern on the wall, it made this boring space slightly more exciting.  But, ultimately, no i don’t like the end result.  It’s just a little too weird (especially for hgtv).  And frankly it didn’t look like argyle. ‘Argyling’ a wall takes like 3 coats and massive amount of taping, so he wouldn’t have been able to do it, but this guys did:

Imagine it if was navy, white and gold? forget about it.  sick.  

I do take issue with the colors of the rug and the colors on the wall.  Supes not into it.  The chairs are fine, the light bulb lamp thing works and this area seems fine to me. 

The styling was kept simple, which is always better then putting random/ugly stuff just to fill the space.  

Do i love this house? no siree, bob. But i did find it the most, hmmm, interesting.  The person that lives here is by far the coolest of the three.    

Now on the Meg:

Meg had the best, most open space plan, thats for sure.  She put the bathroom and the closet at the front of the house and left the rest of it totally open.  Those two chairs are great, and totally ‘cottage’ in a good way. And the fact that she put in a big mirror was super smart – her house looks the largest and freshest.  

Wait, i have something to say.  The person who buys and CHOOSES to live in a TINY house isn’t that concerned about space.  You know what i mean? I get it if it was a studio apartment in New York where one is kinda forced to live there because of money, but this person WANTS to limit themselves and live  in a house this small.  So, no, you don’t want it to look crazy small, but I’m less concerned about the ‘space planning’ and more concerned about what the style of the house says about the designer.  


I do really like that pink pendant. It was originally grey, so i like that she painted it pink, it pops.  

So biggest criticisms:  color palette.  Yes its bright, but yellow and green without adding in a sophisticated color (like navy or grey or TONS of white) looks like ‘fast food’ colors to me.  You know what i mean? like two colors that scream ‘pull over and eat at me’ (think Mcdonalds, taco bell, all of them really).  I google-imaged and pinterest searched for yellow and green rooms and i only found this one that didn’t instantly give me a headache:

And that is probably because there is just a hint of green and there is a ton of white, plus the light is pretty.   I like yellow, i like green, but the two of them sooo heavy in the room looks crazy and totally unsophisticated and not current.  It needs a more masculine color to ground it and balance out the kookiness.  And that color of green you have to be really really careful with, it has to be styled amazingly.  

So here are some yellow/green/grey rooms that totally work (obviously they are far superior rooms, i’m just talking about color palette)

And while this one doesn’t have green in it (below) a big fig tree could look rad in there:

So that was my issue number 1.  Crazytown color palette. 

Second? the shelves.  Too small to do anything but add clutter.  She could have built them out to actually be able to store things….

The fabric on the bench was questionable from a distance, but up close it isn’t so bad.  But those pillows are a major problem for me.

this upside down plant thing i have mixed feeling about.  I don’t like it, it looks gimmicky and bitsy in the space…..but i appreciate that she is trying something different and if done right, maybe something like this could be good.  I love air plants, so if it was a major collection of those all hung together, that could be awesome.  

So Meg’s is the brightest and happiest, but I would have to repaint and change out the pillows to spend a night there.  The easiest change would be to paint everything that was green, charcoal grey and bring green in with the accents.  

Enough raking her over the coals.  

On to Karl.  

Strangely i couldn’t find a pulled back picture of the space without him in it.  

Color wise? i can’t tell.  I think i’m ok with it especially since he has a grey sofa in the back and painted all the moulding white.  It’s more masculine and contemporary, but that’s his style.  

I don’t know why he is offering me cheerios, but yes, sure i’ll have some. thanks.

His space feels more crammed then the others, but it is also possibly cozier…which is ridiculous to say because they are all cozy, because its like 14 square feet.  

I am confused why none of them did window treatments, by the way….interesting.

I don’t mind his choices and styling here.  Its balanced and simple.  

I like this ottoman, i do.  And i like that he put a tray on top to turn it in to a table.  I take serious issue with what’s on top.  Accessories and styling is not his strong point. The flowers, frames and candles can all be chucked out that teeny tiny window.  But it looks like he put a huge mirror next to it, so that was smart.  I didn’t see that in the episode. 

This is much better. I like the stools, the West Elm stash boxes and the lamp is fine.  I HATE the bug on the wall, it looks like an outdoor decor that crazy people put on their houses.  People that keep up christmas decor year round.  And here’s a secret….the only vessels you can put on the floor HAVE to be huge.  It has to act either as a pot with a tree in it or has to interesting enough to hold its own as a sculpture. Think at least the size of a wastebasket.  Don’t i think i’m smart.  I hate how much i’m criticizing, but this is just what is happening right now.  We can all move along tomorrow.  

I do love that he chose those thistles, some of my faves.  

Overall Karl’s space is fine.  I like that he did some contrast in there.  The judges said it was too much in a small space and maybe if I was in it I would agree, but on the photos and the TV, it didn’t bother me.  

So here’s what i think:

Megs:  happiest, brightest most open. But i can’t get past those two colors.  Just can’t.  And i tried.  But i like her on camera when she is in conversation with someone else.  And she seems like she really really wants it.  Sometimes she’s a bit aggressive for me, but i’m also the most laid back host ever which is a constant problem. 

Mark:  His show is the one i would be most interested in seeing, but he doesn’t quite engage the viewers very well.  He has video blogs that i’ve watched and i find him factual and nice, but ultimately i don’t get a sense of his personality.

Karl: style-wise we couldn’t be more different. He’s contemporary (which in my book means its a style that is very now, not referencing any previous style, with new finishes and masculine lines…..aka soooo not me).  But i like his personality a lot and i think he would have a new perspective on hgtv, depending on what his show was.  

I don’t know who should have gone home.  Ultimately i do think that personality trumps design in TV land.  A fun personality doing a relatively cliche design show is way more ‘successful’ then a stiff personality doing a innovative design show. These are not my opinions, these are the facts.  Finding the person that has both is really really hard.  So that is why i think Mark got sent packing, he was slightly less engaging then Karl and Meg – or at least thats how he came off.  Maybe he’ll win the online show (you can vote HERE).  I’m not saying you should vote for him, but vote for whoever you didn’t get enough of.  

So don’t forget:  Design Star Finale tonight, 9pm, 6pm pst.  

PLUS, my HGTV’d episode is airing this sunday, 8pm (5pm pst).  I haven’t watched it yet, so i’m soooooo excited to see how it turns out as it was one of the best weeks of my life.  (in Austin, AMAZING family, incredible crew, just fun fun fun).  But, I can’t wait to tell you how i did something stylistically i promised myself i would never ever ever ever ever ever do.  It’s hilarious.  (and totally reversable, so nothing the homeowners had to live with).


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