I really enjoyed last night’s fourth episode of HGTV’s Design Star because the show is down to eight contestants (from 12 originally), which makes it so much easier to follow all the ideas and the action.
Plus, the challenge – which divided the contestants into pairs to makeover indoor and outdoor spaces – was an interesting one with real clients and real client reactions. I should say that I assume it was real – at least as real as it is on any of these shows.
Here are some things I loved in this episode:
- The interesting use of reclaimed wood, in one case for a chevron-patterned fence and in another to make a wooden awning, which was something like a pergola but different.
- Log tables! Regular readers know I adore log tables and these were especially cool because designer Kris hollowed out small holes and filled them with succulents.
- Realistic room designs. These were spaces that families could actually live in, which isn’t always the case.
For me, this was also an episode full of surprises about who did well – and who didn’t.
Host David Bromstad divided the designers into two teams of four and assigned each group a home. Then the team members divided themselves into two groups of two – one to handle an indoor living space and the other to redo the backyard.
The houses appeared to be similar with combination living and dining rooms that opened onto outdoor patios. (You can see an interior “before” photo above and an outdoor “before” below.) Both backyards had pools and too much concrete.
There was no budget – at least not one we learned about.
The couple says they want want to be able to entertain and are going for a “sophisticated flea market feel.” They love earth tones and want to bring in some green.
In the yard, the husband wants to cover up some of the cement and keep the view, while still shading from the neighbors. And the wife loves a chevron pattern.
The couple says they want more space for entertaining but still need a family friendly room to accommodate their 4-year-old daughter. They describe their style as contemporary Scandinavian and said they like blues and grays with a little sparkle.
They also want to replace a metal awning over their back patio.
A few words about the teams…
Mikel and Hilari get along like brother and sister. Even with they disagree or argue, they seem to find a way to work it out. When Hilari picked out a big sectional for the room, Mikel initially balked.
“This is not to scale,” Mikel complained. “I just don’t want to put a sofa in the room because it’s large. If you’re going to put something in the client’s home, it really needs to work”
Then when it looked great in the room, Mikel owned up that he was wrong. So refreshing.
Stanley and Britany seem to get along OK but Britany is concerned about the number of projects Stanley is taking on. “I wouldn’t stress it,” he tells her. Naturally, they both stress it later.
And the team of Daniele and Miera makes me question my previous assumption that Kris had been the problem in his pairing with Miera last week. Now, I think maybe it was Miera. She’s struggling to get along with Daniele, who has seemed quite talented and easy to get along with.
“Don’t worry,” Miera finally snaps. “I know what I’m doing.”
You know when you hear words like that at the beginning of an episode, they’re probably going to come back to haunt you. Stay tuned!
The camera challenges:
This week, David tells the designers they must create a 30-second video spot in which they provide a tip for bringing the outdoor in or the indoors out for less than $100. Most of these ideas are decent – but I can’t say the same for all the presentations.
Miera is terrible. She’s framing some fabric or something – it’s honestly hard to tell – and she’s flat and lifeless. “Your energy is so low,” David tells her.
Mikel (at right with David) has an interesting idea to rip the covers off some books, burn the edges with a lighter and then wrap them in twine. Britany hangs some dinner plates up outside. Stanley demonstrates how to make a wooden wall sconce with a candle. And Daniele paints a stem of leaves with gold metallic paint and frames it.
Kris has my favorite project. He brings home a free tumbleweed from the garden store and inserts some an umbrella lighting kit to create an outdoor chandelier. Cute.
Rachel – who has been the strongest designer so far – just flubs her challenge. She suggests bringing plastic, waterproof toys from inside and using them outside.
“It’s not designery whatsoever,” David tells her. “I know,” she says, dejected.
Finally, Hilari inserts some eucalyptus into a clear lamp base and shows some charm in her video. “You were clear and concise,” David tells her. “Your personality was very strong.”
I actually like all the spaces, although there are certainly some flaws – including a few major ones.
Mikel & Hilari’s living/dining space:
This room is gorgeous. They’ve put a sea foam green on the wall that is modern and elegant. They hang straw-colored drapes around the sliding glass door, paint a fireplace white and accessorize just enough.
They have an art wall above the gorgeous light-colored sectional that Hilari had insisted on.
Mikel uses reclaimed wood to make a new mirror look old. It definitely hits the sophisticated flea market look the family was seeking.
The judges love it all.
Guest judge Sabrina Soto from HGTV’s The High Low Project says the room is very inviting with great texture.
Vern calls it warm and bright. “The space plan is perfect,” he says.
And Vern is crazy about Mikel’s mirror. “It lends so much warmth and flavor to this space,” he says.
Stanley & Britany’s backyard:
Stanley took a ridiculous number of carpentry projects in this space and becomes less a designer and more of a contractor. Britany, meanwhile, is designing.
She creates the drawing for a chevron-patterned fence that will give the family some privacy; Stanley builds it.
Britany designs a cabana – which Stanley builds – and makes gorgeous drapes that she staples to hang from the top.
Stanley also builds a small deck out of reclaimed wood, which seems practical and really helps break up all that concrete.
The result is a good-looking yard. I’d only change what I think was a sort of chevron touch on the cabana, which is too much and makes it cluttered.
The judges are pleased, although Genevieve thinks the cabana area lacks color. It’s a fair point.
Vern calls the chevron fence “so cool” because it’s both practical and artistic.
Sabrina loves the cabana and especially the fabric panels.
Genevieve thinks the wood deck makes a huge improvement. But she’s head over heals for the chevron fence, particularly because the upper edge is made up of a series of points, instead of a top ledge.
Still, Vern warns Stanley that he can’t keep relying on his carpentry skills. HGTV is looking for a designer to host a show, not simply someone who can execute.
(Remember a few seasons back when that Antonio guy won. He was all contractor too. What happened to him?)
Miera & Daniele:
As I mentioned above, these are struggling from the get-go.
Miera wants to create a huge built in that even the carpenter says is too ambitious for the three-day timeline. Miera eventually settles on a semi-custom look that will include purchased cabinets (which turn out to be more like dressers) and custom-built shelves around them.
Daniele is still skeptical but finally gives in and lets Miera have her way. The carpenter seems uncertain she can get the work done.
Then, Miera calls the carpenter with the wrong dimensions – or at least that’s what appears to have happened – and the carpenter has to redo a significant amount of work. Miera gets frustrated and takes that out on Daniele, telling her she needs a new attitude. It seems obvious – at least from the HGTV editing – that Miera is the one in trouble.
However, Daniele gets so obsessed with helping Meira get this built-in done that she doesn’t finish her own work, which involves artwork and bringing in the sparkle the homeowner requested.
At first glance, the room is pretty. It has gray walls and a darker gray sofa, an armless light colored chair and another arm chair. The built-ins are white and dark wood and are in theory practical.
There’s a gray rug and a very cool chandelier.
But Sabrina is quick to point out the problems as the camera closes in on details, including dripping paint.
“Why customize something and not finish it. There are still unfinished edges,” she says. “It doesn’t seem like they finished painting. The art is on the floor. They clearly ran out of time.”
Vern likes an entry table vignette that Daniele created using a sleek table and silver accents. It’s very pretty. “This feeling needs to be manifested throughout entire space,” Vern says.
Rachel & Kris backyard space:
Rachel and Kris seem to get along pretty well, which I credit largely to Rachel, who seems to be perhaps the most mature contestant on the show.
Kris comes up with a fantastic idea to use some logs to create tables with succulents growing out of them. I want to try this so badly!
It’s got the open beams like a pergola but it is slanted down from the top of the house like an awning. Great idea.
But then Rachel sort of goes off the rails a bit.
She’s missing her daughter, whom she’s left at home to try to become the Design Star.
There’s a cute little table and chairs with a small umbrella that I really like – and that seems practical.
But then she’s taken one of those pink plastic toy stoves and screwed it to the fence. I think it’s atrocious. I know that kids have kids toys and some of them are ugly, but I don’t think pink plastic needs to be bolted to the fence so it never gets put away out of sight!
I’m not the only one who hates it. The judges are really disappointed in that part of the yard, although their major complaint seems to be that it was set up near the garbage area, which I had not initially noticed.
“That seems a little bizarre,” Sabrina says.
Genevieve is pleased, though, that the resulting space will seat so many more people and she also loves the wood awning. “It feels light and airy,” Vern adds.
Sabrina can’t get enough of the succulent logs and wants to take one home. (Not if I get there first, sister.)
The winners and losers:
Hilari (at right with Mikel) had just not been impressive and I frankly thought this would be her weekend to go home. The most interesting thing Id’ seen of her in the first three episodes is that she didn’t appear to panic when Daniele made a mistake last week that hurt their room.
“You have an energy that works really well on camera,” Vern tells her.
Then when David Bromstad reveals the room to the homeowners, they are just thrilled.
“This looks amazing,” the wife says. “This does not feel like the same space to me. Wow. They did a great job. They really listened to what we said.”
Vern called Hilari’s choice of the Tibetan cabinet “exceptional” and Sabrina said she and Mikel achieved the “collected look” in just days instead of years.
It’s no surprise that Hilari is the winner – and deserved it.
Mikel, Britany, Stanley and Kris are also safe.
The bottom three are Miera, Daniele and Rachel. (Danielle and Miera are in the photo above.)
Miera (at right) is in trouble largely because of her unfinished built in project, which also just didn’t look as good as it should have.
Rachel is in the bottom because of her bizarre use of the plastic toys near the trash cans.
And Daniele is in the bottom because she failed to get her art projects done and let Miera run all over her.
In the end, Vern tells Miera she’s out.
It seemed the right choice.
In past episodes, Daniele and Rachel have shown they have some exceptional ideas and great vision. They both just need to get back to what they do best.
Next week: The designers will create a Hollywood party.