There were some beautiful rooms and a few disasters – plus lots of rushing around to get these spaces done quickly – so the episode was dramatic and fun.
Plus, Vanilla Ice was the guest judge. I’m a product of the 80s and continue to be fascinated by the transformation of this former rapper’s career, so that made his appearance a bonus.
(When I saw a preview in which Vanilla Ice actually told a designer, “If there’s a problem, you gotta solve it,” – a reference to one of his song lyrics – I actually laughed out loud!)
First, I’ll remind you that I’m personally judging this season at least in part on whether I find ideas that are inspirational. After all, what’s the point of giving a designer his own show if he can’t motivate me to try something new!
- Amazing, graphic painting – on walls, cabinets and even rugs. These were all things (except maybe some phenomenal hand painting) that most of us could accomplish with a little trial and error.
- Mixed patterns. I love how a great designer can mix different patterns and still make a room feel cohesive. We saw that last night in Rachel’s room.
- Fun light fixtures. My favorite was the chandelier created by Britany (at right) that incorporated a lattice panel, varying lengths of gold chain and an inverted table lamp.
- Rope walls. Actually, I first saw this idea at ModHomeEc studio where I take my upholstery classes (a project featured in so many places, I’ll bet Design Star contestant Mikel got the idea there) but it still looked cool.
OK. On to the competition…
This week’s challenge was the traditional white box room. Each contestant gets a 10x10-foot, three-walled room with a sofa, two lattice-sided end tables, rug, a simple white sofa (or maybe loveseat), a table lamp, and three plain cabinets. As you might have guessed, everything is white.
This year there is a little twist. The boxes have been constructed at Union Station in Los Angeles and the public is watching the designers’ progress.
The designers will get $1,000 and an hour to shop at a home improvement store for all the supplies they’ll use for the room.
“You can do anything you want,” he tells them. “It does not have to be functional. But your room should express something about you and your design point of view.” Also, the designers must “transform” something.
Oh! And there’s going to be a camera challenge. I’m thrilled by this news. The winner will, after all, host a TV show.
First comes the shopping and you get the idea that Jordan (at right) is in trouble. He walks around aimlessly without a cart and finally – at the last minute – finds some Japanese-style garden pieces that he buys.
But it’s easy to see right away too that Bex has some interesting ideas for using PVC pipe and Stanley is going to do something innovative with lights.
Hilari had a neat idea to make her space feel like a jewelry box but acknowledges right away she has no idea how to use any tools. Hmm. That doesn’t bode well.
Here’s how everyone does:
Britany: She creates a beautiful space. Before painting the walls a deep blue, Britany uses tape to mask off lines that will look like molding. The finished walls are striking and look like a high-end dining room.
She’s the maker of the interesting chandelier I mentioned earlier with the chains, the inverted lamp and lattice panel. It’s a real focus and also serves as the piece she is transforming in her camera challenge. I love it and so do the judges.
On the back wall, Britany has hung an interesting wooden art piece, although we never get the story of how it’s made. There’s also a red and white striped rug.
Vanilla Ice (I just can’t call him by his real name, Robert Van Winkle) calls it “nautical.”
“My absolute favorite thing in here is the light fixture,” Vern Yipp says. “I love it when someone activates the ceiling.”
The third judge – Genevieve Gorder – says the gold touches make the room.
Bex: First, Bex is quickly becoming one of my favorites, although I can’t quite pinpoint why. She’s just quirky.
She has an interesting idea to take PVC pipe cut at various lengths to create a wall across the 10-foot opening of the room, with a circle in the middle through which the judges can peer in.
But she’s trying to cut the PVC on a table saw (why not a compound miter saw?) and fellow designers tell her she’s going to cut off a finger. So she stops and is lost. David stops by and tells her not to be discouraged. “It sounds like a really cool idea,” he tells Bex. “Go with your instincts. This is your opportunity to show us how resourceful you are.”
So a reenergized Bex builds some wood grids that will sit to the sides – still framing the entrance – and puts the PVC ends she’s already cut into the grid openings. It’s cool.
The walls of her space are purple, which makes the white PVC really pop, and she hangs the cabinets on the walls. She creates a medallion on the back wall using a grill top and paints a silhouette of a woman on the front. Then she uses pennies to accent the art piece. Sounds odd, I know, but it’s effective.
“The profile is so powerful,” Vern says of the art. He calls the room “really inventive.”
Vanilla Ice is focused on the PVC. “It’s amazing how many different things you can do with that,” he says.
Hilari – Hilari’s goal is to transform her space into a “jewelry box,” an idea I can admire but am skeptical about because they are shopping at a hardware store. She doesn’t make me feel any better about it when she acknowledges her lack of DIY experience.
Still, she has a fun idea of putting gold beading on the piping lines of the white sofa and then hanging short lengths of the beads – they look like those Mardi Gras beads you get at the Dollar Store – from the bottom. Applying the beads is Hilari’s camera challenge.
She paints the walls a pale, mint green that I could never live with and leaves a wide, white stripe down the back with some kind of square design in the middle. There are black and white stripes on the floor and several plants.
To me, this room is a yawner. The judges think so too.
“The chain trim is the most impactful piece,” Genevieve said (are they chains instead of beads?). “I wish there was more of it.”
“The glitz and glamor can really make for a powerful statement,” Vern adds. “But you have to own it. I think it’s disappointing.”
Rachel – You may recall that Rachel won last week and you can tell she’s angling for a repeat this week when you see her graphic patterns start to emerge.
First, she largely free-hand paints a beautiful design on the wall. This was fascinating. She explains how she uses tape to create clean-line corners for her pattern and then free hands all the curved parts of the design. What? I don’t have the talent – or the nerve – to try that!
She also paints some snazzy stripes in pink, black and yellow on her cabinets using tape (I think this was her camera challenge) and has a black and white striped floor. The side walls are a gorgeous green.
And on another wall, Rachel – who is also a fashion designer – paints a beautiful woman with a full dress, the kind of sketch you see the contestants do in their notebooks on Project Runway.
The pattern on pattern on pattern is beautiful and so striking. I crave to try this kind of design in my own home.
The judges also love it.
“Wow,” Genevieve says, adding that Rachel can layer patterns in a way that can flummox other designers.
“How beautiful is that painting?” Vern asks.
Their only complaint? A couple ceramic owls that Genevieve decides don’t match the room.
Kris – Kris is one of a couple of designers who go in a conceptual direction with his room. When describing it to David, he says something about the wildflowers of Austin where he’s from and the wildflowers of Los Angeles where the show is being taped. Or maybe I misunderstood.
David tells Kris that his idea – if accomplished – “could be pretty dramatic.” But if he fails, it will probably be “a burnt hot mess.”
In the end, the left side of the white box is meant to look like an exterior wall with a grungy door and a “for sale” sign. There are bold stripes on the back wall in yellow, orange and red. Below them is some kind of mountain range in dark colors.
On the right side is what’s supposed to be the exterior of a happy home, complete with a welcoming door mat and American flag.
For his camera challenge, Kris turns the table lamp into a multi-bulb sconce using electrical splitters. It’s creative but nothing I’d want in my house!
“You don’t have to be this slick guy all the time because that can come across a little fake,” David tells Kris in a critique of his camera challenge. “Be yourself.”
Later, when the judges come in, Genevieve gives the room a “Wow.”
“This is some serious story telling,” she says.
“Alfred Hitchcock,” Vanilla Ice answers. “It’s really cool.”
But then Genevieve said the idea might have worked better if the “positive” side of the design had been perfect. But it’s not, she said. “It’s sloppy.”
Jordan – Remember from above that Jordan was the guy who was lost at the home improvement store. He bought the bamboo garden accessories. And as he starts to put his room together, all he’s got are a bunch of Asian-looking garden accessories.
He knows it’s not working and David comes along to reinforce his concern. Plus, Jordan isn’t really transforming anything, which is part of the challenge.
“I’m taking the lattice cubes and painting those and lighting them from the inside,” Jordan tells David.
”So you’re turning table into a table?” David says. “You can do better.”
So Jordan starts painting all his accessories. He paints a bamboo arch bright red and other bamboo pieces black. He paints the room’s walls a beautiful gray and adds a couple garden benches. It literally looks like a patio placed in a room.
Genevieve loves the bright red arch against the gray walls. But that’s the only good thing the judges say.
“It’s like bamboo bamboo, bench bench, pillow pillow,” Genevieve said, trying to reflect the blandness that’s caused in part by the symmetry of the arrangement.
“It has an instant fast food plastic feel to it,” Vern says. “It makes me want an egg roll.”
Miera – So Miera makes me nervous at the beginning by declaring that she mostly decorates model homes and therefore tends to be “safe” and not particularly creative in her design. But she tries to push herself by cutting little white blocks to glue onto the back wall for a 3-d effect.
Unfortunately, it doesn’t go well. Design Star shows clip after clip of her little squares just falling off the wall.
I feel terrible for Miera. I can empathize. This is precisely what would happen to me!
Eventually she gives up and begins to just screw them into the wall, Apparently it works because in the end, she has some squares on the wall.
Miera paints the walls gray (clearly the color of this season) and adds orange and white accents with paint and accessories. She paints orange and gray blocks onto the white rug and hangs it on a wall for a big, graphic feature.
She hangs orange lanterns on the opposite wall and has other orange touches throughout.
The judges seem surprised that the room is hers.
“I love the transformation of the rug,” Vern says.
Vanilla Ice is not so impressed by the squares screwed to the wall.
“It looks like she tried to do something on the back wall,” he says. “It looks like cut 2x4s to me,”
Then I couldn’t believe it! Mikel started to create the awesome rope walls that my good friend and upholstery teacher Shelly Leer has in her studio! This project was featured all over the Internet and I am just convinced that he saw it someplace and copied it – not that there’s anything wrong with that!
So, Mikel makes two sort of mini-rope walls that he uses to frame the opening to the room.
He paints his sofa red and the walls a soft brown. He uses planks of wood to create a focal point on the back wall and covers (I think) the cabinets with the same wood planks.He’s also scattered other red accents in the room and used scrolled door mats to stamp the rug in red, which looks gorgeous!
The latter is the project for his camera challenge and I think it’s ingenious.
I absolutely love his finished room. I would move in today if I could. However, I’m not sure the judges would do the same.
But Genevieve said that, “My biggest issue with this space is that with exception of rope dividers, it’s just a room with a couch.”
Fair enough. This challenge was supposed to be more conceptual, I think. Still, everybody needs a room with a couch!
Stanley – Last week, Stanley was on the cusp of being cut and in fact his partner did go home after they did a a disastrous work room. But as Vern said last night, he made a nice recovery.
Stanley left his walls – well, everything really – white.
At the home improvement store, he purchased all kinds of lights – shop lights, spot lights, florescent lights and LED bulbs. Back at Union Station, he cut holes in the cabinets and reworked the lattice side tables to create light boxes that filled the room with color.
He even hung the white sofa from the ceiling and backlit it with what looked like long florescent shop lights.
Of course, this is the other very conceptual room I was referring to. Nobody could live in this space. The couch was hanging from the ceiling.
But it was interesting and artistic and the judges just loved it.
“This is a relief,” Genevieve said. “This is what I want to see. Someone did something unexpected.”
“So many seasons of Design Star and nobody has every thought to use the sofa in that way,” Vern adds. “To backlight it like that is ingenious.”
Vanilla Ice comes in to break up the cooing with a reference back to his rapper days.
“Reminds me of a hotel room I tore up in 1992,” he said. Hmm.
But not all is well with Stanley, His project for the camera challenge is to create one of those light boxes and he’s pretty lifeless. The judges are not impressed.
“To win this talent search, your hosting skill shave to be just as strong as your designs,” Vern says.
She’s inspired by a photo of her mom from the 1970s. Her mom is standing in front of a wall with a very graphic design of diagonal red and black stripes.
So Danielle paints her walls black and then adds a huge X made up of gold and white stripes. It sounds gaudy or like a room dedicated to the Purdue Boilermakers but it’s actually striking and cool.
Most importantly, she puts the X off center, which – according to the judges – gives the room some movement.
She also painted her sofa with gold stripes that look just perfect – at least from a distance. I would love to have learned more about how she did it and been able to see the results up close. Vern said it transformed the cheap piece of furniture into something that looked much more expensive.
She put a couple big gold circles on one wall and turned a lattice side table upside down, painted it gold and put a tree inside. The overall effect is fantastic.
Vanilla Ice can’t stop talking about how much it looks like a “band room.” He wanted to set up some drums, bring in a guitar and “jam out.”
Genevieve loved the overall look but was distracted – understandably – by an ugly floor lamp Danielle stuck into the room at the last minute. Bad decision.
Luca – Last but not least is Luca, who I mentioned last week is a tad bit annoying on the show.
He paints the room cream and creates a beautiful chandelier out of a cluster of bulbs. It’s not a new idea but it looks great. And he uses contact paper – yes, contact paper – to recreate the look of a wooden floor, which I think is pretty impressive.
Luca also hangs what look like door mats as wall art above the sofa. And he hung what I think were the cabinets on the walls – without their doors. I said I think because they look like unfinished wood boxes and so I’m not sure if they are the original white cabinets transformed or something he’s made. Either way, they really look great.
The problem comes in Luca’s accessorizing. He’s filled those wooden boxes with items you’d buy in the home section of TJ Maxx. That’s not to say I don’t love the home section of TJ Maxx. But it looks like he went into someplace like that and just grabbed up the first things he saw and stuck them on a shelf.
There’s a blue bird and some lanterns and some flowers. It’s the kind of decorating most of us do but not what we’d pay a designer to do.
Luca realizes in the last minutes that his back wall is too blank. So he uses black paint to sign his name, which falls just below that cool chandelier.
This is actually the judges favorite thing. In fact, the light and the signature are all they like.
“The accessorizing is horrendous,” Vern says. “It is horrendous.”
“If I could have a camera and crop out like almost 70 percent, I would have really cool room,” Genevieve adds.
That’s another ouch.
So there are just no big surprises here.
That leaves Danielle, Rachel and Stanley (at right) with the top three rooms and Jordan, Luca and Hilari with the bottom three rooms.
The judges show parts of the camera challenges from the top three designers (although they have apparently watched them all off air).
Vern compliments Danielle (who has the X design on the wall and the gold sofa) for maintaining eye contact with the camera as she explains her project. Genevieve calls Danielle “really watchable.”
Genevieve says that Rachel (below, whose room has all the patterns) seems genuine and approachable during her camera challenge, where she shows viewers how to use tape and paint to create dynamic designs.
But they dislike Stanley (who does the light box room) on camera. “When your energy is so low, I just want to click,” Vern says.
The winner is Rachel – again. The judges, like me, are inspired by her incredible use of pattern and color.
Danielle and Stanley are safe, although Vern warns the latter that he has to show improvement on camera.
The loser is Jordan (at right, painting his arch).
The judges just don’t think he was creative enough and he’s left them uninspired.
“Instead of buying so many things and just painting them, I wish you would have reinvented some things,” Vern said.
That means Hilari and Luca are safe.
Next week, the designers will create a professional office space for Kris Kardashian Jenner and the previews show there will be… a lot of gray!
See you then. In the mean time, tell me what you thought of this week’s episode and let’s hear some predictions for winners…