When we last left Design Star, the nine contestants were supposedly challenged with building their cast dwelling in seven days…but the producers were foolin’.

Hook your finger in the side of your mouth and repeat after me: “Fished in! Fished in!”

Turns out, the real challenge was to design two bedrooms, the living room, dining room, and a sunroom. That’s more like it, eh? The group split into several teams and got to work. I don’t so much want to recap the show as I want to critique the work…and also to point out the crazy and the catty.

First of all, it’s no surprise that Matt came up with “the single best bedroom design I’ve ever seen on this show,” according to Vern. I would go one step farther and say it’s got to be the best bedroom you’ve ever seen on any reality show. This guy will undoubtedly give David Bromstad (Season 1 winner) a run for his money. It’s no small task to cram five twin beds into any bedroom but most reality shows resort to bunk beds and converting larger rooms into dorm-style bedrooms. Matt’s idea, on the other hand, was to shove four of the beds together (two side-by-side pair arranged headboard to headboard) and through the addition of L-shaped partitions, created some privacy for each of the beds:

The fifth bed in the room was inserted loft-style into the contemporary canopy area above the four on the floor. All of the construction (completed by Matt and Mikey) was finished out professionally and pristinely (at least it appeared so, even in hi-def) and the color palette was very restful. Sleeping in this room would certainly take the edge off all of the potential pitfalls of life on a reality show–aside from Matt’s snoring–but I travel with earplugs and melatonin so I think I could hack it.

Okay that’s one end of the spectrum. Now for the worst room in the house.

The upstairs bedroom, designed by Scottie, just flat out sucked. The arrangement was lacking, especially when compared with the bedroom downstairs…probably not an entirely fair comparison. Scotty’s design was completely unimaginative…no art on the walls, horrible brown-rust-white tie dye bedding, and the single worst window treatments I’ve ever seen on TV. We know you like bowties, Scottie…but the rest of us? Not so much. We’re especially not so fond of them when you blow them up to gargantuan size and stick them on top of the cornices on all the windows:

Ech. You finalists assigned to this bedroom–I feel your pain. However, I will say I did not hate the wall color as much as everyone else seemed to…you know I heart orange. But I would’ve done something with it, man.

Moving on to the living room and the adjacent sunroom, D. Paul, Crazee Tracee, Michael, and Trish teamed up to knock out these rooms. You know this is gonna be trouble, right? First of all, too many cooks in the kitchen. There’s no way four people–let alone four designers–can ever truly have a meeting of the minds on any subject, so this arrangement was never destined to work out smoothly. Cue the typical reality show bickering and butting heads while everyone else glides along in peace and harmony. What this group ended up with was a living room that was just fine but not anything special, aside from the silver leafing on the built-in bookshelves flanking the fireplace…and a sunroom that was anything but sunny. They gave a lot of lip service in the beginning to relating the design of the sunroom to the living room since the two rooms were open to each other, but there’s no evidence of this philosophy in the final outcome. If I were coordinating with their slate blue/white/silver/zebra living room palette, I would’ve put a chamois color on the walls of the sunroom, bought in all-white lounge-y furniture, and added pops of blues with accessories, art, and pillows.

As for the pool table, I love the concept of it but am just a total hater of the one they purchased. I understand the whole budget thing and respect that the price was right, but I probably would’ve left it in the store because it was just so ugly. Sue me.

Stax (Stephanie) and Jennifer took on the dining room, and seemed to be such girly peas in a pod, I thought they were going to put on their pj’s, play Light as a Feather and Truth or Dare, then attack each other with a giggly pillow fight. That’s great though, I was happy to see two reality show women get along so well…but I was appalled and agog when Stax got all confused over how to set up a ladder.

“I’ve never used one of these before.”

A ladder? You’ve never used a ladder? How much of a dang princess do you have to be to not ever have used a *expletive* ladder? And okay, let’s say you’ve never used one before…is a ladder not self-explanatory?

Their design seemed cool…black walls in a dining room can be very chic. But when they took that bee-yootiful slice o’tree dining table and poured paint on it, my hand flew up to my gaping maw and I nearly fell off the couch. And I’m someone who has no compunction about painting wood if it’s necessary, but this just seemed so wrong. I wondered, what was the point of bringing in this natural element (rough hewn edges on the table top) if you were just going to paint it? Why not make something out of MDF if you were just going to paint it? Well, I was a convert at the end…ironically, it looked like faux bois, which I’m kind of a sucker for. I didn’t love the fireplace they stripped down though…and agreed with the judges that it seemed poor time management to paint a natural table white and strip a white fireplace down to wood when you could have basically gotten the same kind of effect by keeping these two elements in their original condition. Maybe this would’ve afforded them the time to remove all of the blue painter’s tape from the wall art and the crown molding.

And, umm, it must be mentioned that Jen totally pimped out Stax at the furniture store, imploring her to pull her (already low-cut) T-shirt down and ask the manager for a big discount on the dining table. And then? The producers totally pimped her out again when they aired a gratuitous ass shot–nothing but Stax’s butt filling the screen. On HGTV? That’s classy.

Cut to the judging panel and all hell breaks loose among Crazee Tracee and her cohorts. CT throws Michael and Trish under the bus (fastest toss of co-competitors that I know of on any show). CT’s driven from cast’s waiting room in tears while the other finalists wail on about how much they hate that they’re fighting already. Stax unleashes her inner Tammy Faye (albeit apparently with waterproof mascara) and cries throughout the entire judging process and the backstage drama. I guess I was wrong about Trish being the first to cry, but I still have faith in her ability to turn on the waterworks here in the near future.

It’s no shocker that Scottie (Tie-Dye Bow Ties) is the first one to hear the the sound-proof doors slam shut behind him after the judges “cancel his show”. (Ugh, I just hate that dismissal phrase.)

My vote for the winner is still Matt, but my husband made a good point that Matt’s perfectionism could bite him in the butt somewhere down the line. Either that, or D. Paul’s going to rub him out during some kind of sleep-deprived “ragin’ Cajun” kind of mehlee.

Just kidding. We have yet to see D. Paul’s personality, much less see him enraged…