Emily Henderson vs. David Bromstad

Emily Henderson vs. David Bromstad


David Bromstad, I hope you’ve enjoyed the past few years as the Queen Bee of HGTV’s Design Star. When you won that first season and launched Color Splash, your creativity and charisma cast a mighty shadow.  Not only has every single contestant since then been compared to you, but every season winners’ show has been held up to the ColorSplash measuring stick and judged accordingly.

But last night?  When Season 5 winner Emily Henderson’s Secrets From a Stylist aired, was anyone thinking about Bromstad?  Or Design Star?  Or HGTV, for that matter?  I wasn’t.  I was getting a mindmeld of Mad Men / Down With Love, Us Weekly, and Domino magazine.

Take a look:








From Emily’s style diagnostic segments with makeover recipient and Glee creator Ian Brennan, to the final designs of the rooms she created, everything looked impeccable but felt fun.  Like a good pair of jeans, Brennan’s new spaces can be dressed up or dressed down, depending on the occasion.  I would rather see one makeover rather than three versions of a redo…seeing multiple reveals of the same space deflated Brennan’s (and viewers’) reactions to the final unveiling, but overall, I loved it.  I wanted to marry it.  In her new environment, Emily’s radiant and positively oozing with supercute charm.

Dare I say it?  In one episode, Emily took Design Star and elevated it to a level even David Bromstad can’t touch.

Granted, there’s a chink in Bromstad’s armor this year.  Although the makeovers seem grander and more visually appealing, the new incarnation of his show, Color Splash: Miami, ultimately misses the mark.  While there was never a question that Bromstad was in charge on Color Splash, there was a camaraderie and chemistry among the entire team that is sadly lacking in the Miami version. What’s worse, Bromstad’s too frequently shown either ragging about the failings of his new team or fishing for validation from his frosty carpenter.  If he’s so happy to be back in his hometown, I wish he would act like it.  It’s been bizarre to watch HGTV trash the public images of viewer faves like Candice Olson and Vern Yip by showcasing their negative sides so much on Design Star, and now they seem determined to do the same to Bromstad.

If the programming honchos at HGTV are smart, they’ll order a season’s worth of episodes based on Secrets From a Stylist and get their PR teams humming.  They finally have someone besides Candice Olson who can create spaces that are both TV and magazine-worthy, with designs that have broad appeal without appearing homogenous.  Run with it, people!


  1. Design Blahg August 30, 2010 at 1:57 pm

    Yes…that was the word: DEFLATED. That perfectly conveys how I felt (and ok, a little confused as I thought it looked pretty great the first AND second time around).

    But I am with you…MORE SECRETS FROM A STYLIST immediately, pls!

  2. Laura August 30, 2010 at 2:01 pm

    I wholeheartedly agree with almost every single thing you said! Loved the show! I did enjoy the three tierd process of the livingroom coming together. I still love Colorsplash but you are right, it isn’t the same.

  3. Nina August 30, 2010 at 2:11 pm

    I can see what you mean about being deflated what with showing the different variations. It had sort of an opposite effect on me though. I think maybe because I often feel when I make a change, it has to be permanent. It sent me the message that when something doesn’t work, we can’t be afraid to send it back.

    Maybe a good compromise would be to have behind the scenes outtakes for people like me who want to see a little bit more of the process. That way it wouldn’t take away from the big wOw reveal moment.

  4. Bobbi August 30, 2010 at 2:12 pm

    Agree with you about the deflated, but it was intriguing to see the nuances the different looks brought to the room and how she melded the three styles. Seeing the process in a detail we don’t usually see on these shows, will be helpful to homeowners who want to do that kind of thing in their home. Loved Emily! I’m really disappointed in this season of Color Splash.

  5. Karen B. August 30, 2010 at 3:31 pm

    Yes!! Everything you said, Robin.

  6. Shelly August 30, 2010 at 3:38 pm

    I liked it because it did have a slightly different format than all the other HGTV shows. The formula is the same for most of them & you really only need to watch the first and last few minutes. I liked the collaborative feel as he came through each time. I think she talked him through the changes & it would allow him to use that info in those rooms down the road. I also think that having the extra rooms as a surprise to him worked well.

    Regarding DB… I haven’t really enjoyed the move to Miami. His assistants seem to be making a lot of the decisions. I also think the rooms look like HIM vs the client. They’re beautiful, but if you look at his portfolio each room seems to look like a “Bromstead”. Just my opinion…

    I hope HGTV gives us more of our darling Emily SOON!

  7. paul deMarrais August 30, 2010 at 5:42 pm

    I have to agree that Color Splash seems a bit tired. THat ‘modern’ look is kind of grating in itself. None of the rooms seem like you would want to live there. For my taste there is too much color splashed about by David, who I do believe is very talented. THere was better chemistry on the earlier team with Ian and my favorite, the lovely Danielle. Emily’s spaces are very warm and friendly. I would love to live in her spaces. Her show is less slick and more personable and she’s as smart as a whip. In no time, she’ll be an ace host. She is not really into the ‘star quality’ bit like David. It’s more of an art process theme, and not all about her. That makes her especially appealing to women. She’s not the femme fatale, although she is a lovely woman. She’s really genuine, has a nice humor. I’m an Emily fan all the way!

  8. Emily Henderson from The Brass Petal August 30, 2010 at 6:19 pm

    ooh, thanks Robin. That’s awesome. I know what you mean about Ian and ‘deflated’. I think that three looks were impossible for me to do drastically different, so the third didn’t have as much impact. for the series it would be two looks. And while the first two did look awesome, the third was ‘him’ and that was the ultimate point. his reaction was hilarious to me because he not a over-the-top guy, he’s so cerebral. And thank god that nobody tried to make him be anything that he wasn’t. that is one of the reasons that the casting department casts big personalities, people want the freaking out and tears.
    Thanks so much for the review. i just forwarded it on to HGTV.

  9. Karen Read August 31, 2010 at 1:22 am

    Ditto, ditto, ditto !!! Loved Emily’s show and cannot imagine HGTV not giving her a much-deserved, sparkling tiara…. er, her own series!!! My reaction after seeing the third version on Ian’s living room was “Wow”!! I enjoyed having Emily walk us through the changes and layers – Such a breath of fresh air over the very tired house hunters and home sellers (how many people do you know that can afford vacation homes abroad?). Makes me yearn for the HGTV of yesterday and David Bromstad from the olden days of San Francisco and Danielle and Ian. They were fun to watch and were like a design family instead of employer/employee, etc. Still love David, but his new show just isn’t doing anything for me. I even watched Antonio after Emily’s show and surprised myself by liking him and his show! Who knew???

    Really enjoy your blog – you’ve been my go-to-girl after every episode of Design Star and now I’m hooked on The Brass Petal, as well! Thanks!

  10. Keri September 1, 2010 at 2:31 pm

    Spot on with your review. 100% agree. I love, love, LOVE Emily’s show and think she is absolutely darling. HGTV would be fools if they didn’t pick it up for an entire series.

    Love it. Great review.

  11. Petalcereus September 1, 2010 at 5:44 pm

    I loved the fact that Ian did not have to act all gaga over the design if that’s not who he is. I thought the final product was something he actually loved but it does not mean that he might not change a thing or two if he sees something that pleases him more. It’s okay to do that, I am constantly reworking stuff in my home. Can’t believe I am saying this but the Antonio Treatment is working much more for me than Color Splash Miami. I hated the way Antonio designed his home but love the way he designs the bars and shops and especially how he helps them to take their business savvy a few steps up as needed. Thanks to HGTV for bringing that on right after Design Star because prior to that I did not even know that the show was on as I had not looked it up and had no intention of watching after seeing what he did with his house. Although his personality on Design Star was AWFUL, he went up quite a bit in my estimation when I saw the way he interacted with the crew who helped him on the final challenge. I also love the motley crew he has. Outstanding ! His background as a set designer allowed him access to many amazing artists and I really enjoy the introduction to them as well. I feel David should switch from designing rooms in homes as well and pay Danielle and Ian whatever amt to relocate with their families to sunny Miami. concentrate more on the awesome art he is capable of. I want to see those as a statement more than an afterthought in the areas he designs. I don’t want a tourist spot for folks to visit the Greater Miami area, I want raw Bromstad back in effect !!!!….but back to fabulous Emily…….Can’t wait to see more from you.

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