While watching the new green channel recently, I caught a promo for From the Ground Up, a new design-related reality show hosted by Debbie Travis. The big prize awarded at the end of the season is the position of Chief Designer for Travis’ self-branded condos and homes. Intrigued, I set my DVR accordingly and managed to watch the episode tonight.


Contrary to other job interview reality shows, this is as real as you can get. Travis, someone I have equal parts enjoyed (Facelift, her surprise makeover show) and loathed (Painted House, faux finish a go-go), acts more like a CEO than your average competition show host. At first I gasped in shock when she replaced the team leader of this episode mid-project, when you might normally just see reality show hosts stand back and let the contestants rise or fall on their own merit. Travis, on the other hand, has higher expectations for her proteges and steers the ship as any business-minded creative director would in the real world. It’s far more believable that she is truly grooming someone to work for her and not creating some mock position for the TV camera. She even fires people better than Trump–sending three contestants home in one mondo whack-fest this episode!

Personality-wise, I miss the Facelift version of Debbie Travis, where she showed a sense of humor underneath a sometimes tough exterior. In this series, she’s not just critical…she’s quite, ummm, bitchy.

As for the show itself, I may/may not watch again (it appears on Fine Living if you’re interested)…but I have to point out how shocked I was when I saw this shot during the previous episode’s recap:

Toilet paper used as art? My idea.

Way back when, I applied to be on the second season of HGTV’s Design Star. In my audition tape, I mentioned that one thing I’d always wanted to do was to find a kooky client who would let me create a grid of toilet paper rolls on the wall and use it as functional art in a powder room. Swear to gawd.

I always regretted leaving that in my tape…but now that I see it on TV, I feel a bit vindicated.