HGTV’s Design Star: NataLee Callahan Interview

HGTV’s Design Star: NataLee Callahan Interview

Earlier today, I had the opportunity to talk to NataLee Callahan, the first designer to get the boot on this season of Design Star. First impression on the phone? She sounds uncannily like Sarah Palin. Freakily so. I thought she was going to start talking about hockey and Joe Six Pack.

I don’t think anyone who gets the heave-ho on national television really wants to speak to a snarky design blogger, but NataLee was as sweet as you’d expect someone from Salt Lake City to be. You’re not going to get any trash talkin’ out of her, but I did get some interesting behind-the-scenes stuff…including a little nugget of info that shed new light on her “physical breakdown,” which is how some are describing the medical malfunction that we saw during last night’s episode.


NataLee Callahan and Tashica Morgan hash out their design plan.

I started by asking her a bit about the process. How did you pick teams? Did you have an opportunity to see each other’s work? Teams were formed rather quickly. Tashica asked me if I wanted to team up with her and I thought she had a lot of personality and that might be kind of fun. Other people were a little bit more strategic and picked people they thought could help them get their rooms done well.

Who came up with the overall vision for your room? We both really went in there with the same vision. We found out we had similar styles…it really clicked.

Who was responsible for what tasks? I feel like I’m between a rock and a hard place. I don’t want to come across as sour grapes. The bottom line is, we made joint decisions and we had to stick with them. On the final day, when we were to do most of our implementation, we decided that Tashica would go try to track down some black fabric and I would get things moving along. The goal was to have her back by noon and unfortunately, with LA traffic and a lot of other unknowns you’ve gotta deal with, she didn’t make it back until after 5:30. That’s why I didn’t eat or drink anything. I was alone most of the day, trying to make our room happen. The longer she was gone, the faster and more furious I tried to work.

We didn’t get to see much of the judges’ critique. Can you elaborate on why you were selected for elimination rather than Tashica? I’m not exactly 100% sure. To my mind, it was a disaster. It was not something I was excited to present before these judges who are so talented. So I didn’t say a whole heck of a lot and Tashica’s obviously very vocal. I probably should’ve been more vocal, but I just didn’t want to make any excuses for a room which did not turn out well. The stars just didn’t align in my favor, let’s just put it that way.

Is there anything you would’ve done differently to achieve a more successful outcome? On his video blog, David Bromstad’s advice was to pick a room and a design that you, yourself, could pull off, rather than depending on other people. Maybe I would’ve picked a smaller room. I would’ve left the comforters off the bed. Not doing the floor would’ve saved us a lot of time. There’s a lot of little things that could’ve been done differently!

Whose idea was it to put the mirror and the fish in the fireplace? (Laughs.) First of all, that mirror was meant to go over the fireplace. Both Tashica and I have a bit of a quirkiness about us. I’ve been known to put a flying pig in a room as an accessory before. It’s just one little thing that was used as a conversation piece. Our original idea was to set the fireplace up as an aquarium. It was meant to be a quirky conversation piece but it just didn’t turn out.

Out of all the cast members, who surprised you? It’s interesting because we were an instant family. Antonio’s definitely got this tough-guy edge. When he first walked in, I thought, “uh-oh, here comes trouble! But he’s a softie on the inside. He might not want people to know that! Jason’s hilarious. You didn’t see much of it last night, but he is one funny guy. Nathan is a sweetheart. I dubbed him my little brother because everybody’s name in my family starts with “N,” and we sort of looked similar. I wasn’t there all too long but I really thought a lot of everyone there!

What was your favorite room? The dining room. I thought it was extremely creative and really showcased Nathan’s talent as an artist. I can’t wait to see more from him.

When I asked NataLee what she was doing now, she revealed she’s expecting a baby. She was ambiguous about the due date, but said it was “sometime around the new year.”

Okay. So…the episodes started taping back in April.

Baby’s due around December/January.

Do the math and tell me she wasn’t pregnant when this episode was taped. Which will make anyone who thinks she was a pansy for taking a moment to get over the shakes feel a little bad now, eh?

Besides “growing a baby,” NataLee is currently working on a house that was built to look like a castle, and she’s “taking that theme to the interiors.”

3 Comments

  1. frogponder July 21, 2009 at 3:30 am

    Found your post on my snarky sweetie David Dust's site and came on over. !!! Very excited to find you. And enjoyed the interviews. 🙂

  2. Room Fu July 21, 2009 at 7:26 pm

    Happy to have ya!

  3. Joy July 21, 2009 at 10:51 pm

    Nice to get more information your interview provided. I'm here From David Dust, too.

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