HGTV's Design Star, Season 4: Episode 2, Kitchen Challenge Recap

HGTV's Design Star, Season 4: Episode 2, Kitchen Challenge Recap

I’m incredulous. Prepare for a rant.

Teflon Tashica made it through another elimination, despite her inability to contribute anything of value to the team, but Amy goes home? I’m starting to get annoyed. I realize there is a lot to cover in a short amount of viewing time, but why are we not getting more of an explanation for why the judges made the decisions they did? I just don’t get it. I hope Amy’s more forthcoming during our interview this afternoon than NataLee was last week. If we talk about nothing else, I just have to know…why did they keep Tashica?

I’m so disappointed, I almost feel personally shafted. I’d pegged Amy as one of the two to make it to the finals (based on audition videos and online portfolios), so it’s a bit mind-blowing to see someone with so much design talent going home so soon. She was definitely lacking in the project management department, but I’ve never been a fan of someone going home just because they were the team leader whose ship went down. I’d rather see someone get the ax because they turned out something ugly (Jen), or because they didn’t do much (Tashica). To me, canning the team leader gives underlings too much incentive to coast. If I’d been in her shoes, I’d have put Tashica to work styling the room despite the unfinished functional elements. That one thing might have saved her bacon this week. I’m just a little pissed off that we saw no real reason to keep Tashica, and yet she lingers on. I feel played…like they’re just picking the least likely to go home purely for shock value. As David Bromstad said, If you have a whole team saying ‘Tashica’s the weakest link’, then Tashica needs to go home.”

*Deep, cleansing breath.*

Now for the rooms. Our designers split into two teams to transform two kitchens. Amy and Nathan were selected via paint cans to be team leaders and picked their teams “playground style.”

Team Nathan: Antonio, Jen, Jason, Torie



Kenny Powers would love this kitchen. It has that reverse mullet-like “party on top, business on the bottom” thing going on. The top half of the kitchen features a tacky, gold grille of a backsplash and a garishly-striped tray ceiling. I don’t know about you, but when I see a couple of dark, horizontal paint stripes moving around a room, I think, Jazzercise! On the business end: countrified grandma cabinetry, dark floors in a similar shade as the cabinets (one of my pet peeves), black granite countertops…and there’d better be Prozac in a nearby candy dish, because now I’m depressed! To top it all off, they have dark, Moroccan lanterns over the island, which feels theme-y and won’t be terribly functional at all, and a half-cab over the guillotine-slash-vent hood. You know that hood’s plummeting down again the first time someone breathes on it wrong. There’s some serious accessory overload going on and where oh where is Nathan’s or Antonio’s stamp on anything? I had high expectations when I saw the two of them end up on the same team—thought they’d be a lethal design combination, but Antonio was stuck with all of the construction (them’s the breaks when you know what the H you’re doing with the power tools), and Nathan? Nathan was at World Market. Note to Nathan: you’re not going to find anything at World Market that will separate you from the pack. Let the others do the shopping. You just put your pretty head down and come up with the stellar ideas!!

Final Result: The homeowner appeared thrilled, but I hope she buddied up to Clive Pearse during this exercise. She’s going to need him to bring the Designed to Sell team back for a kitchen redesign if she ever puts that house on the market.

Team Amy: Dan, Jany, Lonni, Tashica

Amy christens her team the cringe-inducing “Team Heart,” but she’s off to a good start with her selections. Although her cabinets are darker than Team Nathan’s, she offsets that darkness by choosing superlight counters and backsplash tile, and removing some upper cabinets over a peninsula. Then Amy starts crying…and I’m on board with the whole frayed emotions thing and the pressure and all that, but if your name is Amy and you look nearly identical to Amy Sedaris, I want those to be ironic tears. Moving on, granite guy delivers the granite but the seams don’t fit. Team Heart’s solution? Fill it with caulk, hee-hee! No one will ever know! Could we not have shimmed the back of the slabs and somehow added trim along the back edge to hide the cracks back there? That would’ve been my choice over an ugly-ass caulk-filled granite seam right next to my sink. When the deadline is up, there are maybe three accessories in the whole space. Not much to divert your eye from unfinished backsplash, the missing baseboards and outlet covers, the caulked cracks. And where is my bit of color in the room? We’re left with a basic and boring kitchen, when the homeowners asked for pizzazz.

Final result: The homeowners were elated at first, but once they got over the excitement of seeing new cabinets and counters, they couldn’t help but take mental note of their looming to-do list. Which, lucky for them, was handled by some mysterious bunch of HGTV fixers.

The money shot occurred when Tashica went back to the green room and not a single person stood up to welcome her back with a hug. Instead, you saw every designer trade bewildered glances and jaws on the floor. Cricket, cricket. That was telling.

I’m set to chat with Amy later on today, so check back for some scoop!


  1. Claire July 27, 2009 at 6:06 pm

    That terrible kitchen made me throw up a little. As did Amy being sent home. Bleeeh and Bleeeh. What a disappointing episode. I'm with you on being disappointed with team Nathan/Antonio. Whaaaaat happened there? Oh right. Jen.

    I think this is going to be a rollercoaster of a season.

  2. frogponder July 27, 2009 at 6:22 pm

    I'm going to lay the blame at HGTV's feet or whomever produces this show. Four seasons in and you people need to give them MORE TIME. Not only are you stressing people beyond their limits but we, your viewers, are cheated. This was the first time a kitchen was completed! But not edited and not thoughtfully finished. Just throw stuff up and hope to hell you finish. So we see dreck and train wrecks. Hey, we can see that at home!

    And sending Amy home? The whole team agreed Tashica was the weakest link. Poor Tashica, I feel for her trying to carry on under those circumstances. I feel for Amy who did not, apparently, have enough drama potential. I'm absolutely convinced this was the reason for the decision.

  3. Virginia July 27, 2009 at 9:28 pm

    I agree with your assessment. I understood last week to a degree, because they could only send one person home, and I believe they sent home the "weakest link," however, when Tashica performed the same way this week, and then blamed Amy for her own lack of ability, she should have been sent home. My beef with the judges was when they asked the team who was the weakest link, and every team member names Tashica, citing specifics, why didn't they listen to them? Especially after last week's master bedroom fiasco. There is a definite pattern with this girl. If I hired a designer who left that kind of ragged mess in my home, ya'll would be seeing me on Judge Judy! I'd show her the pictures, and stand back and let Judge Judy deal with her!

    As for the "winning" kitchen, I wonder what kind of training someone who is a "color specialist" receives! So far, Jen, who, according to her bio, is one of only 151 color specialists in the nation, has me befuddled. Those colors were horrid! I admit that I don't have "color specialist" training, but I think I have good taste, and that kitchen was NOT good taste!

    I will hold my final judgement on Tashica's design ability until I see what she can do on her own, but she sure as heckfire is a lousy team player.

  4. NataLee July 27, 2009 at 11:49 pm

    I just want to give props to team Nathan… 1st team in Design Star history to actually complete their kitchen. Yeah, there were a few design problems, but every other team ever to attempt this challenge has left it incomplete. So good for them!

  5. MissM July 28, 2009 at 11:02 am

    A friend of mine has worked on reality shows and says that often the producers weigh in and trump the judges in favor of more drama. I bet you anything that happened this week. It's a shame they think so poorly of their viewers – that we wouldn't prefer to see the best competitors duke it out rather than cheap, manufactured drama.

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