In this very special episode, we see Antonio Ballatore take his victory lap after winning Season 4 of HGTV’s Design Star.  Since Antonio’s working on his own home,  we get a peek at what he would do if there were truly no limits style-wise.  After all, he doesn’t have to cater to anyone but himself.  And his prospective girlfriends (read: bathtub).

I like where Antonio is headed, because he’s going to appeal to a real niche.  Let’s face it–if you’re the average American, you already have a world of options for getting home decorating advice on TV.  But if your style tends toward the alternative crowd (considering the fact that Miami Ink was popular enough to warrant spin-off L.A. Ink, I’d say that crowd is ever-widening), you now have your new Dude of Decor.

But even if you’d never duplicate his personal style in your own space, you can still find inspiration in what Antonio’s doing…if you’re a bit…oh, I don’t know, say, open-minded. For instance, take his kitchen backsplash, which I plan to rip off the very first chance I get:


Antonio had his sculptor buddy, Peter, throw together some aluminum strips of varying widths to create this stunning piece of “jewelry” in the space.  I wouldn’t necessarily have broken the direction as he did–taking the strips vertical behind the stove area–but gawd, how cool is that?  I love this use of unconventional materials.

I thought his Buck Wild headboard of a sombrero girl was totally fun and appropriate.  I love it when people don’t take their home environments too seriously.  However, I would’ve dug seeing him bring in a funky antique or two in here like he did in the rest of the house, instead of the matchy-matchy coordinating bedroom furniture.

Antonio’s bathroom was surprisingly lacking in shock value.  Maybe it’s just the kind of eye-sorbet you need to cleanse your palate after tripping through the bedroom’s eye-popping red wall, which again is right for “the client.”  What else would you put in there with Sombrero Girl?

The living room design reveals a lot about Antonio as a person.  In actuality, there is no living room at all in this 800 s.f. house, because the dining room ate the living room like it was Antonio’s grandmama’s lasagna (mama, mia!).  The fact that there is no conventional sofa+TV area leads me to believe: (A) Antonio doesn’t spend a lot of “lounge” time at home, (B) he loves cooking for people, and, (C) he only wants people to “settle in and stay a while” if they’re hitting the bedroom.

BTW, did anyone else get a Mickey Mouse vibe when Antonio sat in the “his” throne, or was that just me?  I love the story behind it (Dad bought it in the 60s and recently shipped it from NY), so I’m not hating it, just sayin’.

LOVE the inclusion of a pink duck in the dining room–nice little trophy from Design Star.

LOVE his hosting style.  It must be a dream for HGTV, who no doubt expected to shell out for a team of media groomers.  Although if we’re going to launch a drinking game for Antonio Project viewers (take a drink every time he says, “recon”!), then give me some notice so I can stock up accordingly.

Also loved seeing the outtakes from Season 4 of Design Star.  When they showed an appalled grocery store manager reacting to Antonio’s impromptu bowling setup using 2-liter bottles and a ham, I cracked up and gushed, “that’s funny!”

Which prompted Jeb to say to Phoebe, “Mommy loves Antonio.”

Yeah, I guess I do.