HGTV: The Antonio Project

HGTV: The Antonio Project

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.


  1. frogponder September 21, 2009 at 7:16 pm

    We were tickled by Antonio’s antics and his hosting style.
    Sombrero Girl –
    No. Just NO.
    And HGTV – what the Hell?! So we’ll have to disagree there.
    My concern about the backsplash – can you clean it or will you have a flash fire someday with the stuff that collects behind the stove?
    Whatever Antonio does he will be entertaining!

  2. Arjelia September 21, 2009 at 9:56 pm

    I have to agree with frogponder about the whole Sombrero Girl, but that’s what we like about Antonio he’s different and he will be full of surprises, I can’t wait to see what else he will do.


  3. Eric September 22, 2009 at 12:15 am


  4. Eric September 22, 2009 at 12:20 am

    Incidentally, I too give a thumbs down to sombrero girl. C’mon Antonio, we get you’re alternative and have friends who are likewise. The rest of the house is pretty sweet. Loved the table. But if you’re trying to get a girl, do you really think she’ll be down with gigantic low rider art in the boudoir? You’re not 24. Shoulda stuck to sticking that on your back. And I would even reconsider that.

  5. NataLee September 22, 2009 at 11:29 am

    Robin- My very first thought when I saw the chair was Mickey Mouse! Haha.

    I love Antonio… he’s funny and truly one of a kind. But one of the many reasons I watch HGTV is because I feel it’s pretty safe when it comes to content… until Sunday night. I was watching the show with my impressionable and curious 9 year old daughter and there were a lot of sexual inuendoes. When he was talking about how he wanted to make sure his headboard was sturdy because of the potential action that would occur in there and when he was introducing his master bedroom and suggested this was where the “magic” was going to happen… my daughter asked me what he meant (the flirting with the furniture lady and “bath is for the girls” was fine, but when coupled with everything else just added to my frustration).

    Now I know we live in a world that is filled with sexuality… and I have already had the birds and bees talk with her, but I don’t want her being hit in the face all the time and thinking about it all the time. I don’t expect when watching HGTV that I will have to have any sex talks with my children.

    So my beef with the show is not his design style, which is truly unique, but the borderline vulgar nature of it. Hopefully, in future episodes, it will be free of sexual inuendoes and all about his designs.

    I love humor though… more grocery store bowling is welcomed!!

  6. Claire September 23, 2009 at 12:33 am

    Finally got a chance to watch it.
    That accent. “Sambrero”. The tattoo-esque headboard bugged me less than his pronunciation…and his overuse of the word ‘recon’. I’m up for the game though. (:

    I’m with you on the match-y bedroom, but I really did enjoy the living room/kitchen. I like how eclectic it was, yet it didn’t seem over the top. Well, kinda. (:

  7. Cara September 23, 2009 at 10:52 am

    You liked his sexism, thought it funny…? Some ‘chicks’ like that type of behavior, I guess, and there’s no accounting for taste.

    The so-called niche he’ll be filling is the crass and tastelessly vulgar Jerry Springer trailer trash demographic.

    Designs were eclectic, tacky & tasteless, problems again with spacial planning and an overall feeling of coldness/sterility. Like the final challenge for Design Star, the only thing he did in the house I liked was the kitchen.

    THIS is HGTVs newest Design Star that we viewers are supposed to enjoy watching & learning from and are to be inspired by? I’m not entertained and the only thing I’ve learned from the experience is that I won’t be watching his show as he’s inspired me to change the channel rather than watch him on TV.

  8. Alfonso September 24, 2009 at 11:41 pm

    Antonio has a unique design style which is not to my taste. Frankly it is more tacky than good-looking on average. I have no interest in his show. I want to see good design not a bizarre personality. But it takes all kinds

  9. Gail Jacobson September 25, 2009 at 8:18 am

    I loved the fact that he uses sculptors, airbrush artists, etc. rather than stuff off the shelf from HD. When everyone’s house looks like it has been “staged” this is refreshing. I liked the fact that he found an alternative to the living room as we get too boxed in having rooms we don’t use but furnish because the floor plan calls it a particular thing. (btw – the show said that he added 800 ft. off the back so I’m assuming that’s where the sofa and the TV are).

    I had some issues with his design but my main problem was that the place looked unfinished. It just looked like he painted the walls, put in a bunch of furniture and festooned the mantle with those dreaded nonos – tschotkes. Contrast it with Candice Olsen’s work which although a different aesthetic, is far more pulled together.

    I also feel that the swagger, the fist bumps and the “yo”‘s seem contrived.

  10. Maeve September 26, 2009 at 10:01 am

    Gross. Both the design and the guy. Seriously what guy over 21 called women “chicks”? This guy is 40 and he designs his house like a date raping frat boy’s dream dorm room. Like any girl who is not wasted is going to be in that bathtub. There are so many good tattoo artists and designs and he couldn’t even manage to get a well made or interesting design not to mention way to fetishize latino “chicks”.

    He’s said in many interviews that he expected to be a rock star by the time he was 40 so maybe he got the shows mixed up and thought he was doing the set design for Rock of Love. Tacky, cheap and with no living room I guess he just plans on getting his “chicks” really wasted at the bars before bringing them straight home to his soft core porn place. Well at least he can rent out the space to porn companies that don’t want to go to the valley to film.

  11. Holly September 27, 2009 at 6:11 pm

    Are you kidding me? I LOVED the Sombrero Girl! Maybe not in my room, but I could definitely see a few friends of mine doing something like that to thieer space. I LOVE Antonio’s design ideas and I will be a loyal viewer just to watch his show on HGTV…

  12. Daisy September 27, 2009 at 9:12 pm

    Well, where do I begin?
    I guess it’s OK to take a drink every time Antonio says “recon.” It might even help. If you took one every time he refers to “banging” something out you’d need a trip to the ER.
    And as for the “chicks” that he plans on entertaining in that bedroom…hopefully they can all kick start a Harley and won’t be too horrified by his hideous “Sambrero” Girl. Try to look on the bright side; better on the wall than on his back!!
    And about all that trash on the mantel…did he win that stuff at a County Fair? Which brings me to the rest of the Living Room? Dining Room? Common (and I do mean that in every sense of the word) Area? What a train wreck. About the “17th Century Spanish throne” and the other “200 year old throne” (that he bought on the street from a set of about 20 others)– shame on you HGTV. I sincerely doubt that either one of those chairs is older than Antonio. The only thing that would have made the mess of a room complete would have been the old college staple; bricks-and- boards for bookshelves. Maybe he could have painted them pink?
    The kitchen was sort of great but he’ll never get that fabulous backsplash clean. I wonder if cleanliness is any kind of priority as he never seems to change his clothes. Are those his lucky shorts or something?
    The bathroom was very OK. Not much imagination, though I hated the checkered tile in the shower. His friend didn’t seem to like it much either. I loved his comment, “It makes it look fast.”
    Oh well, I’m sure I’ll see the show a few times anyway. Watching Antonio makes me feel a little guilty, though. Sort of like slowing down to look a car accident.

  13. MARY Johnston October 10, 2009 at 10:54 am

    What normal person would decorate or use Antonio to decorate like that? He isn’t welcome at my house.
    Save up all that money to have your home re-done and
    he comes up with that! Gross and he’s GROSS and he
    looks like he needs a bath. I won’t watch him nor
    the next design star. I am mad at HGTV for selecting
    him. and I love the 3 judges and they wouldn’t ever
    design or talk like that. They would be thrown off
    the air, hey! that would be a good thing to happen
    to Antonio.

  14. Yolanda L. Carrillo November 16, 2009 at 7:48 pm

    I don’t think he is a great interior decorator. He definetely has a bad taste. He could have done something a lot better than that. I personally, would not hire him. Besides the point, his personality really, truly, scares me. We need role models; people who will inspire!!!!

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