HGTV's Design Star, Season 4: OMG, the Finale!

HGTV's Design Star, Season 4: OMG, the Finale!

Here it is, the final episode of Design Star and it’s Antonio Ballatore vs. Dan Vickery for the title.  The challenge?  Making over a whole house, which, for the purposes of this episode, “whole house” = kitchen + living room + dining area + two bedrooms.  Yikes.

Don’t get me started on the fact that this budget and timeframe are pretty frugal, relative to what was spent on the celebs’ houses last week.  I get the fact that there’s a difference in property values and all, but it still bites to see people with boatloads of money have $40K in free stuff lavished on one room while this week our designer boys are stretching fifty grand across several rooms.  Just a personal thing I obviously need therapy for, so I won’t bore you any longer with that.

Especially since I’m EXCITED.

Once again, I’m LOVING how close the competition is in this episode.  Both Dan and Antonio do a phenomenal job and both have awesome construction crews who actually finish their projects on time.  (Glad to see there aren’t any schmos on that score.)  It is a bit like a theme-free designer version of Monster House, which is a treat to watch.

DAN: The Goldberg Family

Dan's living room design and his disappearing TV cabinet over the fireplace.

Dan's living room design and his disappearing TV cabinet over the fireplace.

The Goldberg's newly expanded kitchen adds loads of property value.

The Goldberg's newly expanded kitchen adds loads of property value.

The master bedroom Dan designed improved Gail's functional space, but was slightly lacking stylistically.

The master bedroom Dan designed improved Gail's functional space, but was slightly lacking stylistically.

Dan's supercute teen room.

Dan's supercute teen room.

When Dan says he envisions a feminine space for the Goldbergs, my first reaction is, “meh,” but the final result features a very strong, masculine design with a few graphic patterns that bring  out some femininity.  That type of mix is exactly the kind of thing I heart, and gives this newly-single mom and her daughter a perfectly empowering space for their new life.  Love it. Dan pulls off a wonderfully polished look throughout the house and just shoots the Goldbergs’ property value well beyond the $50K budget for this challenge.

As befitting a designer who brings us full-size boat frames suspended from the ceiling in a nursery, and apples + rough-hewn wood as design elements in his white room challenge, there are several features of Dan’s design that are off-the-charts in terms of innovation.  His mirror-tiled TV enclosure in the living room and his pull-out desktops in Jackie’s custom bed are real standouts.  As a mama, I love the photo he blows up of the Goldbergs and places prominently in the entry.  That type of thing really speaks to who Dan is as a person, and all signs point to him placing a lot of value on family.  In terms of things I don’t like?  I’m never a fan of backing a sofa to the entry, but concede that sometimes it’s unavoidable.  I’m picky about there not being any window treatment in the kitchen.  With so much elegance everywhere, a bare window just screams “unfinished”.  In the master bedroom, although the homeowner may have been desperate for storage, the headboard surround is just shy of a 70s waterbed look. I’m also wondering what happened to the piano that used to be in the entry.  It always chaps me when you see designers on TV take something like that out just because they don’t want to deal with it.  Still, these folks have a beautiful makeover on their hands overall and have surely exorcised a painful past.

ANTONIO: The Starr Family

Antonio's pièce de résistance: the Starr's ecclectic living room.

Antonio's pièce de résistance: the Starr's ecclectic living room.

The Starr's new vintage-inspired kitchen.

The Starr's new vintage-inspired kitchen.

The master bedroom is a modern retreat.

The master bedroom is a modern retreat.

The graphic stars in little Miles' room are a double whammy: they pay tribute to the Starrs and are also a nice, subliminal touch.

The graphic stars in little Miles' room are a double whammy: they pay tribute to the Starrs and are also a nice, subliminal touch.

In terms of innovation, Antonio’s house doesn’t have as many hidden features as Dan’s, but his house is a bold statement of color, texture and pattern.  Although I agree with Vern about wanting a different furniture arrangement in the living room, I absolutely love Antonio’s mix of colors and fabrics here.  Nothing is overly trendy, which is a good thing.  This ensures longer life to the décor, whereas a trendy design looks dated in a year or two when fashion moves forward.  The kitchen switcheroo makes the space feel twice its original size, although again, I want some bit of something to dress the windows and am chagrined to see the window slightly out of alignment with the sink placement.  I love the fact that Antonio addresses the awkwardness of the bathroom entry in the master, but going from two sinks to one sink will definitely be a bummer for the homeowners.  I wonder if framing out a door there would achieve the same objective, while retaining the second sink.  Initially, I was doing a freakdance over the master bedroom color, but once everything came together it just felt hip and stylish.

My overall feeling about Antonio’s house was that it was not just pretty, but personal.  His space didn’t look like a staged set or a furniture showroom.  It looked like a real home.  I’m always impressed by that.

Antonio Ballatore and Dan Vickery sweat it out while waiting to hear who will be crowned this season's Design Star.

Antonio Ballatore and Dan Vickery sweat it out while waiting to hear who will be crowned this season's Design Star.

Now comes the real drama…it’s decision time.  Sadly, it looks like HGTV has rehired Jason Champion’s mortuary school carpenter to style Dan’s and Antonio’s hair for the big event.  Antonio looks like he’s aged about 15 years and is somebody’s dad…Dan suddenly has Jersey girl mall bangs.  What the H?

Dan’s hosting is great, but Antonio knocks it out of the park.  As Vern says, he’s just entertaining to watch.  That’s key, right?  When Candice throws her head down on the table to laugh, I know Antonio has clinched the deal.

And I am so down with that.

Coming up next: an update on Season 3 Design Star, Jennifer Bertrand, and my interviews with Dan Vickery and Design Star Antonio Ballatore!

12 Comments

  1. frogponder September 14, 2009 at 6:09 pm

    I was sure Antonio was going to win for some time. He is such a character. I liked Dan’s house better and I loved the reaction of Dan’s family. Good point about the budget!

  2. Michelann September 14, 2009 at 8:23 pm

    Team Antonio FTW! (I’m such a dork.)

  3. Shelly September 14, 2009 at 8:26 pm

    Well done, gentlemen, well done! I’m also pleased that the debut of Antonio’s show is next week. I was worried about filling my Sunday Design Star time slot!

  4. Eric September 14, 2009 at 9:38 pm

    Well, HGTV proved me wrong. I agree that both guys did well again this week. I thought Dan’s hosting improved quite a bit and his hidden TV over the mantle knocked my socks off! Love it! Antonio is just such a different personality, in a good way. Unlike any other host they have and I think that is what really sent him over the top. Interested to see how his new show will be.

  5. Beth September 14, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    Dans design overall was far superior, the most innovative and livable. A lot of thoughtful planning went into his design to address the needs of the homeowner and her daughter. One negative: I loved the back-splash Dan used, but it just didn’t fit well with the rest of the kitchen design. Needed color.
    Antonio’s kitchen was the only room I felt he succeeded in. The stars on the wall were great in the little boys room, but that was all that was good there. I’m afraid I agree with the masses regarding the mb color choice for the starr’s home, not livable and the headboard would be next thing to go right after painting quickly as possible. Hoping the professional crew was able to go in after the show and correct the problem with removing a double vanity in the mb bath. As for drawing a viewing audience that will stay, I believe Dan is the host to offer the most there. Hopefully he will get a tv show also. Pretty sure he should have the on-line show in the bag, since the viewing audience has been the deciding force there?

  6. Sara September 15, 2009 at 10:20 am

    I thought Dan’s design was much better than Antonio’s. I was very disappointed that he didn’t win. I would much rather watch a show that he does as opposed to Antonio.

  7. kmoxidine September 15, 2009 at 11:10 pm

    AB sucks as a human being and a designer.

  8. Krista September 16, 2009 at 1:54 pm

    Can I just point out that I called this from episode 1? Because I so did. Also, Robin, you’ll be amused to know that A) Stribling spoiled the winner for me by posting it on Facebook before I had a chance to see it and B) My boyfriend canceled the recording to watch football, so I didn’t even get to see it anyway. MY LIFE IS HARD.

  9. Amy September 19, 2009 at 4:01 pm

    Any idea where Dan got the girl’s bed for the teenage bedroom makeover on the finale? That was so cool!

  10. Tiffany Thorton September 20, 2009 at 5:37 pm

    I agree with kmoxidine 110%. Dan Vickery was the rightful winner. AB was SH*! He sucks big time. I’m boy cotting HGTV from now on!! Why not let america continue to make the decision Vern and Company, like you did in the past? HELL IT WORKED!!!!

  11. Rochelle September 21, 2009 at 5:43 pm

    I would fire a “designer” who removed a sink from the bathroom without asking. Also, there was very little storage in the little boy’s room. The homeowners said the dresser had to stay but there was no attempt to make the bed and the dresser look like they belonged in the same room. There was no place to put books and toys and nothing comfortable to sit on. Pile the toys in the corner? I could have thought of that.

    And another thing – if my name were Starr I would be tired of star puns.

    About the bed in the girl’s room – it looked like he purchased a low dresser, put the slide-out desk thing on top of that, and then a loft-type bed (looked like 2x4s) on top of that. I’d guess there was a ledger along the walls for support. Then drywall to make it look built-in. That room needed a stool to get up there and she’s a rare child if she cleans off her desk every night.

    Looking forward to your review of Antonio’s show. Sounds a little too “Monster House” for my taste.

  12. gail September 26, 2009 at 9:15 pm

    I’m the homeowner who was lucky enough to have Dan re-do our home. Just wanted to address the article and my piano. Dan asked if I wanted to keep it – I told him I didn’t. He was thoughtful in every respect.

    As for the bed he made in my daughter’s room – he constructed that – it was made by stacking two drawer dressers on top of each other – twin bed on top.

    I love what Dan did to our home and I’m glad he got the online show – he is truly talented.

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