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
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
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.
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!