Tonight’s premiere episode of HGTV’s Design Star Season 6 could be called The Fast and the Furious. Eleven designers are fast, and Cathy Hobbs is furious. Missed the show? Here’s how it went down:
Brooklyn balcony, New York skyline, twelve designers, David Bromstad. Blanche is bitchy, Cathy’s bitchy. Camera challenge, 30 seconds, Cathy has Emmys, no one wins. Work in pairs, pick a partner, design your digs! J’s bitchy, Cathy’s still bitchy. Kevin’s thinking teal, rejects teal, goes tangerine. Mark builds, Meg upholsters, J tries to upholster, J fails miserably. Blanche wallpapers, Doug wallpapers, Kellie paints her boobs. Tyler shops, Leslie shops, storefront promos a-go-go. Leslie moves pillows, Cathy hisses. No more wire hangers! Judges in the house! They love Leslie’s trunk, hate Cathy’s bench, love Kellie, love Karl, hate Blanche’s wall doilies, hate “RELAX,” hate Bret and Kevin’s room, like Meg and Tyler’s, hate bookshelves, hate unfinished furniture. Karl wins, Blanche loses, Blanche goes home, poor Blanche.
Phew! I felt like I didn’t exhale until the credits rolled. It all went by in a blur, didn’t it? Now that we can breathe again, let’s see how the rooms worked out:
LESLIE EZELLE & CATHY HOBBS: Great Room
Although the overall look of this great room is nice, it lacks the drama I would hope for. It’s a neutral backdrop for the camera, so I guess that’s a good thing. There are only two standouts in the space: the coffee table/trunk made from rubber tires (if you look closely, you can see the treads) and the dining room table, both selections made by our (almost) hometown girl, Leslie. Go Leslie! The fabric Cathy selects for pillows might remind her (pretentiously, I must say) of the Serengeti, but all it conjures up for me is a yawn. I am shocked to see Cathy–my preselected pick for first place–turn out to be such a controlling beyotch. Turns me off completely. Her behavior strikes me as coming from someone who resents having to go through a competition to get a show in the first place–as if the execs should just give her her own timeslot because of her illustrious background. When I first told Jeb about her five Emmys and her local decorating show, he said, “Why would someone like that need to be on this show?” and now I think we know why. She must not have such a great behind-the-scenes rep. If you’re going to play the tiger lady, you’re gonna burn some bridges.
KEVIN GRACE & BRET RITTER: Bedroom 1
Train wreck in the toy aisle. I must say I do love all of the pillows in the space, and don’t we all love a good Eames rocker knockoff? Other than that, why are we looking at a bedroom suitable for a twelve-year old when the finalists have a median age of 37? Just curious. I agree with judge Genevieve Gorder, it’s weird to paint the walls bright orange and then put up a sign that says, “RELAX.” Hating the cat tree room dividers, hating the schlumpy bed making, hating the trite plywood “RELAX.” You might as well forgo that dumb rug too…it doesn’t add anything soft underfoot and it’s the same color as the floor so it’s not bringing anything of value to the party. Since Bret’s online portfolio is such a joke, I am hoping to like him more on the actual show, but I still don’t see why he’s here.
J Allen outs herself as a resume stuffer when she lists upholstery as a skillset but gives us not one but two hideously upholstered, should’ve-been-cake headboards. Total fail. I want window treatments, I want a taller wallpaper wall, I want the plaster pedestal in the corner to go away. The wallpaper itself is a nice, graphic element, and I love the round mirror, but that wall would be stronger without the spindly little white console table beneath such a heavy-looking frame. Doug is so cute, I want to call him Dougie. J Allen, on the other hand, is like a bridesmaid you don’t know well but select anyway to make your wedding pictures look good–she doesn’t play well with others and she’s not necessarily gawd’s gift to the design world, but she is photogenic, I’ll give her that.
MEG CASWELL & TYLER WISLER: Bedroom 3
All of the fabrics selected for this room seem to gel well together. The beds look well-appointed, although the headboard is mounted too high. I adore the bench upholstery, but its pipe flange feet and coordinating bookshelf legs are a total disconnect from the semi-luxurious feeling in the space. Would love to applaud the cornices but they’re hung too high–revealing the roll tops of the window shades like an obvious panty line. Although the bookshelves are a good use of awkward niches, Meg and Tyler don’t do much with them.
BLANCHE GARCIA & MARK DIAZ: Bedroom 4
I think this room is going to be a real knockout but it all falls flat in the end. Mark doesn’t finish his ambitious headboards. Blanche effs up her whole wallpaper project, between the big-ass nails she hammers into the frame to her sloppy installation to their odd placement on the wall. (If you want to pull this look off at home, use finish nails on your molding and put the two frames much closer together for more impact.) Again, we have no window treatments and very little punch. Although I love the chairs they select, that random Shake Weight table under the room divider curtain has got to go. When Blanche starts putting her tealights on the wall, I’m totally feeling it…but she didn’t really design their placement, so instead of feeling like art, judge Vern Yip calls them doilies.
KELLIE CLEMENTS & KARL SPONHOLTZ: Bonus Room
Kellie and Karl’s design proves you can create a fun space and still gear it toward adults. The mid-century-inspired lounge chair and painted tree trunks in the right-hand corner of the room make the whole space. This room is a real standout for its color palette, its funky flair, and the fact that they overcome some serious spacial challenges. I don’t see anything I would do differently!
WHO SHOULD’VE GONE HOME
J should have been the first to go. A combination of poor execution and piss-poor attitude outweighs wrinkled wallpaper and wall doilies, if you ask me.
THIS SEASON VS. PREVIOUS SEASONS
This should’ve been the blueprint for Design Star all along. The designers have access to products from a crap ton of different stores and they have professional painters and handymen on the scene to help out, so they seem to be provided with all the tools they need for a successful outcome. Plus, we aren’t designing around tschotskes fom China or making art out of potholders. It makes me hopeful that this season will finally be about design. Tanika Ray is a good host–although I never saw the need to dismiss such a beloved figure as Clive Pearse–and David Bromstad wears his mentor suit well. It’s all flowing, it’s not The Apprentice, and it’s not Camp Crafts 101 either. Finally!
The jury is still out on whether or not I’ll be conducting interviews with castoffs this year as I did the previous two seasons, but I’ll keep you posted.