Wednesday, June 27, 2012


This week on Design Star we had to design individual lounge spaces for Hollywood's 125th Birthday party.  Yes, I said individual challenge.  Thank. God.  I have been pretty fortunate with my partnerships so far on the competition, but it does add to the stress level of the challenge, and I feel you often end up compromising  a bit of yourself as a team versus working on your own.  These types of individual challenge were exactly the reason why coming on Design Star was so appealing to me.  To been given a blank slate that I could do anything to without having to convince a client of my design plans and just roll with my own ideas is a designers dream come true. (Note to future clients... if you just want to give me your budget and tell me to 'go to town' I would be totally cool with that.)

Our lounge spaces needed to be designed to reflect a particular era in Hollywood's design history.  We selected our design styles at random, and at first I was beyond excited to have the Hollywood Regency style.  It is one of my favorite design styles, and perfect for the theme of this party in particular.  After my initial excitement, reality hit me.  I picked a style that was certainly in my wheelhouse (no excuses), and it's a Hollywood Regency for a Hollywood party... if I screw this up... I'm definitely going home.

We arrived at a Hollywood prop shop where we were given $ to spend on renting props.  This place was enormous... ridiculously enormous.  We only had 45 minutes to shop (it said 2 hours, but technically it was 15 minutes to navigate the store, 45 minutes to actually shop, and 1 hour to check out.)  On top of that, we were asked to stay in 3 groups because there were only 3 employees that were able to help us tag the items we wanted to rent.  WHAAAAAT?!!? You know we all just wanted to run wild throughout that store and call dibs on things all on our own, but no no, not today.  I was shopping with Danielle and Rachel, and good thing we all liked each other so we were good with sharing time shopping for each of our rooms.  If Luca was still around, this would have been a tragic experience.

At first I thought I was going to have an easy time with Hollywood Regency furniture because the style is so popular right now, but it was exactly the opposite.  Because it is so popular, most of the items I found were already tagged for pick up from real customers, or were checked out of the space entirely.  I was hoping to shop and find something inspiring to shape the rest of my ideas for the space.  Black and white are iconic of the time which was why I immediately chose to do my checkered floor... but pops of red and kelly green were big for my design era too, and I was crossing my fingers to find something that would allow me to add some color in the space.  But after shopping in the prop shop, it was clear that just wasn't happening.

After a few more failed attempts at furniture stores to find anything super inspiring, I had arrived into full panic hysteria mode.  Danielle, Rachel and I got into a hysterical laughing until we cry fit in the van at the end of day one.  I wished they would have shown this, because it was ridiculous.  We began to ask ourselves, "who signs up for this?!?! Here's a plywood and pipe structure, please design this immaculately in no time at all. Oh, and please give a presentation about it in front of hundreds of people afterwards. Thanks".  Madness.  Don't get me wrong, we were all happy to still be in the competition, but as designers, we know these are crazy time, money, and resource constraints we aren't used to, and none of us could have prepared for.  In the words of Hilari... "this is so whack."

Outside the competition and at the house, the final seven of us had all become really close.  Spending day after day with everyone where there is no tv, internet, music, or magazines, all we do in our time at the house is hang out with each other.  We developed nicknames for everyone as well as picked up on everyone's unique and quirky personality traits.  We called Kris "honey badger" for his impeccable impression of the popular YouTube video, Mikel was "Mary Poppins" because of his always positive personality and his HGTV bag stocked with snacks.  There was "Manly Stanley" for the obvious, Hilari's slogan was "this is whack", and Rachel was known for saying "duuuuude."  I was nicknamed "Hollywood", and known for my ever present "whaaaaaaaaaaat!?" comments. (Maybe you will notice these from here on out, trust me they were a good time.) Needless to say, none of us wanted to go home at this point, and it was going to be hard to say goodbye to anyone as well.

The second day of the challenge Danielle and I both had to go shopping for some key furniture pieces we were still missing.  I had one shot at the store we chose due to the time constraints and was in 'make it work' mode. Luckily they had everything I needed and we were able to get in and out pretty quickly. We even had time to stop by the florist to pick up flowers for our spaces too, which in our opinions, was an important element to party planning. In the last few hours of the challenge I had done a 180 in my mind.  I was starting to see everything come together and was absolutely loving it.  I had come from feeling like I could be going home, to realizing I might have a shot at winning the challenge.  I finished with time to spare and sat down in my space and started working on my camera challenge.  I knew I had a great space, but knew my camera challenge had to be equally solid to win.

My presentation actually went really well.  Those silly HGTV producers focused on the very small section where I flubbed on my words for a second, and the ominous music playing made it look much worse than it was.  I was really confident with my presentation but know that I do loose my smile or 'sparkle' towards the end and was hoping that didn't happen this week.  Overall, I was really pleased with how I did considering the limitations and my lack of experience with public speaking at large intimidating Hollywood parties.  We didn't get to stay and mingle at the party afterwards, and we were all really bummed about that.  We were aching to get feedback from the guests and have some time in a social setting outside the confines of our cast house.  Stanley was most disappointed we weren't able to attend the party, and by disappointed I mean raging mad about the situation.  It was like they dangled a carrot in front of him and took it away at the last minute.  Poor Stanley, he just wanted to party.  To make up for this, we were allowed to listen to music on the way home, and had a dance party in the van all by ourselves which involved a lot of Beyonce and hair swinging.

At evaluation they named Danielle the winner of the competition.  When they announced it, I felt as if someone sucker punched me in my stomach.  I was so confident in my space and my presentation, and at evaluation there were no real negative critiques from the judges.  I felt so dissapointed and helpless at that moment.  OMG I wanted to curl and a ball in hide last night when they showed me crying on national television.  We eat, sleep, breathe this competition and its all you do and think about, so it's beyond upsetting to continuously feel really confident about your spaces, but find that essentially its still not 'good enough' for a win.  I felt I had shown really strong designs so far in the competition along with great reviews at evaluations, I was becoming really confused at what the judges were looking for in order for me to win a challenge.  To say I felt defeated was an understatement.  I let Danielle know in that moment that my sadness did not mean I didn't think she deserved to win, or that her space wasn't beautiful, because it was.  It was me sad with the situation, and she 100% understood that.  We have all had expressed our ups and downs at the house with one another, and we know that this isn't something we take personal, its a design competition.

What I WAS excited about though, was that I had officially made it into the final 6 of Design Star! I could hardly believe it.  My goal coming onto the show was to not be the first to go home, and then to strive to make it into the final 6.  I had reached my first and second goal of the challenge, and now my third was to win it all! I was so happy that Rachel wasn't sent home this week.  Her and I had become very close, and I know she was much more talented than the victorian space allowed her to show.  I was still very sad to see Kris go, he is such a quirky and fun personality, and always made me laugh.  I knew we were all going to miss him, but knew he was going on to do big things in the design world.

Danielle's gorgeous Art Deco Lounge- Tonight's WINNER! 

Hilari's 80's Lounge- Single handedly made the 80's cool again

Mikel's Mid Century Contemporary Lounge- Full of his 'white on white' moments 

Rachel's Victorian Lounge- I love Rachel, and we both didn't love this room.

Stanley's Futuristic Lounge- Along with his custom phallic coffee table

Kris's 70's Lounge- Eliminated this week... we will miss you Honey Badger!

Tune in next week for the infamous kitchen challenge, where the final 6 work in teams of 2 to transform a white box into a dream kitchen space.  The Kitchen Cousins join us as the guest judges, and the winner will be published in an upcoming issue of HGTV Magazine.... HUGE prize for a designer.  Also remember to vote online for your FAN FAVORITE of the show...( hint...ME. )


  1. Danielle's space was great, but yours was out of this world. It was by far my favorite room of the competition so far. You're my fave, I root for you every episode! Hope you win! Also, I completely know what you mean about producers/editors. I did a tv show abroad and the way they would edit things was just so hysterical. They'd catch me doing one face and put it in a completely different part to make it look like my reaction. Oh, reality tv.

  2. Britany I loved your space! Your portfolio on HGTV is crazy good too. I'm rootin' for ya!

  3. mr. wonderful and i look forward to watching you every week!! so fun! you are so amazingly talented. xx