Friday, July 27, 2012

ABC 15 Sonoran Living Live

This week I have been busy busy busy with the press & media here in Arizona after the finale of HGTV Design Star.  I want to first thank all of you that have been keeping up with me and reading my blog along my journey on DS.  I also know many of you don't live in Arizona and aren't able to tune into watch some of the TV interviews I have done this week, so I promised to update the blog with links to watch them from anywhere!  Here is my interview from Wednesday on ABC 15 Sonoran Living... we chatted about my experience on Design Star as well as a fun DIY project on how to make your own stylish pin board.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012


I was happy to be sharing this whole experience with Danielle.  We made friends very early in the competition when we both discovered we had lost our Mother's to cancer.  After getting to know each other better, we also realized that our Mom's were the driving force for both of us to get into the design field.  I lost my Mom last August, and Danielle lost her Mom only a few months prior to the taping of the show.  I was always amazed by her strength for being able to handle that and the competition at the same time.  That being said, we were two tough chicks that have been through a lot in life, and it was going to make this final competition even harder...

 FINAL TWO! Danielle and I

Right after being named the final 2 from the yurt challenge evaluation, we were told that there was more that we needed to stick around for.  We had no idea what was going on, because typically after evaluation, we load up in the van and head home.  We both assumed we were probably going to be headed right into the final evaluation and a new Design Star finale twist.  We walked into the designer lounge to see David ready and waiting for us.  We were so excited to hear that our past competitors were coming back to help us, because lets be real, we needed it.  We were told that we had three days to makeover a real homeowners living and dining space, as well as film our pilot presentations for our show concept.  That is A LOT to handle in only three days.  When Rachel, Mikel, Stanley, and Hilari walked through the door, I was so happy.  We were able to pick our teams, and I quickly picked Rachel & Mikel, and Danielle selected Hilari and Stanley.

Luckily we didn't have to jump right into a challenge, but we did get to sit down with our producers and our team to discuss our plan for the pilots.  My show concept was "Picture Perfect Spaces"...when we got to the final four of the competition, all of us had meetings with the main producers of the show to discuss our show concept ideas.  From that meeting they had come up with what they thought the best concept for us as well as the name of our shows.  I knew I wanted to incorporate photography in my show idea in a way to make the space more personal and show a new and fun dynamic to the homeowner interaction.  My show wouldn't always be baseed around me taking photos of the homeowners, but also photos of whatever inspires my clients and myself through the design process... people, architecture, nature, etc.  I would then incorporate photography relating these inspirations to the space.  For this pilot in particular, the producers wanted me to photograph the family and incorporate those photos in the space.

 Meeting with my producer Matt before meeting the family

Meeting my family Song, Mark & Luke

 Picture Perfect Spaces

I was excited to meet with the family I was working with and to get started.  I only had 10 minutes to meet with the homeowners to get a sense of their style and vision for the space.  Most importantly they wanted an updated adult space, and it was clear their son's toys had taken over.  They let me know that they wanted all of the toys gone, and to not worry about any sort of toy storage in the space.  This was a space just for the grown up to hang out in.  They wanted their space to feel chic and they specifically requested beefier baseboards and molding to accent the architecture of the home. They also let me know that they wanted fun and bold artwork in the space too.  I was getting more and more excited to get going.  With such little time to meet with the clients I did some digging and analyzing of the their current space after they left.  The rug they had in the dining room was bold and graphic and that let me know they would be comfortable with patterns.  They had a small framed piece of grasscloth on the wall as art, and that inspired me to use  patterned grasscloth somehow in their dining space.  I also found small orange accessories in one of the boxes that was packed up, and that let me know that they were comfortable with that shade of orange, which inspired my pops of the color for the overall design.

 Living Room BEFORE

Living Room BEFORE

Dining Room AKA Luke's Room BEFORE

Filming the "beats" (aka design tips and clips) for the pilot were so much fun.  It was a totally different dynamic filming talking segments to the camera without David and his stopwatch timing me.  I was able to relax and really enjoy the experience of hosting.  Filming all of the segments that make up a five minute pilot were really really time consuming which left little time for actually designing the space.  I was able to come up with a main design concept and luckily I had Rachel and Mikel to source items for me.  I was so thankful to have them on my team.

My fabulous design team... Mikel & Rachel

Working with the dream team

Right away I knew I wanted to add wainscoting to the living and dining rooms to tie the two spaces together.  The homeowners requested  'beefier moldings' and I wanted take that to the next level.  It would not only accent the architecture of the house, but also bring in a modern graphic element.  I also wanted to add a printed grasscloth to the dining room to add texture and drama and a nod to their artwork I had found earlier. It would also help tie in the rug pattern and the color of their existing stone fireplace from the family room. The artwork I found was bold and a contemporary twist to traditional art.  It would be the wow moment as soon as you walked in.  My most exciting moment was when I found the amazing hand painted bowl that you can see on the coffee table while I was shopping.  It was that 'it' piece that helped me inspire the rest of the room's colors and theme around. In my pilot I talked about how a great find like this can lead you in a great design direction, but unfortunately it was edited out of the final cut.

The orange and black and white hand painted bowl that inspired my design for the space

 Living Room AFTER

 Living Room "moment" and me setting up the Dining Room

Dining space AFTER

Living Room AFTER

One of the art pieces OBSESSED

 Mixing of prints & textures

Custom shoe storage

The photo shoot with the homeowners was so fun... we actually only had 15 minutes to shoot the photos because they had to go to work.  But I was excited to be able to capture their photos and use them to make the space more personal.  I have always loved taking photos of children, and trust me, it is incredible what great pictures you can get out of candy or donut bribes.  The photos turned out great, and I printed them in black in white in order to allow them to work well with the other bold artwork I had throughout the space.  In the end the homeowners loved the space, and were thrilled to finally have the space they would be proud to invite their friends over to and entertain in.

Homeowner Reveal

My photography of the family on the printed grasscloth wallpaper

 Me in my final dining space

I walked away feeling confident in my final design for the family as well as my pilot presentation.  I felt so thankful to have made it through the entire competition without any regrets, and was genuinely proud of every space that I designed.  I had a strong showing throughout, never being at risk for elimination, and with two wins under my belt, I was walking into the final evaluation with my head held high.

 Danielle and I toasting to our finished spaces

I was sure that Danielle also did well in her final challenge and with her pilot presentation, so I was soooo nervous going into evaluation.  I took a moment to say a prayer before we went in.... I prayed to God and my Mother, and asked them to take away my anxiety and that I would trust in their plan for me.  If I didn't win this competition, I would trust that it wasn't meant to be, and that God had a bigger plan for me.


After Danielle was named the next Design Star I was absolutely devastated.  But I continued to remind myself of my prayer, and that I would continue to trust in Gods plan.  Everything happens for a reason and I know there are big things ahead for me.  At the evaluation, I had told Genevieve, Vern & David that if I didn't win, I would continue to work towards my dream of having my own design show, and promised it wouldn't be the last they saw of me.  They came up to me afterwards to remind me of my promise and really encouraged me to continue to follow my dream. I am so thankful for the experience, and know in my heart this isn't the end for me.  I will continue to do what I love...designing fabulous spaces for my clients, and will continue to work towards my dream of being back in front of that camera again!

The newest Design Star Danielle with judges David, Genevieve, and Vern

Thank you all for your support, and the Fan Favorite voting is still open until Friday.  Please continue to cast your votes for me... and if I win, I will be back in front of that camera for

Wednesday, July 18, 2012


FINAL THREE! I couldn't believe it.  I was so excited to be left in the house with Hilari & Danielle.  We had all become great friends, and all of us were actually still sharing a one room together in that huge house!  We were anticipated a very 'creative' challenge to be placed on us for this one, and we spent the morning reminiscing about glass houses, and tiny house challenges. We had a feeling HGTV was going to be mixing it up on this one.

Heading to the challenge in the fan we pulled into the park near our house... not surprising.  We had a feeling it was going to be in some sort of public setting. But then they blindfolded us, and things took a different direction.  If  you want to really want to freak someone out, take 3 A type personalities...keep a huge secret from them, put them in the final three of a major challenge, and then blindfold them so they have NO idea whats going on.  It was actually pretty hilarious, and the three of us were in a great mood kicking this challenge off.

The final 3 of us with David

We removed our blindfolds and were directed to walk torwards David.  I immediately saw these three round tent/structure looking things, and my first thought was, "oh my god, is this a yurt?" The crew actually thought it was pretty funny that me of all people knew what it was.  My design manager from my job back at home is a bit of a hippy, and she would often talk about quitting her job, selling all of her belongings, and living in a yurt... down by the river.  Maybe not down by the river, but I had to add that in there.  In any case, she would tell me stories about these things, and how she actually has friends that live in one.  I was kicking myself for not 'googling' these crazy yurts she would talk about, because I had a feeling I could have used the research.

The 'fantasy' yurt before... not so dreamy...

Our sneaking suspicion was true... we were in fact design yurts.  Oh boy.  Where are the tiny houses? Bring back the glass house challenge!  A round, non-permanent structure with no real walls, kind of sounds like a designers nightmare.  Okay, it is.  We were asked to design a 'fantasy bedroom yurt' in our space... I laughed because to me, using fantasy and yurt in the same sentence was a bit of an oxymoron.  This coming from someone who has never camped in her life, I wouldn't consider myself an outdoorsy kind of gal. I was having a hard time imagining why someone would choose to live in one of these, let alone consider it a 'fantasy'.  I was going to need really dig deep on this to come up with something good.

Team BROWN yurt

I sat in the center of my yurt for what felt like forever looking around this crazy round structure and what the heck I was going to do.  I wanted to prove to the judges that I was able to design in many different styles and this was definitely the way to do it.  I felt a little pigeon holed in past challenges being that the Kris Jenner Office challenge and the Hollywood Regency Lounge challenge were both similar to my style but they weren't challenges & styles I actually chose myself, they were given to me.  Yet, I was told I used the same style too often....I felt I had to defend my design abilities because of this.  I was confident in the fact that I shown a range in style when I could and was planning on showing them something new on this one too.  I wasn't going to make a 'glam chic', 'hollywood regency', or 'modern industrical' yurt.   I decided upon a mid century beach bungalow... yurt. The only place I could see myself living or vacationing in a yurt was on a tropical beach somewhere fabulous.  So that is where my inspiration came from, a more masculine, beach bungalow with some mid century flavor.  The three of us were all assigned carpenters for the job and I had the fabulous Joel West from Design on a Dime.  He was pumped to help me and was determined to do whatever it took to keep me in the competition.  We were going to create something inventive to enhance the round shape of the space.  A bed on castors that would rotate with the space to enjoy different views, serve as hidden storage in the back, with functional nightstands & desk space build it... it was going to be the ultimate furniture piece for this yurt.

Joel & I discussing the design plan...

Using teal fabrics to bring color to the space & draw your eye up to the statement chandalier

I remember coming back at the end of day one, and Joel had been busting his butt working on the bed.  The yurt smelled like a coffee bean and I noticed a stack of 5 or 6 empty grande coffee cups stacked on top of one another.  Joel wasn't messing around, he was hoppin himself up on coffee in order to get this bed made, no matter what.  I appreciated his intensity, and was so happy to have him as a partner in this challenge.  Casey Noble, host of Design on a Dime (from season 5 of Design Star) lit a fire under his butt and warned him not to screw anything up for me.  But I wasn't worried about Joel, I could tell he took on this challenge as if it was his own.  He gave me some really great tips when it comes to hosting and we were ready for our partner camera challenge together.

On the morning of day two, we got a chance to tour all the yurts, and I was excited to see the progress of Danielle & Hilari's yurts.  It was clear that all of our yurts were VERY different from one another.  Giving the girls a tour of mine, I didn't want to let them know my bed was on castors and rotated in the space.  Like I said in the show, "I didn't want to show all my tricks."  I just didn't want them to know what I was up to in my yurt.  From a competition standpoint I wanted it to be a surprise factor in my space.  I mean, you can't give away all your secrets can you!?! Hilari's was heading in a really beautiful direction, and Danielle's looked to be moving in a more contemporary space.  It was hard to tell at that point where we all stood in the competition.

Things were going yurt-astic in the challenge by the second day, and I felt confident in the direction my yurt was going.  Ideally, I would have changed a couple things in the space.  I wanted a cleaner wood look for my bed with maple or birch wood, but Joel had picked up more of an oak veneer at the store and was far more grainy than I had hoped.  But sometimes you just have to work with what you've got!  I had also hoped the bed would be stained in a much darker color, but with our limited time frame, we didn't have the proper time to layer the stain like we needed to for the optimal finish.  In the end I still loved the yurt, and could totally envision myself trying out the whole 'outdoorsy thing' and sleeping in it on a beautiful beach somewhere.  At the end of the challenge it was time for our 'MTV Cribs' style camera challenge touring our yurt spaces.  I got a chance to peek into Hilari & Danielles final spaces and seeing them all finished made it even clearer how different we all are as designers.  Again, I headed into evaluation not knowing where we all stood in the competition.  I was confident that I designed the yurt the best that I could, and had come to terms that if it was my time to go, I would leave with my head held high.

Mid Century Beach Bungalow... yurt.

This bed spins, damn you still photography.

Seating area

I love this light fixture.  It spoke to me, it said, please... put me in your yurt.

Heading into evaluation, I was anxious as always to hear what Vern & Genevieve were going to say.  Mark Steines from Entertainment Tonight was also our guest judge, and I knew he was going to bring some interesting feedback from a hosting standpoint. I was also glad it was a male guest judge, because I thought a man would probably appreciate the industrial & inventive idea with the rotating bed... I hoped.

The judges... Mark Steines, Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, David Bromstad

The critiques were pretty fair for all of us, but Vern wasn't keen on my photography for yurt.  I got 'Yipped' as we like to say. He suggested I had taken more abstract photos or close up pictures of bark.  I didn't really agree... I took the photos because the space needed more color & interest, and photos of bark would have been a real bummer in a mainly brown space.  But again, if that was the worst critique I was okay with agreeing to disagree and moving forward!

My photography... Vern suggested close up photos of bark insead... no, Vern, no. 

In the end the judges sent Hilari home.  I was actually pretty surprised.  Her yurt was absolutely stunning, but I did agree with them about the lack of design tips and content in her camera challenge.  I love Hilari, and think she is one of the funniest people I have ever met.  I know she is going places, and this will not be the end for Hilari on TV.  We didn't have to wait long...(today HGTV officially announced her as part of the cast of Design Star All Stars airing after the finale of Design Star). Kick butt Hilari... makde DS7 proud!

Hilari's 'Flirt Yurt'

Danielle's Global Contemporary Yurt

It's official, I made it into the FINAL TWO!!! Danielle and I are the  last two standing in the quest for HGTV's next Design Star.  Next week we will be working with real clients and also filming our pilots for our potential show on the network.  It is definitely going to be a finale you will not want to miss!

As always thank you for all your support, and keep up the online voting for me as your Fan Favorite!!!

Wednesday, July 11, 2012


We made it to challenge number 7, otherwise known as episode 707 (season 7 episode 7) from a production standpoint.  We have officially been away from home and our 'normal' lives for a month now.  Not only have we been void of television, music, internet, magazines, cell phones... I have only been able to talk with my husband 4 times (limited to 15 minutes a session) since I left.  He has NO idea how I have been doing on the show, because we are unable to discuss details of the compeition with anyone.  I have attempted to speak in 'code' to him over the phone by saying things like... "I'm good... Im STILL hereeeee, soooooo, yeah."  We should have probably come up with code words before I left so I could give him a little more insight to how things were going.  On top of that, this challenge was happening around Valentine's Day, which definitely made me miss home that much more.

 HGTV Design Star Season 7 Episode 7 Cast (Britany Simon, Hilari Younger-Powell, David Bromstad, Danielle Colding, Mikel Welch

Not only are we missing home, but let me tell you, coming up with new and fabulous designs day after day without ANY sort of inspiration at all from tv, internet, or magazines was getting harder and harder.  It's almost as if we'd been drained of our design ideas, and just needed a little pick me up with a peek of HGTV Mag, or Elle Decor for God's sake... SOMETHING stimulating.

Enough of the negativity... on a more positive side, I was beyond excited to still be in the competition.  We were down to the FINAL FOUR designers.  I had put my blood, sweat, and tears into these challenges, and the longer I stayed, the more and more I wanted to win.  Not only did I want to win because, lets be real, this is any designers dream job, but I really did want to make my husband and my family proud.  I had touched on my Mothers passing in my first recap, but I had made a promise to my Mom the day that she passed away... I promised her I would live my life in a way that would make her proud.  And that is exactly what I intended to do coming on the show.  I know she would be so proud of me and how far I have come, and even if I didn't win, I wanted to walk away from this experience being feeling proud of my designs and the way I carried myself on the show.  And I know she was watching over me from Heaven with a smile beaming as bright as the sun. 

Finding out we were designing condos inspired by a color seemed like a fairly easy challenge.  Finding out we were presenting a tip incorporating this color Live on CBS The Talk, and doing all of it in just two days make it a little more interesting.  The condo unit was a fairly large space... and by large, I mean that Hilari described the main living room wall as 'The Great Wall of Marina Del Rey.'  No kidding.  We were to design, decorate and style the dining, living, and nook space incorporating our color and using our specific design point of view.  The colors were picked randomly and Mikel selected green, Danielle had blue, Hilari was red, and I got yellow.  Yellow happens to be my favorite color, but it put me at a disadvantage being that Danielle and I had just used pops of yellow in our previous kitchen challenge.  I had to go out of my way to incorporate it in a sense that felt different from the last. (No one trick ponies up in here)

Colorful Condo Space BEFORE

Literally walking into the space, we had 10 minutes to pick a paint color.  Say whaaaaaaat?! Every designer knows that the paint color is certainly not the first decision you make when designing a space, and certainly need more than 10 minutes to do it.  Let's just say, this was a struggle for all of us.  I had no idea what I was going to be able to find while out shopping, so my plan was to pick a color that would help any yellow accents I chose POP in the space.  And I prayed I would find a sofa in a color that wouldn't fight with it.  I chose Dunn Edwards Mythical Blue, crossed my fingers and hoped for the best.

Out shopping for this challenge was the tightest time crunch yet in the competition.  We were required to find and purchase all of the elements for our camera challenge for The Talk on the first day, and being that this was our only full day to shop, we sure as heck needed to find most of our key furniture pieces too.  You never, EVER want to get stuck out shopping the last day of the challenge because in LA a 'quick' shopping trip could turn into a 5 hour stint... inevitably leaving you with an unfinished space by the end of the challenge.  No bueno. Mikel & Danielle were required to shop together in a van, and Hilari and I were in the other.  I wished they would have shown more of us out shopping. (Truthfully, I'm pretty bummed about the way HGTV has edited me and my personality, I'm actually a little bored even watching myself,  I promise I am NOT that serious all the time, and I assure you, I am MUCH more fun than what they show)  Hilari and I had so much fun together... we never let the competition get in the way of our friendship and we enjoyed our crazy shopping trips together.  We ended up at the flower market in downtown LA on Valentines Day.  It was pure chaos, and after we purchased our flowers, Hilari & I and the camera man barely fit into our van.  Let's just say its insane how many flowers you can buy for $200 at wholesale prices.  I think we might have tried to make up for not actually celebrating Valentines Day by overbuying flowers for our spaces.

The last day of the challenge I began to panic at the amount of work that still needed to be done.  I pride myself in great time management, and I was starting to feel like I severely mismanaged something somewhere along the way.  Towards the end of the day, it was clear the amazing mirrors and artwork I had purchased for the walls weren't going to be hung, and fine tuning my accessories wasn't going to happen either.  We were in individual condos so we couldn't see eachother's spaces, and as far as I knew, I was the only one that hadn't finished my space the way I had intended to.  I cried when time was called at the end of the challenge because I thought I was at risk for going home, and after coming so far, I wasn't ready to give up on my dream yet.

Britany Simon Colorful Condo- AFTER

Britany Simon Colorful Condo- AFTER (Wishing they had a shot of my 'nook' area... I carried the graphic into that space to tie the two areas together, it was actually a pretty darn cute little reading nook)

 Britany Simon Colorful Condo- AFTER 

  Britany Simon Colorful Condo- AFTER 

Getting into the cast van at the end of the day, it was clear we all felt very defeated.  Danielle was visibly upset on the drive home, and Mikel barely said one word.  I was fearful for evaluation, but also anxious to see what I was up against this week.  We still had our tips on The Talk for our camera challenge, and as always I was going to need to bring my A game.

Me on Talkin' on CBS The Talk

Driving to The Talk the next day, we were all SO excited.  It was strange that we all weren't very nervous to be talking in front of a live studio audience and recording our tips live on national television.  I guess its because we were so used to being in front of a camera and a large production crew everyday.  And maybe it was because we were all such good friends, and excited to be experiencing it together.  We got to have our hair and make-up 'touched up' before the show, and it was so much fun to get a little taste of what it might be light if we won our own show at the end of this.  My favorite part was hanging out with David in the green room and on set before we went on air.  He is has such a fun and magnetic personality, and exudes this amazing energy whenever he is around.  He let us know that performing on national television and in front of a live audience is like 'the best drug you will every have'... and he was right.  With the music blaring and the energy of the crowd in the studio, it was by far the most fun I have had on the show so far.  It was an unbelievable experience, and I will remember it forever.

Design Star Episode 7 Cast & Judges (Guest Judge Meg Caswell)

Heading into evaluation I had NO idea what to expect.  I only knew what my final space looked like, and after watching everyone's performance on The Talk, I couldn't figure out how they would choose a winner or a loser based on them.  Finally seeing Danielle, Mikel & Hilari's spaces did put me a bit at ease because it was obvious no one else finished their spaces how they had hoped to either.  I was however a bit frustrated with critique from the judges.  They asked us to design the spaces using OUR design point of view, which mine is bold and graphic, and they gave me a hard time about not showing enough of a range in design styles.  I disagreed with them being that I have shown not just bold and graphic, but designed an outdoor space, a hollywood regency lounge, and an eclectic industrial kitchen as well.  They also didn't think I smiled enough in my camera challenge which I thought was kind of silly, but if that was their worst critique I was happy to take it.

 Screenshot of me at Evaluation (Winner winner chicken dinner)

I believed Hilari & I were both up for the win, but at the end they declared me as the WINNER.  I was soooo surprised.  I had gone from being genuinely nervous about possibly going home, to walking away the winner of the challenge and officially in the final three of the competition. Mikel & Danielle did not receive well reviews at evaluation, and in the end they decided to eliminate Mikel from the competition.  I was going to miss my 'Mary Poppins' in the house... we had both come so far from our very first challenge together at the house.  It was official, a woman was going to win this year's Design Star.  It is between Danielle, Hilari and I for the win, and I was determined to show a new side of me and my design skills in the next challenge.

 Hilari's Colorful Condo- RED

  Hilari's Colorful Condo- RED

Danielle's Colorful Condo- BLUE

 Danielle's Colorful Condo- BLUE 

 Mikel's Colorful Condo- GREEN (Eliminated this week)

Tune in next week to watch us design 'Fantasy Yurt's' (and yes, you'll have to watch to find out what a Yurt is) with guest judge Mark Steines from Entertainment Tonight. Also don't forget to vote for me as your Fan Favorite at