HGTV Design Star Recap- THE FINALE!

It's HGTV Design Star Finale time!!!  After the most-talented-ever (while-purposefully-ignoring-the-possibility-of-a-recency-effect) season of designers, we find ourselves finally down to the final two: Britany Simon and Danielle Colding.


Last night's episode finds us right where we left off last week.  In fact, the door hasn't even hit Hilari on her way out before our noble host, David Bromstad, is giving our finalists the instructions for their final challenge: to design and star in a Fully-produced 5 minute Pilot Presentation of their Own Show.  No shockers there.  In fact, I'd be willing to bet my Eames Eiffel chairs these ladies had their shows all picked out, like, the second they found out they'd be on Design Star.  That's what I would have done!  In fact, I already have my HGTV show picked out.  What is it?  AS IF I'm going to tell you though.  Nice try.

So now Britany-I-wear-mascara-on-my-bottom-lashes and Danielle-I-have-a-hangover-from-those-tequila-shots must do that which they had dreamed of all along, and create their pilot shows.  If you didn't already know, Britany reminds us, again, that she is a photographer.  She is a designer AND a photographer.  So naturally, she will ignore the fact that HGTV is not in the process of changing the name of the network to Home and Garden and Photography Television, and make the concept of her show "Picture Perfect."  This is a "very clear concept" according to Britany except that I have no clue what that means.

Meanwhile, Danielle just loves to shop.  She once shopped for thirteen days straight without food and water.  (Now THAT's a show... Shop till you Drop ©Riot For Design Productions).  So she chooses "The Art of the Find" as her show concept.  I like to shop too so immediately I'm on board.

The finalists must work with real families to help them redesign two rooms following along with their show concept.  They will have three days, a full TV crew, producers, carpenters, a design team and a partridge in a pear tree to help them complete their task.  And who might their design teams consist of?  If it isn't Rachel, Stanley, Mikel and Hilari!!!  Yay!  They picked the four most sane former contestants, who were elementary school gym class-style selected by Danielle and Britany.  Stanley was picked last, and even though he was falling apart on the inside, he'll never let you see him cry.  I gotta say HGTV was pretty nice- if it were MY show I'd throw in a Miera and a Kris just to watch shit fall apart, but this was OK too.

I'm picturing "glam chic"

Team Britany: Rachel, Mikel & Producer Matt
Britany's real life family are Mark and Song (sorry if that's not how it should be spelled!), and their three year-old son, Luke.  Basically their home belongs to Luke because the only furniture in the entire house was made by Playskool.  The real problem here is clear: Luke is an evil tyrant and Mark and Song really don't give a shit about interior design, they came on this show as a cry for help.  In fact, I think "shoe storage" is their safe word.  But Britany's bottom-lash-mascara has blinded her to their SOS Morse code blinking so she just goes on and on about lighting and storage and crap.  I don't blame her though, she's got a job to do!

Please don't hurt us, Luke

Living Room BEFORE

Luke's shrine

Britany's main goals for the home are:
-shoe storage
-more lighting
-dining room furniture

Stanley puts on a brave face

Team Danielle: Hilari, Stanley & Producer Ashley
Danielle's homeowners are Lois & Allen and their love children Gidget and... uh.... Gidget's sister.  They are hippie artists, so I guess giving names and recognition to BOTH of your children is a little too "inside the box."  At any rate, Lois can't stop making art.  She's like one of Santa's elves, frantically going from one art piece to the next, piling them up in her workshop/living room.

The favorite daughter

Hot Mess Living Room BEFORE
Alternate view Hot Mess Living Room BEFORE

Dining Room BEFORE

Danielle's main goals for the home are:
-making space for an art studio
-storage solutions
-space planning
-artistic vibe

Oddly enough, the two homes felt similar in their hopelessness so I was happy to see that Danielle and Britany would be starting from an equal playing field.

During the course of the three days, there's some pseudo drama involving, what else?, furniture shopping interspersed with the filming of some on-camera segments.  Miraculously, Britany and Danielle are much better in front of the camera, which makes me think we're all at the mercy of manipulative reality show editing.  Either they weren't that bad last week or they did like 1,000 takes to get it just right this time.  For the HGTV-viewing population, let's hope it's the former!

Danielle's a Camera Challenge hustler

There was one particular camera moment where Britany was talking about bold prints and being bold and she had a fan blowing on her like she was in a rap video and I swore she was going to strip down to a gold lamé bikini because she really really wants to win this one.  Her producer, Matt, advised against it though.  Then Britany tried to play it off like it was just wind, but we all know it was a fan.  Please.

So finally we get to the last day and Danielle's kinda boring me.  While Britany has erected a Sears Portrait Studio in Mark & Song's backyard, Danielle is just doing her thing, talking about slipcovers and Eames chairs and shit.  Her even-keeled personality while great for a designer, is laaaaaame for a reality show.

And then it was judging time!!!

We finally get to watch the 5-minute pilot episodes and see the finished rooms.  Britany's concept is weak- especially the whole "just like photography, lighting is really important" bit.  But she really did accomplish all the goals she set out to do, and the space looks very chic.  Or shall I say, "glam chic?"

Nice wainscoting
I'd been getting pretty tired of Britany's moulding, wainscoting, greek keys, squares, more squares and white outlines everywhere! design aesthetic but the wainscoting really worked to jazz up an otherwise architecturally bland home.  And the shoe storage was cool and unexpected.

I also loved the wallpapered dining room and the cohesiveness of the two spaces.  

But you can't make me like the photography.  And I'm pretty sure you can see the soul of the devil in Luke's portrait.

Satan incarnated

Danielle's pilot was better because her concept was solid.  But she definitely doesn't have mascara on her bottom lashes and all the bubbly charisma of Britany.  She also decided to talk about a chair THAT SHE WAS SITTING ON so you couldn't really see it.  Her final result was so-so.  I wasn't a fan of the living room paint color choice, which looked more like a "before" than an "after."  I also didn't there to be much cohesion between the white moldings and the mid-century modern motif.  They were at odds with one another.


The chair Danielle sat on as she described it.

But the gallery wall was a good personal touch for the artistes and the infamous credenza was a terrific piece.

Gallery wall of Lois' art
I did like the dining room color palette better, but still no WOW factor.  It also didn't flow as well off the living room.  I do like her furniture selection, though I think this space is missing something.  Maybe a rug?  Or some pattern?

Danielle once again shows her impeccable taste in, what else?, shopping with a great desk flanked by practical and attractive storage pieces. I also thought the workshop in the dining room was a decent use of space given assuming the family doesn't have a spare room.  After all, no one uses their dining room during the day.

The judges were overly complimentary as usual.  Genevieve in particular was all smiles, even though she looked like she just climbed off the top of a piano with her bed-head and droopy eyes.  I think she must have hit the Pinot Noir a little too hard before the taping.

But they were all quite conflicted.

On one hand, Danielle was an effortless communicator with a distinct sense of style.  Genevieve, loose from the Pinot, said her aesthetic was "woven into the fabric of the room."  David even went so far as to say she was "beautiful to watch."  Did they see something I didn't see?

On the other hand, Britany really stayed true to her "glam chic" perspective.  Genevieve liked how you always know what you're going to get with her (which to me sounds like a back-handed critique but whatevs).  Vern loved how well she interacted with the family and David loved how she asked Dad and Prince Luke what was important to them in the redesign.

And then, in typical semi-anti-climactic fashion, they announced that HGTV's next Design Star would be...


And in her typical even-keeled fashion she was like, 'Cool thanks!' and cracked open a Coca-cola and picked some spinach out of her teeth.


Congratulations to Danielle!  I can't wait to see Shop This Room!  And congrats to Britany and all the HGTV Design Star contestants (especially if you read this blog).  That shit does NOT look easy- and I'll bet it's even harder than it looks.


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