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Have you ever thought about what it’s like to actually build eleven 12X15 spaces, furnish them with transformable pieces which can be further enhanced decoratively with raw food and/or restaurant supply items, then break them all down in just a few days? I hadn’t before working the shoot for episode 2 of HGTV Design Star — the infamous White Box Challenge. But from the looks of anticipated exhaustion and lack of enthusiasm on my co-design producers, Sam and Shannon’s, faces, it was obviously not the most fun task.

Roughly two weeks before filming episode 2, the three of us had to conceptualize exactly how big each white box should be, choose pieces that could be repurposed for different room functions, assemble those pieces and paint them all white to ensure the designers all had level playing fields. When I say the three of us assembled all the furniture, I really mean Shannon and Sam, since I hopped on a plane for an HGTV event in Orlando only two hours into assembly. Saved by the bell? I’d say so.

White Box  Challenge Floorplan

White Box Challenge Elevated Floorplan

In addition to the white box build-outs, we also did a mock-shopping day where we thought of all the possible things designers might consider using from a restaurant supply store as decoration, then ensured that there was enough stock for the eleven designers to choose from. Now take a look at what goes into creating the White Box Challenge, then take time next season to think about the tired souls behind the scenes who were kicked off before the challenge even started.

White Box Challeng Waterbottle Chase

As far as what the designers had to work with in their white boxes, we supplied them with the following: a white futon, two white side tables, a pine dining table with pine chairs and a white melamine chest of drawers. Why? With an assortment of items which could be used for different types of rooms, it wouldn’t pigeon hole anyone into doing one specific type of space. In fact, their design concept is supposed to be the main star. Therefore, none of the white boxes needed to be actual functional “rooms”, per se.


Contestant Kevin Grace

Something I predicted weeks before the actual episode was the likelihood of a designer turning paper bags into wallcovering or floorcovering. I think it’s safe to say Kevin Grace nailed that idea and perfected it. And the mops make clever rugs. PS – Lime green is a TV design gold mine; regardless if you hate or love the color, it’s so electric that it definitely causes viewers to stop and look whether for a full episode or just a few retina-intensified minutes. Bravo Kevin!

I think the level of precision that went into Mark Diaz‘s room speaks for itself. One word: free-handed.



Contestant Mark Diaz

If you tuned in for Monday night’s show, click through these episode 2 photos for a refresher. If you missed it, watch the full episode 2 on our website. Then share, of eleven white boxes, which one stood out the most for you? And which one can you picture adapted for actual residential use?

Tell me in the comments below.

9 Responses

  1. CplusE says:

    My favorite was Tyler's room — that chair was sheer genius, and the room as a whole looks like a 3D work of art. For residential use, I'm torn between Doug's fantastic graffiti art in a totally functional room and Karl's restrained but artfully done painted squares which unified a room that could easily become a studio apartment. The guys rocked this challenge — I hope the gals can step it up next week!

  2. @decordemon says:

    This episode was packed with great stuff, right? I'm still so blown away by Tyler's conceptualization of using plastic water bottles to create a modern chaise. That was totally outside the box. I highly doubt anyone else had that same idea. BRILLZ!

  3. [...] via: HGTV Design Star Episode 2: My White Box Challenge Scoop Category: Design Tags: Challenge, Design, Episode, HGTV, Scoop, Star, [...]

  4. Megan (MIMI+MEG) says:

    I love your behind-the-scenes info! It's fun to know what goes into it on your end! xo

  5. WOW! I love it! You are the True Queen of DIY! What a great fix. Thanks for sharing it.

  6. Julia says:

    I really liked Tyler's room. It was so unique and I've never seen a composition like it before.

  7. John says:

    Does anyone know the name of the restaurant supply store they shopped at?

  8. [...] more interesting.  But I don’t just call it good there; I add more.  It’s like the white box challenge for the HGTV Design star….build on it.  Add layers of interest with color, texture, and razzle-dazzle (or shine), as [...]

  9. HGTV Design Star Episode 2: My White Box Challenge Scoop | HGTV Design Blog – Design Happens

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