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You know that I-apologize-if-I-fall-asleep-mid-sentence feeling you get from having pushed yourself too hard, then hit a wall? Well, how about hopping into a van with 11 other people at 4:45am in NYC to oversee four full room remodels 50 miles away in New Jersey, dealing with exhausted carpenters who are working out in the freezing rain until the sun goes down, then not stepping foot off the property until 9:15pm only to drive an hour back to Manhattan to do it all again the next day? Needless to say, episode three of HGTV Design Star was a tough one; however, since the owners of both homes loved their new spaces so much, it was totally worth it.

During the filming, my co-producer who is also one of my favorite human beings on earth, Alyssa Hastrich, and I stuck to the Callegaris house with Doug Hines, Mark Diaz, Leslie Ezelle, Kevin Grace and Kellie Clements. Between the full basement downstairs and wall cladding upstairs, it felt like a full house renovation. Luckily, we were able to stroll up the street to Christina Scano’s place to check on progress at the end of the day. With so much going on, we decided I’d take iPhone shots during the process to remember just exactly how much labor went into the enormous overhaul of all four spaces. Take a look at some of the in-process stuff you didn’t see on TV, then contemplate how small your one-wall paint project this weekend seems in comparison. Ha!

Leslie, Kevin and Kellie's Basement Before

BEFORE: Once Leslie, Kevin and Kellie got started painting the walls, all I could focus on was how much longer it would take them to do everything with the huge obstacles they’d have to work around: boxes of books and toys, the enormous treadmill, and then ripping up the 1980′s mauve carpet.

Kellie Leslie and Kevin

AFTER: If you’re planning to replace the floor in your own space and paint the walls, knocking out the paint first while the old floor is down is a wise idea. It allows you to spill and drip as needed with no worry since the floor will soon be ripped out completely. The trio got rather lucky with their lime green wall choice. Colors this saturated pretty much always require a tinted primer. Somehow, the puddy color of their walls kinda stepped it up and worked as one. Happy accident? I think so.

Mark and Doug's Living Room Before

BEFORE: Something I found super useful in episode three was the content of Doug’s camera challenge about removing wall-to-wall carpet. That was a fantastic tip. Did you know that cutting carpet into strips two-foot strips, then removing it piece-by-piece is the way to go? I sure as hell wish I would have known that four years ago when I, along with friends, carried a 12X14 roll of beige nastiness down a stairwell.

Mark and Doug

AFTER: Something not discussed on the show was how well Doug and Mark’s choice of flooring coordinated with the tones of the fireplace stone. Those same reddish-brown tones seen in the rustic masonry are picked up beautifully in the tones of the wood.

Meg and Tyler's Dining Room Before

BEFORE: At the end of the night, Alyssa and I made our way down to Christina Scano’s house to delightfully discover Meg Caswell and Tyler Wisler’s wall installation. This was uber-impressive to tackle in such a tight time frame. Why? Because of the finish details involved in making the pine look sophisticated, that’s why. Usually, V-groove pine planks come with a rather glossy sheen which requires sanding before painting. In my own house, the sanding and cleanup took a full day.

Meg & Tyler

AFTER: The fact that the duo managed to whitewash this beautifully with almost no time is pretty darn remarkable. What is whitewash? A method to give wood an overall white finish yet still allowing grain and detail to show through. In order to do it, you simply brush a coat of white onto the desired area. If you’re skeptical about painting architectural wood detail solid white, the whitewashing look is a great baby-step in getting you there. Start by whitewashing an entire area and if it’s too beachy or rustic for your taste, that means solid white is the way to go. But keep in mind, this doesn’t work the other way around, doh!

Karl, Bret and Cathy's Entertainment Room Before

BEFORE: Okay, when I walked in to check on Karl Sponholtz, Cathy Hobbs and Bret Ritter’s space at the tail end of day one, I was totally freaked out. The walls were not painted and the room was totally bare! WTH? Then I realized how insanely demo-heavy Christina Scano’s apartment-like open floor plan was. Karl and Bret were totally amazing in ripping that place apart to create a blank canvas.

Karly, Cathy and Bret

AFTER: As Alyssa and I peeked in on the flooring installation, we noticed the importance of a good underlayment and vapor barrier in conjunction with floors in a basement space. The vapor barrier keeps moisture from coming into contact with the flooring, and the underlayment ensures a level surface for all planks in the event that there are small dips or cracks in the surface.

With all that said and done, which of the four spaces did you feel looked the most chic and had the biggest transformation?

Tell me in the comments below.

7 Responses

  1. Ingunn Mercer says:

    Wow, BJF! Must be fun to get to do this kind of thing for work!!! I loved the first one, the basement. For a family with young kids (like us) this is a dream! As for the big transformation and chic-ness, I loved the last room! The flooring is gorgeous!

  2. Janice Simonsen says:

    Don't like…LOVE the very last makeover. Chairs instead of yet another sofa=genius!

  3. CplusE says:

    The basement makeover by Kellie, Leslie, and Kevin was fantastic, fun, and cohesive — I totally agreed with the judges. Next for me was the dining room by Meg and Tyler — well thought out and executed, and again cohesive (it really seems to make a difference when the designers are able to work together amicably). I know the judges thought the room was too impersonal, but honestly, how many people spend much time in their dining rooms anyway? It's nice to have one room that always looks good if possible, so why not the dining room? Besides, it gives the homeowner the choice to add her own personal touches if she wishes to do so. The redo by Karl, Kathy, and Bret is okay, and the less said about Doug and Mark's living room the better (I too liked the floor).

  4. whistlerpotpie says:

    When are you going to be in front of the camera? I would totally watch your show!!!

  5. J Moore says:

    Very perceptive comments about Mark, his situation during Ep. 3 challenge, and the way his woodwork and also wall paint choices in the picture above, provided they were his choices, worked together with the stone fireplace surround. I enjoyed your take on the Episode. HGTV, keep Emily's comments coming! I also thought it was unfair that the designers seemed to take the blame for some of the things they had done which seemed to me to have been based on what the homeowners had requested, such as having space for dancing. Someone criticized the fact that furniture had been around the edges of the space. How else could you provide room for dancing?

  6. Stephany says:

    My absolute favorite thing above and beyond anything in these rooms is Leslie's art she made out of the kids' art in the basement makeover. I would LOVE to know how she made that!!!! I have so much artwork made by my 3 boys and I have such a hard time parting with it…what a genius idea! Any ideas on how she made it? I'm surprised I can't find anything about it on the internet anywhere.

  7. Jean-luc says:

    I loved the leather and steel armchairs in Doug and Mark’s makeover. Does anybody know where I can find them?

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