My husband and I escaped to a ranch in Moab, Ut., over the holiday weekend, and while we paid for the whole “ranch” experience, I don’t think we were prepared for how much this theme would take over every aspect of decor in the room, from the knotty pine of the walls to the horse-themed paintings. I was enjoying it, and giving it the benefit of the doubt, until I saw the toilet paper holder.
And I thought, they really mean it.
Design Tips + a Style Board
We’re down to the final four — Courtland, Emily, Casey and Michael — and Vern invites the contestants to brunch at Aarón Sanchez’s Centrico. He wants them to take the morning and relax. Everyone is exhausted and so happy to indulge after all the pressure leading up to this point. I mean, I’d need some rest after being subjected to all those wall murals, am I right?
First course is a tropical fruit salad, second is huevos rancheros, third is an elegant corn tamale and fourth is rice pudding empanadas with a mango chutney. They gulp it all down while patting each other on the back. Suddenly Vern walks in with the chef. Like I’ve said before, you never want to see Vern walk in. It’s almost always bad news.
Turns out chef Aarón Sanchez has one of the biggest hits on the Food Network, Chefs vs. City. The contestants are to choose one of the dishes they’ve just devoured as inspiration for this week’s challenge: to create a dining room space. Casey chooses the tamale, Courtland goes with the empanadas, Emily chooses huevos rancheros, which means Michael is left with the fruit salad. The twist is that they have to start with a very lived-in space and must repurpose furniture and materials to create their designs. As if deriving design inspiration from the taste of a meal isn’t hard enough.
Read the rest over at the Design Star Blog
This week begins with the red team returning to the apartment without Nina, and Stacey could not be happier: “This is probably the best outcome of any elimination to date. She’s gone. Like, do you know what a relief that is?” Meaning Stacey read the note I slipped her WORD FOR WORD.
The contestants meet Vern in the lobby of Trump Tower to meet Donald Trump, Jr. who is going to help judge the challenge this week. Each team has to design a model apartment in the brand new Trump property, The Trump Plaza Residences in Jersey City. Don, Jr., explains that the Trump look is consistently about luxury, but that it has to be contextual, which in this instance means it should reflect Jersey City. And since the Trumps are all about New York, each contestant must choose a New York City souvenir package and physically incorporate it into their designs. Uh, Design Star? Have you ever seen a souvenir? About as luxurious as an ingrown hair.
Casey takes the architectural package, Stacy grabs the yellow taxi bag, Alex selects the Big Apple package, Tom takes the Statue of Liberty, Emily gets the subway bag, Courtland takes the Times Square package, leaving Michael with the Broadway souvenirs. They head out to their apartments and the blue team immediately decides to apply crown molding. Emily worries it’s going to be a time suck. These designers have to realize at this point that if their gut is telling them TIME SUCK, then the reality is going to be TIME BLACK HOLE.
Read the rest of Dooce’s review»
We begin with the men returning to the apartment without Trent, and there seems to be a sigh of relief from everyone. Alex admits he’s disappointed with his performance so far, and he plans to step it up this week. I think that’s one refrain you always hear in these kinds of competitions: “This week I’ll show them!” Along with, “I’m not here to make friends.” I’m just waiting for that one.
This week’s challenge starts outside a flower shop when Candice announces each designer gets to choose the flower that inspires them the most. None of the contestants know which flower any of the others are choosing, and finally Vern walks out with a bouquet made up of each team’s combined choices. They must design a studio apartment based on the overall team bouquet and also incorporate their own individual floral inspiration.
The men’s bouquet is, as Courtland describes, “easy on the eye.” Clean, minimal, soft and fresh, made up of ranunculus, tulip, calla lily and snapdragon. Whereas the women’s bouquet is much more overtly romantic and whimsical: orchid, daffodil, carnation, hyacinth and wax flower. Immediately Dan starts to try to fight for himself and warns the women that in the last challenge they tackled too many construction-heavy projects, meaning ALL HIM. Can they please shop a bit more this time? Does he really have to say that to a car full of women? IN NEW YORK CITY?!
Read the rest of Dooce’s review»
Is it episode three already? It is, and as Nina points out very wisely as the men celebrate their win, “The fall from the top is a long way down.” She was on top the first week, in the bottom two last week. Already Design Star is saying to the contestants, WE EAT EGOS LIKE YOURS FOR BREAKFAST.
Immediately the contestants walk out onto the rooftop of Trump International Hotel and Tower where a jazz band is getting down. Oh, jazz. You cute little acquired musical taste. Like hot, diluted beer on an uncovered patio in the desert. My husband loves you. I love him despite this.
Vern tells the ladies to choose one guy to join their team since the numbers are lopsided four to six (women being the first two eliminated). After a tiny bit of whispering they choose Dan, they say because of his skills and his nice energy, an infusion the women could really use. Really, it’s not because he’s so cute and has that adorable Southern accent? Those things come in handy when you’re sewing curtains.
This week’s challenge is to design a 200-square-foot outdoor terrace inspired by music, what Vern describes as one of the most difficult Design Star challenges ever…
Click over to HGTV Design Star blog for the rest
It’s episode two of HGTV Design Star, and before the credits even roll I’m having a hard time not wishing that someone would accidentally spill their beer all over Nina’s head. Because then maybe she would stop using her mouth to dig her own grave.
Emily Henderson, Nina Ferrer and Tera Hampton from HGTV Design Star
Also, for a second there before they flashed the name Casey on the screen, I thought Reese Witherspoon had suddenly joined Design Star. How awesome would that be? GET YER STUBBORN SELF DOWN HERE AND GET ME SOME BROCADE.
This week! The first Design Star fashion show. Contestants are challenged to design an apartment based on the design of an outfit, and among the choices are an elegant evening gown, pajamas, suits, even a wedding gown. Nina grabs the evening gown, Courtland grabs a suit, and so on, until Genevieve drops the catch: two teams. Men vs. women.
And every outfit chosen by each designer has to be incorporated into the design. That’s five completely different looks per apartment… um… Design Star? I think your rules are cute and all, but I think they may have a methamphetamine problem.
Click over to the HGTV Design Star blog for the rest »
Welcome to the new season of HGTV Design Star where the competition has moved back to New York City, what Vern Yip refers to as the “epicenter of design.” I don’t know what he’s talking about, because last I checked Jasper, Alabama was on the tip of everyone’s tongues. But I guess New York will do.
HGTV Design Star judges Candice Olson, Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip
Twelve new designers, all with varied backgrounds, some formally schooled, others who found inspiration building pig troughs (those things are darling), under pressure to impress the judges — Vern Yip, Genevieve Gorder, and Candice Olson — to become host of their own TV show. And already I get the sense that Vern means business. Like, yes, the two women beside him are taller by three feet, but who’s doing the voice-over?! THAT’S WHAT I THOUGHT.
HGTV Design Star contestant, Nina Ferrer
First competition: Each designer is paired with another designer, someone they have never met, and they have to design a white-box bedroom for that person, based on their personality. Budget: $500. The catch is that it all has to be spent at an Asian market. OH MY LOLA. Is it just me, or do I sense a glut of Kimonos, geisha umbrellas and paper lanterns? Seriously, if someone glues kimchi to a wall I may have to leave the room.
Click Over to HGTV Design Star for the rest
When we bought our house three years ago we hired a skilled painter to go in and change the color in every single room. It was a huge job, something we didn’t have the desire or skill to handle, and I wanted the end product to be something much brighter and more neutral than the dark colors the previous owners had used. Not that the dark colors were bad, necessarily. I mean, I bought the house from a friend who might be reading this. And in that case, the dark colors were lovely!
I chose a warm beige color called Architectural Cream from the Ralph Lauren collection, and had almost every room in the house painted in this shade. It catches light in different, beautiful ways depending on the time of day, and it’s the perfect backdrop for furniture and accessories in brighter, flashier colors. For instance, my six-year-old Leta loves pink princesses like so many other girls her age, so I gave her the pink and dialed back on the princess.
Last night I experienced Cirque Du Soleil for the first time when Alegría came to a venue here in Salt Lake City. I’d been told to expect the unreal, the unbelievable, the mind-blowing. But what they didn’t tell me was that I would come away from this…this…adventure having been transformed. My minimal aesthetic just got a huge kick in the butt.
Yesterday the heavens parted, a giant ray of light illuminated my sister’s basement, and out fell a couch. A very large couch. I was hoping it might land on the people who sold it to me, and I’d watch the pointy boots on their feet shrivel up beneath the ottoman. And then my nephews would cheer and clink their giant lollipops with joy!
I told you it was huge. In fact, I think I once lived in an apartment half this size.
I know that by putting this out into the Universe that it may just come right back around and bite me, but I think it’s finally Spring in Utah (holding breath, waiting for a rock to fall out of the sky and hit me in the head). It’s still unseasonably cold, but I will take whatever I can get, especially since the blooms all over town are under the same impression that I am: time to move forward, put the snow boots in storage, and party like it’s thirty degrees warmer.
Some of you have asked how my sister’s basement is coming along, and the answer to that is probably one that has plagued every remodel in the history of the world: it’s not! Everything has stopped, halted, been put on hold! Call it a delay, a setback, a change in schedule, whatever you want. I call it The Inevitable.
In early February we ordered my sister a couch, one that was said to be in stock minus a couple of parts. Let me explain: it’s a sectional, and because my sister has five kids and they all want to use the basement to watch BYU football games together, we configured it so that it would be almost fourteen-feet long. So it was going to have to come in several pieces. Like, a hundred.
Recently the drawer that I use to store my cosmetics has become an unmanageable mess with bottles of lotion and hair product thrown haphazardly here and there because my daughter is late for school. And putting things back in their proper place is just so much work. No, it really is. Because I’ve just spent the last half hour repeatedly screaming, “YOUR SOCKS GO ON YOUR FEET.” Or telling my husband over and over again that the baby is in the fireplace.
And then I inevitably forget to throw away things that should be thrown away. Or more accurately, I get down to the last three drops of lotion, think I’ll eventually use those three drops, and then leave that empty bottle sitting at the bottom of the drawer for the next three years. Multiply this by about a thousand, and THIS IS MY LIFE.
When my husband and I moved back to Utah from California several years ago, we knew we’d be making several sacrifices in terms of lifestyle, the biggest one being the fact that winters here seem to start at the beginning of October. And then end… never. Two days ago, this is what our deck looked like. Remember: It’s the middle of April.
This morning I woke up to eight inches of snow on the ground, a horrible reality I discovered seconds after stumbling out of my warm bed and into the cold glare of the window. Normally I like to smash things when the weather in Utah shows such disrespect for the calendar, but the first thing I did after dropping my oldest off at school was drive to the nearest florist, grab the most colorful flower I could find, and shove it into my face to muffle the crying.
Then I brought it home and placed it in a vase on the nightstand next to my bed. So that if I woke up the following morning to more snow I could close my eyes, press my nose to its petals, and pretend that Mother Nature really was a corporation I could sue.
This week I took a last-minute trip to Washington DC to participate in a forum organized by the Department of Labor and booked a room at the W Hotel located hardly a block from the White House. Having traveled extensively in the last five years since I became a professional blogger, I’ve seen every sort of hotel room that exists, and once came face to face with a discarded condom wrapper underneath my pillow. Didn’t know it was physically possible, but I jumped like a cat and ended up hanging from the ceiling by my fingernails.
Last year when I was thirty-weeks pregnant I embarked on a three-week book tour visiting nine different cities and sleeping in nine different hotel rooms. And those rooms were all perfectly fine, some very nice and at times lovely. But you know when you’re watching a makeover show and a client sees her redecorated bedroom for the first time? And without fail she will say, “I feel like I’m in a boutique hotel room!”
She did not stay in the hotel rooms I stayed in.
Of course, she’s probably not thirty-weeks pregnant, either. That can affect your mood.
Until this week. Until I walked into this room, saw the decor and fell madly, deeply in love. It was everything I imagined my dream home would look like. From the eclectic mix of furniture in the sitting area (I love how they covered such a traditional, hard-edged chair in white leather and paired it with a soft suede, semi-circle couch):
I grew up in a suburb of Memphis, Tenn., — not necessarily in the country, but nowhere near the city. And both of my parents were born and raised in Kentucky out near bales of hay and chickens. The decor of my house growing up could best be defined as A Product of The Eighties, meaning tons of teal and pink and decorative borders everywhere. And my mom liked to hang baskets and farm equipment from the ceiling in the kitchen:
It’s taken a few days—scratch that. It’s taken many, many, many days and countless hours of toiling through pages and pages of instructions that don’t make sense to assemble the new cabinetry in my sister’s basement. I think my brother-in-law is ready to strangle me. I don’t blame him.
Yes, there’s still a tiny bit more work to be done: the kick boards need to be put in place, and obviously there’s a door missing. But considering that this thing came in 800 different pieces, I think my brother-in-law deserves a beer even though he wouldn’t drink it.
TOTALLY against the BYU honor code. Maybe I’ll buy him a huge Sprite.
HGTV and Heather Armstrong (@HGTVHeather) invite you to our first “Watch with Heather” Twitter Party! We’ll be tweeting during the series premiere of Home Rules. Join us at #watchHGTV from 9-10pm EST for all the fun. You can also watch the party unfold on our Twitter widget, which will refresh with the 4 most recent tweets throughout the night:
To make comments and/or replies, please follow @HGTVHeather and include #watchHGTV in your tweet.
Yesterday was Christmas at my sister’s house, at least, that was my initial impression when I drove over to see how the carpet installation in her basement was working out and one of her twin nine-year-old boys HUGGED me. There was actual physical contact, and it wasn’t a shove or a punch or a kick in the groin.
Because, I mean, that’s how we are as a family. There is an occasional, brief hug here and there, but usually we just bump shoulders or forcibly push someone off of their feet to say hello. We’re safe that way. Because physical affection can be awkward. How long do you linger on a hug until the other person is like, MAYBE YOU NEED THERAPY. We’re always walking that fine line, you know. And yesterday when Joshua hugged me at the door, that line said, “Aunt Heather, I’ll risk it. THE CARPET IS AWESOME.”
Indeed, the carpet is awesome: