Design Star – The Moments….

Tangerine Tango Sofa – image from

Well, the first episode has come and gone, as has the first contestant with it. It was not difficult to imagine who was going home, but it never fails to surprise me that contestants each year repeat nearly carbon copy faux pas from the year prior. Aggressively complex installations are superfluous to a winning design – and not for short term project schedules. But what a fabulous Tangerine Tango sofa choice!

Remember the  paint chip article of last week, that visually explained depth of color? The key to a successful design is layers that address the big picture first  – overall color distribution, layout and scale – then details. Details bring the finished design together but should never function as the core of your design!

Let’s see how that worked this week by comparing one of the rooms to developing a portrait, in order to  see how the evolution of layers created a Design Star success that would on some scale work in your or any space for that matter…

What a daunting challenge!

The blank canvas blank canvas

Ok, so here we have a high-end, cavernous new-build with contractor white walls and granite tile floors – cold, cold, and impersonal.

Painted Layers 1 – image via shannonperrynet

Color sets the stage, and forms the vision…

A warm and deep charcoal gray paint from Sherwin Williams

Design Star hopeful Brittany put on her strategic design hat and chose a charcoal grey. Loads of you have read my Shades of Grey articles, so cover your ears for the re-cap….

Grey is the most neutral of all neutrals, because it’s RGB values (percentages of red, blue and green in the mix are nearly identical, as seen in the screen shot (above). Tan – not so neutral! It’s color bias toward red and green don’t allow for the versatility that grey offers as a backdrop – it simply looks good with any color it stands beside! Using a deep shade, as Vern Yip notes, “humanizes” a cavernous space, creating a feeling of intestacy with nothing more than color. Ice blues are very popular and trendy now, so she positioned her color scheme between a working triangle of drama, depth and safety – a win/win/win!

The gray and icy blue walls emerge – image via HGTVcom

The proof is in the pudding – layer 1 (the paint) goes up, and from nothing, color begins to work its magic to define the potential and style of the space – in the portrait the foundation for recognition  emerges, imbuing a flat, one-dimensional surface with the illusion of depth.

Painted Layers 2 – image via

Crisp white moldings, and cornices topping the suggestion of fabric panels capitalize on this room’s formidable height, drawing tongue and cheek inspiration and interpretation that add grandeur and interest to this room. The room although an empty box, already tells a story whose ending is yet to be defined by the details – in the right place at the right time – just like the portrait.

Painted Layers 3 – image via

Britany and Mikel’s room – adding character to color – image via HGTVcom

And having resisted and persisted, addressing all the foundational layers that underpin a design that works, it’s time to dress those walls.

Design Star contestant Brittany’s inspirational item – image via

Each of the designers was asked to provide an “inspirational item” that provided a vignette of their personal styles, like the chrome wing above. I am unconvinced that this contestant chose spherically – warm gray and chrome are elements of a formula that is a pretty classic design equation – I wonder if she had a plan to start out with a gray and silver in whatever space she landed…

Scaled-up inspirational photos – a smart art choice – image via

Photographing, up-scaling and cropping out detail was another smart choice.  Juxtaposed directly opposite the assemblage of moldings, the shape and definition of the photography creates design tension in contrast to the empty boxes created by the moldings…

Styling is the final layer – image via HGTVcom

Now it’s time for those details, styling is akin to adding hair texture, eye lashes, freckles, or other details to a portrait that considered prematurely, can take the reigns of a design, making it look somehow incomplete or lacking in vision. A face without depth and character is not assisted by eye lashes or other finishing details – but when the moment arrives they step in to define the vision and bring it all together as a complete picture – or room portrait.

Painted Layers 4 – image via shannonperrynet

Finally the recognition and vision collide, putting designer, room and viewers all on the same page, admiring identical visions.

Brittany and Mikel’s room – image via

Planning, vision and discipline can make you a Design Star, too!

BTW, the lovely Gigi-esque author of the astimegoesby wordpress fashion blog just inadvertently brought to my attention that I forgot to share the link! For readers in the other 126 countries not local to the Scripps TV programming of HGTV’s Design Star, you can watch the entire episode here:,1000237,HGTV_33396_4301_%2065921-99965,00.html