Monday, July 26, 2010

Episode 6

I'm jumping straight away into the behind the scenes.

OK. We get the challenge and run off with our souvenir bags to New Jersey.  But we take the ferry in the rain, which was fun, but wet - rained the whole way.  I thought for sure they would show us in the rain, so i would have an excuse for my Lion Mane of hair, but they didn't.  Also, sorry for wearing a 90's grunge shirt, i got confused, oh and stopped caring about how I looked.  It seems weird, i know, when you are being filmed 24 hours a day and you know it will be on national TV, but you don't notice it after a while and its just like normal life where some days you put effort into vanity, and some days you don't.  Also we ruin all of our clothes with paint, so i tried to just wear the same jeans/shoes on prep days so i didn't keep ruining my fancy ones.  which i eventually ruined, don't worry.


We run to sears, grab the electronics and paint first.
Then off to one of the best stores in the world,  ABC Carpet and Home.  I was super super excited about this having spent probably a year of my life in this store at this point.  Its amazing, but spendy so our budget went quickly.  We were way, way, way over budget when we checked out so we had to put back almost all of our accessories, which you'll find is obvious.  We shopped well as a team-ish.  Michael and Casey are the most vocal, Alex is doing a lot of the notes/budget-y things and i'm in the middle, loving some things, disagreeing with others, but as Courtland says, it's a it Courtland? is it?  But in general, we were having fun and excited to shop somewhere with so many beautiful things.

 But here is the general outcome: I love love love the sofa.  I would own in yesterday if I could.  It was supple grey leather, modern tailored shape, yet masculine.  But the coffee table, i like somewhat on its own, but Ish don't think so with that sofa.  I was super afraid that it would be two big grey boxes next to each other, no contrast in color, size and shape.   But Casey and Michael have both worked on Trump designs when at their previous firms, so I felt that they had a better handle on what Trump would want.  If it had been a different sofa, it would have been fine, but I still don't like the two of them together.   That being said, Casey and Michael have amazing taste, this is just one point that we disagreed on.
Maybe its what Don Jr. liked the most, who knows.
As far as the rest of the furniture.

We wanted to leave the window open so we chose that amazing metallic linen daybed.  Looking back, we didn't have enough contrast in heights, i wish we had something that wasn't so low and boxy.  The 'dresser' was meant for the bedroom, but ended up in the living room because it was too big for the bedroom.  And the lamp in the corner was this beautiful modern cut crystal lamp that got no due attention.

The rugs were so beautiful.  The one in the living room was this goldy toned persian that brought in the grey tones of the room.  It was unexpected with the modern furniture and totally warmed the room up and created a great contrast between the modern metallics, with a traditional rug.  The silk rug in the bedroom (that you can't even really see) was ridiculously beautiful and soft as well.  ABC Carpet and Home knows what they are doing, people.

As for the dining room:  I like the juxtaposition of the modern glass/metal table with the traditional frenchy chairs.  I'm not over the moon about it, but I like it.

So leaving ABC, i felt we had some beautiful pieces overall, just worried about artwork (per usual) and how we were going to cover up that coffee table.  We had plenty of furniture, just not enough accessories. at all.  and no access to flowers.

Paint choices:
We worked as a team to choose our palette which was a light grey/lavender which was super super pretty (in the pics it looks beige, actually everything looks beige) but in person it was beautiful.  Our trim was a dark eggplant in semi-gloss.  Casey really wanted to do crown moulding and I totally applaud her for it.  We should not be expected to execute carpentry perfectly.  Even though it took all day to do and undo and do again and wasn't executed well, it did do a lot for the room, so thanks Casey, and sorry i didn't believe in you.  It helped the room look more high end and finished.  And had we had a carpenter to help, she probably would have won.  Alex did a lot of the cuts, and i'm telling you, that kind of math with all those weird angles WHEN YOU ARE IN A HURRY is enough to send me into the back room to collage a subway tee-shirt onto a canvas.

Speaking of.  Heres' the deal I had a subway tee-shirt, a canvas bag and an oven mitt.  The reason that I chose the subway was because I like the fonts and knew that I could do something with the graphic lines of the words.  You can hardly see it in the pictures, but here's what I did.  I built a bunch of large art frames using 2x3 plywood, stretched canvas over it, and built an outer frame with more 2x3's that i then painted black to make it look more finished.  I used a chop saw, nail gun and drop cloth canvas.  I'm getting better with the fancy tools this week.  So I cut out all the subway stops 'Prince' 'Union Square' all the little round numbers, etc, etc and collaged them on the canvas in the shape of the island of Manhattan using my BFF, spray adhesive.  You didn't get to see the final product for some reason (WTF?) but I actually liked it more than I thought I would.  (you can see both of the pieces kind of in this pic below).  It looked downtown and hippie, but it looked like me, finished, in an unfinished way.  Remember, and i'm sure you are already on board with this, it is super super super hard to make something cheap look like something luxurious - and in fact, it is my pet peeve.  I hate it when cheap things are trying to look expensive ( a la pleather, gold-leafed tables at Home Goods, gaudy accessories).  This challenged seemed SUPER difficult to me from the get-go.   So I chose to deconstruct them and have it look intentional, rather than try to make them look fancy.  Clearly not the best approach, since I didn't win, but it's the best I could come up with under the many time and resource constraints.

I butterflied my subway oven mitt and opened it up so it looked well, kinda like a butterfly - Casey inspired this idea, shout out, Casey.  I built a shadow box and pinned the mitt in the middle.   It was hokey for sure, but I thought it was actually a decent way to use a subway oven mitt - if one is forced to make art out of a mitt - not sure if you've done that before.  It was a play on all the found-object-butterfly-collection trend that is uber-in right now, but a little subversive.  Or so was the intent.  I'm not saying it should be at the guggenheim, but it wasn't just an oven mitt.  But no pictures (barely, see above) or footage of that either, unfortunately.  Hey, Mark Burnett, why you hating on my souvenir art, eh? Or Michael's table? or Casey's pieces? I'm kinda bummed with how little they showed this week on our team.  You see the crown moulding, and Alex's pillow, but besides that, the audience has very little idea of our actual process.

So we all picked out the furniture together.  Michael decided to make this canvas covered parsons console table, which I love in theory for sure, he's got great ideas.  But we didn't need the table.  Dear Michael, to respond to your 'big picture' comments:  I love you but i think you were more 'big table' than 'big picture', don't hate me.  And the 'so annoying' comment that i made? I don't remember what it was about.  Probably the fact that I had to make art out of a tourist tee-shirt.  Working with friends is always tricky. Working with friends and competing against them is MUCH  trickier.  So yes, at times we got annoyed with each other, but at the end of the day we are friends.  in a reality show competition.  being filmed 24 hours a day.  totally normal.

Michael, i love you and think you are crazy talented.  and a wonderful lover.

kidding.  er, maybe not kidding, you probably are a wonderful lover. but i haven't had the pleasure. yet.

Here's the thing with me.  And i've known this for years, unfortunately and am now really really working on it:  I know my limitations, and knowing your limitations can be a huge limitation.  I know that if i tried to build a parsons table in a few hours or cut and install crown moulding in a few hours, i will be unsuccessful at it, so i would never try it.  BUT, knowing this is a huge hindrance in the competition and life, really.  I mean then what do you do in a few hours to make a huge impact in the room?  The things i'm good at take so much longer to do (except sewing, which i can't do again nor did we have Zarin's this time) - for instance i'm good at vintage shopping and mixing styles together - but there is no opportunity for that.  I'm good at refinishing furniture, but there are no pieces of furniture to refinish, nor is there the time.  Sure, i'm good at making a room feel lived in and personal, but its really hard to do under these constraints.  So while yes, Casey and Michael bit off more than they could chew, at least they bit off something big in the first place.  I didn't.  I limit myself too much.  Stupid fear of failure, i hate you.  They are better risk takers and should be totally given more credit for that.

Alex and I brought up the majority of the furniture from the basement and while his pillow was hokey (he'll admit this for sure), it was silver and I think that  is why Trump picked him. Silver equals luxury, no?  I honestly don't know who should have  won.  Everyone worked really hard and brought a lot to the table either with creativity or labor.  I liked my subway art, but it was more hippie-weird than luxury, and I liked Casey's skyscraper art, and Michael's lamp was surprisingly functional.  Watching it objectively, I still don't know who should have won.  It was a challenging challenge.  I thought there were very pretty elements in our rooms, but overall underwhelming.

We ran out of time, that is why it looks unfinished.  It was unfinished.  We didn't have enough accessories and my fake art above the sofa looked exactly like what it was - a last minute or LAST SECOND effort to put something above the sofa.  We always run out of time, there is just not enough of it.  And luxury is hard to do in 2 days.  Really hard.  Impossible, possibly.

When the judges announced that one room clearly beat the other rooms, I knew we had won because there is no way that ours 'needed carting out as we speak'.  Relief again.  But not proud of what we did.  In theory Michael's table rocked, Casey's crown moulding was spot on,  everything in the space was tasteful, there just wasn't enough life or contrast or style.

This is my third week in a row without going to elimination.  That makes this design star real happy.   Can I make it four weeks in a row?  i wonder.  well, i don't wonder, i know what happens next week.
But do you wonder?

uh oh.


  1. "I'm kinda bummed with how little they showed this week on our team. You see the crown moulding, and Alex's pillow, but besides that, the audience has very little idea of our actual process."

    Right on; I felt the same way! I think there was little emphasis on your team's room because of the time allotted to showcase the horrid design by the opposing team. Yikes! Talk about disaster!

    Looking forward to next week's challenge!

  2. It was killing me that they didn't show us your art piece again, cause it looked all sorts of fab! But man, that bed was desperate to be made up properly (tuck in the blanket, yo!).

    Also, true confessions: that coffee table was my fave piece in the room.

  3. Oh gosh don't end with that? What should I wonder about? hmmm? hmmm? oh no! don't say it ~~ you spoke a lot about your limitations in today's blog, it DOES make me wonder...

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  5. Hi Emily,
    Just thought I'd let you know that I got a Val-Pak coupon envelope today with your mug on it looking back at me! ;) Thought you might find that funny, I know I chuckled. And flippin' Hulu hasn't loaded last night's episode! Withdrawl is setting in....

  6. 3 weeks, wow, lucky you haven't been kicked off yet. The amount of talent and will you have could both fit in a tourist gift bag. You're a poor excuse for a contestant, "limited" is an understatement. I wouldn't watch your show with Stacey's glassy eyes. This series somersaulted over the shark when they ejected Nina, and the ratings show that. Entertainment Value = 0. Those of you who remain are the least capable group I've seen in all seasons of DesignStar. Good luck and (hopefully) good riddance to you next week.

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  8. Hey Emily!!! Still rooting for you! I can feel it, I know you're the winner! You're easy going and have great taste and great hair, haha. Anyways, I ignore your foreboding last message as a way to mislead us. you must be the winner!

  9. Wow, Anonymous, that was harsh. I disagree.

    I have to say that I'm only watching the show to see how it goes for you, Emily. In general it's hard to believe that the true talents of any any designer could be exhibited in these challenges.

  10. Ok, I'm a nerd...I just found the episode on (duh!) and watched it while the baby slept instead of finishing projects I should be finishing. Anyhow, I loved your t-shirt artwork! It was trendy and cool. Yeah, and don't listen to tacky people who say mean things on your blog...really un-called for. Hang in it Sunday again yet? :)

  11. hey, emily, loving your recaps. I, too, am bummed they didn't show more of your space. We never saw your bathroom, which is amazing due to the intense focus on the other teams's "blueberry field" bath. And, maybe it's me, but I don't remember the show saying what your budget was for this challenge. Can/will you share?

  12. and, oh yea, Anonymous, you suck

  13. Wondering no more. The show is absolutely horrible. Maybe one of the reasons they couldn't show more of your creative bits is because they HAD to show the entire roll call of who picked which souvenir bag. Just a horrible show. I'm sorry for you. Good luck. You'd be a good winner.

  14. I'm still rooting for you! I was really disappointed that I didn't get to see your art in the show, so thanks for posting what you could here! You've got a lot of talent and spunk, as long as you don't freak out you are golden! Of course that just puts pressure on you not to freak out, which can create a freak out. I'm not a good motivational speaker. But, I do love your work, so good luck and don't lose faith in yourself!

  15. yikes, that was mean (that anonymous one) and untrue, well, i normally don't watch so i have no season comparisons but it sounds like an angry relative of an elimanated person???? anyhoo.

    question: looking at the picture of the dining room and kitchen from the perspective of living room i see a bizillion light and plug covers etc (not your fault or a criticism). any thoughts for us regular home peeps who hate them and have no time limits on a way to hide all those ...i hate painting them b/c the paint will come off and i'm not into tons of covers made to look like art, the only thing i can think of is metal.

  16. I think it is kind of weird that they are highlighting all of the negativity of the bad design and not really focusing on the good stuff. They only showed a few seconds of the winning team here and there! I thought your team's designs were really pretty, the "wilted lavender" with all the subtle shininess...I bet it was really nice in person. Also, there isn't alot of consistency in the judging? Why did they zero in on Stacey's taxi under glass and not even show Casey's statue under glass? And then to make everyone work in teams with crazy objects and then hear Vern say "Some of the worst designs are design by committee." Ummm, YEAH!!! Things like that seem weird...I definitely think the right people went home though! I'm still rooting for you, you have a great lived in style, not pretentious, and not to mention you are from the Pacific Northwest which makes me kind of biased! Can't wait to see next week.

  17. hmm, looking at it again, I don't know if that is actually the statue of liberty under glass, maybe the empire state building. I don't know, ha, probably because again, they really didn't show anything that you guys did!

  18. So, what was your budget? It seems like they keep setting you all up to fail with skimpy budgets and ridiculous "inspiration" items. I'm sure you've often been inspired by a TOTE BAG - I know I have!


  19. This comment is coming from Anonymous in Georgia....Emily, I am so glad that you provided the insights and photos on Sunday night's episode. I was wondering what happened to your artwork!!! Didn't even know about the"butterfly". Very ingenious!!! I, too, kept wondering why they didn't show your entire apt.!! And, really, how in the world did they expect souvenirs to turn in to elegant???
    Anyway, still pulling for you!!!!!!

  20. i really did not enjoy how the judges, this and last week, only focused on the negative things. maybe they have been hanging out with 'Anonymous' from a couple comments up? What a rudeface. Seriously.

    Anyway, I would love to know about the budget for each challenge. I am rooting for you. Maybe next week we'll get to see more than 2.5 seconds of your work?!

    I hope so!


  21. We think you're so fun to watch but we are scratching our heads (fleas? lice? hope not...) about why they stick you with such goofy challenges (the flowers, the souveniers...) and the time limit that is so difficult to make the finished product look good for the client.
    Also- and pardon the rant- we know you have nothing to do with it- when will we get to see YOU design--not the "team" ?? Give us the white room and a reasonable budget (not Asian imports and not for a CEO...just "normal")I hope Mark B is a fan of your blog and will learn for next time...

  22. I hope you can make it four weeks in a row because I seriously think that you will make a much better host then any of the other contestants. (cause you're awesome)

  23. So what kind of a budget did you guys have this week? I really wish they would give that information in the show! It helps us viewers understand why there were no accessories in your rooms. That is not fair at all. I also don't understand why you guys are constantly limited to stupid group challenges. Or why you don't get any help.

  24. the 'challenges' are annoying and lame. There are always some built in stupidities, in this case souvenirs. How is tacky crap the Trump style? Your room was neutral and modern and tasteful. The other was a nightmare. The show format brought out the worst in these people, not the best they could be. That is an indictment of the show. Am still waiting for the show to allow the contestants to show their real abilities and personalities. The viewers aren't in the loop, that's for sure. Good luck next week!

  25. EMILY!!

    I like you and I'm excited to find your blog.

    Well, it's getting late here and I should head to bed. I hope you'll pass the kitchen challenge next week. Don't tell us that you are going home.

    But either way, you rock, girl. :)


  26. Slightly off topic, but . . . while watching design star I couldn't help but notice, in addition to your fabulous design style, your o so chic sense of fashion. Where do you shop? Maybe you could do an entry about it? Please!!



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