Saturday, July 31, 2010

episode 7, new teams

Check it out:  New Teams.
I wish i knew how to write in shaky letters. If I could, I would write
in shaky letters.  
also there is a twist this year.  

Here's the 'Caption This', this week (a picture taken and commenters guess what we are thinking):

Dude, that means I got 2 of the 7 caption this's already.  I would love to talk about it but apparetnly i've cut off my own lips.  

Oh, and Farrah called, she wants her hairstyle back....ah, c'mon emily, too soon, too soon. 

If you would like to guess what I was thinking, click here.
Or just comment here.  

Friday, July 30, 2010

mistakes have been made, but good news of a new magazine

Remember when i decided to paint my wall turquoise? (i understand if you've blocked it out, i wish i had). Well we (in television, that's right i'm in television now, need proof?  sunday at 7pm HGTV) have a word for that - or an anagram, called PDSS - Post Design Star Syndrome (its a rare and non-terminal syndrome, could result in fame or a boost in ones career and possibly a lot of temporary fast design decision making).  i suffered badly from the last symptom when i returned - although now i'm suffering from the 2nd one (boost, not fame, please), which is awesome. 

When I got back from filming I had a bit of designing-for-a-competition hysteria and i needed "BIG BOLD COLORS" and I needed them NOW. (picture me enunciating the 'B's really loud, blinking my eyes really hard and flashing jazz hands while i say that).  So I woke up one morning (at like 6, btdubs) and went to the paint store, waited for it to open like a crazed 'one day sale' at Macy's shopper the day after Thanksgiving - NO- the midnight before the day after thanksgiving, re-enacting the 'open open open' commercials from the 90's, and bought a gallon of BM Caribbean Azure and painted it that day.  


I loved it for like 3 hours, and i have been living with it ever since.  I hate it.  really hate it.  There are a few things wrong - the color is too turquoise and not enough peacock blue.  It's too bright, too bold for me.  I could handle it at a restaurant, in a hotel room, in a hallway, or at my beach house in Mexico (cut to my british accent: oh i do need to visit soon, its been just way too long).  But I can't live with it in my 1 bedroom apartment in Silverlake that doesn't get enough light.  

Yes, its the color above, styled for a test shot, taken by Terilyn Fisher).

It is actually making me angry.
Don't get me wrong I love turquoise, but its in the wrong place, mixed with the wrong things and in order for me to truly make it work it would take more time, effort and money than just painting over it.  

So that is what is about to happen.

 I have a shoot here next week for the new and potentially extremely fabulous  RUE Magazine -  that's right MAG-AZ-INE - i know, that word sounds familiar and i get strangely nostalgic saying it, its been a while since i heard that a 'new' one was coming out.  Check this out: I heard an old wives tale that we used to have shelter (home design) magazines sent to us in the mail! can you even imagine! magazines with pretty photographs of aspirational homes for us to flip through actually came out monthly and we could buy them for almost nothing! (which, HELLO, clearly might have been the problem, i didn't go to business school, but should great things that cost a lot of money to make be virtually given away for free??  seriously???)  
ANYHOO.  Well now they are back, just on-line.  Adapt we will.
And i'm gonna be in it.  
It's gonna be a party, and I love to party.

Back to my paint problem:
I have the rest of the apartment in BM november rain, which I loved, but I want something cooler right now.  

Point is:
I need light grey paint color recommendations.

I want it to be fairly color-less - no hints of green, purple or brown, it could go more blue if it has to.  Just picture the perfect gray (reminds me of one of my favorite blogs, 'a perfect gray' perhaps she also was in search of this perfect, yet elusive color).   I want it to be as if pure black was mixed with pure white.  But fairly light.  Maybe even just a tone.

Your challenge begins today, and you have until tomorrow.  Don't let me down, people.

Thursday, July 29, 2010

re-birth of the catalog? uh. gross.

Oh, hi.  We all have hoarding tendencies, right?  shut up.  Remember this post? yep.  well I used to hoard catalogues, too - under the guise of 'i need to know what the style trends are'.  But i've backed off for a while.  i've been keeping the anthros and jcrews and garnet hills, but ditching all the big box stores because they are  always the same - oh and also because i'm trying to create a pathway to get to my kitchen .  BUT, this came in the mail a while ago and i will be hoarding it - nothing weird, not in my bed with me, its not like i'm going to make love to it, but i'll put it in my new 'hopefully-catalogues-will-be-more-like-this' magazine box. 
 (p.s. i haven't worked for West Elm in 5 years, since i was an assistant, i have no loyalties, and i definitely prefer their accessories over their furniture, this is about the styling)

Robyn Glaser is the styling mastermind behind this catalogue (i've heard).  And it was totally obvious to me - she's insanely good.  

Here's the deal with styling catalogues jobs.  There are a lot of great perks to them - they are well-oiled machines, they pay well, its a big chunk of days in a  row, decent budgets and great travel - the locations are always really pretty houses in idyllic locations.  

But here's what sucks about styling catalogues - you can only really use what they sell - meaning every piece of furniture, rug, accessory, tchotchke has to be from that store.  And this is why they look like 'catalogues', boring and predictable (hello bridges, i hope i'm not burning you).  

When I worked for Garnet Hill doing the home catalogue, they were great because they don't actually sell much furniture or accessories so we could shop outside and bring in vintage - and recently with the Pendleton fashion catalogues that i've done, too.  But Crate and Barrel/Pottery Barn/William Sonoma need you to stay within brand (which i totally understand - why use a vintage vase when you could use a product).  And so its hard to shake things up, make it look lived in, give it more personality, take risks and really be 'stylish' when given these restraints.  
(although PB kids i think has a lot of fun with them, fyi)  

The go-to props (non-products) that are always safe are organic things - aka pretty rocks, driftwood, the ubiquitious manzanita, balls of twine, antlers, etc, - these are considered 'safe' because they clearly couldn't come from a competitor - and consumers don't call wanting to buy that branch, thinking it is a product - or maybe they do, who knows.  But after a while, styling with these does become a bit predictable, too - although a pretty branch will always be a pretty branch in my book . So, if you have always wondered why there are so much of these kinds of things in catalogues, that is why - same with food props and newspapers - it tells a story without being too distracting and off-brand.  YES, i'm a huge fan of Catalog Living Blog, and we all wish we had thought of it, she's hilarious.  

(side story, i remember at one point shopping for pretty rocks in New York for a catalogue and paying, i sh*t you not, 5 dollars a piece for river rocks.  I needed 20 of them - different shapes/size/colors and I left the store, carrying a super heavy box of rocks, minus $100 - insane, right? Attention all river rock importers (if only i had a nickel for how many river rock importer readers i have i'd be a nickel-naire)  head to the city, you can swindle those urbanites into buying ROCKS FOR FIVE DOLLARS A PIECE.  funny because its true)


 HELLO.   WEST ELM.  nice to meet you again. 
they be shaking things up, and it looks awesome.   

Here's why - i think, anyway.  It looks like 1/3 of the accessories from the new West Elm catalogue aren't from west elm - they are vintage and probably from Robyn Glaser's incredible Prop house in NY.  And mixing all of these vintage pieces in,  makes me want to be this person and I NEVER say that about catalogues.  

I am often repelled by the catalogues, even though i like a lot of the individual products because the lifestyle they create is so suburban and perfect.   (no offense to people who live in suburbs, or people who are perfect - although if you are sooo perfect you probably wouldn't take offense anyway, because oh, good for you, you're soooooo perfect. suck it)

But this looks effortless and natural, it sells the lifestyle first, product second - which is ultimately i think what makes this work.  This person isn't perfect, they are interesting and messy.  This is what Anthro does most of the time - you can't even see the details of the shirt  through the blurry over-sunned photograph, but you want to be that person twirling on the boat in the lake, so you buy it - or it drives you to the store to buy it. 

So kudos, West Elm - (and Robyn Glaser and i'm assuming photographer Roland Bello).  I feel sorry for your catalogue phone people as i'm sure there doing a lot of 'well, that's not actually a west elm product' speeches, but you made me look twice - and hoard it.   And where oh where is that wallpaper from, does anybody know?  its perfection.

I hope this is the track they are staying on for a while, because me likey.  

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Dan's weddin'

Looky looky what I found.  Dan Faires and his couldn't-be-lovlier betrothed (i told you i was gonna bring that word back) Dasha got hitched last weekend.  I couldn't make it due to an awesome bachelorette weekend in San Francisco for my besty, but man....I'm speechless, this looks so amazing.   All the men in overalls, all women in white and no shoes.  America, eat you your heart out.  They are high school sweethearts, planned the wedding in three months, it couldn't look less pretentious and more fun.  I'm just so happy for my friend, Dan.  So happy.

I know, i know.  She is ridiculously beautiful.  I do love a happy ending. I do.

PLEASE check out Dan's blog (click on the highlighted words) and website.    Buy his awesome furniture - handmade, all reclaimed wood (I think, Dan tell me if i'm getting anything wrong)  - a full Arkansas and Brooklyn style merger.

I remember once on the show we were all sitting in the van waiting for something and Dan, after a long producer induced silence, said in the most from-the-heart-way, 'Megan (one of the producers) can i please use the phone, I really, really miss my girlfriend and my mom'.    Needless to say we all melted and almost broke down, at that point it was like 2 weeks without a word to our loved ones.  They got engaged right after the show.

And don't forget to vote for him for fan vote.  Why not me?  Well, because viewers haven't seen much of me on the show recently - its all in the editing room, so i feel weird asking people to vote for me if i'm not knocking my own socks off.

Oh, and also because i'm not delusional, i'm at like 2 percent and Dan is over 40%.  If its not me, then I want it to be Dan - I mean look at how happy he is.  And he has a pet pig named Trudy.  I'm not kidding.  Trudy.

Traveling today, i'll get to questions when I get home.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Episode 6, the red team

You guys rock.  Seriously thank you for the support.  I thought about not addressing it (the cruel anonymous comment yesterday, click here), but, well, that felt lame and way too passive.  Really glad to know that you guys have my virtual back.  Thank you, thank you.

Now on to the Red Team.

You weren't the only ones shocked about the double elimination this week.  oh no.  We, the blue team, got our little reality worlds rocked when Courtland walked through the door and shut it after him. alone. He then very theatrically fell onto his knees, dropped his bag,  opened his arms and shouted happy obscenities.  Always the dramatic, that Courtland.  
So now for the Red Team.  You should know a couple things - these people are my friends which makes me biased, and i like them all personally.

Heres' what i like about their space.   Probably more than you think.  i like that they played with mixing styles, too, but kept it high end.  Their furniture had a much better scale for the room, that tufted bench is super pretty, that coffee table grounded the space and adding in a round black leather pouf created contrast in size, shape, color and brought in a bit of youth and edge.  My, my, don't i fancy myself some sort of design expert.  What makes me worried is the rug.  ish don't think so.  I do love that rug, but we actually had a ton of rugs to choose from this time, so not sure why they got one so small.  And the angle, don't want to beat a dead cow, but the only rugs i like to angle are hides.   I like the modern glass/metal table mixed with the traditional frenchy chairs, and their color palette wasn't altogether different than ours - but no, i wasn't crazy about the yellow walls.  I actually think the red team has some much needed color contrast in the furniture choices, however, that our space lacked - I think the person that lived here probably didn't spend too much time here and maybe never fully moved in, but they had good/weird taste in furniture.  I feel like maybe the judges aren't as interested in mixing styles as much as we are and they saw things as concept-less rather than an unfinished good concept.  What do I know. 

Yes, of course they needed art and accessories - a lot of them.  But we didn't have the budget or clearance for that.  

I don't totally get this tall table thing.  Sorry. 

OK.  I think that we all agree (including Stacey) that this bed needed a mattress as well as maybe to get rid of that black dead animal at the foot of the bed.  BUT, the bed itself is beautiful. I like the trunk side table, not so much the lamp, it reminds me of my hotel lobby days....woah woah,  i was a cocktail waitress (queue my lady of the night music).  As far as the drapery goes:  I actually thought that incorporating the taxi-cab paraphernalia into the drapery was interesting in a deconstructed way.  It's not like we had fabric stores to choose beautiful drapery from.  Drop cloth canvas was our drapery and Stacey thought that drapery would elevate the room.  Of course you can rip it apart and say how crazy she must be for putting drop cloths in a luxury apartment, but keep it in perspective, people.  We were also given plastic souvenirs to work into the luxury apartment, so excuse us for not being perfect and for perhaps not totally understanding the inconsistency of the challenge. I like the color of the room, the idea of the drapery, that beautiful bed, the pillows and the trunk.  Again, needed matress, art accessories, life.

Ah, the notorious blueberry bathroom.  What's the big deal?  So it's blue walls?  It's not like every guy in town hasn't had blue walls at one point or another.  I'm a Tom fan, through and through.  And I understood what he was going for, although, yes he made a mistake in the color choice (hello, mistakes are made every 10 seconds when working under this kind of pressure).  I think a dark bathroom can be weird and cool and cozy, for a guy, or a club, or a smurf brothel.  The fact that it has no natural light is the exact reason why you should embrace a color (although maybe not a saturated color) and not just paint it white like we did.  Without natural light, white can look bland and unfinished - but paint a room blue and you have yourself a mini statement - a little surprise when  you are on the john.  And who doesn't like a surprise while on the john.  Let me be clear: no, this did not look amazing, but relax, everybody, its just blue walls.  Geez. 

Elimination.  My, My it is getting heated up there.  At this point I want to press stop and rush to Chicago to give Stacey a hug.  I know that you  guys didn't get to know her, but she was snarky as hell.  She had good taste.  Not perfect when it comes to teamwork and competing, but someone you wanted around all the time because she is just overall rad.  I'm sorry that you didn't see that.  

Stacey looked pretty broken and sad and done.  I wanted to reach out and hug that little hot pink bundle of snark.  I've been there.  You just want to give up and go back to your happy life.   I think that Stacey was ready to go home.  At this point we could each go home for anything, so its not that its arbitrary, its just that we are getting down to the nitty gritty.  Working in groups is stifling.  it just is.  Her 60% comment was probably true, she was just done.  I missed her a lot.

Tom!! Talk about ready to go home.  Don't feel bad for this guy, he has a crazy amazing job and was ready to get back to it.  He did this for the adventure, not the career, so he felt like he had enough and was ready to head back to real life.  Sayonara reality.  Off to his summer house on shelter island - where i will be joining him next year, he invited me...  and i'm a big taker-upper-on-middle-of-the-night-kinda-drunk-invites.  
Not everybody got to know Tom like I did, but he'll always have a place in my heart.  

Courtland's video was shocking.  I'm glad that he apologized beforehand, because man that nice.  at all.  Courtland is a nice guy, he must've just had it up to his v-neck with his teammates. 

Down to five.  Kinda nuts.  And at this point while we are still sad that people we like are gone without a proper goodbye, we realize that the less people around means the less people to compete with.   So I guess a double elimination just makes the whole thing more efficient.  

On to the kitchen challenge.  May you all forgive me. 

Monday, July 26, 2010

Edward to the rescue, again.

Check out this gem of an anonymous comment I got yesterday.  

"Anonymous said...

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."

Hmmm...Thanks so much, 'anonymous'.  Thanks for making me feel a little bit nauseous and pretty sad for a couple hours.  But here's something you should know about me.  I have 10 dollars.  and a car.  and a mother-in-law who insisted I spend 2 hours with some old friends, Edward, Bella and Jacob, watching them battle immature bloodsuckers, much like yourself.  (Stop judging, Twilight is intellectually indefensible, but unapologetically addictive).  Since leaving the movie theater, i feel so much better.  You should be ashamed of yourself, anonymous.  This is my personal blog, its not the HGTV website where people spew hateful words all day long.  It's just me....a person.  Shame on you.  

oh and by the way, 'anonymous' I've got a message for you.
In the words of Bella,


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.

Episode 6.

A lot to take in from last night's episode.  I was pretty shocked by a few things.  But i'm working on my post right now, so stay tuned.

Were you guys shocked who went home?  Who won?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

for me to put my pretty things in.

My friend just bought an awesome house with a dated kitchen that we need to update with not a ton of money.  It's from the 1920's and he's into vintage look, yet modern - or  i've convinced him that he's into that, because that's what i'm into.  The house closes tomorrow and then i can take pics, but being obsessed with the task i've already found some tears to show him.

His kitchen already has subway tiles, so we could just replace the shelving and countertops and have it be affordable-ish.

This one above is pretty, but too country.

This one is pretty beautiful.  It feels old and new at the same time. 

 Ah, Amy Nuensinger's kitchen.  Perfection.  All while marble, open shelving, a huge open layout,  and floor to high high ceiling glass doors that opens to an overgrown patio with canyon views. 

These photos were taken by Amy, obviously.  And she designed the house, because she is super woman, apparently. 

Serious question for you:
I need to find a contractor for my friend to do the work that he needs done.  Does anybody know anybody in LA that they feel good about recommending?    

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

I scheduled a day of watching TV today.  all day.  can i return your phone calls? nope, sorry i'm booked.  meet for lunch? oh i apologize, but i'm unavailable all day.  i'm  not even allowing myself to leave the sofa.  the amount of television i'm about to watch is gonna be sick.  i just finished When in Rome (being a huge veronica mars fan i can't say no to the adorableness of Kristen Bell).  it was certifiably indescribably stupid.

i started 'The Bounty Hunter' but i couldn't last 20 minutes.

help me help me.

i need movie recommendations. i prefer something where pretty people fall in love. or cry.  one or the other.    ooh!! or dancing.  a la Step Up.

nothing with words at the bottom of the screen.  nothing with comic book heros.  and if ryan gosling or robert pattinson happened to be involved, i would be very grateful.

and for the record i worked like 23 days straight.  i deserve this day- which is what i keep quietly chanting to myself.  over and over.

****update.  i watched Remember Me.  ugh.  so stupid, although Robert was brooding and angry, just like i like him.  Thanks for the suggestions everyone.   i still have 4 more hours of tv watching til i'm off, for now it's HGTV, giving holmes on homes a look.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Episode 5.

I had a friend once return from a world tour of Europe (er, a european tour of europe....) and when asked how it was, their response was, 'amazing, just amazing. if you ever the chance, you really should try it'.  uh yeah.  'if i get the chance' to take off a year and float around the world, i'll totally 'try' it.  thanks so much for the advice.  now that i have the recommendation i'll go ahead and book a ticket today.

But seriously.

if you ever get the chance to play fireman for the day, you should totally do it.

so fun, so scary, so hard to hold up the 30 plus pounds of uniform.  And that fire is hot, my friends.  When we were doing the drill it did start to get really really hot, but you can't feel that much because of all the gear.  but the second i took off my helmet when i was far away, i could feel the heat and it singed my eyelashes it was sooo hot.  We weren't terrified because we knew that obviously we were in good hands, but I could never do it for a living.  i'll go back to sewing pillows.  in 72 degree weather.  with bearcat.

So this weeks challenge was to design a common area of a firehouse.  We were at firehouse 18 which is in the west village and super old and historic.  During 9-11 all the men that were on duty that day died on ground zero, and without killing your tuesday morning buzz i'll spare you how sentimental that made me feel and just say that i loved loved loved our guys and it truly truly truly was an honor to get to know them and design a room for them.

Our furniture came from some online store that is below by canal street called 'contemporary furniture nyc' or something like that. They guys requested leather, because dudes be loving leather.  and they said that they don't really like to cuddle with each other so club chairs were better than sofas.  so we bought club chairs.   six club chairs, actually.  But the store didn't have any coffee tables that we thought could work (wherein i formed my ridiculous idea to build a table, because i'm a furniture builder, right? right? wrong).

So, the furniture came from the 'contemporary' store and accessories came from Surprise Surprise, which is a where NYUers buy dorm room accessories.  The other stop we made was a lumber store for lumber to build my coffee table, Casey's canvas and Michaels desk system.  Those were the only options for shopping for anything.

For the record i drew a sketch of the table this time and while it is visually unimpressive, it isn't going to fall apart soon, i hope anyway.  i'm not proud of the design of it, it did look like a kindergarteners table (thanks MFAMB  for pointing that out, i was was thinking 3rd grader, but i can go younger), but i am still proud of it.  

In defense of my table:

Obviously my 'signature element' was less about a coffee table and more about what i wrote on it.  Inside the fire house the only decorations they have are what people send to them to thank them.  They are all over the walls, quilts, framed letters, pictures from kids classrooms, plaques, etc, etc.  Its unbelievably touching and totally appreciated by them - they care way less about the perfect accessories in the room and more about remembering why they do what they do.  The love from the public is a huge source of pride to them, so I wanted to give them my version of that.  You can go ahead and call that cheezy, i don't care.  They lost 7 of the 21 guys in 9-11.  best friends.  so, no, I wasn't worried about it being too sentimental for a reality tv show, it wasn't about me.  I didn't expect to win for best coffee table design of the year.  i just wanted them to like it and to hopefully make them laugh.

 So I taped out the letters FDNY (sticking with our graphic theme) and wrote inside them, in black permanent market, then poly-ed the whole top so it doesn't get ruined.  it was total stream of consciousness,  clearly i won't remember it exactly what I wrote, but it went a little something like this:

'oh, hey, squad 18.  wait, how did you get such big muscles, again?  i mean, the level of brawn in this house is ridiculous.  it's almost as if you just hang around and work out all day, but nope  you are busy saving lives.  literally.  saving human being lives.  while i'm annoyed about having to carry 6 shopping bags, stressed about lampshades, angry at the long lines at ikea, you are running into burning buildings to save human beings.    Where normal men are terrified and run out away from fires, you guys run into them and that, well makes you so much cooler in my book.  Was it something you ate as a kid?  drank?  i mean, where did you get that bravery? '  

 'I often contemplate dressing up in a cat suit (not like catwoman, more like a furry) and getting myself stuck in a tree just so you would rescue me.  And i know you would.  even though you could tell that i was clearly just a crazy fireman-obsessed woman, you would still rescue me because you are that nice.   But, I can't help myself.  Because women, well, we love you.  and its not just the uniform thing, we don't go nuts for postal workers.  its the bravery thing.  you can't bottle it, you can't touch it, you can't explain it, and we all know it.  it's not something we have, or most men have.  just you guys.  and thank god for it and for you'

It went on and on like that.  Its not going to win the pulitzer, i know, but the intention was that it would make them smile, feel good, feel proud and laugh.  that was my signature element, not the coffee table.

OH MY GOSH, i can't believe i haven't talked about the joy i felt about mixing the teams up, yet.  'joy' doesn't really describe it.  'ecstasy' gets a bit closer.  with the loss of Dan, i was terrified of another week with one of my teammates.  (not terrified in a 'scared' way, but in a 'i might just walk out of the competition and go back to my very pleasant life' way).  So i am now happily still on the team with Casey, with the addition of Michael and Alex.  And it was very very very pleasant indeed.

We get into the firehouse and instantly ask all the requisite questions.  'how do you use the space?' 'what are your exact needs' and color preferences, etc etc.  They already have a big hangout room with all their recliners and tv's and stuff, this was more for drills and tests.  We knew we wanted to keep it simple and functional.  Nothing too decorative.  So we decided that anything decorative we decided to do would be in big graphic elements.  Alex wanted to paint skyline which i think was great.  remember people that there are no art options, so had he not done that it would have been a huge blank wall.  and I thought his mural was totally appropriate, graphic, made a huge statement yet simple.  kudos, Alex.

We first decide the wall color - which we knew needed to be masculine, but light because the space was so dead.  no natural light at all.  we didn't want to go grey because it can be depressing if we couldn't get any color any where else in the room, so we chose 'feather grey' (I think) and its a really grey light blue that we were super happy with.  Then we tackled the floor, which yes, was a nightmare. because we decided to polyuerethane it we weren't able to use that space for hours and hours.  but i'm glad we did it, because there were no rug options or any other flooring solution.  We decided to patina it in a way that if it scuffs up, it hopefully will look interesting and old, not cheap and gross.  next time i'm in the city i'm going to stop by and check it out and say hi to the guys.  I'm curious if it held up.  oh and i want to see my firemen.

Alex helped a lot with the cutting of all the wood - he learned fast the first few challenges to be comfortable with the power tools, whereas I'm still slightly afraid of using table saws when i'm in a hurry.  as to not have any major accidents.....which leads me to Michael.  Michael took on this desk shelving system which looked like a good idea, but a lot of construction.  those nail guns are scary, and yes it went completely through his thumb.  he was a TOTAL  champ and as they were carting him away he was yelling out suggestions, which was effing hilarious.

Alex took over and saved the team.  He put together Michaels wall system sooooo fast, i helped as much as I could, but he should get all the credit.  he is such a good guy and works insanely hard.  as much as i adore my good good friend Casey, in a way i think that Alex could've won this challenge because the impact he had in the room was HUGE.  but again, the judges don't see any of this, which is unfortunate.

Casey.  Dude.  that girl kept quiet about her art school years.  After building the canvas, which took a long time because it was so big, she whipped out the painting really fast and it turned out perfectly.  it was  a big graphic, yet personal element in the room and grounded that wall.

So did that room blow my socks off?  no, not really.  We didn't  have the resources to.  But it was a big pleasant, functional, comfortable room for 6 dudes to watch TV and study for their tests. And while it wasn't 'decorated' per say, it had a lot of artistic and personal elements in the room that will keep them interested and talking for years.

Nina was eliminated.   'Relieved' is the word that i shall use.  ahem.  But really, i don't really have to say much.  it would be like me doing a post about how america has economic problems.  it's like, yeah, no duh, everybody knows because anybody who watches the show sees for themselves what she's like and how it all went down.  You don't need little ole me to say it.  besides i'm just from Oregon.  and people from Oregon and Arkansas are different.  

ah, self restraint. how i loathe you sometimes.  not nearly as much fun as what i'm really thinking.

read roomfu's blog with her interview.
i'll blog about the other team tomorrow.

Sunday, July 18, 2010


ok.  a few things, real quick like.  purely objective.  using my reality-tv-watching-instincts.
1.  Courtland should not have been in the bottom two.  wood paneling can be awesome.
2. Alex saved Michael's life.  he totally put that shelving system together when Michael was relaxing with a nail in his thumb.  probably drinking brooklyn lager.  watching the much missed, much talked about 'television'.  lazy lazy michael.  i mean, i miss RHONY too, but i wouldn't put a nail in my finger just to be able to watch it in the waiting room.  or maybe i would've. we all have our priorities.  in case you don't read my blog often, i'm justa kiddin'.  but Alex rocked this week.  and totally saved the day.
3.  my table was weird, BUT necessary.  we didn't have a table.  and i couldn't leave it plain and have that be my 'signature'.   oh and what i wrote on it (graffiti like) i'm hoping will  keep them laughing and smiling for years, and that was the point.  i'll explain tomorrow.
4.  Reese should quit the acting gig and start painting instead.  she whipped that fireman silhouette out quickly and it really was pretty.  (er. casey)
5.  thank god we have new teams.  i was about to throw myself into that fire.
6.  my kryptonite has left the building.
7.  i heart firemen.  very. very. much.  so handsome, so brave. you can't bottle that sh*t.  and if they could, they would make 17 trillion dollars. 'cause every woman wants them and every man wants to be them.

because they are awesome.
my  15 day shoot ends tomorrow. i'm hoping i come back alive because i is a zombie.  14 hour days with an hour commute.  sucks.  be prepared (this time i promise) for some DS posts.  the obsession is full force after tonights episode. so much to 'splain.
Sorry for being so MIA.  i've been shooting a fashion catalogue in Malibu which grants me a lovely hour and fifteen minute commute each way to add on to my 12 hour shooting day - darn you summer for having so many hours of light.  but the shoot ends tomorrow, so i'll be back, obsessed with Design Star and my impending fame.

tonights episode has to do with firemen.  it is one one my favorites, for sure.  I love love love firemen.  When we are all running outta the building, they are running in.  just that general concept amazes me.  Cops give you tickets or break up the party, but firemen just help when needed.  they are universally adored.   thanks FDNY.

sososososososo excited.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sorry it took so long....

I'm still sad.  about Dan.  my friends are sad, my family is sad and america is sad.  I'm pretty sure that guy is not going away quietly and i'm predicting a Dan spinoff show or something (I think he's still dominating in the fan vote polls so vote vote vote if you want him to win - i'm a real bad 'vote-for-yerself girl' so i've been doing few for me, then switching it up between Dan and some of my other faves which i'll highlight later).

First of all here is our space:

There are some problems, yes, but overall i like our space.  Let's start with some behind the scenes.

1.  there is a bit of a war on the blogs about who's idea the swing was.  it was mine.  kidding.   It was Nina's idea, she said she's done it before and that she knew how do to it.  BUT, she did want to paint it silver and use chain to glam it up (which could've looked good, too) but as i remember, Dan wanted to keep it simple and natural.  maybe Nina could've hung it properly, but fact is that Dan did it.  there.  I liked it, she claims we all detested it, but thats not true.  i think it did look playful, gimmicky yes, but interesting.

2. Fake applied moulding.  I'm still conflicted about this one.  It did a lot for the room, but the part of me that isn't into faux finishings isn't into this either.  i feel like its a good option for a 24 year old renting an apartment, Its a lot of bang for your buck, as it has a lot of impact.  It was Nina's idea and Dan, Casey and Stacey helped her do it.  Again, it was a lot of wall to cover and no artwork so we had to do something.  I was a busy sewing bee and not so good with straight lines so i sat out the taping situation.

3.  Stacey's stories.  Stacey is getting a lot of flack out there for her carnation story.  Was choosing the carnation a risk?  of course.  she knows its not the most popular flower, but that is why she chose it.  her stories are a hard sell, but she sells 'em.  The desk/office area was cute,

I like the mismatching lamps, the ghost chair is what it is, but, my what an adorable little pillow for you to rest on while you are sniffing your carnation. me likey, stacey.

I was so happy that Reese Witherspoon was on my team again.  Its so great that she can take away time from legally blonde 3 to do what she really loves - painting walls.  and she is super down to earth, no weird famousy pretentious, she won't even answer to Reese if you call at her.  She just wants to be one of us.

Ahem.  You didn't get to see a lot from Casey this week, but she did a lot behind the scenes.  Casey wanted her part of the room to feel like  a watercolor painting, so she did this effect on the walls.  She kinda washed the walls with this blue.  it was pretty.  I made those pillows, but she styled the bed.
We upholstered a headboard in linen to add structure.  this rug was supposed to go in to the living room but it didn't work, that is why the living room has a kinda nuts carpet.  And while i like the lamp, now the room looks a bit off balance because of it.  oops. But i like the little chandy.  its cute.  Overall, i think its a sweet room.

We all got along so much better this time.  i didn't resist any ideas, i started my 'just let people do whatever they want and hopefully it will make the room look better or they will go down for it' strategy. I'm not competitive, so i had to have some sort of strategy and while this one seems apathetic, i think it actually makes the most sense.  I am not into the wall art at all but cared more about having a pleasant day than to say anything.  I figured it it made the room look better, great, good for everyone on the team.  but if it was bad then someone deserved to be criticized for it.  I don't actually think that being competitive is that good of a thing unless you play sports, by the way. Why compete?  Whats the point?  I don't compete with my friends (even my fellow freelance prop stylists when we are up for the same job) my siblings, my cats, nobody in my real life, so why would i magically become competitive just because i'm in a talent competition?  I tried, at first, really.  but no puedo.

I think that is one of the reasons that Dan went home.  He wasn't competitive either, just a great guy trying to help make a great room.  Had we had somebody (an extra carpenter) that could help out, Dan could've focused on his design.  Sorry, Dan.  again.

So did I just sew?  yep, mainly.  Not totally proud of it. Of course I helped with all the shopping and styling too.   I guess that if i hadn't sewn none of those pillows on the sofa, swing or bed would be there (and obviously the curtains wouldn't be there).  I love the pillows with the rug.  I don't mind the pillows with the wall moulding.  I don't mind the wall moulding with the rug.  But all three elements together is a bit overkill -  a lot of really strong patterns in one room.   It does, however, look like a room that I would love to have a cocktail party in.  it has fun energy and a lot of life.  I remember right before the judges came in, thinking, there is a good chance that a crazy person would live in this room.  i love crazy people, but not sure if the judges do.

Those curtains, by the way, took me forever to sew because they are so long and wide  so just measuring them and cutting accurately was a huge time suck - it was like 20 yards of fabric and doing this in a teeny space where everyone else is trying to work and paint is a big ole pain in the arse.  They were white hankerchief linen, i didn't want a pattern, i didn't want any distraction, just natural organic fabric that would fall naturally, let the light through and look romantic.  I wish you could see the fringe better, it definitely gave it that hippie vibe which i love.
That's it for now.  gotta run.
To answer a couple questions:
No we can't hear what the judges are saying up there.  but yes, it is very uncomfortable.

i'll talk about the boys tomorrow.


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