HGTV Design Star Recap: Antacid Reign

When a reality-show contestant kicks off an episode with a grandiose declaration, you know he’s getting set up to experience either the thrill of victory, or the agony of defeat. On this week’s HGTV Design Star, said contestant was Doug, who announced that he was going to make a “huge attempt” to let his design be the “hero” of the show. Unfortunately, the crusader in question arrived on the scene wearing a cape of hideous paint and wielding an arsenal of mismatched home furnishings, and thus wound up as the latest victim of the worst sendoff line of any program currently in production: “I’m sorry, we will not be producing your show”

This week’s challenge was a fairly straightforward one. The 10 remaining contestants were sent to Totowa, NJ, divided into four teams, and tasked with renovating one of four tragically outdated rooms in two local homes. Let’s review:

* Doug and Mark were asked to update a dining area and turn it into an entertaining space for a family that fancied large gatherings complete with eating and dancing. You knew there were going to be problems when Mark declared his “deep connection to nature” while Doug lobbied for a paint color that may have been called Nuclear Salmon. (Judge Genevieve Gorder huffed it was the same hue as “organ meat,” which makes me wonder about the quality of her butcher. But I digress…)

Initially, I was miffed that Mark wound up in the bottom two; after all, he’d repeatedly tried to tell Doug that his paint looked like a”bad antacid,” but Doug was as cooperative as a cat in a bathtub. The judges, however, made a good point that just because Mark lost the battle of the accent wall didn’t mean he should’ve yielded all decision-making power about furniture purchasing and placement. Yes, Mark’s wood-paneled installation was nifty, but the guys’ literal interpretation of a dance space — with all the home furnishings flush against the walls — was preposterous. As Genevieve noted, what percentage of their lives did the Caligari family actually spend boogying?

* The other room punctuated by designer discord was an in-law suite remodeled by Bret, Karl, and Cathy (although in her mind, Cathy was visualizing it as a room remodeled by herself, with Bret and Karl carrying out the unsavory work of getting their hands dirty). To be honest, I wish the Design Star producers had lingered a little longer in the massive space, and let us judge for ourselves how successful (or not) it actually was. But I will admit that I guffawed hearing Cathy yammer on about how the travertine table she chose showed a “global perspective.” I mean, in theory, Cathy’s concept of a travel-inspired design show is great, but at this point, she’s turning into the little girl who cried “international.” At some point very soon, she’s going to have to stop telling us about her world-influenced design and actually show it to us. (That said, her choice of teak-esque flooring was pretty fabulous.) As for her cohorts, I’m glad Bret put his foot down and insisted he and Karl go shopping while Cathy stayed behind and painted; let that be a lesson to his fellow contestants in how to hold your ground during a design challenge. And as for Karl’s smashed mosaic tile and Gaudi reference, did anyone else think he was taking a clever (and brilliantly executed) shot at Cathy’s sad-sack mosaic-inspired white box from last week?

* It may have only landed them in the middle of the pack, but my favorite room was definitely Tyler and Meg’s transformation of what its owner said you “might call a dining room” into what the designers called a “vintage Palm Beach” escape (pictured). Tyler’s whitewashed paneled arches brought an elegance to the space that was hard to imagine from its original form, and the duo accessorized the space with subdued touches that felt lush, but never boring. I’d have agreed with Vern Yip’s complaint that the space looked too much like a showroom — and didn’t include enough personal touches from the homeowner — but I don’t think there was a single usable object to be found in the “before” room.

* I’d have given the runner-up spot to Kellie, Leslie and Kevin’s family basement, with a special emphasis on Kevin’s sensational blue-green wall treatment. It was nice to see a team of designers attack a space without the slightest hint of discord, even when Leslie spilled black paint in the center of the cream-colored carpet. The former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader is fast becoming my favorite personality of the season. Watching her giddily use “elbow grease and water” to lift the stain, then giggle “I broke it in for ’em” was the kind of can-do-it positivity that you want to see in an HGTV host, no?

But enough about my take: What did you think of this week’s HGTV Design Star? Did the right person get the boot? If not Doug, who would’ve been the next best choice to go home? Do you have a favorite contestant after three episodes? Sound off below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. Hillary says:

    Doug was exactly the person I would have chosen to go home. That wall color made me a little sick to my stomach. I also didn’t agree with Mark being in the bottom two. If the judges had taken a look at the video and seen even half the number of times Mark tried to change Doug’s mind about the color, I think they would have put Bret in the bottom two instead. But, I do agree that Doug & Mark’s room was ridiculously hideous. I hope to see Mark back to doing great next week!

    • Amanda says:

      Mark wasn’t in the bottom solely because of the paint color. It was because he, as Michael pointed out, basically gave up all control to Doug. He could have forced his POV more in the style and placement of furniture at least.

  2. Beth T says:

    Michael – I essentailly agree with you 100% this week!
    I’m only commenting becasue I can. :D

  3. Tna says:

    I agree with who was sent home last night and I cheered when the guys made Cathy stay and actually work. It was nice to see people not give in to someone who tries to have a dominant personality.

  4. Templar says:

    Yes the right person went home. He was like Mozzie’s [ White Collar] evil twin. Cathy should go home next just for being a diva. I’m most impressed with Karl and Tyler and thought the criticism of no personal objects in the dining room ridiculous. Let the family personalize it themselves. Karl’s mosaic has inspired me to try it myself on my kitchen reno.

    • lauren says:

      YES! That’s exactly what Doug was. I kept thinking that every time he was on screen!! Kind of a mix between Moz and a mole, or some other weird looking rodent.

    • Templar says:

      I just left the Design Star website and after viewing the rooms that qualified the contestants for the show, I’m more impressed with Karl than before. Tyler’s rooms, however, struck me as austere and slightly bizarre at times, so now it’s Karl for sure.

  5. Z says:

    I agree with Doug going home. He is delusional about his “talent”. Mark should have been in the bottom 2 because their room was the least successful & he should have stood his ground and moved the furniture every time Doug put it back…until time ran out. As for Cathy, she gets on my nerves. Declaring she was a “multiple” Emmy winner the first week put me off. She has shown nothing of her “International Perspective” – not impressed…oh, and what’s with that bugged eyed thing she does – not attractive (on or off camera). I like pretty much all of the other contestants…especially Leslie, Karl, Tyler & Kevin.

    • Mindy says:

      I’m glad I’m not the only one annoyed by that bugged eye thing she does. I have to turn away from the screen when she’s on. Hopefully she is gone next week. I’m liking Kelli, Leslie and Karl. They would be an ideal final three.

      • Steve says:

        It’s the combination of bugeye and pursed lips that irks me… it’s like she’s channeling Dana Carvey’s Church Lady from SNL, with just a splash of Omarosa-tude mixed in. Some people are just not cut out for TV, and she’s one of them.

        • KevyB says:

          THAT’S IT! I couldn’t remember who she reminded me of. It’s Omarosa! Honestly, isn’t “uppity black woman” becoming a cliche or even a borderline racist inclusion on these shows? I know plenty of talented black women who don’t act like this, though you’d hardly know they exist from reality shows.

          I thought the Gaudi thing was hilarious, and the fact that he chose to say Gaudi rather than Barcelona (which would actually be more truthful as Gaudi wasn’t responsible for the famous mosaics in Park Guell), shows Karl to be a classy guy. I want to know why, in the past, Vern & Co have denigrated those who are merely shoppers and not “designers”, yet they keep praising Cathy solely on her purchases. She needs to start designing or she needs to hit the road.

    • topsyturvy says:

      It’s the bug eyes and the snotty attitude that bug me (saying she was offering them her PROFESSIONAL perspective.) Did she win Emmys for being on camera? And the weird teeth to gum ratio …

  6. julie says:

    I’d never watch a show with Cathy as the host.

    Good bye Doug. I think he was trying to play off the fireplace, but his paint choice was hideous, he should have tried a much less saturated color.

  7. Dave in Alamitos Beach says:

    Did Leslie (the former Dallas Cowboys Cheerleader) mention her “wife” or was I just hearing things? If so, bravo to the show for being so blase about it, and bravo to Leslie for being so revealing.

    Doug seemed like a nice guy but he was really clueless about his abilities. Mark had just won a challenge, so you’d think he’d be willing to listen to him. Oh well, enjoy the hubris at home then.

    I think either Tyler or Karl is going to win. I also like Mark and Leslie. Cathy’s personality probably gets a lot done in real life, but is pretty grating when you’re supposed to “enjoy” it as a viewer.

  8. Bobbi says:

    That is what Leslie said. Also just read an interview of David Bromstad and he made it clear that HGTV never had a problem with him being out and they’ve been supportive of him in many ways. He’s really impressed with them as a company, particularly in that regard. So, I guess the way Leslie’s comment was handled is just more of the same, which is nice to see.

    Very glad Doug went home. Didn’t like what he did last week or this week.

  9. John M says:

    Yes, it is shocking that Leslie does not remind everyone, every chance she gets, that she is a lesbian. Very refreshing.

  10. Buggu says:

    My bottom two – Doug and Brett .
    Doug to get the boot – right choice .
    Brett- not much TV personality .
    Cathy – Kinda irritating . more talking .less doing.
    Leslie ,Kellie – so so .
    Meg ,Kevin , Mark – Seem to be nice people.Yet to see more.
    Karl – New ideas. Need to have more TV presence.
    Tyler – Innovative ideas. Interested to see more of it.

  11. topsyturvy says:

    I feel like Mark did all he could to try to force Doug to work with him, but hit a brick wall with Doug’s know-it-all attitude. I wish we could have seen Doug and Mark’s camera challenge because it was obvious from the WTF reaction from David after Doug did that surreal cutting up carpet and roll it up tip that Doug is not, um, camera ready. And based on last week, Mark is kind of dreamy on camera.

    Karl’s tile thing was amazing! Should have won!

    Kevin annoys me. He always seems so HYPED up when he’s talking to the camera. And when he said the dreaded “easy breezy” I wanted to punch him in the face.

    • topsyturvy says:

      P.S. I’m loving Leslie too. I was afraid she was going to be the typical annoying female Southern designer that they have every season but she’s proving to be a real trouper.