HGTV Design Star Recap: Jersey Shore Thing

HGTV Design Star took a road trip to the Jersey Shore this week, but I’m pleased to report no hot tubs were befouled as the nine remaining contestants joined forces to renovate four bedrooms at a violently outdated bed and breakfast. In fact, the only part of the telecast that left me deeply disconcerted — aside from the ’80s leather sectional sofa in Meg, Mark, and Karl’s “before” room — was the presence of guest judge Kathy Ireland, who debuted a brand new language known as Cuecardanese.

Seriously, I can’t be the only one who got the bad chills when the supermodel-turned-designer entered the house with a mechanical smile and this straight-from-her-publicist’s-Blackberry sound bite:  “I’m excited to experience what all of you have brought to the table. I cannot wait to see your work.” Why not just go with, “My name is Elmer J. Fudd. I own a mansion and a yacht”? Someone hit CTRL+ALT+DEL, pronto!

But enough about Design-o-Bot 2011. We need to focus on the inn selected for refurbishing. I think it’s best to simply quote that fabulously raspy broad Meg as she entered her assigned room: “Ohhh. Mahhh. Gahhhhd.” Yep, as Tyler noted, most outmoded B&Bs look like they could double as outposts for the National Museum of Lace Doilies, but this place was all faded floral bedspreads, heavy wooden dressers, decades-old wallpaper, and flea-market wall art. Honestly, I’d say all four “afters” were huge improvements on the “befores,” but some moreso than others. I’m gonna break it all the way down in order from my most- to least-favorite renovations.

Kevin and Cathy: Okay, okay…I know I should knock this bedroom down a spot or two because of Kevin’s poor execution on the whitewashed floors. As judge Genevieve Gorder noted, the last thing HGTV wants to do is to foist a design on a client that will leaving the homeowner cleaning up a mess for months to come. But from an aesthetic standpoint, I felt as though Kevin and Cathy managed to take the saddest, most cramped space in the B&B and turn it into a souffle-airy oasis of beiges and blues and grays. (And I think the innkeepers agreed, based on their briefly shown response.) The leafy bedspreads were a nice mix of traditional and mod, and the door-esque headboards were a total triumph, like little entryways to dreamland. Granted, Cathy and Kevin worked as well together as ammonia and bleach, but it couldn’t make me hate their end product.

Tyler and Leslie: As far as the “before” room goes, the potpourri vomit wallpaper over the bed was bad, but nothing made me sadder than that sparse floral wreath hanging over the tragique sleeper sofa. I was delighted by the way the duo repurposed almost every bit of furniture in the room while managing to transform it from outmoded and dreary to cozy and peaceful, particularly Leslie’s stunning transformation of hideous rugs into geometric artwork. That “red tree” painting above the fireplace was particularly fetching, too, even if Verne Yip was right that the whitewashed mantle itself wasn’t a cause for celebration. If I ran HGTV Design Star, I’d include a “total cost of furnishings and supplies” chyron at the end of each “reveal,” just to know what these cats are working with. Because, frankly, that might’ve made Leslie and Tyler’s work all the more impressive.

Meg, Karl, and Mark: Vern called this the most successful room he’d entered in six years on the Design Star panel, to which I say: “Srsly???” By all means, this was a successful transformation — how could you not improve on a space with a giant taxidermy swordfish mounted above the word “believe”? — but I thought the finished space was a little too busy and frenetic for guests to rest their weary heads. Meg’s “fruit salad” fabric headboards were undeniably fabulous, and Karl’s curved “wave” chair rail once again proved he’s a wizard with paint, but did they belong in the same room? Plus, I thought Mark’s rope-ladder feature looked like a castoff accessory from a pirate-ship ride at the county fair, and that the furniture in the seating area was a little too much of a hodgepodge. Yeesh, I sound like quite possibly the worst design client of all-time ever, don’t I?

Bret and Kellie: I’m glad the show’s producers gave us closeups of Bret’s poorly painted sidetable and the shoddy edges on his “geometric squares” headboard, which made it all that much easier to understand his ouster. That said, I thought Kellie deserved almost as much criticism for sullying the walls of the room with artwork that clearly came from the “last-minute paint splotches” collection. Note to designers: Customized art work is not always a great idea, especially when it’s amateurish and ugly. Thank you. That is all. Oh, wait, I also have to include this extra dry quote from the B&B’s owner about the uncomfortable headboard situation: “When the guests stay here, we will get feedback.” Ouch.

And finally,  note about the Cathy Vs. Kevin drama. Clearly, the former is a total she-beast who’s more interested in crushing the competition than in working with teammates to create a successful overall design. I mean, I gasped a little when she sized up Kevin’s questionable whitewash technique and blithely remarked that she might as well “let him own it,” and then later went on a solo shopping frenzy in order to “maximize her signature on the room.” (Hey, at least she didn’t say “global perspective.”) Plus, the woman needs to realize you should never start a phone conversation with a doozy like this: “Okay, listen. Quite frankly, I’m just being completely honest.” Why not just say, “Dude, I’m about to say something that’s going to double your blood pressure”?

That said, I can’t totally disagree with David Bromstad that there can occasionally be something a little used-car-salesman-y about Kevin’s on-camera persona. Plus, he brought his own bitchery, sniping at Cathy to take her eyes off their completed space with this huffy little remark: “What are you staring at? Please close the door and look away.”

Okay, I will do exactly that — until next week’s Design Star anyway. Sound off in the comments with your feelings on Bret’s ouster, and on which of the four rooms you liked best this week. And for all my reality TV 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. Buggu says:

    Thank God…Man,I have been refreshing the page since morning to read the design star recap.Even after watching the show it doesn’t feel complete until I read your recap.

    • Nancy Ross says:

      Cathy is actually worse than last year’s Nina. She is Nina meets Omorosa (of Celebrity Apprentice) on steroids. The woman is a total bitch. She refuses to do any manual labor, managing to dash out the door to shop all day while week after week her unfortunate partners do all the dirty work and heavy lifting. She also makes sure there’s nothing left for anyone else to buy so that it’s nearly impossible to show their own “voices”. Then she backstabs them. She needs to go. I can’t imagine anyone wanting to watch her on her own show or hire her as their designer.

      • Gretchen says:

        She’s just like Penny on Food Network Star. Without the talent.

      • catladyjax says:

        I totally agree, Nancy!! From the first week I was saying she’s just like Omarosa and she doesn’t get along with anybody. I really hate that she’s so good at the camera challenges and the fact that on the little side interviews they do, she just keeps saying how great she is and tooting her own horn. She needs to go! I was hoping it was this week after she overdecorated the kitchen even though Karl didn’t want her to and didn’t even realize that Karl DID tell her it was too much. She hears what she wants to hear and cuts you off if she doesn’t.

  2. Danielle says:

    I’m just so tired of Cathy saying some variation of, “At some point, you’re just going to have to trust me.” She’s said at least once an episode so far.

    At least Kevin stood up to Cathy from the get-go and told her he wouldn’t be her working man. I honestly think that’s the main reason behind all their disagreements and the whole reason she agreed to the whitewashed floors. Give him a big project to keep him busy while she ran out and bought as much as she could without him. She doesn’t trust anyone she works with to make a good decision without her. If they’d scraped those headboards like she wanted, that room would have been much lower on my list.

    Anyone else get the vibe at the beginning that Karl was still annoyed about getting little choice in the shopping last week? He snipped something along the lines of “You’re not going shopping alone, I’m coming with you no matter what” to Meg.

    And by the way, you put Tyler instead of Karl in the room breakdowns!

  3. Buggu says:

    Cathy is trying to become this years Nina ..I don’t think anybody in HGTV will want to work with her.. Even David Bromstad’s body language says that!

  4. Amanda says:

    I’m wondering when Cathy’s giant eyes will finally pop out of her head and roll across the floor.

    I don’t get the gushing praise for Rob Mcelhenny’s rope “art.”

  5. Mel says:

    Why oh why do they not point out that Cathy has had issues every week with the people she works with? Why do they keep her…oh wait for the DRAMA she adds to the show!

    • KevyB says:

      EXACTLY! It looks like more problems next week so they BETTER start commenting on it. Also, when are they going to call her on being nothing more than a shopper? I can buy nice things too, but I ain’t getting no tv show!

  6. Templar says:

    Karl continues to impress. Cathy needs to leave ASAP. Not impressed with any others. Leslie, Kevin Meg and Tyler have potential, but don’t show me much “Star” quality.

  7. kyrjar says:

    Cathy is the drama, huh! She is not incompetent at shopping, at least, but I think that is the extent of any design talent. She shops and the architecture and even colors seem to come from others. Kevin is hit or miss, headboards were the most successful part of the room and the floors the least successful of everyroom.

    Think Kellie could do better in standing up for herself. The last-minute art was an attempt to add some pop to the monochromatic room which was supposed to come from the headboards.

    Not seeing any real stand-outs this season, yet.

  8. mrpeenee says:

    Unless Mark is giving one of the producers an extra special massage treatment, I can’t understand why is Pirates of the Caribbean giant macrame was such a big winner. Plus, did he do anything else in the room? In every group challenge he gets in over his head with one effect while everyone else carries all the rest of the work.

    I predict Cathy and her giant crazy eyes will stay until the last three or four, for drama, and then get axed. Everyone will be happy.

  9. WWP says:

    After the owners stressed durability and high traffic, Kevin’s his first thought was OK, let me paint the floor white? I hope that HGTV paid to have the innkeepers floors fixed after that atrocious white-washing. The guy had NO business doing something like that when he clearly had no clue what he was doing. The molding looked like crap, dividing up an already small room and the walls were WAY too dark. With the exception of the headboard, everything in that room was fail. I agree that Bret’s was worse, but Kevin and Cathy are the next to go.

  10. seenenuff says:

    Candace where are you? Please come back. Your opinion is the only one I trust.
    Last nights winning room was horrible. I’de have nightmares sleeping in that room.
    Vern Yip said he loved it. Give me a break. And how could the room with that
    horrible painted floor not lose? Something is fishy here.

  11. topsyturvy says:

    Well it’s obvious from the past two weeks that Cathy only wants to shop and do as little WORK as possible (or to put it in Cathy-speak she likes to “maximum her shopping potential while minimizing her work output”).

    Leslie should have won for the rug/art work transformation. Meg’s voice bugs the crap out me. No way could I/would I listen to that for any length of time.

    I agree that Mark’s rope was kind of sad and a little, um, sparse when it came to a contribution to the room (three days for that??!!), but every time that man smiles an angel gets its wings. (And is anyone else getting an 80s gay porn star vibe from him? WOOF!)

    • alex says:

      I agree about the Meg’s voice comment. But I also felt that there was no way they’d give a show to Antonio and Emily (the winners of the last two seasons)based on their incredibly off-putting voice and/or personality. And Meg is head and shoulders more talented than those two put together in terms of design.

      • Lina says:

        Just want to say that I love, Love, LOVE Antonio’s show. They do an amazing job showcasing his offbeat personality. I have to admit, I didn’t think it would be successful but I really enjoy his show.

  12. Marci says:

    The real problem is they don’t have anybody who could actually do a show on HGTV. David Bromstad was the only one who made it. And they need to have him on more. Tanika Ray is no replacement for Clive Pearse. Bromstad should be doing the hosting and the mentoring.

  13. innerjuju says:

    @Marci is right. Tanika is no Clive. Boy, do I miss that man. You accuse Cathy Ireland of robot-speak but Tanika Ray is like a carnival barker, “Step right up folks and see the contribution by Karl.”

  14. BR says:

    If that girl Cathy bugs her eyes out one more time when the camera is on her, I’m going to have to change the channel. If she wins, I will not watch her show no matter how talented she is. Drives me nuts!

  15. Joseph says:

    Okay we are 4 episodes in and can feel comfortable with putting forth my thought about this season ,

    After what was a horrible season last year that failed on almost every level , this year they are doing almost everything right.

    We finally are getting feedback from the judges this was so over due.

    Back to having a mentor which had been Clive if just in an informal fashion.

    No more getting wierd about budgets and also they are now making sure there is a crew to help get things done which is more realistic.

    I do miss the paint cans though and not sure about partners being assigned , this might be a good thing though for the production just not sure what those matches are based on.

    As for Cathy , there is no way she will win she just lacks the creative components for out of the box solutions, but if you needed to stage a house she should be great.

  16. Donita says:

    Cathy needs to go, she can’t work with anyone! She wants to do everything and not leave anything for anyone else to do, I hope she is the next one sent packing.