Wednesday, August 23, 2006


Color Primary

Previously on Design Star: Teran's presentation was limp and he had to leave the house. Temple got to boss the others around. Donna turned into a zombie and got the boot.

Morning in the Big Apple. Tym applies hairspray to his patented mop o' curls while David laughs. I hope that's a tribute to the recently departed Hairspray Queen and not a normal part of his daily routine. Temple and Alice are applying makeup at the same big mirror when David strolls in. Temple announces that it's like Three's Company: she's Chrissie (of course she is), Alice is Janet and David is Jack. The others don't seem all that enthused about reinventing that wheel.

Back in the guy's room, David asks Tym how he feels about being in the final four. (We just miss the producer suggesting, "Hey, guys, why don't you have a candid conversation about being in the final four?") Tym thinks it's "wild" and David thinks it feels good. David interviews that this is what he wanted. "The better the competition, the better I get," he brags. I love the way he gets all boastful and yet doesn't come across as a total jerk. The trick is to be a fundamentally nice person underneath it all. That's the part that so many reality show contestants miss.

Over in the Scary Lime room, Temple and Alice are having their own candid conversation. Alice asks Temple if she's surprised to still be in it, and Temple agrees. Alice remembers feeling how everyone had so much talent when she met them. There was Donna with her 20 years of experience, while she has 4 years and Temple has 0 years. So the odds were against them. Temple's contribution: "I agree that my designs have been better, but at the same time I just felt bad, in a way." I have a feeling we missed some of that conversation. I hope so. Temple interviews that she thinks about one challenge at a time, because that's what you're supposed to say.

Clive arrives and summons the designers. In the family room are four paint cans on stools. Clive announces the challenge: They will be designing studio apartments. All the living spaces (except for the bathroom) will be in one room. It would be cool if they had those old apartments that have the giant bathtub in the middle of the kitchen, like Michelle Pfieffer got in Married to the Mob. Talk about your decorating challenge.

Since we can't just have the designers doing whatever they want without any interference, Clive announces that they will each be working with a color, which they can feature however and in whatever shade they want. They open the cans to find their colors. Temple has yellow, David red, Tym green and Alice blue. Alice is happy with her color. They have $2000, 24 hours and the assistance of a professional carpenter. Yes, in time-tested reality show fashion, those who have demonstrated that they don't need the services of a carpenter are now provided with the services of a carpenter.

They all head down to the workroom to sketch. Alice reports that she's "flattered and excited" to have gotten this far. Since it's a talented bunch, she's looking forward to everyone's designs. Temple has her desk at the end of the left row while Tym, Alice and David sit on the right. Temple jokes that she feels like the teacher. David teases that she's really at the bottom of the class. Temple fakes a laugh while Alice gently chides the "valedictorian." Tym reports that he's pleased with the challenge; everyone is excited to show some individual style.

No word on how much sketch time they have, but then it's into the van and off to a giant apartment building. The 24-hour work clock starts ticking as they head off to their respective apartments. Alice is pleased to find good wood floors and Dan, her "savior"/carpenter. Temple is working with Miles. David and Tym greet their carpenters. Tym looks around the apartment. It's pretty much brown and uninspired. Temple strolls around taking stock. Alice finds some oddly placed windows and a bad kitchen floor. David starts thinking about what to keep and what to toss. He interviews that the amount of work in the time they have is intimidating. And this is with a carpenter.

David has his carpenter start measuring out the room while he takes Polaroids. His design will be graphic with bold shapes and contrasting colors. He'll use red and add pink in a way that won't be too feminine. Tym lays out where his two shades of green will go, plus a sky blue to help bring the outdoors in. Alice is okay with the white kitchen cabinets, but they need a little fixing up. She interviews that she's not used to working with this kind of space -- while New Yorkers will have high design in small spaces, Texans with efficiency apartments usually don't call on decorators. She hopes she can rise to the challenge. Temple's going to paint her ugly cabinets. She interviews that she didn't know what to expect from the competition initially, but now that people's skills have been revealed through the challenges, she's not surprised to still be in the running.

Tym asks his carpenter to remove all the furniture except the bed. David needs the ceiling taped off for paint. Alice has given her carpenter a whole list of stuff he can do. Time to hit the generic Swedish home furnishings store. Dave asks if everyone wants to go around together; Temple is not interested. David asks Alice if she's overwhelmed yet. She's looking a little dazed. Her inspiration is "Tiffany box blue," which is a light turquoise. She's going for a serene feel. Her furniture choices are white; she'll add color with paint and fabric. Tym has some outdoorsy greens, so he's going for light and airy. Temple tries to find her aisle. She interviews that the competition is getting tougher and the judges have fewer people to focus on. David interviews that the shopping lasted 4 hours, which was kind of an overload, but way better than nothing.

Back at the apartments, most of the carpenters are busy at work. John, David's carpenter, got the ceiling taped off and now he's just sitting around waiting. This is why Mom says, "Always bring a book."

Checkout time. Tym racks up $1164.83 in cheap Swedish home furnishings. Temple: $1274.94. Alice: $995.60. Tym reports that people seemed to have different stuff, so the rooms should all turn out pretty different. David's total: $1269.41. He does a little happy dance.

It looks like all their purchases are being delivered, since there are no bags as they emerge from the van back at the apartment building. David is all happy with his carpenter, who basically hasn't done anything but tape.

15 hours left on the clock. Everyone starts painting. Alice asks Dan if he likes the color; he temporizes that he has to get used to it. David interviews that he's going to build a short wall to separate the bedroom and living room areas. It looks good in his head, but he can't tell if it will look as good in reality. Temple finds her paint color really bright. She interviews that yellow reminds her of the sun, so she's bringing in a lot of natural elements.

David drops in on Alice. (Producer: "Hey, David, why don't you have an impromptu visit with Alice?") She tells him about her carpenter's reaction to her color and David's like, "Yep, he hates it." Temple is having an impromptu visit with Tym. She likes his green. He points out that he's using two greens; Temple asks where the other is. David is back in his room, painting. He voiceovers that he needs to pick up the pace the next day. And the work day is over.

The contestants are excited to learn that they have the supplies for an ice cream party. David interviews that they were having a nice time relaxing, enjoying each other's company, and "Temple decides to get sassy." She slimes David with some chocolate sauce. (She so has a crush on him.) David reports that he grew up with sisters, so he grabs a handful of fudge sauce and chases her. They come back laughing. Temple has way more chocolate on her face and, as Alice tells her, it's all in her hair. So I guess David won.

Morning. Down at breakfast, David is confused; he thought Temple was upset with her room. No, she explains, it's just the wall color; the room is "overwhelmingly yellow." She can make it work, but she'd agree with the judges if they said she hated it. So, maybe she should have picked a different wall color? Just an idea.

Back to work with 12 hours on the clock. David interviews that the only other room he has seen is Alice's. Her carpenter made a lot of progress. He's curious about the other rooms, but he's not going to look around because he has so much to do in his own room. Temple is painting her cabinets. She reports that she's working on "way cool" space-saving ideas, like a bed that doubles as a sofa and a desk that doubles as a table. Sure, these are good ideas in a small space, but "way cool" is more like suspending a platform bed from the ceiling on pulleys so it can be lifted up out of the way during the day.

Clive drops in on Alice. She interviews that the room was painted, but it was too early for him to see anything else ready. He asks for a word picture of her design; Alice comes up with, "Light, gauzy, serene, calm, soothing." He lets her know of a "new, exciting twist" -- after the work is done, she'll do an on-camera tour of the place. Alice chirps, "Okay!" with the kind of frozen smile that hides incipient panic. She interviews that the whole presentation was just "one more thing" in an overloaded schedule.

Next is David's room. He lays out the floor plan for Clive, who teases him about needing to get work done when the loquacious host keeps going on. Clive gives him the news about the presentation. David is ready for it. He interviews that he's a little nervous, but excited for the opportunity.

Clive asks Temple if she's feeling confident and she says, "I love my theme." Clive takes in the tone of voice and calls that a "no." Temple clarifies that she's happy with everything but the walls. She interviews that either Clive's visit or the room was a "total disaster," I'm not sure which. She's not worried about the on-camera thing -- "That's natural to me." They kid around with a fake tulip.

In Tym's room, Clive asks for another word picture. Tym says he wants it to feel like Central Park. What, pigeon poop and crazy people? Clive tells him about the presentation. Tym interviews that he likes the challenge. It's what they're competing for, so they have to be comfortable in front of the camera. Clive wishes him luck.

10 hours on the clock and the carpenters show up. I guess there's a limit to the overtime budget. Alice reports that she finished the painting. They can go over some things, and then she'll be off to the hardware store. Tym talks to his guy about the trim and a partition. He interviews that he thinks he takes more risks than the others. David asks his carpenter to clean up a rusty-looking air vent, and there are some ottomans to assemble.

8 hours left and they go shopping again. This place looks fancier than the generic Swedish store. With 6.5 hours left, they stop at the hardware store. Tym interviews that he needed to spend more time shopping there, and now he won't be able to get some things done.

David gets back to work with 6 hours left. He interviews that he can smell/taste/feel his own show, but he has to focus on the challenge at hand or he'll get sidetracked.

Alice interviews that they're making progress. Since she has been gone all this time shopping, she would have nothing ready if the carpenter hadn't been working. She and Dan talk about the hardware for the cabinets. The store was out of all the ones she wanted, so she has spray paint to redo the original hardware.

Tym is painting the cabinet doors. He finds the insides are wet and peeling. Turns out he got the wrong primer. It raised the texture on the cabinet doors, so they're not as smooth as he would like. He mentions that he's a bit of a perfectionist, which I completely believe. Alice stops by on another "impromptu" visit. She admires the green. Tym tells her about the shellac-based primer error. Alice starts to assure him that you can't tell, but then she notices that you can. Oops.

Temple has apparently learned something from the last challenge, since she reviews a list of items to complete with her carpenter. She interviews that they have 4 hours to go and they still have to rebuild the bed and then start loading.

Alice's carpenter tells her that he'll need her help in a few minutes with the headboard. Temple drops in. She admires the shelving unit and wonders how she missed it at the store. She interviews that she gets excited about the other rooms but she can't really think about them or they'll psyche her out. Alice wishes her good luck as she leaves.

With 3 hours to go, David and carpenter start assembling the partition wall. Leaving things a little late, no? He interviews that everyone is his competition. Temple is a natural talent who learns fast. He didn't see much of Alice's room but he likes the stuff that she got for it. He and Tym are both builders. Tym comes by to ask him about a bundle of sticks; it seems Tym might have one of David's. Tym interviews that he likes David's space, but it's very different from his own. His space is airy while David's is "chunky and bold." He's interested to see what everyone comes up with. David tells his carpenter there's two hours left and asks how he feels about the time. The carpenter says they'll have to rush, but they'll make it. David is sure that's always how it works. He makes artwork in red and cream and pink. Everyone works and accessorizes.

Temple warns Clive that she have to keep working as they talk, but he's just there to deliver the 15-minute warning. Tym gets a 10-minute warning. More rushing. Alice protests that it's not quite time yet, but Clive is announcing the 5-minute warning. More rushing around and cleaning and polishing and accessorizing. Clive puts a stop to David's work. "Thank God, get me out of this place" is David's response.

The studio. Still ugly. It's looking a little brighter today, though. Same spiel about cancellation. Same judges. Another twist: the winner will get to "participate on set" at a photo shoot for In Style magazine. Everybody is excited. Clive recaps the challenge. Or challenges, since the judges will also be viewing their on-camera presentations.

See Alice's room at

Alice gets to go first. Martha likes the simplicity; it feels open. Vern has the mild criticism of unused space between the kitchen and the window. Overall, Cynthia likes it.

I like blue, so I'm already biased toward the room. The wall color definitely creates a serene mood. All the pale blue and white is a little cold, which is why the touches of brown and darker blue are particularly welcome. The mirrors behind the ceiling are a good thought: they expand the space, they add some height and they balance the oddly-placed window.

Clive asks how it felt to present to the camera. Alice says she was initially nervous, but got used to it by the third take. Clive announces that they're using her best take. She speaks well to the camera, describing the overall feel and the general layout. It's a good segment. Vern compliments her on her pigtails. She was comfortable and charming. Martha liked how her personality came out but the focus was on the room. Cynthia agrees that she looked "totally comfortable."

See Temple's room at

Temple is up. Vern would like a more creative use of color than just painting all the walls. Cynthia thinks it's an improvement over the old room. What wouldn't be? Martha can't deal with the rugs on an angle. Temple says that she was doing them at the last minute and when they were straight, she didn't like the flow. And then she couldn't lift the bed by herself, so she just stuck the rug at an angle. Martha can't believe what she's hearing.

I like the shade of yellow on the walls; it's similar to my house color. But overall, the room just blends together. The contrast between the yellow and the white and the light brown just isn't very strong. Baskets in a darker brown would work better. The bed doesn't look like it would make a particularly comfortable sofa. It's an okay room, but not the level of impact you'd expect from a professional designer. (Yes, I know Temple is not a professional designer. But the whole point of her being on this show is that she wants to be a professional designer.)

Time for Temple's segment. She doesn't look at the camera much and she says "um" a few times. She explains the feel and the function of the space. Cynthia thought she was comfortable but could use more personality. Martha's feeling a little picky about terminology. Vern thinks she "rocked it." Reaction shots of Alice, David and Tym looking worried. I'm really not sure what Vern was watching. (Feel free to venture a guess.) Yeah, she was coherent and everything, but that wasn't up to professional standards.

See Tym's room at

Tym's turn. Martha feels something is missing; it feels cold. Vern calls it "a really nice dorm or prison room." Uh, there's kind of a big difference. Cynthia doesn't like the way everyone is just putting color on the walls. She asks if he had any other color ideas. Tym explains that his approach wasn't just doing green, but bringing the outdoors inside.

I really don't like the bedspread; it's rather jarring. The blue rug ties into the sky blue accent color, so that's okay, but the grass green of the bedspread is just weird. And the room does have an unfinished quality. I think it's because there's really nothing on the walls. I suspect this could have been more impressive with another hour or two of work.

Clive asks how Tym feels about watching himself on TV. Tym enjoyed taping his presentation, so he hopes he likes it. He's more dynamic on camera than in real life. He points out a lot of features. Cynthia is thrilled to see him being all macho. Vern says he'd watch "the Tym show." He thought the explanation was good and he wound up liking the room more. Martha agrees, the explanation really helped her understand the room.

See David's room at

Finally, David. Martha likes the overall impression and the division of space. David replies that he lives in a studio and he likes a separation of spaces. He adds that painting the whole room red would be "crazy" and he just wanted splashes of color throughout. Vern compliments his restraint. Cynthia would prefer seeing the bedroom encased by the walls rather than the living area. Vern would prefer a partition that was softer or movable.

I suspect David's enclosure of the living space rather than the bedroom was a deliberate choice -- to have a sitting space that sheltered you from distractions -- but it's not a choice with broad appeal. I agree with the idea of creating spaces within the small apartment space, but three small spaces is too choppy in this room. Also, I'd like to see more storage. The room is more impressive as a visual exercise than as a living space.

David takes a deep breath as his presentation rolls. He's a little hyper, but he keeps it under control. He describes the layout and the movement of color. Vern wants him to slow down a little. Martha would like more explanation of his thought process. Cynthia is inclined to be understanding about the nervousness.

Clive sends them all away so the judges can caucus. David thinks his presentation was the worst. Martha was "a little disappointed" with him and she didn't love his work the way she usually does. Cynthia thinks he'll be fine if he just relaxes. Meanwhile, she thought Temple's room was just "regular." Vern thinks it looks like a reconstituted showroom. Cynthia thinks Alice's room has the same feel, but Vern disagrees. Tym teases that the others were all safe until he did his presentation. David thinks the judges picked on him the most. Martha likes Tym's ideas, but he never quite pulls them off. Vern agrees with Cynthia that he "thinks outside the box." For presentations, Martha likes Alice and Tym. Vern ranks Alice first, but Cynthia drools over Tym's regular-guy masculinity. Tym can't recall being called "macho" before, but David points out that Tym's being compared to two women and David. Given the reactions to David's frequent shirtlessness, I think he rates pretty high on the macho scale himself. Cynthia describes Temple as "interesting" in an ambiguous tone of voice. Martha observes that she was relaxed but didn't make a strong connection.

The contestants return. Judges' comments: Cynthia wants to see David's confidence on camera. Vern finds Temple's room "middle of the road." Martha likes the inspiration of Alice's room and the personality of her presentation. Vern wants Tym to communicate his ideas visually rather than through explanations. Clive emphasizes that this was a tough choice. Really? I've done the math and it's not that close. David is safe. Alice is the winner; she will get to work on the photo shoot. She's surprised and thrilled. Clive lets her escape. Martha tells Temple her design was "warm but not innovative" and her presentation was "self-conscious." Vern is disappointed that Tym hasn't fulfilled his design potential. Cynthia compliments his presentation. Clive emphasizes that both parts of the competition count. Temple is out. She hopes that she has proven herself to the other contestants, but now she's happy to go home to her kids. Tym gets dismissed to the green room. He always hopes that the judges like what he does, and so far he seems to be connecting. Alice and David are relieved to see him; they weren't sure he'd make the cut. Tym wasn't sure either.

The results? Not a big surprise. The top two rooms were Alice's and David's; the top two presentations were Alice's and Tym's. Temple wound up in the negative side of both challenges: her room was nice but ordinary; her presentation was competent but not engaging. So she's out. Thank goodness. She wasn't quite so annoying this time around, probably because she was off working by herself instead of having to get along with other people. But without the drama, she's just not that interesting. Did she win anyone's respect as a designer? I find it telling that people call her "talented" but they don't call her "good." What they're saying is that they think she could impress them in the future, with more training and/or experience. So they sort of respect her.

The challenge? A mixed bag. It was a good way to compare the designers, giving them the same spaces to work with. It's nice that they had carpenters, but that could have been offset with another 8 hours of work time -- which is about how much time they spent shopping. I suspect the point was to see how well they scheduled the extra resource. My problem has to do with the consumer aspects. I agree with Cynthia that they mostly just used color on their walls -- but think about where they got to shop. The generic Swedish home furnishings store is not famous for its color choices. I'm not sure where they went the second day, but you have to have your color palette established on the first day, and they just didn't have a lot to work with when it came to fabrics and furniture.

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