Monday, July 27, 2009

Bad Decisions = Good Television

Watching this season of design star is a bit different than seasons past - for me. If you've been reading the blog - you'll remember that I auditioned this year for the series. Obviously, I didn't make it - but I find myself sizing up the competitors that did, and the general production value of the show.

Last night the "designers" took apart two kitchens in the earliest kitchen challenge episode of the series run. Split into two teams of 5, Group one was asked to transform what was a perfectly decent kitchen into a family focused entertaining kitchen with a Moroccan/Italian theme.

What I think of this room is really inconsequential. Design great, Candice Olson said enough. But, it's hard for me to believe that the "Color Expert" of the group, who apparently is one of only 150 in the nation who have a Color Expert degree, picked this combination of colors, in this finish, in this room. I believe that Vern Yip said: "It looks like a rainbow threw up in there!" And I have to say, in my absolute nicest voice, I agree.

Suffice it to say, this doesn't look like a designer kitchen. They look like stock cabinets from Home Depot. The layout looks like one of 8 you can pick from the basic kitchen design studio programs available at big box stores, and the dark on dark on dark on dark is going to get very dated, very quickly. $20,000 to spend on cabinets and granite counter tops is a lot of money. (Appliances and Flooring were included outside of that money.) To me - and yes I know how easy it is for me to pick it apart, being on person who wasn't faced with the actual challenges, or the "team" environment - it doesn't look like they made the best use of those funds.

What I would have done differently:
  1. Color. I would have never spent the time that they spent on the faux finish of that space. The look is decidedly Moroccan, but it doesn't work with the aged faux tin backsplash - which I think was a good idea for the amount of time they had. I would have gone with something bold, maybe a persimmon color to pop against the dark cabinetry.
  2. The lanterns above the island were a miss, to me. I would have picked one great Moroccan fixture for the price of those three.
  3. I would have spent less time styling the island, and more time styling the bar. It would have been more functional, and less cluttered looking. I think that three stools (there were 3-members of the family) on the other side of the bar area (to the right in the photo) with 3 great place settings with some vibrant patterned plates would have been a great touch.
  4. The garden window is over styled. I would have concentrated on editing a bit more.
  5. That fabric (probably picked to go with the colors of the kitchen) is a miss to me, too. I would have gone with a faux roman shade look, in a stripe or a solid. The suzani like print to that fabric, paired with the wall colors and textures, the mismatched shapes of the light pendants, and the dark on dark on dark ... it's just, a hot mess.
Now, this kitchen had an unspoken "win" from the judges. And if you watched the episode, you know why. If you didn't. Team 2 was asked to create a modern space great for the entertaining lifestyle of a young family:

This is the after. Now, lets break down the challenges of this team: there was one guy on the team, 3 on the other. All of the cabinetry and heavy lifting fell on him, and when you're faced with that sort of work load, obviously you will fall short. The base cabinets weren't square, so the granite didn't fit properly, the tile wasn't finished, the space wasn't accessorized, and the paint and finishing mouldings were all askew.

Candice Olson said: "For the look you were going for I have to commend you on your finishes" talking about the linear composure of the cabinetry and the almost white granite counter tops with great square edges. I agree, and would have picked those for this space too! In fact, I think that this team did a lot of things right, showing that somewhere down the line, a leader - whether it was Amy or Dan did what they should have done. It was the team members that were letting each other down.

What I would have done differently:
  1. I would have spent the time making sure that the cabinets were level and ready to accept the granite. I know that was a difficult task for one person - but I think there would have been more hands available if people hadn't been shopping for backsplash tile. Another thing I wouldn't have done in the time constraints of the challenge.
  2. I would have used stainless steel open shelving in lieu of all of the dark cabinetry up top. I think that a mix of both would have been a great modern touch that would have worked for a young family that likes to entertain.
  3. Instead of tile on the backsplash, I would have painted - the same color of the walls above the cabinetry which I think I would have picked to have a bit more yellow to it.
  4. In a modern-esque kitchen, I don't think that the accessories should be all over the place. Minimal is best ... but I would have put SOMETHING out there! A large glass bowl on the island filled with limes, a long narrow planter on the ledge above the sink planted with wheat grass, a bamboo cutting board with stainless handled knives to the left of the sink, and a few bottles of pelagrino under the microwave lined in two rows, 3 deep. And if I couldn't find time to set the props for styling, I would have at least found time to wipe down the cabinets.
And at the end of the night, after asking each person of the team who their weakest link was, and after each of them said Tashika, they eliminated Amy. I called it before it happened, even told Scott they'll keep her for good tv. I guess the controversy that the producers hope will come next week was more entertaining than giving someone with real potential a shot.

Next week the designers will face individual challenges, and I have to say I am ready for this. With items they could only purchase from a grocery store, the designers will get a 10x10 white box, a few items from ikea, and a gallon of paint. Here's where I hope that the true talent begins to shine.