As if the dreaded Design Star White Room Challenge wasn’t enough to make the designers nervous, there was the added pressure of creating the look in front of an audience. Plus, '90s pop icon turned home improvement guru, Vanilla Ice, was there for a guest judge appearance.
Set up at the iconic Union Station in Los Angeles (a gorgeous architectural gem in the City of Angels), the designers were tasked with creating a unique look, using only a box of a room, a sofa, two end tables, a lamp and three cabinets -- all in white.
Luckily, the room didn’t have to be functional; the designers could get uber creative, as long as it expressed their design aesthetic. They were limited to shopping for materials at a home and garden store, and once we saw people reaching for PVC-piping and bamboo sticks, we knew that there was either going to be some very innovative creations, or some frazzled designer was going to lose a finger on a table saw.
Gazing at the stunning space in Union Station, Rachel got inspiration from the design elements there, pulling in the repeating patterns on the wall, which she hand-brushed. She pulled from her experience as a fashion designer by doing a mural sketch of an outfit. Judge Genevieve Gorder pointed out that Rachel knows how to successfully layer patterns, something that designers tend to struggle with. From the graphic wall to the fashion painting, we’re crushing on this room big time. Rachel also walked away as the White Room Challenge winner.
Danielle found retro influence for her space from an old photo she had of her mom and incorporated similar wall graphics in the room. The result was fabulous. From the color combinations to the bold off-centered X on the back wall, this room looks chic and sophisticated (just lose the small lamp).
Britany was inspired by the traditional wood paneling in the Union Station lobby and opted to create a wainscot look on her walls. Her room had a nautical-chic spin to it with the white woodwork contrasting against the dark blue walls, with gold accents adding a trendy metallic pop.
Bex was all gung-ho for using the PVC-piping she picked up at the home and garden store -- until she actually started working with it. After a cringe-worthy moment where we thought Bex was going to lose a limb, she luckily restrategized her design and we were able to breathe a collective sigh of relief. Bex opted to create the pipes she had already cut to create a graphic wall screen. She also put together a really cool silhouette art piece made from a metallic barbecue cover, which she accented with copper pennies.
When Kris started talking about his design being a combination of influence from the wildfires in Texas and California, sprinkled in with the hope of the American dream, we were all like “huh?,” but once the concept started sinking in -- having one half of the room completely charred and one being full of hope (we half expected to see the iconic Obama “Hope” poster) -- it sounded like a deep, thoughtful design. Bromstad warned that if he could pull it off it could be “pretty dynamic,” but if not it would look “like a burnt, hot mess.” And, well, it was. The gradient paint treatment on the wall was a keeper, but the rest went up in flames. Remarkably, it made it in the safe group.
Stanley decided to take a risk in keeping the room light and bright. Sadly his camera challenge was a bust as he showcased a white box with a colored light, making us wonder if keeping the room white was a worthy design risk. The judges gave props to Stanley for doing something unexpected in the room, but it left us underwhelmed. What did you think?
Miera started out with a wall installation that turned out to be more of a messy arts and crafts project with glue and wooden blocks that slid to the floor. Luckily, she did a some quick thinking on her feet and came up with a different game plan, deciding to screw in the wall blocks rather than leaving it a sticky mess. However, Vanilla Ice didn’t approve of the end result saying that “It just looks like you cut some 2 x 4’s to me.”
Going for a “woodsy and organic” look, Mikel created a room divider out of rope to define an entryway. Gorder criticized the space as just being a room with a couch, but we think that props need to be given for the use of the different stained wood panels, which adds a layer of interest.
Understanding that the purpose of the challenge is to create a space with a “wow factor,” Hillari tried to create a unique coffee table with a linear design treatment made from hoses. When the adhesive didn’t stick, she opted to instead to bedazzle the sofa with jeweled fringes.The glitz factor never quite happened all the way in the room, but we are fans of the crisp mint green wall color, combined with black and white accents. The judges, however, had Hillari in the bottom three.
Luca hit the ground running with a lot of projects on his list, but not really an overall concept, saying “I don’t think a concept is necessary for design.” Perhaps this was a dangerous path to take on the White Box Challenge -- one that lead to using kitchen contact paper on the floors and randomly signing your name on the wall. The room did have one shining moment -- the custom-made chandelier that Luca created, but as Yip said “the accessorizing is horrendous.”
Going for an Asian garden indoors, Jordan’s room was a little overly thematic. As judge Vern Yip said, “It makes me want an eggroll.” Expected and commercial looking, Jordan was ultimately eliminated for his design.
Tune in next week as the queen of the Kardashian clan, Kris Jenner, makes an appearance as guest judge on HGTV’s Design Star.
Which was your favorite look from the White Room Challenge? Share in the comments below!
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