HGTV Design Bully: The Color of Aggression

Men vs Women-Design StarTonight’s episode of HGTV Design Star had it all: a fashion show, mannequins, and sneering judges. We learned that yellow is an “aggressive color.” That it can take an entire day to paint one chair. That Nina is, in her own words, a professional, an artist, and a bully (not necessarily in that order). Oh, and that if you don’t stand up to a bully, then it’s your own fault for letting them bully you. (The More You Know.)

The episode started with a fashion show. Each contestant chose an outfit off the runway. They were then divided into two teams–men vs. women–and told to decorate an apartment, using the clothes as their inspiration.

Spoilers ahead!

I always have questions after these shows. Here are a few rattling around in my head tonight:

#1: Why does the decorating portion of the show last only 5-10 minutes? We see them frantically shopping, then frantically painting, and then time’s up. I’d like to see more design on “Design Star.”

#2: Was anyone else kind of creeped out by the mannequins posed around the rooms? It made it really hard for me to focus on the decorating.

The Men’s Apartment:


#3: The judges loved the “bridal bedroom”? Seriously? They looked at that hot pink with the black and all the boring tchotchkes lined up in each of the squares and thought, “This is so inspiring, it belongs in a Redbook spread.” They actually used the word “inspired,” as in “we were.” (As Tim Gunn would say, “This looks like student work.”)

Design Star-bedroom for bride

#4: Is the Bride sleeping alone in this tiny bed?

#5: Trent, do you mind? Ashton Kutcher is calling from 2003–he wants his trucker hat back.

The Women’s Apartment:

Design Star-women's-living room

#6: Could I be any happier that nice-guy Courtland won this week’s challenge and Nina, who threw him under the bus last week, ended up in bottom two? (No, I could not.)

#7: Why did it take Stacey an entire day to paint a chair? After hours and hours of working on it, I guess I expected something kind of bright and fun like the Lilly Pulitzer dress she was supposedly inspired by. I wasn’t sure why the judges liked it so much, or decided that it was a good use of her time.


#8: Judges, do you always have to look so ticked off about having to be there? Maybe they’re getting the direction to be more serious and to snarl at the contestants whenever possible, but I wish they’d lighten up a little. I like Vern, Candace, and Genevieve on their own shows. On this one, not so much.

Design Star-women's bedroom

The women’s team lost the challenge. The judges were “underwhelmed” by all of it–the yellow walls, the blue velvet drapes, Emily’s pitiful attempts at prop styling, and Nina’s half-hearted butterfly mural.

Vern pointed out that they would really like to send all five of the women home with “LOSER” stamped on their foreheads. But they had to settle for eliminating only one. Tera and Nina were deemed the worst two and we got to see the hosting videos they made in the apartment.  I like this addition to the show. It gives us a chance to see who has some natural hosting abilities–and who doesn’t.

After viewing the videos, the judges pretended to deliberate in front of the contestants for a moment in hushed tones, and then rendered their verdict: Tera was going home (boo!). Which means that Nina lives to bully her fellow contestants another day.

What did you think? Did the men’s team deserve to win? Did the right person go home?

Read more about the show on HGTV and my recap of last week’s episode here.

(P.S. Don’t worry–my Movie Monday post will appear on Tuesday this week.)

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  1. says

    No, No, Ashton Kutcher is yummy, yellow supposedly makes babies cry…but I don’t think this one is so bad, Blondie’s performance was much better…but, hello!…not going further than the color inspiration was a pretty goofy. Oh, and that “bridal headboard” looked like foam core to me…how divine!

    Have a beautiful week!

    : )

    Julie M.
    .-= The Little Red Shop´s last blog ..Dad =-.

  2. says

    I can’t stand Nina! Vera was right there was no real sence of her dress in the rooms. Emily should have gotten props for re-painting that gold. Stacey’s chair was so dull for a Lilly Pulitzer dress .

    The dark wall was better. I agree those dumbies standing around was odd. Vern was harsh this week, Candace dial back on the spray tan & Genevieve be nice…remeber your moss wall on Trading Spaces?

    • hookedonhouses says

      Oh, yes, the moss wall! Thanks for reminding us about that. That was classic “Trading Spaces” design right there. Loved that show in the early days. -Julia

  3. says

    I thought the episode was odd and hard to watch. I think it’s in part because there are so many contestants at this point that it’s hard to keep track of who’s who.

    I felt like I didn’t see any decorating and no judging. Even the shots of the rooms were so quick I felt like I didn’t really take them in. And those mannequins everywhere! You’re so right, they were really distracting. I don’t even have a sense of where that chair – the one that took forever to paint – was located in the apartment.

    I totally agree with you about the judges too. They’re so…so…annoying in this show.

    I was really disappointed. How is it that Project Runway can show us so much more of the creative process and the judging? I’m more interested in design than fashion but I love that show so much more.
    .-= Lesley @ The Design File´s last blog ..Ruffled shower curtains to dress up the bath =-.

  4. Kim says

    I happened to watch this week’s episode and couldn’t stand Nina the bully. No matter how many times the girls tried to get a point across or share their opinions, she didn’t want to hear what they had to say. I’m thinking next week the girls won’t let Nina be in charge. Let’s just hope she will be eliminated next Sunday.

    I agree, this episode could have been so much better if they had spent more time showing them working on their designs.

    I am glad the guys won the challenge because I thought they had great ideas, except for the master bedroom. The girl’s condo lacked so much that it didn’t deserve to be featured in the magazine.

  5. Mimi says

    Yikes! Where’s the talent on this season’s show? Both apartments were pretty lackluster, if you ask me. Nina is annoying & arrogant and I wish she would have gone home instead, but I am glad that Courtland won the challenge this week. I agree about the judges, wish they would lighten up a bit!

  6. says

    I agree with your recap. Candice looked the most uncomfortable being there… Like it’s a waste of her time. I was in SHOCK that the guys won. Putting together the wedding gown with pink pajamas as inspiration to design one space was a poor design concept to begin with… yes – the mannequins in the space with face pictures pinned to them needed another means of being presented (like maybe just an 11×14 board featuring fashion item and participants name or garments hanging on a chrome rack).

    What is up with everyone throwing the term “bullying” around this year??? (Kelly on RHONY did it too). When working in a “team”, a leader will step forward and lead. Nina did just that (to a degree), however – maybe not in such a political way to win over her likability from viewers. If she or anyone was truly leading the team, someone would have stepped up to the obsessed chair painter and told her to STOP mid-day.

    They all need a lesson in humility – ESPECIALLY Nina. I think part of what makes a winner on DS is their likability because people do have to be able to WATCH the show. (Something I think David B. is forgetting on his third season of Color Splash – He’s gotten a little full of himself). Cortland is more likable… and I preferred his first room over Nina’s. And not to be discriminating, but maybe DS needs a more ‘mature’ selection of contestants, or more professional and substantial designers (like Candice, Vern, Genevieve – and be more like the food network show with the secret ingredient.) Either this or get REAL first time designers, and stop producing shows calling people designers with these inexperienced and half-ass attempts at design (feathers on the floor? Seriously? from episode1).

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts and recap…
    😀 Lynda
    .-= Lynda Quintero-Davids´s last blog ..ONE DAY IN YOUR LIFE: TRIBUTE TO DAD =-.

  7. says

    Nina will be around for a while. She is their Amarosa. I am thrilled for Courtland. The mannequins, especially the bride, totally creeped me out. Neither apt. is inspiring. Stacey did say at one point she painted all four legs a different color, so I guess that excuses her. And WHAT is that critter on the coffee table in the women’s apt?? I don’t think Vern is getting enough sleep–he’ s grouchy and off his game! Thanks for your take on it. I did my mini post on the Blindside!
    .-= Susan´s last blog ..Father’s Day =-.

  8. says

    Thanks for such a good summary – you’ve saved me a lot of time – now I don’t have to watch the dvr version. I don’t think I would enjoy this episode very much & those mannequins are very creepy. Let’s hope next week is better.
    .-= duchess´s last blog ..Love this time of year =-.

  9. laney says

    …this show creeped me out… and off my to watch list… long ago…

  10. says

    This show is really missing the mark. Both rooms were uninspiring, but it was only the second challenge. I’m going to keep watching and hope that as there are fewer contestants (can’t call them designers yet, they haven’t proven anything) that some talent will reveal itself.

    I cannot stand Nina, and if she wins, I will not watch her show. She’s a conniving bully.

    I don’t watch Antonio’s show either, but that’s because I don’t think he’s a good designer and I think he won based on shock value and not true talent.
    .-= Loribeth´s last blog ..Before & After: Ceiling Fan =-.

    • Linda says

      I AGREE! These contestants are NOT designers, not even artists. No talent is evident yet but I hope there will be soon or it is off my list of shows to watch. Doesn’t it seem like Celebrity Apprentice? In fact the apts they (CA) designed looked much better! Crabby judges, no new ideas for the contestants to try and zero talent. Hope it improves.

      • says

        I never watched the Apprentice, but then again, I never had any desire to watch it. If Design Star is following the format of the Apprentice, that might partially explain why I’m not finding it very interesting…. Of course, it could also be the lack of talent and the crappy judges! I hope it improves too!
        .-= Loribeth´s last blog ..Before & After: Ceiling Fan =-.

  11. says

    Did anyone notice that Emily was holding two pieces of pretty, yellow fabric during the discussion about changing the paint, but they aren’t in the final design? They were pinned or stapled around foam core, so I was thinking they were going on the wall. Where are they?
    .-= Jeannine @ Small and Chic´s last blog .. =-.

  12. Wendy says

    They did do a somewhat decent job of showing the guys’ creative process. Love Courtland and his description of his paint detail, plus Michael’s annoying explanations of why Trent was so unpolished (there was design explanation behind it even though I would have smacked the guy within five minutes.)

    But for the girls? Mark Burnett completely went with the drama this time. Nina is definitely a bully. I think Tera would have managed to muddle through had she not made the stubborn decision to talk back to Vern about only getting color inspiration from her outfit. Vern tried to tell her about needing to pull the theme from the outfit and she still stuck to her guns. Even in her exit interview she proved that she still didn’t get it. The challenge rules went way over her head.

  13. says

    I’m just not loving the changes they’ve made this season, and I agree with everything you said. Let’s spend more time on the design of the rooms. And how about the judges be less boring/hateful? Vern gets on my last nerve with his somber nature. And I hope Nina goes home next week, though I did like the rug she bullied everyone into buying.
    @Jeannine-Now that you say that, I wonder what happened to it? The mirror looked nice on the wall, but I was excited to see what they did with that pretty fabric.
    .-= Kelli´s last blog ..Tuesday Truth #16 – Gonna get my groupie on =-.

  14. says

    Once upon a time I loved HGTV,,,couldn’t get enough of it….now, there is little that interests me there. I think this show is an abomination. I think that the food network formats being used at HGTV do not work, and I am bored silly by the same designers doing the same rooms over and over again. There is a complete lack of authenticity and charm. I love modern, and they keep muddying that up too. Julia, I know that you might be sorry you asked, but really….what is the appeal of this show? I find it mean spirited and seriously dumb! Is is possible that I am the only one who feels this way?
    .-= Black Eyed Susans Kitchen´s last blog ..JOINING IN =-.

  15. says

    I think they are doing this show to be fodder for us bloggers. They may us well have a sign on all their backs (judges, show design assignments, contestants) that say say “kick my ass.”
    I wish Emily would wake up. But maybe it’s easier to be talented behind the bloggers screen than having to perform in person.
    Great recap Julia.
    xo xo
    PS Have you guys been watching the Food Network version of this – it’s equally pathetic, and last years winner now has her own show that is so horrible. I think it’s time to stop looking for talent this way.
    .-= Visual Vamp´s last blog ..Welcome To The Man Mansion =-.

  16. Jen Martin says

    I feel that this year’s DS is awful. Not only is Nina a bully but so are the judges. I love to watch Candice’s show but all the judges think far too highly of themselves and it’s annoying. With out a doubt they have talent but the last two episodes were filled with so drama and meanness that it’s not worth watching. The first two seasons where competitive but also fun to watch. This season is so much reality garbage that it has taken all the fun out of the show

  17. says

    Well, I don’t watch this show…and I have to say, from your comments, I don’t think I will! My comment, just from looking at the pictures…is that all of the designs look super effeminate. I’ve noticed this before on other design shows…it always seems like even the rooms that are designed for men are very girly, even the ones designed by men, for men. I don’t know a single guy that would live in some of these rooms/places. You’d think the producers would make them practice their range a bit more!
    .-= Kate (Little Beach Bum)´s last blog ..I’m Sorry =-.

  18. says

    I like the fact that they’ve tried to up the production value of Design Star this season and the contestants seem to have some actual design experience for once but there’s too much focus on the eliminations and not enough on the actually designing. Like you mentioned, let’s see them do it!

    And yes, the judges need to lighten up! I know we need some suspense about who’s going to win the challenge but can we hear them discuss in a little more detail what they like and don’t like in a room. Instead, Vern, Candice and Gen are so “tough” that as viewers, you think they don’t like anything. Same goes for the eliminations – don’t cut to the annoying contestants sweating it out in the back room – I want to hear what the judges are saying about each one. And the faux-deliberating at the end? SO LAME!
    .-= Danielle from A Few of My Favorite Things´s last blog ..Got a second? =-.

  19. Kathy :) says

    WOW this explains it all…..yellow has been my fave color since I was a little girl…hmmm…thanks Desing Star

    Have a great week Julia….hope your hubby had a nice Father’s Day :)

    xo Kathy :)

  20. says

    At the very beginning of this episode, my husband and I were hoping Nina would be the one to go home. Then we realized that every show needs a villain, so she’ll probably be around for a long time to come, just because she’s such an antagonist. But between she and Tera, Nina definitely should’ve gone home. I can’t remotely imagine watching a show where she is the star. Not a chance. She comes across as a real b**ch and a bully. Tera’s video was at least endearing.

    Oh…and about the yellow — my master bedroom is yellow and I love it. So much for it not being a color you want to spend any time with. To make a proclamation like that just makes a person look stupid.

    I do think that the men’s living room was better, although the bedroom was terrible. I can think of at least a dozen ways off the top of my head that Alex could’ve incorporated the wedding dress. The headboard? Yeah. Notsomuch. I am happy, though, that Courtland won, and I think his unselfishness and style are commendable.
    .-= Jennae @ Green Your Decor´s last blog ..Thank You, Young House Love! =-.

  21. says

    Haven’t been watching this season, but reading your recaps I don’t think I’m missing anything. The mannequins remind me of some of the bad real estate pictures you post…the ones with lurking figures.
    .-= Pat’s Addition´s last blog ..Hydrangea Envy =-.

  22. says

    Hilarious Julia :) You made me laugh about the judges “looking so ticked off!” Isn’t that the truth??? I finally saw the first episode (haven’t seen the last one yet), and the judges do look scary…it’s like they are always scolding little kids. I can almost hear them saying “You did a bad bad bad design…you need a time out” – but I’ll still watch the show though. Oh and you’re right, what happened to Clive? He wasn’t cute, but he’s always a charming host.
    .-= Marie´s last blog ..Master Bath Remodel – Before and After =-.

  23. sbean says

    The rooms all look like what you’d do until you got some taste, style and/or money.

    There’s not one of them that is appealing.
    What’s the point of watching something so far below the standards of even Design on a Dime?

  24. Catherine says

    As a professional licensed Interior Designer I was happy to see that at least a few of the contestants are schooled in Interior Design/Architecture this season. I never understand how they can take a construction worker, a farmer or a decorator and call them a Designer.

    The rooms were both terrible. They don’t seem to be able to think outside the box and neither group worked well together. Some of the concepts were on the right track. But come on… my first year of design school we would have got an F if we would have presented any of those rooms for a project!

    I was hoping that Nina would go home. Someone with such an ugly personality will never be able to put her clients needs over her own “taste.”

    The judges do look pissed all the time. I used to love Divine Design, Candace is at least a professional interior designer. But now her show is all about $5000 crystal chandeliers and using her own wall paper. The rooms are all the same with different accent pillows. Genevive at least works within a budget to produce some great end results but has other real designers do all the work if you pay attention. Vern… his head has got way to big since his TS days.

    So really it’s more about personality than design. I will keep watching … it’s like a car wreck I can’t look away.

  25. Denise Runions says

    Maybe the judges took lessons from fashion models who always look pissed off.

  26. says

    Great points! Completely agree – especially about the design footage, or lack thereof. Can’t they get into the WHYs of design decisions a little? Maybe we could all learn something. I guess that’s not really the point of the show. Seems drama (and product placement) has won out over design.

    I watched last night’s episode, but really struggled through it. I have to be honest – I’m watching not because I like the show, but because I want to know what everyone’s talking about the following day! (Come on – I know I’m not the only one.) Did anyone watch David Bromstad’s vlog today? He really rips into Tera and the yellow color thing. I have to agree with his final statements. Color is all about emotion. And for Tera to refer to color psychology as “crap”, well, I’m not even sure how to respond to that.

    Can’t wait for next week’s update, Julia! I’ll keep watching as long as you keep blogging.
    .-= Kelly, Arte Styling´s last blog ..Guest Blogging on Hue Today! Topic: Modern Colors =-.

  27. says

    Just found your site thanks to Rhoda at Southern Hospitality. I LOVE HOUSES and your blog is just perfect for me. I stopped watching Design Star because of many of the points you made in your critique of last nights program. Hoping the judges will read your comments and take note!
    .-= Arlene @At Home with the Grimms´s last blog ..I’m the Mary, You’re the Rhoda! =-.

  28. says

    I like the new addition of the host videos also. I totally didn’t get that it took an entire day to paint a chair and I would have been seriously annoyed if she was on my team and did that. Nina is a bitch OMG! There is a huge difference between having a strong personality and being one – she definitely is one and I hope she goes soon. I don’t like that she makes me cringe when I watch. Courtland’s wall stripes looked great – a very nice touch. Even though I liked that, I liked the girls apartment better overall and thought their team should have won. Oh, and the judges doing their little whispering up there is goofy.

    Nice recap of the show last night!
    .-= Robyn’s Online World´s last blog ..Monday Mingle Vlog – June 21 Edition =-.

  29. says

    So I skipped most of the post after I saw “Spoilers” b/c I have missed the first 2 episodes! They are on my DVR, but T hijacked it to put in the living room so he could record the World Cup while he was at work. :( One of these days I’ll be able to catch up! 😉
    .-= Amanda @ Serenity Now´s last blog ..I Was Framed =-.

    • hookedonhouses says

      I do like some of Vern’s one-liners! Just wish there was some more levity in the mix. -Julia

  30. Nancy says

    The first three seasons were excellent. Then they dumped two great judges in season 4 and teamed Vern Yip with two other HGTV stars who chose a talentless straight man as the season 4 winner. They really jumped the shark for season 5 by giving the show to Mark Burnett who canned audience favorite Clive Pearse. The thing I’ve seen for the past two weeks isn’t worth watching. I’m done.

  31. says

    I wasn’t able to watch the show this weekend but your post is awesome and I felt as if I had after reading it (thankful for the spoilers). I could totally visualize everything and don’t feel I missed out on much, same craziness as last week it seems. All the comments seemed to be spot on too!

    I have to say, I don’t get the bridal suite room at all and with all the talk about Trading Spaces…I wonder if it brought back to many nostalgic feelings for Vern and Gen. because it so looks like something that would have been done on the show. Anyhoo…so happy you post about this and so happy we’re sharing the same brain waves about it! ; )
    .-= Jessica @ 24 Corners´s last blog ..George, Jane & Duke =-.

  32. says

    I so agree with you on the judges. I would prefer to see a more mentoring/coaching role and less of a “you suck” role. I like the way Debbie Travis handles even the mishaps on her show. She calls them into her office and talks it through – LIKE AN ADULT WOULD.

    All of these judges have great personalities on their own show. What happened?
    .-= Glenda Childers´s last blog ..A Boy and his Dog =-.

  33. JolieAnne says

    I agree with all of the comments about the judges and not planning to keep watching
    “Design Star” because it has taken a nasty turn for the worse. Vern has been making
    me wonder why he cannot be nicer? And who does the choosing of each of the “Design Star” wannabes? I was not thrilled with the winner last year, was it Anthony? I cannot even remember his name. I, for one hope it returns to be
    more about good design and learning what good design is; not about the drama and mean spirited judges. I hope the producers at HGTV will read all of the comments on your blog Julia.

  34. Paula says

    I miss the old HGTV… I know they want to keep things “fresh & current” – especially in decorating. But, oh my – almost every show is the same! I enjoyed watching HGTV because I don’t care for “reality” shows. I’m not really interested in watching a design show contest where everyone is just being ugly to each other. It’s like they’re playing mind games instead of using their minds & artistic talents to win the design challenges. I’m disappointed in this show: it could be very entertaining.

  35. Nancy says

    In her exit interview, Nina told us exactly why she should no longer be on the show. Actually she told us why she shouldn’t have been there in the first place.
    While adding all the various words that were bleeped out – she let us know that she still feels she is better than anyone else. She told us that she doesn’t like people, she only wants to do designs (how can she design for people if she doesn’t even like them). She continually told the other designers – invarious ways – that she was going to do what she wanted to do, when she wanted to do it. I think it is great that a few of the guys let her go ahead with the braile without objecting. It caused her demise on the show. Then for her video, all she could do was boast about her biggest goof of all. How demeaning to those dear firemen! WHAT? If you are a bully, it is my fault???? Take this Nina! Bye Bye!