All photos from HGTV
For the first time in Design Star history (we believe), the contestants were given the challenge to design a common space for firefighters in a firehouse. The designers would also be individually judged one a signature design element that was to be contributed to their spaces. This is by far one of the best challenges we have seen as it benefits the admirable, New York City Fire Department (FDNY). As with other firefighters, they are well deserving of a relaxing and well styled interior. In honor of this challenge, the designers had a guest judge, Cheif Ciaravino to provide direction and analyze the functionality of each space (Candice Olson was also away taping her own show). In a twist, the designers were split into two new teams: the red team (Nina, Stacy, Courtland, and Tom), and the blue team (Alex, Michael, Casey, Emily).
(From left to right: Tom, Courtland, Stacey, and Nina)
The red team was given the task to renovate two small rooms inside Lower East Side’s Engine 5 house. For this space, the firefighters wanted a training station (for meetings, etc), workout area, and just a space to relax after a long day. Immediately upon entering the space, Tom wanted to reveal all hidden architectural elements in the space. He quickly butted heads with Courtland as he thought it was too time consuming of a task. “Tom is an A.D.D. child on crack,” snaps Courtland. Finally coming to a compromise, Courtland began to work on his own contribution, building a custom entertainment center for the meeting space.
Designer Nina Ferrer took the initiative to order the furniture for the meeting room. Later in the challenge, she wanted to contribute another (weekly) artistic contribution. However, we were very impressed with her vision. Instead of adding a singular cork-board to the space, Nina chose to use 1×1 cork squares that spelled out “pride, commitment, and service,” the FDNY’s motto in braille. Out of all of her artistic creations, we thought this was the most creative. Although this corkboard was extremely original, we have to wonder with Stacey if these competitions are about evoking murals (art), or a well tailored, holistic space?
(From left to right: Alex, Michael, Emily, Casey)
The blue team had the pleasure of working for the West Village’s Squad 18. For their space, the firefighters wanted to renovate their drill room (used for training and education). The team dynamic of the blue team was so seamless that they set the bar not only on how to work together, but also, how to treat each other with respect. They worked as a unit instead of individual heads trying to lead in their own way.
A setback almost surfaced (and this time it was not Alex’s fault…yay!) as the blue team had just one coat of paint on the floor at the end of day one. If they did not get the polyurethane down with enough time to dry, no one would be able to work in the space to complete the task. With much to prove, contestant, Alex Sanchez did not let wet floors delay him. Using plastic covers over his shoes, Alex was able to travel through the area to finish his wall mural. Thankfully, the coating dried with enough time for team to get what was needed done…phew. As another artistic contribution, Casey chose to create a large silhouette of a fireman for the space.
For her contribution, Emily Henderson wanted to build (yes, create) a coffee table. With the loss of Dan, the team would now have to step up and construct their own designs.Unfortunately, Emily did not demonstrate the knowledge to physically carry out her design. Would she be able to make a coffee table that looked presentable?
Last, but certainly not least is Michael Moeller.While making a desk/tv/self unit, Michael had a MAJOR accident shooting himself in the thumb with a nail gun. OUCH! True humility shined as Michael left for the emergency room nearly distraught that his unfinished piece would cause a loss for his team. Measurements should have been more of a concern as his teammates later discovered that all of his pieces were incorrectly measured. Coming to the rescue, Alex (or Super Sanchez for this task) did what was necessary to bring Michael’s vision to a reality.
There were definitely pros and cons throughout the space, but we enjoyed the blue team’s design as a whole. We liked how they did not clutter the room with unnecessary furniture and accessories (sometimes less is more). Emily’s FDNY inspired coffee table was an electric addition to the space evoking a pop art feel (congrats on completing it). Though Alex’s skyline mural was interesting, it looked a bit adolescent to us. However, with zero windows in the room, perhaps the firefighters would appreciate it?
If we had to offer one main critique of the space, it would be our wish for the team to have used more wall space. As the ceiling was super high, they had plenty of wall space to lengthen their designs. Instead, the focused on keeping things closer to the ground which weighted down the room a bit.
The designer who receives our gold star of the week would have to be Casey Noble. Her art provided a great color contrast to the space with a hint of stimulation (through the use of red) in a calm palette. We also loved how the size of her canvas worked to vertically stretch the room, creating height. Great job Casey.
When we saw the reveal of the red team’s design, we were utterly speechless. The team took all of the individual elements that the firefighters wanted to literally threw them into a room without a real transition from piece to piece. The workout area lacked mirrors (which could have added depth to the space) and instead showcased a small, flat screen tv…that was off center and placed in an awkward position for those using the equipment.
The worst room for us would have to be the meeting room. We 100% agree with the judges that there should have been more concern for function. There was too much furniture in the space (already small) which made it feel even more cramped. Because of this, the furniture could not function properly as Vern demonstrated with a reclining seat with no room to recline.
Was it just us, or did anyone else feel that the space did not coordinate? From the coffee table (again, awkward shape to walk around in an already cramped room) to the random accent rug, nothing really matched! By not painting over the existing floor, the room became a busy eye sore. And then there was Courtland’s entertainment center which was more of floor to ceiling wood panels. The stain of the wood did not compliment the space and soon became one of the main anchors making the space a miss (vs. hit).
The only thing we really liked in the room was Tom Vecchione’s ceiling treatment. Even though it was in black (to conceal blemishes that they did not have time to repair), it reintroduced a stately elegance to the space. Stacey’s contribution of brass elements and the number “5” (for firehouse pride) was okay, but very safe.
(And The Winner Is…)
STAY TUNED FOR PART TWO OF OUR EPISODE 5 RECAP!
Be sure to keep up on all of our Design Star reviews:
- HGTV Design Star Season 5 Episode 4
- HGTV Design Star Season 5 Episode 3
- HGTV Design Star Season 5 Episode 2
- HGTV Design Star Season 5 Episode 1
- HGTV Design Star Exclusive: Interview with Contestant Julie Khuu
- HGTV Design Star Exclusive: Nina Ferrer, “Mean Girl, or Misunderstood?”
- HGTV Design Star: Thoughts on Season 5? Where Are Past Contestants Now?
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