Genevieve's Design Tips: The White Room Challenge

In episode three, the Design Stars show off their talent in the white room challenge. See what Genevieve says they did right, did wrong and how she could have done it better.

Blue Striped Living Room

Living Room With Visual Impact


Be Creative

On a graphic and technical design level this room is really special. To create the illusion of a grander depth, a narrowed perspective and land it on one big bull’s-eye in the middle of the space? Tricky, interesting and difficult to execute well, but Antonio pulled it off. Where he lost me was in the most important point of the room, the bull’s-eye that he created. All these wonderful stripes lead me to a bunch of Froot Loops and some pool noodles? I want a bang, pow, shazam! When I have all this amazing stripey buildup, the bull’s-eye is a bit of a letdown. This space looks like it should have fallen out of a comic book or off a cereal box labeled "new and improved." If Antonio had kept the momentum that he started with the stripes it would have been so much more wonderful. I do like what he did with the couch by adding a headboard of sorts; it increases the vertical and changes the entirely too recognizable form. By hand tiling the whole piece in Froot Loops, adding a couple of accent pillows in Captain Crunch and perhaps a neutral Cornflake pillow or two for some balance, the interest and textural level would've risen substantially. I think the wagon of watermelons in the forefront is a lovely vignette. However, the floral arrangement is a huge disconnect from this pop art-like treatment of the rest of the space. A giant bowl of milk as a coffee table, perhaps?*

*Remember these rooms aren't at all about function, just pure unadulterated creativity.

Create a Beautiful Wallscape

Living Room With Red Apple Art

Stylish Living Room on HGTV Design Star

A perfect example of a designer with a concept who followed it through to execution. This is what design is all about, no matter what the style. Design only works well when there is a true concept and well-done execution, and I think Dan delivered this very strongly in this design. Working off of a Johnny Appleseed-esque concept, you can see that Dan really played in this space and that translates into joy as the observer. In a space with such a small footprint, he did exactly what you're supposed to: averted our eyes to the vertical with a beautiful wallscape of red apples framed by a lovely chopped-wood pattern. The room looks bigger than any of the others due to this detail alone. Spilling out from underneath is a beautiful floor treatment with what looks to be kidney beans and black-eyed peas which neatly designates the conversation area. I think a pendant in the middle of the space would play up nicely to the rug instead of the wall mount, and the artwork is completely unnecessary. Other than those two small details, the room is a huge success.

Add That Something Special

Contemporary Living Room With White, Yellow & Turquoise Walls

Contemporary Turquoise and Yellow Living Room

I would've killed to get a challenge like this. How beautiful is produce and all that Mother Nature designs? And a challenge that forces you to use the grocery store as supplier of your medium? Unfortunately, I just don't see much of that beauty in this room. This was an invitation to play but it doesn't look as though Jany let herself play. The turquoise banding brings your eye up the wall to make the room seem larger and wider, and the brilliant yellow stripe is a nice contrast in color and direction, but where are these two colors brought out in foodstuff? It was a good start, a nice framework for something special but, unfortunately, the special didn't arrive in this space. By adding an additional accent color, perhaps a coral or a kelly green, we could add a bit more depth and variance in this stagnant space. The plates on the back wall are a good juxtaposition of all the straight lines and boxes, but more curves would've balanced it even better, like a large bowl of bananas as the table centerpiece. I loved what Jany started on the back wall with those Cheerios chains; I wanted more of that. By flanking the yellow stripe with voluminous Cheerios chain-like curtains, the room would come alive with texture and the back wall would be so much more important. Pillows of sliced lemons and limes with two poufs made of marshmallow instead of the wood boxes could have been really fun and embraced this challenge better.

Matzo is Not the Entree

Bright Yellow Living Room With Contemporary Neutral Furnishings

Contemporary Yellow Living Room With Neutral Furniture

This room hurts a little bit. OK, a lot. I love where Jason started. The matzo is a really fun medium; however, more as a side dish and less as the entree. The reason being that it’s bland in color, in shape and, well, even in flavor. It would've worked wonderfully as a parquet floor tile or used as a faux woodgrain instead of the focal point on the wall. Couple the matzo with a food that has a larger presence, big color and some depth — like produce and meat products — and it could've been much more powerful. Unfortunately, Jason chose dog food as matzo's partner and, well, he lost me completely. The bright yellow walls are great but also need some partners to balance out the sting, like a base to an acid. This yellow needs a creamy charcoal, some ivories and some rich blue accents to cool off that hot color and work as a balanced team. The yellow on its own with just beige and a bit of white is just too sharp and unbalanced.

Quirky and Whimsical is Ok

Living Room With Newspaper Decor

Design Star White Room Challenge by Jen

When I see this room, I know an artist has been here. I'm sure it feels far out to many a viewer but I think there are some really stunning moments here. The gorgeous blue wall with the squash rounds on the back wall feels dreamlike and almost as if you're living in a painting. Compositionally, I think Jen really nailed a powerful focal point through color and form. The wing-like, rice spring-roll wrappers casually hanging off the wall that then lead the eye into a row of chocolate milk bottles is so curious. It feels as though there are many little beautifully crafted stories in her space that make me smile. Olive oil can vases on the ground and mushroom caps on the wall are all intriguing and fairy tale-esque. The shell of this room to me is perfect; it's the contents that need improving, as all of this excitement surrounds a bit of a disappointing middle. The bouquets on either side of the couch could easily have been big, overflowing and tightly grouped arrangements of beets to add that fuchsia pop that she was going for on the coffee table. The couch, if wrapped completely in a foreign-language newspaper (so it becomes more of a pattern and less of a read), could've been a beautiful and subtle pattern to add a little depth but not take away from the color. Poufs, or some sort of cube chair in the foreground instead of the chairs used, would've created a more seamless look. On the whole, I really enjoyed this space for the pure quirk and whimsy of it.

Push the Design Boundaries

Green and Yellow Living Room

Zesty Apple Green Living Room

Coulda, woulda, shoulda. This room feels very unfinished to me so it's a bit hard to judge completely as I know what Lonni intended to do with this space originally. If she had set forth and completed what she had planned, it would've really been great. However, what we are looking at is what it was and I can only judge on this. What Lonni did with the lampshade in the corner is more of what I was hoping to see from everyone on this challenge, of really USING the medium in fun and creative ways. I wish more of the artichoke-like lampshades were used in the space, too. The sugar-packet side table is brilliant and leaves me wanting more. Beyond that highlight in the corner, it is very stagnant and flat. Why not bring in some big bags of rice and use them as throw pillows? If you're going to use glass bottles as a table base, commit to it completely and fill the whole base with bottles and let them contrast the bright white floor and couch behind it. Instead of lining up the pasta rug with the stripe, fill the floor and emulate a Persian or Kalim. I'd have rather seen the back accent wall take on the color of the apple and become a strong focal point rather than two bold planes of color ending in a disappointing flat white; the couch would've popped and the eye would've been drawn in. I think the apple is a wonderfully designed fruit, but it's also a fruit that many others thought of using as well. This should make a designer think to themselves, "unless I have an amazing concept to use these with, I need to push myself harder" past that first inspiration.

Play With Tones of Color

Modern Living Room With Orange Slice Chandelier

Modern Black and White Living Room With Chandelier

What a wonderful surprise of a room. It's incredibly sexy, inventive, textural and plays with all tones of color. Nathan blew me away with this room. He really had me at white paint dripping down black walls and an orange-slice chandelier. The white paint cascades onto the black base coat and almost gives the illusion of beaded chain; it's kinetic and such an amazing illusion. The orange-slice chandelier centerpiece plays with scale and satiates that immediate search for color after looking at the walls. Additionally, he brought in some more curves to juxtapose the lines on the wall with typography, a great solution for a complementary pattern to the wallscape. The only thing I might change is the tables. The roped base and tapers become a bit redundant with all of the stripes on the wall. While I love the turquoise, wrapping a bowl with the foil of gum wrappers to give the illusion of a mirrored piece beneath the chandelier would've been so much sexier. Absolutely my favorite room of the week.

Focus the Attention

Green and White Living Room

Design Star White Room Challenge

Oh no! It's the apple again! There is a lot going on in Tashica’s space and initially I have a hard time figuring out where to focus my attention. With such a focused and powerful graphic stripe running around the perimeter of the room, landing in a tiny little bull’s-eye in the back, it needs to be spot on to function at all. Once I get to the bull’s-eye, the eye wants a payoff; a new color or a larger scaled item would've given it the punch it needs. Moving down from the box focal point, it's easy to get lost in overly complex patterns and predictable but strange space planning. While these rooms don't need to be functional, why set up the couch and two side tables in such a traditional fashion but then set up a nesting table sequence at a far distance in the foreground? If Tashica had striped the entire space vertically in back and run her apples down the stripes, it could've had a lot more balance. Why not cut the apples in half (rub with lemon) to stretch the budget and then have that apple make more sense within the contents of the room? Fruit crates, applesauce jars and other apple products could've made this a lot richer and given it a sense of humor.

Balance the Space

Pink Room With Black and White Rug

Vibrant Living Room With Textured Rug

If play were tangible I think it might look like this space. What a mood Torie has set upon first glance. By using a larger scaled pattern in the zigzag rug it enables her to give balance to the tightly constructed art piece on the back wall. The linear, black-and-white quality also sets the curves and color coming into the focal wall ablaze. Her use of garbage bags and napkins, charcoal and puffed rice are inventive and extraordinary. I think some sort of arrangement that would pick up on the colors of the focal point could live very happily on the coffee table (a bowl of colored eggs, rhubarb fashioned into flowers, or perhaps just using some of the same medium of napkins and garbage bags to create an arrangement, etc.) would've made the piece even more exciting. Overall, I think Torie did an amazing job.

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