Modern Style for Classic Rooms

In Design Star 3, for their second challenge, the eight remaining designers tackled four identical living rooms in a historic Nashville mansion. With 26 hours and a $5,000 budget, they had to make their space stand out.

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By limiting the color palette to grays, blacks and whites with a powerful hint of red, Matt and Michael demonstrate that making fewer and bigger statements is a smart way to dramatically transform a space in a limited amount of time.

Go Big and Bold

Pulled together, tailored and masculine are the words that come to mind when describing this successful transformation by Matt and Michael. By limiting the color palette to grays, blacks and whites with a powerful hint of red, these two competitors demonstrate that making fewer and bigger statements is a smart way to dramatically transform a space in a limited amount of time. Furniture with clean and simple lines adds to the elegance of the room and balances nicely with the more ornate detailing. Painting the fireplace mantel white creates a severe contrast to the black walls, making the beautiful, pre-existing architectural details of the room very prominent. The incredible chandelier, the deep crown molding and, of course, the fireplace step forward instead of being lost against the horribly busy wallpaper that dominated the pre-transformation space. Even the sculpture sitting on top of the mantel, made from their bizarre yard sale finds, looks innovative and perfectly appropriate, illustrating the point that real design talent can manipulate almost anything to work in a room.

Work With the Architecture

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The white mantel creates a severe contrast to the black walls, making the beautiful, pre-existing architectural details of the room very prominent.

Make a Statement

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Trish and D. Paul tame the bright paint that dominated their room before and streamline the overdone drapery, however the room is too bland and needs to showcase more of their design talent.

There is nothing horribly wrong with this room, but then again, there is also nothing wonderfully right. Trish and D. Paul tame the bright paint that dominated their room before and streamline the overdone drapery, but fail to make a new statement to illustrate why they should be in this competition. Bland and expected furnishings paired with a bland and expected rug create a bland and expected room that you would see in any hotel lobby.

Don't Play It Safe

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An unexpected color pairing with the traditional furniture chosen or mixing in less traditional furniture with this classic paint color would have given the room much-needed visual interest.

With the exception of D. Paul’s majorly mangled bow, which could have been a wonderful addition to the fireplace surround, this room’s only other major blunder is that it fails to demonstrate any design inventiveness by playing it too safe. Since this is a competition for the next great, undiscovered designer, the judges are looking for something inventive and creative that demonstrates you have a firm grasp of design knowledge and can introduce high-quality design information through these challenges. An unexpected color pairing with the traditional furniture chosen or mixing in less traditional furniture with this classic paint color would have given the room much-needed visual interest.

Build a Strong Foundation

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By minimizing contrast, between their wall and trim paint colors and keeping their furnishings light and airy, Mikey V. and Stephanie put a modern spin on a very staid and classic space.

Mikey V. and Stephanie have many winning moments in their very fresh approach. By minimizing contrast between their wall and trim paint colors and keeping their furnishings light and airy, they put a modern spin on a very staid and classic space. This team has also smartly set the stage for a singular and dramatic statement in the form of an organically shaped wood bench that serves as both sculpture and additional seating and also contrasts nicely with the clean-lined sofa opposite it. This room has a strong foundation that clearly illustrates this team knows design and has great instincts.

Know When to Stop

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Instead of building on their great start by selecting a few purposeful accessories, Mikey V. and Stephanie infuse mismatched, small-scale accessories that detract from the great bone structure of their room.

Instead of building on their great start by selecting a few purposeful accessories, Mikey V. and Stephanie infuse a world of mismatched, small-scale accessories that litter the visual landscape and detract from the great bone structure of their room. Keeping the wood bench unadorned with pillows, removing the gaggle of accessories surrounding the fireplace and replacing the over-grown plant with something of equal scale but more manicured would have finished this room perfectly and given their fresh and airy transformation an idyllic ending. Sometimes it is just as important to know when to stop as it is to know how to begin.

Bring It All Together

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Tracee and Jennifer attempt to include a variety of furnishings in their space, but come up short because they can not find a way to pull all of the elements together with a central color, fabric, wood tone or idea.

This room looks as if Tracee and Jennifer threw everything but the kitchen sink at it. Although eclectic design is a wonderful and very smart way to go with a transformation, a great designer will ultimately find a way to pull disparate elements together. They valiantly attempt to include a wide variety of furnishings in their space, from the clean-lined sofa and outdoor metal coffee table to the ornate arm chairs and painted mannequin on the mantel, but eventually come up short because they can not find a way to pull all of their very disparate elements together with a central color, fabric, wood tone or idea. Teamwork is a key component of challenges and this transformation clearly shows a team in distress and unable to work together.

Pay Attention to Proportions

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The tall and dramatic ceilings in the space are diminished because Tracee and Jennifer fail to hang drapery all the way to the ceiling line, leaving them short and stumpy in appearance.

The incredibly tall and dramatic ceilings in the space are diminished because Tracee and Jennifer fail to hang drapery all the way to the ceiling line, leaving them short and stumpy in appearance by hanging them only at window height. Rooms of this magnitude and proportion can be difficult to work with, as this team illustrates.

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