Aug 6, 2007

Design Star: Defining the Seriously Ugly Kitchen

Uggh. Barff. Ick. Ewww. I know ugly when I see it and here are two excellent examples: The two redesigned kitchens that 10 design professionals with plenty of money and plenty of time came up with for HGTV's Design Star, a show that I thought had potential (until this week).

Team #1 Designed the Clean Lined Kitchen

Here's the kitchen before the team totally ruined it ...

Give me any of these "real" examples of nostalgia kitchens over this clean lined abomination. The coup de grace? The tiled counters were left unfinished. Pah!

Team #2 Designed the Faux Tuscany Kitchen

Take cherry cabinets and paint a faux white crackle paint over them. Add ugly curtains and chairs that are guaranteed to stain, and voila! Serious ugly.

Here's a REAL Tuscan kitchen in a villa in Tuscany. Click here to view this fabulous house.

The kicker? Both families loved their redesigned kitchens. It's my belief that designers should model good taste; not pander to their clients' unformed tastes to the point of selling out. Or ... perhaps these designers have no taste at all? Perish the thought.

For excellent recaps of Design Star, I urge you to visit Surroundings and Kora in Hell. These two ladies know interior design like I know Dutch cheese and Maatjes Haring. Linda knows her stuff and Trixie is seriously funny.


Linda Merrill said...

Ms. Place, you need to learn to say what you're thinking!

Seriously, tho, the tough thing is that the homeowners in the orange counter kitchen did say they wanted new counters, an extended center island and a new peninsula. So, while the designers job is to give the clients more than the clients know they want/need, it's also their job to listen to what they clearly express. While that kitchen would appeal to those who like a retro style, it would be nasty to those who don't and people have a right to like what they like. The problem here was that the team didn't take a clean lined kitchen and update it, they cluttered it up and left it unfinished. And, those tiles really were awful. As for upholstered chairs in the "tuscan" dining room - it's a matter of preference, but the chairs were of a sufficiently dark and pattern print that I didn't have a problem with them. But, the table wasn't an improvement over the original.

I'm glad you weighed in Ms. Place, the conversation is snarkier and wittier for it!

Ms. Place said...

Ah, Linda. Observe the clean, spare and beautiful lines of that true Tuscan kitchen. Then witness the derivative crap (sorry for my mouth fart) that masks as a Tuscan kitchen in today's terms. Both these kitchens are a bad Disneyfied version of the real thing. I give these two kitchens 3-5 years tops before they get old, tired, and dated. They're like Van Meegeren's fake Vermeers: The lie is not evident to the contemporary eye but is revealed as time passes.

Upon viewing both kitchens my sensibilities were completely assaulted. I agreed with the judges 100%, and Cynthia McCully in particular (the before was better than the after). Their horrified faces said it all.

Having said this, I defer to your superior observations. I only speak with my uninformed gut: You speak from true experience and knowledge.

frogboots said...

i love DesignStar - it does right what Bravo's TopDesign did wrong.

but both of these kitchens were...hideous. i thought they both looked tacky and sort of...nouveau riche, if i may use that phrase. and the fakeness of the faux tuscan was awful. I don't think the designers all lack taste or style; i think that when they were put together (and given fairly little direction), everything fell apart.


jinxy said...

I have to agree that the kitchens were too faux for me. It came off looking cheap. Cheaper than when they began, and I'm sorry but anything you put $10,000 into should not come out looking cheaper on the other side.

I concede the rooms may have looked better in person and that's why the families liked them, but I'd hazard to say that the families were just reacting to the immediate change and their satisfaction will fade fast. Anyway, this whole competition is tv-based. You have to make rooms that will look good on tv and these didn't.

I'm sorry but with $10,000 and more than just myself doing the labor I feel I could have done a better job.

And I don't usually make that kind of assertion but in this case it is warranted.

Ms. Place said...

Oh, I think Design Star is far superior to Top Design, and I am enjoying the show immensely. I look forward to seeing what Sparkle Josh and Will come up with. From their bios, there are quite a number of talented designers on this show. I agree with frogboots that as a team they faltered. (A faux fountain in place of a functional closet? I shudder) and Jinxy you make a good point. Perhaps these rooms look better in person and come across ugly on t.v.

eric3000 said...

Thanks for the link to those fabulous retro kitchens! I love them!

Linda is right that if the clients wanted new countertops then the designers had to give them new countertops. But the kitchen still should look BETTER after the renovation, not worse!

I'm sure the clients were thrilled just to have expensive new appliances but I wish the designers had spent a little less money on the appliances and a little more on the rest of the design.

laura s said...

Caveat: I don't really like the retro style. However, I can appreciate what people do like about it. When I saw those first two photos, I actually thought the first one was the "before"! It looks like all they did was replace the counters, add mismatched appliances, and clutter the place all up.

It may have been a result of the teams - without time to really gel their styles and tastes, they may have just ended up with mishmash.