Color Junkie: 'Design Star' Host Tanika Ray Dishes on Decor

July 7, 2011


Some reality TV junkies get their kicks watching Kardashians preen or chefs try to whip up multiple dishes from Rocky Mountain oysters. But decor fiends have likely been counting the minutes until the latest batch of paint-chip wielding, kitchen-finish-debating style savants start competing on “HGTV Design Star,” which returns for its sixth season Monday at 9 p.m. TV vet Tanika Ray hosts the best nest-making contest, and we caught up with her just before the premiere.

Why’d you want to host “Design Star”?
I was a huge fan of the show. A lot of reality shows are based on no premise. But when you have a reality show like this that’s based on competition and skill, it’s really addictive. Plus, it’s interesting — you get contestants from all walks of life — graphic designers up against people who work at furniture stores.

What’s the toughest thing for competitors?
I feel for these guys! It’s a triple effect of having your design be amazing, look good on television and of you being able to relate your message on television. Some people just freeze when they have to defend their designs. It’s tough to be both a great designer and have a captivating personality.

What makes someone good to watch on decor TV?
People just have to be themselves. It’s interesting to see how contestants experiment with their personalities as the show goes on. Some people are really bubbly, which the judges like; others are more subdued.

What will inspire viewers to do their own DIY project?
There are all these examples of designers turning everyday items into focal points. Like, one contestant turned empty Coke bottles into a lamp!

Did you notice any trends that competitors were focusing on?
People were doing a lot of pattern mixing and putting lots of graphic things on the walls. The last couple of years, we’ve seen a bend toward wallpaper, and in “Design Star,” they did lots of wall things that were very approachable.

What’s your design philosophy?
I’m a constant redecorator based on the mood and the season. When I came back from filming “Design Star,” I spent two days redecorating, buying new chairs and changing the curtains. There is something refreshing about switching around your space.

So what does your pad look like now?
My house is an eclectic, colorful oasis with a hot pink office. Color makes me feel yummy! I’d never have beige walls or furniture to be safe. My pet peeve? When people with personality decorate their space with no personality.

Photo courtesy HGTV

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Stephen M. Deusner · July 6, 2011