HGTV Star Episode 1: Behind the Scenes

Here we all are, before the competition began.  In a land far, far away, before we knew the craziness that is reality TV.

Design Daredevil HGTV Star Intro Cast

 Look at me.  So excited. So naive. I’m all  “Heeeeeeey ya’ll, I’m Jessie, your super fun and quirky brand-new HGTV Star!”

Design Daredevil HGTV Star Intro

Right away, I was reppin my signature move, The RTR.  For those of you who don’t know, that stands for




Design Daredevil HGTV Star Episode 1 RTR 2Design Daredevil HGTV Star Episode 1 RTR 1

And I’ve been playing this game for a min now…


But in all honesty, I was really excited to be there.  Not only was I ready to compete, but I was dying to finally be able to speak with the other finalists.  Up until this point, we had  spent a lot of time together sequestered, but not allowed to speak to each other AT ALL.  AKWARD!   We were like caged animals who had just been released into the wild.

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We celebrated being able to hear the sound of each others voices by doing a kick line.  Totally normal.

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And then this guy came in…

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I seriously love David.  He is the most genuine TV personality I have ever met, let alone filmed with.

So then we all learn about our first challenge, the branding challenge.  We got to work on creating a, brand-able vignette using personalized wallpaper and fabric patterns.  DING! DING! DING!  Dream challenge!

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But here is the sneaky part….we had all already designed our wallpaper and fabric at home, about a week before we left to film.  But we had no instructions on how we were going to use it (or if they would be used in the same challenge).

Yea, this was not how it was designed.  It’s not even me on the computer.

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I hand painted both of my patterns, instead of digitally designing them.  Do you people have a clue how labor intensive it is to hand paint an organic pattern with a perfect repeat? I do.

For those of you who follow me on The Gram, you might remember sneak peeks I posted back in January.

I’m very proud of how my patterns turned out, especially my malachite inspired wallpaper that got ZERO face time.  I will explain why that happened in a a bit.

Anyway. I’m going to write a separate post on how I designed my patterns soon.

Oh, side note: People were seriously losing their shit that I said “Leopard print is my favorite color.” Twitter was going crazy with stuff like “I didn’t know leopard print was a color #wtf #hgtvstar”   I freakin loved it.

So here I am braining on how to brand myself…

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This is what I was visualizing…

Design Daredevil brand vision board

And here I am planning on how to make that vision a reality.

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And here I am pretending to design wallpaper…

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La la la la la, just pretend sketchin over here, don’t mind me…

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Alrighty, it’s finally time to start shopping! Wooooooohooo!

Except there were a lot of crazy circumstances.

1. We received a list of shops that we had clearance to visit/shop/film in.  The lists had the shop name, number, address, and brief description (1-2 sentences) of what they carry.  No pictures, no catalogs, no internet access to preview.

2. Some stores gave us a credit, others gave us a discount, some were just retail prices. We had a decent amount of cash also, can’t remember exactly how much, but I wanna say around 2k each.

3. There were only 4 vans for 10 people.  We had to separate into groups that agreed on what shops to go to.

4. We were provided cell phones that were about circa 1999.  No texting capability. No picture mail. No internet.  We had to ask permission from a producer before we made a call, have it on speaker phone, and have the conversation taped.  This means it takes about 10 minutes just to make a call.  If no one picks up, you can leave a message, but if they actually call you back you are only allowed to pick up if you have a camera on you and a producer with you.

Say whaaaaaa?  I’m confused.

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Scanning the list, I didn’t recognize a single store name. Panic. I looked through the descriptions and saw one that had the words “vintage” and “hollywood regency” listed and knew that had to be a stop.  You all know by now I’m all about vintage and I wanted unique pieces to rep my brand.

I called the shop owner and asked him if he had any vintage brass chandeliers, and he assured me he had loads and loads of brass chandeliers, as well as all kinds of other vintage chandeliers.

Boris mentioned right away that he had lived and worked in LA for 15 years.  The rest of us were clueless on how to navigate through the city (let alone the traffic.)  I asked him if he was going to the vintage shop I wanted to visit, he said he was, and we decided to shop together.  I don’t remember how Abbey decided to shop with us, but the 3 of us teamed up, I coined us the “A-Team,” and we hit the streets.

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And here is the break down on how everyone else divided up.

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The vintage shop was a lot smaller than described and the owner was nuts a bit cooky, but I got an instant design boner when walked through and saw the most magnificent chandelier ever…

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I could not wait to get my paws on it, until the shop owner told me it was on hold for Boris.  SAY WHA??? What the hell ya’ll mean its on hold for Boris?  I guess Boris had already called the shop and schmozed with the owner and talked him into holding it.  And he got it.  He beat me fair and square, I didn’t even realize we could could hold stuff ahead of time.  Boris was already playing smarter than me and I felt like I needed to step up my game, like, yesterday.

The owner was exaggerating.  There were no other chandeliers, except the crystal chandy Abbey got, and that wasn’t the style I was after anyway.

As a replacement I scooped up a pair of these vintage lamps…

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Also my vintage silver bar cart and green wine goblets.


I thought I did pretty well, despite the lack of a brass chandelier.

But then  something magical happened.  I was able to track down a peacock over the phone. If you follow this blog, you already know about my affection for decorating with peacocks, and my affection for them in general.  My goal was to get an albino peacock, so the white would pop out against my crazy malachite inspired wallpaper, but I could only get a natural version, and I gladly took it.


He was very fragile, valuable, and on loan, so I held on to him in the van instead of putting him in the truck.  The three of us had SO much fun with that bird.  We were trying to decide on a name while I kept talking about what a miracle it was to have found him.  Like, a dream come true for me!  Abbey said it was very serendipitous, then Boris suggested naming him Serindipito, and I said “Sir Serindipito!” He was organically named, we were happy to have such great finds, and we headed back to the studio completely proud of ourselves.

We got back to the studio and began unloading our finds and realized that every other group had gotten all of their major shopping done, and all we had got were our “unique” pieces.  No furniture.

Honestly, I wasn’t that stressed because I was so excited about Sir. I mean you can pick up furniture anywhere, but where are you going to find a 1950s sterling silver bar cart and a pristine condition, taxidermy peacock, right?

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David came in to deliver our wallpaper/fabric and we were desperate to finally see it in real life.

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You can see my leppy print a mile a way, but guess what?




That’s right, my beloved malachite inspired wallpaper that I slaved over was nowhere to be found. I was really, really upset, but trying my best to play it cool.  The mishap was all production related, so none of it would be edited into the show.  I didn’t want to be edited as a lunatic who just starts crying for no reason when everyone else is doing backflips with excitement.

When we were done filming for the day I asked a producer what would happen if they couldn’t find it before the challenge was over (like, 5 pm the next day) Would I be able to get extra paint to at least paint the wall?  He replied “Maybe.”  I was thinking “Maybe you are gonna get yourself on over to that printer tonight and find my damn wallpaper before I pop off on this whole set”  But I was doing my absolute best to show how adaptable and resilient I am, how easy I would be to work with when I had my own show, and that I can handle the pressure of the unexpected. I just replied that I would make it work either way.

Well clearly I forgot that I was on a reality competition show.  I should have started kicking people and destroying everyone else’s vignettes.  Maybe then I would have actually got a little face time.

We were wrangled to go home for the night and finally got to see where we would be shackin up for the next 5 weeks.  We had a penthouse apartment at The Avenue in Hollywood that was very nice, but still close quarters for 10 strangers.  We were really lucky this season to not have house reality (meaning being filmed in the home).  I’m pretty sure every other season did. Tiffany and Abbey were assigned as my room mates.  Right away we started started unpacking, cooking, drinking wine, and unwinding.  Tylor immediately rearranged all of the lying room.  We were under supervision 24/7 to prevent us from discussing the challenges, but just being away from the camera made us feel like we were on Spring Break ’93.  We were having fun.  Then at almost 11 pm our house wrangler  told me I had a phone call, which scared the shit out of me.  No one could get ahold of me except for an emergency.

It was one of the challenge producers letting me know my wallpaper was found.  Yippee!  It had been on the delivery truck the whole time and just got left in the shuffle. They put me on the phone with an installer to explain how I wanted it installed (every other finalist got a one-on-one meeting) but he was not understanding how I wanted the panels spaced out. The producer offered for me to come back to the studio for a one-on-one to be fair.  I got to the studio at about 11:30 pm.  It was creepy as hell in the dark all abandoned, but I was just relieved to be there and see it beautiful and safe.

All of the vans and drivers were gone for the night, so I had to wait for a producer to to give me a ride back as soon as he was done finishing up work for the night.  Which was about an hour worth of work.  I wasn’t allow to stay in the studio and see everyone else’s wallpaper being installed, so I had to wait in his car in the parking lot alone, exhausted, and starved.  I ended up getting back to the apartment at about 1:30 am.  Almost everyone was asleep, but Tiffany stayed up for me.  We were trying to fall asleep but couldn’t stop talking about our day.  Tiffany had gotten all of her furniture and was feeling good.  She asked me what I had accomplished for the day and I replied, “I got a damn bird.” For some reason, this struck us as the most hilarious thing ever said and where in fits of laughter while passing out for the night.

The next day, bright and early, we were ready to get after it.  Then something magical happened.

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We met Susan Feldman, the co-founder and Chief Merchandising sit or for One Kings Lane.

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We were told that during every challenge of the season we would be able to use items from a One Kings Lane pop-up boutique.

I was surprised to later learn that only half of us had ever heard of OKL.  I would have thought that most working interior designers would at least be familiar with OKL, but then again, not all of us are working interior designers.

This picture cracks me up, now knowing who’s excited facial expressions are completely false.  I won’t throw anyone under the bus, it’s just for my personal entertainment.

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Myself, on the other hand, was already obsessed with Ms. Feldman.  But then the real surprise came.

We were then told that we were required to repurpose at least one item for our vignettes, that the winner of the challenge would have one of their repurposed items sold on OKL.

I lost my damn mind.

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I thought I had it in the bag.  Susan would clearly appreciate my eye for vintage, I was thinking to myself.  I began fantasizing about Susan and I being besties, traveling the world together, collecting vintage treasures for my curated tastemaker sales on OKL. We would braid each others hair and share our innermost secrets.  Before long I would be attending exclusive Elle Decor dinner parties with her, Martyn, and Mary.


Dream come true.

Oh wait, not yet.

The A-Team doesn’t have any furniture.

Borris used to work as a designer at H.D. Buttercup, a store on the list with the largest furnishings selection and the store with the largest available credit.  He had a huge knowledge of their inventory and knew a lot of the staff.  We needed go hit it and and hit it quick, as we only had mere hours to fight LA traffic, wait for the store to post “Warning you are being filmed” signs for other patrons, turn off the music, mic a sales person and get the sales person to sign a release waiver (all of this has to be done every store, every challenge, and it was mad frustrating, especially when every second counts) shop, pay (which also takes forever when paying on a credit) get everything loaded, delivered, unloaded, set up and styled.

Nothing we can’t handle.

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For, me this was a great experience.  There is notting even remotely close to H.D. Butercup in St. Louis.  Being in that environment was a real treat, especially shopping with other people’s money.  The three of us got along really well and we got great stuff.

The ride back to the studio was a lot little bit more stressful.  We were forced to stop for an hour lunch (Union labor rules) and chose to go to a super busy restaurant that kept us for over an hour.  I was very frustrated.  I was freaking about time and I just wanted to get back to the studio ASAP.  As much fun as we had shopping, I wanted to take advantage of the long, stressful car ride to have a little quiet time to plan, save my voice, and muster up some energy.  God love Abby, she is just one of those people that is ALWAYS “on.”  I mean, this girl must snort pixie sticks for breakfast.  I was feeling the life being slowly sucked out of me.


To become more efficient, us designers got smart and decided to help one another by picking up items for each other at stores were at.

I think we all know by now that Boris was in charge of picking up Anne’s bedding.

But there was a lot more going on, aside from that damn duvet.

I picked out a white console/cabinet for Jeribai.

Jerabai room

Boris picked up colorful throw pillows for Cris that she had picked out the day before, just like Anne’s duvet.


I picked out a settee and coffee table for Brooks.

Brooks room

His settee showed up, but not his coffee table.  In my opinion his missing coffee table made a much bigger impact on his design versus Anne’s white duvet not showing up to cover a white comforter, and it wasn’t even mentioned in the episode.

I’m telling you people, Boris 100% DID NOT purposely leave out Anne’s duvet.  I was with him all day. He hounded the H.D. Buttercup sales associate about it to the point that it was annoying.

As a matter of fact, we all had things not show up.  Case in point the amazing Dwell Studio accessories that I selected.  See them all in my little pile.

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Yea, none of that showed up.

As a mater of fact none of our purchase showed up till about 30 min before time was called, but in the meantime I was doing okay.  I loved my peacock, wallpaper, and vintage items so much that if nothing else showed up, I would still sell that vignette to the judges.

Unfortunately, the producers did not love it and found Jerabai’s muscle shirt and splatter paint art far more interesting.  Poor Sir Serindipito, he’s dying for some love.  See him back there?

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While waiting, I spent my idol time making as many repurposed items as possible to up my chances of winning the One Kings Lane challenge.

I hand painted a vase and made throw pillows out of my leopard print fabric.

Design Daredevil Jessie D. Miller HGTV Star 2

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But my fav item, and the one I was positive would be sold on One Kings Lane, was a tray.  I took a flat lid from an oversized round box, painted it high gloss black, and lined it with my malachite wallpaper.  I thought a beautiful black lacquer and green stone cocktail tray would be recreated in my honor for sure.

See it on the bottom?


Clearly I thought wrong because it didn’t even get noticed.

But you do know what repurposed item did get noticed?  Abbeys throw pillows.  She cut out one of her ink blot patterns and taped on pillow from the One Kings Lane pop up boutique.

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They did look super cute.  But I have to keep it 100.  That was Tiffany’s idea.  Abbey was really stressed out by the furniture not showing up, and having a hard time.  Tiffany told her what to do, and I helped her cut out the patterns and tape them on.  Of course none of that made the show.

But I will say that when our furniture showed up with very, very little time left Abbey really pulled her room together.  Her wallpaper was my least favorite, and I probably underestimated her, but she really did know what she was doing.


And Boris’s room was also beautiful. Although that chandelier would have been better in my vignette. 😉


When time was called, I was really excited to hear what the judges thought.

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Calm down girl.

I like my vignette because I 100% accomplished the goal of “branding” myself.  It is 100% “me.”  I love ever single piece in the space just wish I hadn’t used it all together.  I love that sofa and coffee table, but not in that vignette.  I would have been happier with an oversized wingback chair and small side table instead, and kept the bar cart, just one lamp, and of course Sir.


The bar cart and coffee table together make me want to poke my eyeballs out. But I do kind of still like those white urns.  I can’t help people, I’m a total maximalist.  If you are like me and have a “more is more” aesthetic, I strongly recommend taking more than 7 min to edit a crazy room like this.

Oh well, what are ya gonna do?

I still like it.


And I love my wallpaper.


Heading in to the first judging ceremony was more nerve wracking than I could possibly describe.  Tiffany coined the phrase “bubble guts” to describe how we felt.

I’m all “I need a drink and a pedicure.”

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But I never made it to panel.  Vern popped up in on us and declared Tylor, Tiffany, and myself  “Safe.”

Um, has this fool ever met Jessie D. Miller?  She is anything but safe.  What a lame word.

This is my “I’m super disappointed but trying to look grateful” face.

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The three of us were hauled back to the apartment, and we exploded when in the van, safe from cameras.  Tylor started crying, Tiffany was mad as hell (she thought we were top three), and I felt like a fool. This meant I wouldn’t get my tray on One Kings Lane and I wouldn’t be BFFs with Susan. But what I was really looking forward to connecting with the panel and getting their feedback.  I want to win this competition SO BADLY and their opinions hold my fate.  Couldn’t we have at least have gotten one positive and one negative critique?  We just felt so left out.

The only thing we could do back at the apartment was get in our pj’s, crack open the wine, and drink our sorrows away. Plus I ate 1/2 a block of brie cheese by myself.  But we got lots of bonding time together, before the craziness from panel came back home that night, so that was one positive thing.

At least we were’t poor Tobin.

So, what did you all think of the first episode? Any questions? Comments? Feedback? Holla at your girl.


  1. Amazing….just like I thought it would be!

  2. Jessica Young says:

    Jessie, I am so glad you wrote this blog and included so many behind the scene deets. It was so fun to read and now I feel special because I know more than the average bear. You definitely should have gotten more air time. I was complaining about that to my husband the whole time we were watching the show. Can’t wait to see and read more!

  3. Scott Holifield says:

    Gurl, I am exhausted just reading this and you had to live it. Seriously the whole night was a big farce. Will give more at face time

  4. OK, thank you. Because when they announced that you guys were supposed to design fabric, wallpaper, AND put the whole room together in 2 days I was like “there is no fucking way…”

    My next comment is that you looked amazing and your personality totally shined through. You’re the most camera-ready person in the group. You could start your own show tomorrow no probs.

    Love David. So glad to hear he’s real folk.

    That chandi was amazing..naughty naughty Boris…But I think your lamps ended up working really well in the space.

    Sir Seredipito was FABulous, he definitely deserved more face time.

    Um, I would never let anyone who’s never even heard of OKL tell me shit about design. That person has no business with a decorating show of any kind.

    The pic of you and Abby in the van…i’m crying omg

    And I also totally thought you were going to be in the top three. Your room was so on-trend. It showed that you actually know what’s going right now in design. My theory (which is totally going to make me sound like a design snob) is that HGTV gears a lot of their stuff towards regular people, so they’re looking for decor that’s a little more “pedestrian”, but I would still think the judges would appreciate what you did more.

    Anyways, can’t wait for the next episode!!…

  5. Amazing!! Congratulations on the show! So exciting!

    XO Lily

  6. Dyyyyying over that pic of you guys in the car and the look on your face coupled with that of Abbey’s! LOVED it! Love you more!

  7. Jessie, I gave you the correct nick name…You are one of my angels. Thank you for setting the record straight. I did everything I could to pick up the white bedding for Anne. You can’t believe how many haters are out there. I got hit hard with the show editing me as the villain…
    By the way, love the blog. You are putting in some serious work my love! xoxo Boris

    • Boris don’t worry about haters. Your room was awesome . I’m glad Jessie set the record straight so everyone can see you didn’t sabatoge that damn white duvet. Good luck!

  8. Jessie, this was hella funny!!! You and Tiff are equally “ignant”! LOL!

  9. Jessie-

    Girl you are my newest obsession! The peacock was the shit! I noticed it on the episode and was thinking “freaking Crazy ass Jessie!”

  10. Melissa says:

    Loved hearing all the behind the scenes tidbits. I assumed that the “reality” on the show had very little to do with reality 🙂 Loved Boris’s room & loved your’s as well

  11. I enjoyed reading about the behind the scenes of what really transpired. The bar cart was incredible but I agree about it being too much with the coffee table. Ironically my mother had an emerald green suit with leopard trim back in the 60’s and when I saw your room it reminded me of it.

  12. dude, i hate that i don’t have cable. will have to catch this online if i can to see your cute self in action…congrats on making it through the first round (not that there was any question – dah)! LOVE the pieces you used in your vignette. i know editing is super important, but don’t overedit bc that maximalist style is YOU. oxox

  13. You are by far the cutest and approachable of all the contestants. I can totally see you having a show. Thanks for all the behind the scenes info. I’ve always wondered what it was “really like”. I was bummed that you had such little air time but then I decided it was a positive b/c it just means that they are going to focus on you later after they’ve weeded out the weak links 🙂

  14. I actually did not get a good view of the peacock when I watched the episode so I was blown away when I read your recap. I love hearing the behind the scenes shenanigans that happen and look forward to this season. You are a lot of fun to watch and glad to see someone so passionate about using vintage in a space. I feel it makes all the difference and takes a room from “Rooms to Go” to amazing.

  15. Amazing!!!!!!!!! Ok I am dying….dying over that bar cart and how you styled it….particularly that repurposed malachite tray! Bravo. I’m sure it was frustrating doing all that work {missing wallpaper, time crunches etc…} and not getting to meet Susan or connect with the panel, but whenever I watch the shows and see the safe people, I am so relieved for them. I know you don’t want to just be “safe” though. I didn’t think about it that way. Anyway, I love love this behind the scenes and am so proud of you. Can’t wait for the next episode. Oh and PS sir serendipito…..OBSESSED. I’ve wanted one forever and know they are a pretty penny. xoxo

  16. I need to tape you watching the episodes air because I know that awesome, unedited, stream of consciousness would have people on the floor with ‘bubble guts.’

  17. yeay!!! omg what a different story I read here….its like a whole other show! I’m so excited we get the real deal here. Thanks for sharing it with us. It makes it all the more exciting to learn the true version! Thank goodness Sunday is just a few days away!! xx

  18. Tracy Geiger says:


    I SO enjoyed reading this recap of episode #1. I really felt like I was there with you….you know I am always there is spirit, and you are always in my heart. SO proud of your dedication to your craft and the resiliency you have shown in making your dreams a reality!

  19. Man, it was hard to see how epic that Peacock really is on TV. And the colors of your wallpaper don’t even *kinda* do it justice on TV (at least now that I’ve seen the Instagram photo). Also, thanks to you I’m taking back my Boris hate…especially since now I’m hearing it was only a white duvet she was missing. AYFKMWTS? I still think Abby’s design looks like the green room at the Lilith fair though…and her wallpaper makes my eyes bleed. But she seems like she’s damn fun to hang out with. Can’t wait to see tonight’s ep!


  1. […] Another pal, Jessie is on HGTV Design Star! Yeah that’s right…she’s awesome. Read her inside scoop about the first episode  here […]

  2. […] made my controversial leopard print pattern the same way, but we had no choice for the fabric it was printed […]

  3. […] color! Yes, she said that and we LOVE it! You must get to know Jessie and her crazy fun self! Read her blog post about the first episode and get some real dish on the behind the scenes of the HGTV star first […]

  4. More is More says:

    […] was feeling a little bummed about being snubbed by panel last week and in desperate need of some reassurance my vision was not, in fact, boring.  So I did the only […]