What was the most surprising thing about producing this show?
"I think my biggest surprise from the show — and it continued throughout the whole competition — was that the designers, when I cast them and invited them on the show, I had no idea if they would be able to work under the amount of pressure they did. Week after week, they actually crafted these incredible interiors on a huge scale. And, [they] did so while protecting their own business images in the industry.
The first episode is jam-packed with drama.
"It's super crazy. In the first episode, you have to spend a tremendous amount of time introducing people and setting the tone for the relationships that move and change. But, you have to give people a frame of reference. As the competition moves on, you see much more of their design work."
There are some big personalities and egos on the show. How is it dealing with it?
"It does get a little crazy, but the thing is, it is a reality competition show, and what the audience sees is exactly what happens. I think it's really important that tempers flare. They are artists, and they believe their idea is the best. It's not a show like 'I stole your boyfriend' or 'You have a big butt.' A lot of them aren't used to working in a team. I love that they are passionate, because they care that deeply about the outcome."
How is judging different from doing the actual renovation?
"At first I was insecure about it. I'd never judged any other designers' work, but it became very clear to me that when you have people who represent that level of quality and design, [all of that] work needed to be done well. It was very obvious who had to go home week after week."
What did you learn from the designers?
"I'll give you my top five:
1. You don't need as much space as you think you do to live well.
How did Eddie and Monica (your co-judges on the show) influence you?
"Monica represents this high design that's very accessible and relatable. That is an important aspect of the show. She kept everyone grounded in that. I wanted to see ideas I've never seen. She wanted to see high design executed well. Eddie was really fantastic because he was able to look at the exteriors, the gardens. He was invaluable because he knew which were the right plants, the symmetry, the sustainability, the asymmetry — a lot of the things I don't know about."