Queens native wins HGTV’s ‘Design Star’


| aaltman@queenscourier.com |

Photo courtesy of HGTV
Photo courtesy of HGTV

Under the scorching studio lights, Danielle Colding felt calm.

“I’ve done the best I can do,” the “HGTV Design Star” finalist thought as the judges made their concluding remarks and deliberated between the two last-standing contestants.

She played out both outcomes — winning and losing — in her head, proud she had made it so far and understanding the judges’ decision was simply a matter of preference.

Colding, a 36-year-old Queens native, won “HGTV Design Star,” an interior styling competition show that hands the winner his or her own television show.

Originally from Queens Village, Colding studied interior design at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in Los Angeles. She graduated with her associate degree in 2003 and moved home to New York where she landed a job as an assistant designer with a high-end residential firm.

Colding, a long-time fan of HGTV, was encouraged by friends to audition for “Design Star.” She watched previous seasons carefully to get a feel for the show, including season five, in which a friend of hers participated. When HGTV executives announced that there would be an open call for the show in New York City, she signed up. Within five minutes of her first interview, held at an Upper East Side bar, the casting director told Colding she had made it to the second round.

The audition process overlapped her mother’s battle with cancer. She passed away the week before Colding got the call announcing she would appear in the seventh season.

Colding kept busy with the show, divulging that she struggled with the isolation of the competition and the challenge’s tight time constraints — something she had never experienced during her design career. During the competition, an entire space needed to be redone in two or three days. Projects in the real world last for several months or even a year.

“You have to go with your gut and make decisions right away,” she said of the competition.

The tense rivalry was smoothed over by the camaraderie between the contestants, regardless of the stakes.

“It was a supportive environment,” said Colding. “We made friends right away and felt like we were in it together. There was an incredible bond there.”

Colding claimed the competition kept an element of fun throughout, referring to it as “designer boot camp.”

The New York creative who now runs her own company, Danielle Colding Designs, pulls most of her inspiration from travel and says she loves seeing how people all over the world do things differently, citing Paris as her favorite inspiration destination.

“When I go I just feel so inspired,” she said. “The French just know how to do it right. Everything is beautiful and everything tastes great.”

Colding, who now lives in Brooklyn, calls her style “eclectic,” drifting towards contemporary basics, straight lines and elegant details with global accents. Her new show, “Shop This Room,” combines shopping and at-home salvaging as the designer uses items from a client’s home, reworking them as a centerpiece.

“It’s like a puzzle with each different client,” she said. “Even if people have homes they aren’t crazy about, there’s something in there that they love.”

Colding hopes the program will show people that it is possible to rework a room without breaking the bank by reusing items they already own.

While Colding admitted she never though she would have her own television show, she said fell into the spot shockingly comfortably.

“I’m just a girl from Queens,” she mused. “Is this really happening?!”