By Cecilia Chan
GSN Managing Editor
Gilbert resident Britany Simon has her job cut out for her in Bravo’s new Best Room Wins TV show.
The design competition series that pits two top interior designers against each other debut May 1. Simon is featured on this week’s episode 2, where she was tasked with transforming a couple’s drab bedroom in Los Angeles into one that screamed luxury.
“The couple has three boys and both work full time and had no time to dedicate to putting that much effort to design and furnishings,” said Simon, who owns Britany Simon Design House in Scottsdale.
“There was a dresser, one nightstand, the bare minimum basics bought in a box store in a set,” she recalled. “The bedding was one pillow each and a sheet to sleep on. Also, there was a humongous water jar filled with coins.”
The contestants are each given a $25,000 budget and four days to create a room inspired by multi-million dollar homes. The homeowners also are heavily involved in helping with the redo.
Show host and interior design maven Genevieve Gorder, Elle Décor magazine Editor-in-Chief Whitney Robinson and a guest judge decide who wins based on the overall appeal of the design, how far they were able to stretch their budget and client satisfaction.
The winning designer’s room will be featured in an online spread on ElleDecor.com.
The theme for episode 2 was contemporary.
“What they wanted was something light and bright,” Simon said of the homeowners. “She wanted something more feminine because she was the only girl in a house of four boys. She wanted a retreat. The husband was very much on board for it. He just wanted to make sure a TV was involved and a comfortable bed.”
This is not the first time Simon has tackled a design project in front of the cameras.
She was on the seventh season of the HGTV design challenge series, Design Star, was host for the Holiday House series on HGTV.com, a designer on Travel Channel’s series Hotel Impossible and co-host of We’re Moving In on the FYI Network.
“A lot of people think because I’ve done TV, that is my main focus,” she said. “My passion still lies with clients here and their homes and designing their homes here.”
Despite her on-screen experience, Best Room Wins was a challenge nonetheless, according to Simon.
“It’s always stressful, no matter how many times you do this,”
she said. “Particularly stressful was we were in L.A. and had one day to shop for everything and figure how to buy off the floor or find it online and have it overnighted or expressed. And driving around L.A., you only get to four different places on the first day.
“I was very strategic where I went shopping and you have to kind of buy your first choice. There was no time to really think about anything.”
There was no time to get pre-approval from the homeowners on the furnishings she purchased, Simon said.
Simon used half of her budget for construction – the show requires designers to spend at least $5,000 on a construction project for the room.
Simon removed a window between the stairwell and master bedroom. She was prohibited from disclosing what other construction projects were done other then, “we did a lot of unique features and statement things in the construction phase.”
Although Simon designed the room to the homeowners’ requests and needs, at the end as part of the competition she had to impart her take on the design.
Finding out what the client wants is a vital part of what Simon does at her full-service design firm. Her projects include everything from large-scale commercial renovations to whole home makeovers to budget-friendly builds.
At times, clients don’t know how to describe the style they want. People for the most part are drawn to a conglomerate of different styles and not just one, said Simon, a professional designer for 15 years. She has a bachelor’s degree in business and interior design.
She would then sit with the client and go through Pinterest or other media platforms and find what they like.
“I would go through someone’s closet and see what patterns they are drawn to and what colors they like to see what they are comfortable with,” she said. “Lots of people dress in how they would design their space.”
She said she is able to tailor her designs to a client’s taste.
“I’m really proud I am not a cookie-cutter designer,” she said.
Simon said she used the entire $25,000 budget on the show.
“We were in L.A., which is more expensive,” she explained. “It’s not the same price as Arizona on construction.”
For homeowners who don’t have a big budget to do a makeover, Simon offered a few lost-cost and easy updates such as a fresh coat of paint, changing out baseboards for higher ones and trim work.
Before embarking on a project, make sure a budget is in place, Simon advised.
“It’s a big mistake not to have a budget,” she said. “They end up over their heads with an incomplete project. I’ve seen it happened. Lot of times we have lot of ideas and the budget has to meet those ideas.”
Simon noted the interior design trend right now is collective contemporary.
“The ultra-modern phase is out,” she said. “People want warmth in spaces. With all that is going on in the world, people want to stay home and they want to surround themselves in comfort. We’ll see more traditional pieces come back, heirloom pieces that have meaning, pieces made well that you move from house to house and less [of] disposable furniture you buy every time you move.”
At the end, Simon said she was “very happy with how things turned out” for her room.
She can’t divulge who won the challenge, so people will have to turn in on Wednesday.