Apartment Therapy Interview: Design Star Winner, Antonio

We had a chance to speak to Design Star winner, Antonio Ballatore, this morning to get the goods on how he got into design, designing under time constraints, his tips for designing small spaces and what it was like to completely renovate his new house that was pretty much condemned.

Antonio, congrats on winning Design Star! How did you first get started in design?

  • Growing up in New York, my parents were both artists and my dad designed windows for stores like Bendel's and Macy's. I started helping him. Also, I was in a lot of bands and I would do carpentry and build on the side to make some extra money. I then started designed restaurants and clubs in New York and then hooked up with David LaChapelle and did set design.

We recapped the challenges on Apartment Therapy and a lot of our readers commented about the time (or lack of) for each challenge. Tell us about how the challenges were set up, how it was working under the constraints and what the best part of this whole journey has been?

  • There was a fine line between time, budget, knowing what the judges wanted, knowing what the clients wanted and keeping true to myself. [From production] I was used to setting things quickly. Also, on the show, we couldn't do things that would save time, like calling ahead to a store to see if they had product or checking paint samples. We had 1 shot with the paint. The challenge was more about what I could do to 'wow' and not play it so safe. The best part for me was helping these people, like the military families and the kids' challenge. I now get fan mail from kids!

A lot of Apartment Therapy readers live in smaller spaces and we often talk about ways to make small spaces work. What are your best small space tips when it comes to creating a comfortable layout?

  • Having lived in New York, I know small spaces. Definitely organizing the space and really planning it out. Making it nice, clean and simple.

HGTV followed you when you recently renovated your own house, which will air this Sunday as a special called The Antonio Project. What can we expect to see on the show?

  • I bought this house about a year ago when it was almost condemned. I had to re-do everything and I was able to add on a 1000 square foot addition. The show is about this but also about my friends, who helped me renovate the house, and my life, where I come from and how I work in the real world.

Thanks, Antonio!

Check out the promo for the Antonio Project right here and check in this Sunday at 10pm to watch the show. Antonio's new show will premiere in January 2010.

(Images via HGTV)