Design Star Antonio Ballatore’s Downtown Loft

published Jul 28, 2011
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Name: Antonio Ballatore + Chewie, the 6 year old English Bulldog
Location: Downtown — Los Angeles, California
Size: 3,300 square feet
Years lived in: 10 months — rent

To win a show such as HGTV’s Design Star you must have an extremely rich point of view and a unique vision. I also believe what makes a successful interior designer is the ability to find what is special about the client and integrate that into the design. Antonio Ballatore, winner of Design Star Season 4, was warmly recognized for his ability to think way outside the box. Here’s a look at his own highly personalized home.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)
(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

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(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Born in New York City, Antonio was raised in a small family home in upstate New York. He explained, “Our home started off as a little bungalow then grew into a larger house with multiple art studios because both my parents were artists”. His entire loft is a collection of art, memorabilia, and rich tribute to people who have impacted his life. “My dad is also an avid collector so he filled our home with beautiful art and rare, out of the ordinary antique pieces, some of which have been passed down to me. My dad has been one of my biggest design influences and from him I’ve also developed his habit of collecting.”

Each wall and every shelf is a curated display of gifts, artwork, antiques, pieces of his show – which all have a story attached to them. One of the most significant possessions can be found in his dining room. It started out as one of his father’s art pieces as a tribute to American Indians. Gifted to Antonio in his early twenties, over the years he’s added to it to make it very personal with “all the experiences of my crazy life”. There are adornments such as his grandparents’ funeral cards and crosses. He’s also added things from ex-girlfriends, his first dog’s tags, and even a locket of his mother’s ashes. “It’s a piece of art that grows with me in life.”

Antonio suggests that he got into design by “accident”. After running a local bar in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, he went on tour to play music with some hardcore punk bands. After returning from tour one year, he ran into a friend who was building sets for photographer David LaChapelle. A year later, he was LaChapelle’s full time set designer building elaborate sets for all his photo shoots. It was this very experience that opened many doors to Antonio’s career, landing him on set with world famous photographers such as Annie Leibovitz and Mark Seliger. In my opinion, it is his experience of building these sets that set the tone for his personal design style. Sometimes more is more, and often it opens us up to a specific style home we never would have thought of.

Many of the elements of Antonio’s loft are immediately familiar from his show The Antonio Treatment. He once designed the living room of a music industry affiliate, adding a huge mural of a photo taken at a Slayer concert. The same copy of this mural is the wallpaper that lines his TV room. He still has the same headboard and dresser, that he created during the first episode. The pink bird that grabbed him the first win of Season 4 hangs like a shrine over his kitchen among a matching pink wall.

Most impressively, there is ton of DIY awesomeness, like the raised living room space and custom built sectional (one part was literally the size of queen sized bed). He installed and finished his entire kitchen cabinetry out of reclaimed wood. He erected a staircase and built the bedroom and bathroom upstairs, along with separate computer office that hangs over his larger office down below. He has created the ability to show you intimate details of his world and parts of his life. You will never be bored in Antonio’s loft because there is just so much to see.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Apartment Therapy Survey:

My Style: Medieval cave dwelling meets modern loft living.

Inspiration: Friends, family, and everything around me.

Favorite Element: Too many to list. Everything has a significant meaning behind it.

Biggest Challenge: Getting Chewie out of bed.

What Friends Say: They say that the space definitely defines me and who I am. “This place is so you!”

Biggest Embarrassment: Chewie and the bathrooms that I haven’t gotten around to completing yet.

Proudest DIY: The whole damn thing.

Biggest Indulgence: Collecting

Best Advice: Personalize and customize.

Dream Sources: I use my dream resources everyday! You can find things everywhere you look, from the side of the road to crazy flea markets to high-end furniture stores.

A few extra questions for Antonio:

What is the single most significant thing in your home?
This is a hard one. Everything I own has a meaning behind it and is significant to me. Things have been passed down to me from my dad, others are gifts from friends, special finds from flea markets, or things I’ve brought back from my travels.

When you think of designing a home what is the most essential part?
Making it personal and original.

How has the lifestyle and culture in Los Angeles affected your personal design aesthetic?
I don’t think the lifestyle and culture in LA really affected my personal design aesthetic. I’ve been a set designer for 15 years and my work had me traveling all over the world. Traveling and being introduced to a lot of different cultures is what I like to think really influences my design aesthetic. It’s constantly evolving.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Resources of Note:


    • Portola Paint- Lipstick Pink (on the kitchen wall).


    • Painting over the entryway door- by Niya


    • Willams Road King Pinball Machine- from
    • Studded Chair- from Suburban Home (Downtown LA)
    • 18′ Custom made couch- Blueprint Furniture
    • Bison head-I received a call from a local guy in town a couple months ago letting me know that he had some really cool things for me to check out. He showed me a 2-year-old bison head that’s been mounted and hung at a local bar for several years until they closed. He told me that before the bison head got mounted, the bison ended up going crazy on the farm. It jumped over the fence and ran directly into traffic, causing a 6-car pile up. It continued to rampage through the neighborhood and the owners had no choice but to put it down. I ended up taking the bison head home with me along with a fiberglass rhino head that the local guy threw in for an extra two hundred bucks!


    • Table and benches- Environment
    • Smaller throne chair- Melrose Gallery
    • Human skull- Handed down from my dad, which he got back in the 60’s. He traded an Egyptian mummy’s finger for it.
    • Large kings throne- My dad purchased a late 17th century Spanish throne in the early 60’s. He eyed the piece for while but no one wanted to buy it because the original owner from the 17th century was assassinated while sitting in it. The chair had the original leather and the stab hole from the murder so after my dad bought it he reupholstered it. Growing up I really loved the chair and would spend hours playing on it so my dad promised to pass it down to me some day. After winning season 4 of Design Star, I had to design my home for the first episode of my show “The Antonio Project.” Keeping his promise, my dad shipped over to me the king’s throne and it was featured in the show.


    • Counter tops- Ernsdorf Designs
    • Butcher block- Real Door Inc.
    • Cabinets- custom reclaimed lumber from B&B Lumber
    • Kitchen stools- Environment
    • Hot pink duck- stolen from the set of Design Star (Season 4) as a momento for winning the competition.


    • Custom Sombrero Girl Headboard- Buckwild, created for the Antonio Project
    • Custom Painted dresser and nightstands- Buckwild, created for the Antonio Project


    • Custom wall mural shot at a Slayer Show- printed by Astek Inc.

(Image credit: Apartment Therapy)

Thanks, Antonio + Chewie!

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