The inauguration of HGTV’s Design Star season 7 aired Tuesday, and as nearly all reality shows tend to do it also inaugurated our judgmental selves out of the closets, piping to judge every designer right down to their remotely introduced surface. Season 7 retrograded to a (ahem) humble, 10,000 square foot mansion in Los Angeles where the designers will live and compete to win their own show on the network. David Bromstad (season one’s winner) serves as host and mentor for the show, while Genevieve Gorder and Vern Yip will make up the judging panel with the help of a new celebrity guest judge each week, this week—Daisy Fuentes, next week—Vanilla Ice, you get the drift, “celebrities.”

For their first challenge, the 12 designers were paired off into teams to decorate six rooms in the, let’s face it, estate in which they will live for the duration of the competition. The catch: they must incorporate a previously chosen personal item into the space. The unspoken catch: they must reside in these awkward first-attempts for the rest of the season like ghosts haunting them in their place of supposed refuge. But, given all that—they handled themselves with poise and a fair amount of design tact.

When it comes to design competitions, the first episode is always difficult. Not only because the contestants are in transition to this new environment, but because they are still sorting out how to incorporate and highlight the most important aspects of their own style. However, no one could have foreseen anything as dreadful as what Yuki and Stanley fashioned from materials birthed from the iron of the earth’s bountiful belly. With what appeared to be maniacal disregard, the designers erected what just may be the worst room ever constructed on Design Star yet. The irony is the room will serve as the (remaining) Designer’s Lounge and Work Room.

The room is a total 80’s-hangover décors as if Delia and Otho from Beetlejuice popped some LSD and went to town. Not only were the colors garish (lime green and Barney purple are always questionable choices) and the couch a painful, fiery orange, but they went so far as to mount a collage in one corner that most eight year olds wouldn’t put their name on; it featured empty neon colored frames haphazardly nailed atop crumpled neon paper and the name of each designer’s state scrawled in paint. Sadly, both designers label themselves as artists first and foremost. They do seem to regret their choices. Maybe we can chalk it up to first show jitters, or perhaps artistic flare? Nonetheless, Yuki took the fall and was sent home.

So far, the designers to watch include Danielle, who we’ll credit with conquering the Great Room. She somehow managed to make it feel chic and semi-welcoming despite the vast ceiling space. True, part of her execution was to whip out the Design Star go-to technique—picture molding when you don’t know what else to do—but we have to give her a welcome nod for it anyway. Rachel (the mid-westerner—really, who can resist the accent?) is another one to keep an eye on. She worked on the Den with Hilari, has the portfolio to back her, and tackled the design of her own coffee table right out of the gates. In a bizarre twist, she was praised by the judges as making the “genius” move of mounting a moose head on a black wall. That’s just about as radical as claiming ownership on the invention of sliced bread. But okay. And lastly, Jordan, who although didn’t get to feature very much of his inner workings on this episode seems to have a great aesthetic that could establish him as competition in the future.

After Yuki was evicted, Stanley remained at the bottom. With his masculine-industrial style he could be intriguing, or a disaster, we’ll be happy with either. Bex (the Texan redhead) is a creature with some quirk. She definitely exudes that Rosie the Riveter vibe in a tamed-down-rockabilly sort of way. She created a downright awful daybed with drilled, golf ball size holes representing constellations (mentioning some abstract notion that it symbolically represented the contestants), so it will be curious to see what she concocts next. Luca also has the possibility to create some stimulating designs concepts. He basically took a back seat to Danielle during this episode after announcing to the group that he “could do all your jobs.” So it’s a bit hard to predict his capabilities, but he did pick out two gorgeous, tufted, white leather couches if that counts for anything. Lastly, let’s all cross our fingers that Hilari has a chance to redeem herself after mounting a (respectively) small flat screen on the wall surrounded by an absurd amount of molding. Even she admits it was just out of desperation to fulfill her addiction to reality television, so we all have to side with her on that one.

Ah yes, it’s always perfectly delectable to lavish in the pleasure of scrutinizing aspiring hopefuls as they scramble with time limits, cost restraints, and general creative frustrations as we watch from our busted couches sipping soda and nibbling a cracker. This Tuesday they will compete in the infamous “White Room Challenge” featuring guest judge Vanilla Ice (because he has such impressive design aesthetic himself—he’s a carpenter now, didn’t you know?). But, let’s be honest, what truly resonates in our minds is an overwhelming empathy for all remaining designers—now left to spend the remaining weeks in some dreadful spaces. Well played Yuki, well played.

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