Photography by Matt Kile
The latest season of HGTV Star featured a face that might be familiar: St. Louis designer Jessie Miller, a.k.a. The Design Daredevil (thedesigndaredevil.com). Although Miller was eliminated from the running in the second episode, Miller believes the competition made her a better designer.
“One of the main things I took away from the experience was reaffirming that when I follow my gut, I’m the best designer,” she says. “When clients are paying you money and it’s your livelihood, you want to make your client happy and you tend to conform. I’m learning that when I follow my instincts and am a little more stubborn with my vision, it always turns out better.”
Miller’s road to get on the show wasn’t easy. This was the third time she’d auditioned, after making it to the final round of auditions twice before. After she missed making the show the second time, she took an opportunity to appear on The White Room Challenge on HGTV, which gives designers a blank room to decorate on the basis of the episode’s theme. Finally, after a delay in auditions last fall due to Hurricane Sandy, she was offered a spot on the show.
“I really went out on a limb with it. It was hard, because I really put myself out there, and to be rejected so many times was difficult,” she says. “But I feel like everything’s meant to be, and I’m really glad that I got on this season.”
Miller, who describes her interior-design style as “urban regency”—Hollywood Regency with an urban edge—says that the most difficult aspect of the competition was the fact that she had to give up her phone, laptop, and anything with Internet access. Unlike during her normal design process, she was unable to research any of the inventory at the small list of approved shops in Los Angeles, and she had to choose paint colors before she embarked upon the design process for each episode.
“It’s difficult to follow your gut, because you don’t know what the sources are going to be,” she says. “It’s just very challenging. It was more challenging on a human level than a design level. It sounds terrible, but it really was an awesome experience.”
A self-described “vintage hoarder,” Miller continually shops for traditional and midcentury furniture to outfit her spaces. She shared some of her favorite local vintage shops.
• Treasure Aisles Antique Mall, 2317 S. Big Bend, 314-647-6875.
• The Green Shag Market, 5733 Manchester, 314-646-8687, thegreenshagmarket.com.
• St. Charles Antique Mall, 3004 S. St. Peters Pkwy., Ste. U, 636-939-4178.
• St. Clair Antique Mall, 315 Salem, Fairview Heights, Ill., 618-628-1650.