Margaret Answers Your Questions

Margaret Russell gets personal when she answers your questions.

Our Top Design judges agreed to answer reader questions this week. Here, read the behind-the-scenes scoop about the show! qanda_320x240.jpg

Donna asks: "You judges have a tough job and I commend you for that. The question is ... can you get the "Top Design" set designers to give you some functional, comfortable chairs?"

I think the White Room set (designed by last week's guest judge Joe Stewart) is glamorous, but I'll admit that the stools are not the most comfortable -- or easy to slide off of gracefully when we leave to review the projects. (I used to dread when Jonathan would say, "Let's go see what they've done, shall we?")


Peter asks: "How is your toe?"

My toe is fine, thank you, although it wasn't that first day. I shamelessly brought my four-inch stiletto to the hospital the morning it happened and begged the doctor who stitched me up to make the bandage as small as possible so I could squeeze into it. He thought I was insane. It took weeks to fully heal.

Lisa in Oregon asks: "How long have you been with Elle Decor?"

I helped launch the magazine in the States in 1989, and was named editor-in-chief in seven years ago.

Roger from Tuscaloosa wonders: "I saw you on Andy Cohen's live show with Goil fielding questions. You seem very different in real time than you are edited to look on the show. Do you notice it too, or do you feel like you're edited to look more severe as a judge?"

Andy is a friend, his show is taped late at night and it's a lot of fun; it's far more casual than "Top Design." In truth, hours and hours of judging deliberation were taped for "Top Design," and it's up to the producers what to keep and what to cut. They're the experts in deciding what makes a good show, not me. What you saw on Andy's show is what I'm like.

Bo in Brooklyn asks: "Where can we see some of YOUR designs?"

I'm not a designer; I'm a design editor, and my role on "Top Design" is to view the projects as an editor -- or a client -- would see them.

Beth wrote: "If you had to choose a fashion designer to wear exclusively -- who would it be?"

Prada. By the way, Paris Libbey is an amazingly talented stylist (you should check out his fashion video on the site), but I wore all my own clothes on the show. (Although his blog about having a dieting competition with me is pure fantasy: I'm petite, and I weighed 100 pounds when I arrived in LA and 100 pounds the day I left. Some people have commented that I look skinny -- even starved -- but I don't diet, I eat. A lot.)

Joe in Atlanta: "When you're judging, what's the main thing you look for in a room? What's the thing you care least about?

First of all, I think about the specific challenge and how well its requirements were met, and then it's the overall design of the space, whether or not the room works, if it's inventive, and if it's stylish. We really wanted to be surprised and inspired by what we saw.

Rita in Bakersfield, CA: "Do you think the exclusion of Elizabeth had anything to do with her age?

Hardly! I currently employ an editor who's in her 80s. As far as I'm concerned, age had nothing to do with Elizabeth's dismissal.

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