Last month, we tipped you off to an exciting new competition — the Decorist DesignOff with Joanna Hawley and Kyla Herbes. The duo — though separated by a few thousand miles — is working with Decorist to each create their own respective dream home. (And the competition gives it a little added fun, don’t you think?) They’ve filled out their online questionnaires, breaking down style preferences and setting a budget, and the Decorist designers sent back some crazy-cool moodboards. Honestly, we don’t know how anyone could choose between one or the other — these gals have their work cut out for them!

We asked the pair 5 “rapid-fire” questions about DesignOff so far — from the initial must-haves to their reaction when seeing the designs to the big decision. Read on for details:

What has the design process been like so far?

JOANNA: “I’ve never worked with an interior designer EVER before, so the design process has been really exciting for so many reasons. This is my first home and I’ve struggled with having a complete vision for the space as I renovate it. Even picking a paint color has felt daunting. Jessica has been super helpful in helping me set the mood for the rest of the house with her vision. I think the most challenging part of the process has been prioritizing which parts of my personal style to share with Jessica — sometimes I think my style is all over the place, so she’s been great in helping me focus in on key materials, patterns, and colors.”

KYLA: “The entire process has been surprisingly easy! I have worked with Ashley, my Decorist designer on a previous project for my guest bedroom and really like her style…it’s very similar to my own. Working with her is a breeze. Decorist has this great ability to match up your style with their talent. The most challenging part is the wait! I mean, that time frame itself doesn’t take long, but I was just so excited to see what the concepts looked like. It’s like the last week waiting for Santa.”

What are your ultimate, won’t compromise, desperately need “must-haves” for the space? Did you see those reflected in the design boards?

JOANNA: “Admittedly, I have quite a few “must-haves” (sorry, Jessica!) with the biggest one being a total lack of lighting. The living room doesn’t have a single overhead or wall light, while the dining room has a dusty, hideous fixture that I cannot wait to remove. I get great natural light during the day, but at night it’s like a cave in here! Because I live in Seattle and it can get pretty gloomy in the winter, Jessica has sourced some gorgeous lighting fixtures from Lamps.com to brighten things up. The lighting paired with clean white walls will make this space feel so much fresher and more inviting.”

KYLA: “Since we just purchased this house (literally, we moved in only weeks ago), I didn’t want to blow my budget; however, I do have champagne taste. Thankfully, I had a few fabulous existing pieces and asked Ashley if she might be able to incorporate some of the old decor with the new. She didn’t mind one bit. Before moving day, we tore down all the old wallpaper and painted every room in the house white. Unless it would really make or break the design, I didn’t want to repaint the space. I left it open ended, but it’s possible that Ashley loves white as much as me. When the boards arrived, really everything that I requested was there. White walls, my existing layered rugs in one board, and my favorite brass cube side tables made the cut! I couldn’t have been more pleased.”

Your gut reaction when you saw both design boards?

JOANNA: “Um, that I couldn’t decide on which was my favorite! Each concept contains elements that I absolutely LOVE and want for my home.”

KYLA: “I wish I would have thought ahead enough to have The Boy videotape my reaction when I opened the email. I remember when they arrived in my inbox. I gave my phone to him and said open them, I can’t look. He was like, “No way! I’m not taking that away from you!” I think my biggest fear was thinking I wouldn’t like either concept, or maybe he wouldn’t…but that was just plain silliness. There was an audible gasp, and I was immediately drawn into all the details of each space. So I guess maybe it was love at first sight?”

Were you surprised with your readers opinions?

JOANNA: “Always! My readers like to keep me on my toes.”

KYLA: “Hmmm, yes and no. I mean, Concept 2, Eclectic Vintage, has hits of Hollywood Regency which I’m definitely drawn to lately, but it’s not everyone’s cup of tea. It’s very glam. So maybe the surprising fact is that so many readers wanted to see it come to life. It’s such and fun, funky concept. I do however have another room in the house that needs a makeover. Maybe we can still make it happen.”

What aspect or feature was the selling point for the design you chose?

JOANNA: “I thought long and hard about it (and even consulted with my best friend), but ultimately I selected the design that felt most livable while also making a statement.”

KYLA: “It was super close, but my readers chose Concept 1, so I’m pushing forward with it. Yes, it’s a bit more on (as my readers put it) the safe side, but I love the neutrality of the room, and if my tastes change, I can easily switch something out a few years down the road without a complete makeover. However, I did switch out the Interior Define sofa from Concept 2. I fell in love with the style of their Caitlin by The Everygirl sofa. Those brass feet! Clutch the pearls.”

We can’t wait to see these designs come to life. Stay tuned!