Can you believe that we are down to the final four of Design Star? It feels like only yesterday that we watched 12 contestants compete for the title of Design Star champion. With only an episode or two left, we need to reassess our choice on who should have their own HGTV show. Actually, we don’t as contestant Mark Diaz is still alive and kicking in the challenge. Meg is our runner up for her spunky character and ability to think quickly on her feet. Who is your favorite DS contestant? What do you think about the remaining contestants?
This week’s challenge had the designers working in the comforts of their own building. Their mission: to transform a living room with a budget of $2,500. For those who have an understanding of interior design, a $2,500 budget is extremely slim for a living room! The good news is that each living room had pre-existing furniture; the bad news is that much of it needed replacing. Like past challenges, the designers found themselves on a two-day deadline pushing each to their own creative limits.
As we stated before, Candice Olson should not have a standing position as judge on the show. Yes we know she is off taping her own series, but come on, it’s the eighth episode with only four contestants left. Genevieve and Vern have respected shows they work on so what’s up with the special treatment?
At least one good thing came out of the vacant seat at the judge’s table…Nate Berkus! Oh how we love Nate Berkus and his diverse pool of knowledge and design talent. To date (this season), Nate Berkus is the best guest judge the show has had. Unlike other guest judges on the show, Nate immediately took to critiquing the designers and their spaces.
This episode was a real treat not only for the designers, but also the Nate Berkus Show. Each of the remaining four had to repurpose a common item and present it before a live studio audience. Talk about nerve racking! Everyone needed to bring their “A” game on this one as a single slip up or bad move would reveal their weakness on nationally syndicated television.
Mark was off to a pretty good start in his room. After moving furniture around and thinking of ways to rearrange his space, he soon headed off to go shopping. Unfortunately, that is where he lost his design mojo as he scrambled to find inspiration for his camera challenge. Rather than build a custom unit, mentor David Bromstad encouraged a project that was easier for the everyday person. Who knew that simplicity would prove to be difficult for Mark? As a result, Mr. Diaz chose to refinish an office lamp in silver leaf.
Thankfully Mark was able to pull his room together by creating a relevant space full of vintage charm. Guest judge Nate Berkus even called the room “vintage, assembled and minimal” perfectly summing up the room’s essence. Out of all the rooms created in this challenge, we most enjoyed his color palette. Mark was able to define spaces by using two different colors in both the living and dining areas. The pops of blue accents allow the eye to travel through the living area making contact with each furnishing. Mark would have been the perfect contender for best design if he didn’t leave a wall bare. Calling it a “rookie mistake,” Nate reamed into him for his inability to complete a room. We know Mark has the talent, but question how much longer he can survive off excuses for his incomplete work.
We are surprised how far Karl is going in this competition! After making many mistakes in past episodes, Karl seems to have strengthened his craft proving his Design Star worthiness. He definitely lucked out with his apartment as it had modern pieces that simply needed a splash of color. The space he ended up designing was pleasantly stylish. “I like how the colors are very mellow,” Nate adds upon entering the space. Between the accent wall, rug and decorative pillows, there was just enough color in the room to make it interesting without looking immature. His furniture layout was also perfect as it opened up the floor space in the living room while maintaining its intimacy for conversation. The only critique we have of the space is his self-made sunburst clock. The clock was awesome, but it was extremely small for a wall with no other décor present. As scale was not appropriate, the clock could not anchor the wall and thus became lost in space.
All of our negative comments about Karl and his design talents were silenced after he revealed his camera challenge project. His space savvy bookshelves were extremely creative. “You have a keen eye for beautiful detail,” said Genevieve. “The literal bookshelf was so great, so smart.” By using actual books as the shelves in the unit, Karl redefined an ordinary object and made it more personal. This is by far the best diy project we have seen on the show and think Karl deserves to win this week’s challenge.
“I’m a mom, and I love to use things differently,” Kellie tells mentor, David Bromstad. With a ton to make up after last week’s mishap, we were interested to see how Kellie would style her living space. Like Karl’s space, Kellie had a room full of reusable furnishings that would make her job a little easier. For her camera challenge, Kellie chose to repurpose bar stools by using a textured area rug. She would also later demonstrate her carpentry skills in the room with wall art and incorporated wooden spoons.
Now we know Kellie’s ideal tenant is not from theNew York Cityarea, but we still found the color execution to be elementary. Cool colors (turquoise, green) clashed with the warmer tones (red, chocolate) creating an unattractive, mishmash design. The only colors that we found to coordinate with the accent wall were the ones in Kellie’s repurposed stools. There was nothing in this room that really captivated our attention and made us say, “this is a space we haven’t seen before.” “I actually want to take away stuff she put in,” commented Nate. To make things worse, her last minute window treatments looked rush and unpleasing to the eye. Since there are only four contestants remaining, we can’t say hers is the worst…but we think she will see herself in the bottom two, again.
Our little red firecracker needed to channel every design talent she had to remain in this challenge. “I know that if I don’t complete a room…I am going home,” adds Meg. “There are no excuses at this point.” Wanting to create a home fit for a trust fund baby, Meg instantly went into action. The end result was a quaint space with unlimited charm. “I have to say I’m pretty taken with this space,” Nate adds. “I like the color scheme.” Daring to keep her ideas uncontained, Meg elongated the room by using moldings vertically. Her use of wall shelves showcased decorative accents in a sensational way. No longer placed on a coffee table (or somewhere expected), they floated around the room creating stimulation. “You were the only one who treated all of the walls,” comments Genevieve. “You added architectural interest where there was none.” Meg also did an excellent job of taking every existing piece in the room and introducing it in a brand new way.
There is not much we can say about Meg’s room except that it was great! She really showed her talents and cemented her spot in the challenge. So what about her camera challenge project? Meg decided to take her coffee table and give it a facelift with a fresh can of paint, and a hand-painted element on its surface. While we were not that impressed (seemed to lack innovation), it was a real hit with the judges. All in all, Meg is a top contender for challenge winner.
The Camera Challenge…On Air
Now that the designs are out the way, the designers can breathe. Wrong! They still have to introduce their diy projects on the Nate Berkus show. Oh how the nerves got to each of the designers as they had their own time in front of the camera and live studio audience.
Um, hello expert Karl! Karl’s on-air challenge was by far the best. He was not only able to tackle his nerves, but was very thorough in both the description of his diy project and its execution. “You were able to really capture the audience attention, and get them to think how it could relate to their life,” praises Nate. His fantastic execution and well-timed presence is proof that Karl is becoming a force in this challenge.
We wish the same could be said about our Mark Diaz as his camera challenge was horrible. Talking to the audience at lighting speed, Mark stumbled on his words and project description. He even jumbled materials calling his silver leaf tin foil! This is a huge no-no as it could pose hazardous problems for someone trying to complete this task. If that was not embarrassing enough, judge Vern Yip had less than kind words about Mark’s project. “I don’t think his project is anything we would have on our network.” Ouch. This is just another reason why Mark will be in the bottom two this week. Hopefully he won’t go home!
Meg may be small, but she has a larger-than-life personality. Sure there were a few word hiccups during her on-air presentation (called her project both traditional and modern), but she did a good job. The judges praised her energy and ability to captivate the audience. Too bad Kellie could not do the same. “You are adorable, but there was a real lack of personality,” Nate critiques. Kellie has the sparkle to be a wonderful host, but just wasn’t able to connect with the audience. Perhaps if she slowed down a little and took time to breathe things might be different.
The Winner and Bottom Two
As expected, Meg took home the title of challenge winner with her fabulous living space, but we think Karl should have won best project and camera challenge. Regardless, both contestants can pat themselves on the back as they are now in the final three! That means that Mark and Kellie find themselves in the bottom this episode. If we were judging solely off this episode, we don’t know who we would send home. Both had flubs in their individual spaces and did a poor job on-air at the Nate Berkus Show. With that said, Mark is a stronger designer that has provided consistent designs this season. He should not be sent home. In the end, Kellie was sent packing but at least she can spend time with her kids.
Now that we are down to three contestants, who do you think will win this season’s Design Star?
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