HGTV Design Star: Who Should Win It All?

We’re down to the final three contestants on Season 6 of HGTV Design Star, and trying to decide who I want to win feels akin to staring at three paint chips — “Buttercream,” “Newborn Chick,” and “Lemon Drop” — and thinking, “I guess pretty much any of these would work.” Monday night’s episode found us saying goodbye to Kellie, who lost her mojo on a live episode of The Nate Berkus Show, but whose bigger crime was turning a set of rag rugs into poorly constructed barstool covers. I didn’t get why the judges praised the seats — “it’s a really great color story,” cooed Genevieve Gorder — when even a cursory glance revealed lumpy edges that looked like they’d been hastily stapled by a bored chimpanzee.

Of course, I’d also have understood if Bearded Mark and His Rolled-Up Sleeves of Sexiness had gotten the boot, seeing how he misidentified silver leaf as tin foil throughout his on-camera challenge. Whether or not it was a case of nerves or genuine confusion about the materials with which he was working, it was a pretty serious error at this late stage of the competition. Then again, the guy really does have some on-camera magnetism — or is it just a hirsute chest? — and the judges’ repeated complaint about his time-management skills isn’t really something that’s going to be a problem if/when he has his own HGTV series with a team of producers, a director, and various and sundry crew members, is it?

That said, I had to agree with the judges’ decision to send Meg and Karl directly to the finale, without a scary moment in the bottom two and without a spray of venom from the questionable Vern Yip. Meg’s use of molding to create a paneled effect on her walls made things a wee bit busy, but it definitely highlighted the enviable ceiling height and showed more spark and imagination than her competitors. Sometimes, when I close my eyes, I imagine Meg’s resulting show might be called Kappa Kappa Gamma Design, but there was no denying her infectiousness during the Nate Berkus challenge — or the chic effect of her dahlia table.

Still, if I had to commit to rooting for just one contestant, it’d have to be paint wizard Karl. Week in and week out, his work has displayed a jaunty sophistication combined with a whimsy that never devolves into camp. I agreed with Sir Berkus that Karl’s live presentation — particularly the way he suggested using a story book and a teddy bear in a child’s room — deftly drew more viewers into his books-as-book-shelves design tip. And while his finished product this week was more calm and relaxing than innovative and exciting, nobody can be expected to reinvent the living room on a weekly basis. “Is anyone gonna like me?” Karl nervously asked before his Berkus debut. To put it succinctly: Yes, Karl, we like you. We really like you.

What did you think of this week’s HGTV Design Star? Who is your pick to win it all? Take our poll below, and for all my reality recaps, follow me on Twitter @MichaelSlezakTV!