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!

Comments are monitored, so don’t go off topic, don’t frakkin’ curse and don’t bore us with how much your coworker’s sister-in-law makes per hour. Talk smart about TV!

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  1. jrs says:

    I’d love for Mark to win, just to look at him, but after last night, I’d probably go for Meg (even though I HATED her room and those vertical things. I really really did not like that; could not imagine getting comfy in that room. I don’t like Karl that much. He’s at the bottom of my list.

    • Virginia says:

      Mark was voted off tonight. I immediately turned the TV off. I liked his personality and talent. It is over for me. It really does not matter who is chosen. Mark was my favorite. I can remember David Bromstad being nervous when he was in the contest. He has turned out to be 100% what HGTV needed to make it worth watching. He has improved over time, too.

      • Sandy C says:

        Now that Mark has been voted off, I’m figuring that yet again, the gal will get the win, even though the guys were better. Especially couldn’t understand Mark being booted when Vern commented how he always, always learned something or was pleasantly surprised by Mark’s work, and Meg being kept when Vern commented that she rocks when working with others, but on her own “she really struggles”. She’s supposed to be able to “concept” it by herself. I haven’t been impressed with anyone since David Bromstad, and no one following him seems to have been as successful. I don’t dislike Meg, but I think Karl has the real potential to be creative and special. And really bored with the judges!!! Vern and Genevieve seem somewhat tried and true and uninspiring, and Candace hasn’t been around.

      • Angie Webb says:

        I really liked Mark – absolutely HATED that Kathy and was SO GLAD she got booted early as I was considering not even watching if she continued on – she was just too full of herself – and actually I can’t stand Vern – egads – that very little man has the Napoleon syndrome and is also way too full of himself too.

    • Schampion says:

      Mark is my favorite I wouldn’t watch any other contestants that are left…I watch HGTV ALL THE TIME…I am a stay at home work from home mom I record what I cant watch Sometimes I think the panel needs to view the viewers opinions and dont! When they pick someone I dont like I switch to food network, lol! Seriously!

    • Schampion says:

      DONE!……..Don’t like Either of the other two and I dont care who wins wont watch their shows anyway!

    • Edward Vila says:

      Mark and Karl are superior designers. Meg is all show, no substance.

  2. Deb says:

    I am so happy you said that. I hated Meg’s room too and I thought my sense of good style might be nonexistent the way they gushed over it. Liked parts of Karl’s and Mark’s and none of any one designer. The winner is going to be tough to call because no one on the show is consistently great.

    • Design started and stopped says:

      Ditto. Can’t understand what the judges see in Meg’s designs. I’m new to the show and ready to drop it. First the judges gushed over Meg’s room with the wall designs that I thought were god awful and then complimented her talent for decorating the ugly green and yellow doll house. Looks like the judges have already been told who the winner will be and we are just going through the motions.

      • Edward Vila says:

        I agree! All of the participants were talented and had specific strengths, but Meg did not deserve to be among the three finalists. I will certainly not be wasting my time watching her series special “HGTV Great Rooms”. Overall, I thought Mark was the best, but I certainly recognize Karl’s strengths. I am feeling quite frustrated with the judges.

  3. Templar says:

    I’ve been on team Karl forever. If I had to listen to Meg for any length of time, my ears would bleed. Not to say she’s a bad stylist, but if I hired her to decorate my place, I’d have to let her in and flee. It was time for Kellie to go. Most of her designs would have looked marginally better if they exploded. Mark just irritates me. He thinks he’s way better than he is, and seems to focus on one project in any given space at the expense of the rest of the room. I wouldn’t watch his show.

  4. Gretchen says:

    I like Karl–and he is the most unassuming which is refreshing. In a way, he reminds me of David Bromstadt (sp). Mark does have charm, so does Meg, but I think it will be one of the men this year.

    I liked Meg’s room–but I thought Karl was using the books as stand alone shelves, they lost something being “inside” like a bookcase in his room.

    And I think the correct person went home. I’m not quite sure how Kellie got to the final four, to be honest.

    • Scott says:

      close … Bromstad … no “t” ☺. I, too, like Karl. Is it just me, or have none of the winners after D.B. been a break out designer? But Karl has been my favorite since the first episode this season

      • janie says:

        What happened to the girl who won last season? her show was on like maybe twice and then we never saw it again… And the year before.. I know i watched Design star, but i cannot for the life of me remember who won

        is the prize supposed to be a temporary show?

        It does seem like David Bromstad is the only winner whose show has lasted

        • Templar says:

          Didn’t Antonio win? The Antonio Treatment is on all the time, but not always on H&G network.

        • Janice Rathmann says:

          Emily was the winner last year and has had a show on HGTV called “Secrets of a Stylist”. There have been quite a few episodes shown.

      • Gretchen says:

        It’s like Guy Fieri on Food Network. They haven’t had a real star with staying power since his win.

        But perhaps with shows like this, they aren’t counting on the shows lasting–get people interested with the competition, a winner, their show, rinse, repeat in year.

  5. janie says:

    I actually liked kelly’s room best.. but to pick someone to win.. probably karl.. he is better all around.. whereas marc picks one thing and banks on that to win over the room…

    Does anyone notice that Meg sounds hoarse all the time? i know that some people just have voices like that (look at Marko on So you think you can dance this past season) but when they have a voice like that, they should not be on a tv show where they will be talking the entire time. It would be like Patty or Selma Bouvier (Marge Simpson’s sisters) hosting a show…. not good.

  6. Laura says:

    Am i the only one who finds Karl kind of creepy? Something about him is off-putting to me and I can’t put my finger on it.

    I guess Mark is my choice? Like a previous comment, I can’t stand how he seems to focus on one project; it also always seems like said project always takes longer than it should. But I’ll take him over Meg’s awful voice.

    • Kentuckygurl says:

      CONCERNING Meg’s voice….It sounds exactly like Rachal Rays and it sure has not been a negative for her!!!!!

      • well says:

        OK but Rach is friendly and warm, Meg seems egotistical and combative.

        • JustSaying says:

          Agree – And although I am not a big fan of Rachel Ray, she seems to be a good cook. Meg is really not a good designer. She has not done one thing that I think of as stylish or appealing – certainly not anything I would want to try to duplicate in my own home.

    • Linda says:

      How could anyone find Karl creepy!! Such a nice guy and soo talented. What an unkind thing to say. Mark and Meg are good, but no match for Karl.

    • Edward Vila says:

      I still think that–overall– Mark was the best designer. It is a shame that the judges did not agree with me. Karl, presents as a bit inmature, but talented nevertheless. Meg, on the other hand, is all show and no substance. The judges made a huge mistake.

  7. topsyturvy says:

    Mark = Buttercream … just spread him on me! “Rolled-Up Sleeves of Sexiness,” good one. Meg’s voice bothers me and there is something creepy about Karl (I think it might be the teeth; like Cathy there’s some weird gum-to-tooth ratio that is off putting). And his style of dress seems to be Homeless (Not So) Chic. Meg’s room looked like some kind of prison (and those exposed metal brackets were AWFUL!). None of the design tips were that great. Meg’s table was a 7th grade craft project. Karl’s “book” bookshelves weren’t very practical. (All that space just to display a few times?)

  8. Bored_Design_Star says:

    How about none of the above? None of them are particularly exciting. The last two seasons have really resulted in boring finalists. While I love having David back on the show and minimizing Vern & the judges, the show lost its spark when it lost Clive!!

  9. Marci says:

    I’m late to this but Design Star has been going downhill since Season 1. And then they lost Clive. The designers and the challanges are forgettable. Also the first season the public decided on the winner. You know, someone you actually might watch. And without Clive it’s been sad and even more forgettable.

  10. Rose says:

    Glad to hear other fans of Clive speak up. What happened to Clive, I even enjoyed him on Designed to Sell shows, miss his snark and humor. Don’t care for the new hostess, to me it also seems Vern and Genevieve appear to be angry that these contestants are not worthy and compared to them and even Candice Olsen from last year, they do not appear to have the design capabilities of the judges who have worked for years on HGTV to get their own shows. I liked the one design star Kim Myles, found her charming and genuine, where is she now and i don’t know how much longer this series will last considering the winners all seem to disappear?

    • Betty Agree says:

      I thought I was the only one that did not like the new host of Design Star. She just doesn’t seem quite genuine and I had a very hard time watching; often “muting” as she talked. I love Design Star and have been a fan for several years and I really liked Clive. At any rate, reluctantly, you may lose me as a viewer.

      Lastly, I really did miss Candice, her sparkling personality and solid comments.

  11. Deaf Guy says:

    From what I understand Clive returned to England to be with his family. I agree, though, bring back the public voting

  12. Nc says:

    I liked kellie the best – then karl

    Not a single one of them has coasted through the season without obvious flaws. Meg almost got sent home the “??first?? week? Karl and kellie were consistently the best.

    It seems that the judges have forgotten Mark’s bizarre sitting area in the kitchen hallway, etc.

  13. Chris says:

    I think the show is much better this year. The judges treat the contestants more respectfully than in the past two years which makes the show more watchable. However I don’t think the show is a great way to pick a design star because the talent has just not been there. None of the designers after David have had lasting appeal. Can they really not get talented designers with likable personalities to compete?

  14. Betty Boop says:

    While I do find Meg Voice annoying, I hope she Wins!!!!!!!

  15. Jeff says:

    This show is called Design Star not Design Assistant and unfortunately, nice as they all seem to be, there’s not a star amongst them. To boot, these judges are the least entertaining and most milquetoasty batch the network has ever assembled. Is there just no more design talent out there? Have all the great creative ideas been executed already? I don’t think so. I blame uninterested production and lazy casting on this boring mess. How many shades of beige can you paint a room?

  16. Me & My shadow says:

    I have to agree that the contestants of late have been mediocre and the judges need to get a grip. Genevieve is getting a little to snarky with her comments. Candace has been noticeably absent and the quest judges haven’t done anything to add to the show as far as I’m concern. Get Clive back and get some “real” talent for contestants. a new panel of judges would be nice, too!

    HGTV programing is getting boring! time to revamp.

  17. mel says:

    i’m sorry but look at the pictures of meg, if you can’t dress and your appearance sucks no one is going to hire you to decorate a home. design should shine on you as a person,if you can not put on a outfit that compliments you how can you do a whole room?

    • Gene Richards says:

      Maybe she’s like Michael Cores on Project Runway. He decided to wear dressed down clothes so that what he Does speaks for itself. I think Meg is cute, but her neck kind of weirds me out.

  18. gmamickey says:

    Sadly, I will not be watching the rest of the competition because I would not watch a program hosted by either one of the final contestants. Although likable, I could not take a whole half hour of either personalities. I am always waiting for Meg to take a breath Carl is not much different than so many others who are on design shows already. Mark’s designs were awesome and he had the pleasant persona to match. His portfolio reminded me more of the Candice Olson style and that’s my very favorite off all time. I must say the challenges didn’t seem to be realistic, although I understand the concept, the actual shows would not be planned in two days.This will be the first Design Star finale that I will not be watching and will probably not tune in to next season’s show. I am so sad.

  19. Gene Richardson says:

    Ok, here’s my take on things:

    1. Kellie is SO stinking cute that IF her personality would shine through in front of the camera like it does when she’s “Off” camera, she’d win. However, she tends to freeze up when doing “Real” camera work.

    2. Mark is a sexy beast of design, HOWEVER, he doesn’t ever seem to really make Anything I’d want in my home. The judges went Mad over his Rope Ladder thing and, honestly, who Really wants a rope ladder in their house? Unless there’s a fire on the 2nd floor, I don’t think I need one of those.

    3. Karl’s eyes when he looks sideways and says something is what the creepiness factor is all about, I think. I think Karl is Great and would make a nice addition to David B’s show, actualy. Maybe they could team up.

    4. Meg makes me think of one of my besties from college, so of course I’m in love with whatever she does. Although, she’s made some bad choices, I just can’t help myself. I’m like an addict and can’t get enough of her.

    Overall, then, I have no way of being objective. I just thought it would be fun to write here and see what happens. I like the show and think it’ll be Karl and Meg in the end because, unless Mark can pull some kind of magic out of his rolled up sleeves, he will be packing up his tin foil and going home this week.

  20. JUDY HIGGINS says:


    • Cheryl says:

      I think Mark was out of his league and Meg is even farther out to me Karl is the one who should win. Yes he reminds me of David B. His space planning amazes me. The one that really surprises me is the runner up from the second season, Mr. surfer boy you talk about weird and he has a show, makes me wonder…what the hey.

      I miss Clive too!

  21. stella adams says:

    who was the last two standing in designer stars i miss it please let me know ty

  22. Anne says:

    I love to watch Design Star, but, what noone has mentioned is the fact that you all changed the NIGHT, Mond.? I’ve forgotten to watch it twice, but, fortunately, it is replayed on Sat. However, by then it has been revealed on T.V. who was eliminated, darn! I do agree that the first and second season was the best, or whichever season Sparkle Josh was on and Dan. Josh was loaded with personally, don’t remember his Design skills, sorry, Josh! Was it Dan that did the room that looked as if waves had wrecked one side of the room and hadn’t reached the other side yet, that was great, I loved that. That to me was the most creative anyone has EVER BEEN!!

    Can’t leave David Bromstad out, he is SUPER Good!! Love’d the interaction with his family upon occasion. Especially when it was revealed that while he was competing his father had been diagnosed with cancer and you all let us know how that turned out on David’s first show after he had won, (the picking out who would work with him etc.) I loved that. By the way, I MISS Danniell and Ian, David’s first team. They were sooooo very talented and gifted!!

  23. Ladybug says:

    I have been an HGTV fan forever and therfore, excited about Design Star. I think there is a difference between design and decorating. This year’s decorators were mostly decorating. I liked some of Karl’s work but his comment about $2500 was a turn off for me. I am equalling sick of his yellow shirt and red jacket. The blogs seem to bash Meg’s voice, so what. (Personally I find Emily’s voice most annoying).

    I wish HGTV producers would go back to the orginal shows(Sheri and Matt, Kitty etc.) those were the shows that made HGTV. Today’s evening line up is filled with House Hunters, House Hunters International, shows where the buyers to do nothing but complain. Selling New York is so out of reach it is an insult in today’s times of folks lossing their homes. The Novogratz’s, get real……a children’s art project that costs $4000.

    I think I’ll go back to reading.

  24. Millie says:

    Meg should win. Love her style, and she is so good at camera. Since the beginning she’s been consistent. Karl????no please, would not watch his show at all.

  25. Nancy G. Drake says:

    I believe Karl has the most potential. His design challenges are very good and I would let him design my rooms. He’ll do even better once he understands that we really do like him and respect his talent. So glad to learn of you out there who agree with me: We miss Clive, Danielle, and Ian. Of course, David’s show is the best, but I think he would be happier with his old crew. Why not let this year’s design star (hopefully Karl) host a show with Clive, Danielle, and Ian!!!

  26. Lynnda Paukune says:

    I give up–the final 2 are so poor that I would NEVER watch a program of either. Each year I am hopeful as this year with Mark–but alas they “experts” find the worst two to be in the finals. I give up…..

  27. scott smith says:

    Meg is the best.

  28. Don says:

    Really disappointed in this season’s Design Star. So happy that Cathy got voted off, although she should have gone sooner. For those of you who bashed Kellie you should read her blog about the restraints on the show. As far as the judges – PLEASE can we get rid of Yip and Genevieve. I cannot watch any of their shows. I think being a judge on Design Star has gone to their heads and neither of them are that good!!! Candance is a class act – if you’ve got the money, she’s got the time. And, what a team she has to work with!!! I think that really makes a difference. Probably will not watch this show again, unless someone tells me that Clive is back and the contestants are better. Sorry!

  29. June A says:

    Meg won… What were you thinking? Her voice grates on my nerves so badly that I can’t imagine watching her show at all! I would rather get my tips from one of the other shows you have on. To me, she will go the way of Emily , Antonio and Kim….unwatchable!

  30. candy says:

    I can’t believe Meg won, you couldn’t pay me to watch her on TV. I can’t take her voice for more than a few seconds. Why do you always choose the wrong people?

    Karl is Pretty good, the only one I would have watched is probably Mark.

  31. Linda Bosh says:

    I watched the final episode to see Meg chosen as the winner. I was disappointed and immediately turned off the TV. I will not be watching her show. Also, the judges need to remember where they once were and not be so full of themselves. I have seen designs from all of them that I did not like.

  32. Natasha says:

    Bottom line: The designers in this season are not fabulous. The do not rock. They do not take challenges. Well – Mark did early on but he became a little insecure toward the end. Nevertheless, he was the best. Meg has a weak design sense and her work is middle of the road. I think the judges are to worried about on-camera presence and not design skill. The last winner (can’t remember her name) is not interesting and her show is forgettable. I feel badly for her, but she is out of her league. None of the designer come close to the skill, insight, and sophistication of Divine Design, and Color Confidential, and Color Splash, etc. et al.