HGTV Design Star: And Then There Were Two

I wondered for a hot second if this week’s episode of HGTV Design Star would end in a Gladiator-style duel to the death. After all, returning judge Candice Olson (who’s been sorely missed all these weeks) seemed to be setting up a swords-and-sandals scenario when she asked our two finalists to turn toward each other, then declared the only thing standing between them and their own TV show was the person standing in front of ’em.

Thankfully, Meg didn’t pull a shank on Karl, nor did Karl try to garrote Meg. Maybe the two of ’em were simply reeling from the shock of seeing Mark and His Strategically Bared Biceps of Doom take a lonely, unexpected walk back to obscurity.

At this point in the Design Star season, any strong opinions I had about who should take home the ultimate prize have been sanded down, rolled onto a clear plastic tarp, and hurled into the dumpster — honestly, Karl, Meg, and Mark are/were all totally fine — but here’s few observations that went through my head during the telecast:

* When Meg kicked off the episode by announcing “In. Walks. Tanika.” was anyone reminded of the female voice declaring “Oh. My. God. Becky.” at the start of Sir Mix-a-Lot’s “Baby Got Back”?

* Are tiny houses — which range anywhere from 65 to 135 square feet — really “part of a hot new movement of people living simply” or is Tanika Ray the world’s most casual liar?

* Anyone else get the impression carpenter Carmen De La Paz wanted to take a hammer to Mark’s ’70s pornstar head when he changed the design of his tiny house on three separate occasions? “When it felt right, he made the decision and we were good,” she said through teeth gritted into the tightest of smiles.

* Was it crazy squelchy in that Battery Park bog where the tiny houses were located, or did Karl, Mark, and Tanika all read the same article about the rise of rubber boots for Summer 2011?

* I really liked Karl and Meg’s finished projects this week, even if neither of them were particularly daring. Mark’s “argyle installation,” however, seemed like a colossal waste of $200 (and the 63 belts it purchased). Like Candice said, the end result actually made his cramped room look even smaller — even if his on-camera stretch-out at the end of his walk-through was the smoothest, sexiest moment of the entire telecast.

* Was Mark’s bedspread the same one (or quite similar to the one) that Cathy purchased for her Jersey shore B&B, or is my design eye in need of some new lenses?

* Thank you Vern for noting how much thought went into Karl’s selection of home furnishings with multiple purposes. In a challenge focused on maximizing space, dude definitely earned himself a spot in the finale by using both halves of his brain in his design.

What did you think of this week’s Design Star? Did the right person go home? And based on the season to date, which contestant deserves to win next week’s season finale: Meg or Karl? Sound off 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. G-Mom says:

    I think Karl should win. He is very talented. Meg is talented, but her valley girl speech is annoying.

    • Templar says:

      Go Karl! He is so much better than Meg. Mark is a bit trippy and disorganized. He had to go. I didn’t catch the exact dimensions of the tiny houses, but I wondered why none of the designers took a page from the RV book to make a dinette that breaks down into a bed. Then the loft space could have been given over to storage and there could also be storage under the seats. That belt and argyle design of Mark’s was a mess. Karl FTW.

      • Annie says:

        I said the same thing to my daughter. Every inch has to be used, for the living. Karl’s use of space planning was the best, shelves going up next to the ladder and the baskets above were great. His on camera shots were also better then ever. I think he’s got this one in the bag. I like Meg’s use of color, but she didn’t think “out side the box”….lol.

    • Miriam says:

      I was shocked by the last show: a house with a toilet only, no shower or sink? What kind of people could live in that house? I would put at least a faucet so you could wash your hands, in the bathroom. I liked Karl’s design, but I think Meg has a great personality. Miriam

    • JOANN says:


  2. Scott says:

    While I am still in Camp-Karl, I felt Meg’s design was best. It’s not the kind of design I’d want in my crap-do, err, condo as I refer a more masculine tone, I’ll admit it did look nice

  3. DFT says:

    Mark had been my favorite going into this week, but he was the weakest in this particular challenge. I was hoping his past work would keep him in over Meg. Meg has a great personality for the camera but just doesn’t do anything for me otherwise. I guess they could create an entertaining show where you watch her freak out during the last 15 minutes of every assignment she’s given. Karl definitely stepped it up this week both in design and in the camera challenge and he earned his place in the finale, so good for him.

  4. Amanda says:

    I like them both. Karl has great ideas and executes very well, but is a little awkward on camera. Meg could be your best friend and has a great eye, but has struggled with time management. I’d like them both to get their own shows, and I’m not trying to be diplomatic.

  5. Gretchen says:

    As someone fascinated with small space living (and wishing HGTV would do MORE on the topic–studio apartments and the like) I enjoyed this challenge. Karl’s was my favorite, though I liked Meg’s entry-way closet/bathroom.

    Mark’s belts annoyed me, it looked as if it was something from the structure that would be covered up. As Vern said, it needed to be shown as useful, storing blankets, towels.

    Didn’t the beginning of the challenge mention they’d be designing OUTSIDE and inside? I didn’t see any outside design.

    That said, let’s get a show focusing on small home/apartment design, HGTV. Some of us live in big cities in tiny apartments and get tired of the shows focusing on suburb after suburb. It’s like Food Network’s former focus on “harried mom” cuisine. I enjoyed FreeStyle, so a show or two in that vein would be fun.

    • Templar says:

      I’m still hoping for a Food Network show that teaches us how to prepare food that tastes like very good Chinese take-out. I’m dead serious here.

      • Gretchen says:

        You need a very hot stove for that, I think :)

        Cooking Channel has shows that are more geared to non-family, urban folk and other cuisines (Caribbean, Indian) too bad it is a premium channel. I admit, Food Network is getting better at getting away from the harried parent style show, though they seem to prefer competition shows there.

  6. Amanda says:

    I hated to see Mark go. I think he should have gone but I still didn’t like seeing it.

  7. carrie says:

    My problem is with Tanika who over enunciates every single word she says. Please get a new host or give her lessons on how to act naturally.

    I really loved Mark’s style but he just didn’t have the camera presence that the others did.

  8. Valerie says:

    The tiny house movement is actually real, I know, it’s hard to believe.

  9. Tanika Ray is the world’s most casual liar says:

    I feel like Bob Tuschman is producing this show. Besides Tanika, even the carpenters seemed over the top in their “describe a designer” packages. I think Carmen de la Paz said, “when he (Mark) FINALLY made a decision…” I can’t even with Meg. She should have been booted when she arranged pillows on the floor of the landing for the HGTV’d challenge.

  10. buffy522 says:

    I was Mark all the way. He was so charming in his camera interviews…until his presentations. But I think he could overcome that. I am with Vern (unbelievably) that you always wanted to see what he came up with. But we have what we have and to me, Meg is a “decorator”. Karl is a designer with great space and color sense. I don’t know if he can ever get a good personality vibe going, but I would try his show. Probably wouldn’t want to even watch a buddy, buddy, show with Meg.

  11. topsyturvy says:

    Oh Mark, curl up with me on the sofa in your tiny house and rest your head on my shoulder. We’ll get through this together (especially if you wear the sweaty T-shirt). Yes, his was the weakest design, sadly, but those shots of him in said sweaty T-shirt using the cordless drill were by far the highlights of the episode.

    Meg’s presence is a bit overbearing, though she seems nice enough. Her two “wins” were for the lamest projects … framing a piece of loud fabric and painting an ameturish looking flower on a table. So Karl wins by default.

  12. Pepper says:

    Really like Meg. Karl is ok. No problem with seeing Mark go home. The real problem? Tanika and her constant over emphasizing every consenant when she talks. She never just sounds like a real person. Can’t take her anymore!

  13. CJ says:

    I could live with either one. They’ve both come a long way. Whoever doesn’t win should just wait a year or two and then s/he will get a show. That seems to be the trend now with both HGTV and Food Network.

  14. Donna says:

    Please bring back Clive Davis as host. He was the original Design Star host w/the most. Loved his accent, sense of humor and insight as well. Present host Tanika grits my nerves & makes for an unpleasant experience. Hated those boots she had on last eppisode.

  15. Lana says:

    I loved Mark’s designs the best through the season, but this last one was sad, what was so argyle about the walls? Belts don’t make things argyle. He did have a great little kitchen though. Anyways he blew that one and deserved to leave, just sorry to see him go however Karl and Meg were some of my favorites so I will enjoy the finals, unless they let Cathy come back for some strange reason. I loved Meg’s cabin look and the colors and I liked Karl’s double duty items, but was not crazy about that red, it looked more pink than red in fact if I hadn’t seen some of his previous rooms and how well he can use color I would have thought he was color blind.

  16. Stormy says:

    I thought Meg’s colors were too bold to live with. It looked like a child’s playhouse inside. Crayon colors are not restful.

  17. lariet50 says:

    They both seem perfectly fine, but I wouldn’t be interested in a show from either of them. Karl seems sweet, and he obviously has a wonder design sensibility, but he’s just bland. And Meg straight up sounds like Rachael Ray to me. I can’t handle it.

    • Jen says:

      Ack!!! THAT’S who Meg reminds me of! Thank you. It’s her smile, too.

      I really like Karl’s designs (the master bedroom, the tree mural, the beach/wave mural) but I don’t know what kind of show he would have that’s different from what’s already on hgtv. As for Mark, he could have a show where he uses everyday materials and turns them into artwork, which seems to be his schtick. I’d watch it.

      Plus, Mark is just sooooo dreamy. *swoons*

  18. Karen says:

    Sorry to see Mark go. Too bad the belts did him in. Of the 2 left, Karl has the best design eye, but I could totally see Meg and her personality on a show.

  19. Veronica Baca says:

    From the beginning I liked Meg and I still Like her style and personality more than Mark or Karl. I liked Mark better than Karl but at this point I want the one with the most creative and inovative ideas to win. I would use more of Megs designs than Karls at this point but It will all depend on the last show as to who has the most pleasing design and camera appeal. I like Meg on camera best. She accerts more energy and I think more confidence.

  20. PGerber says:

    Mark has been the best designer throughout the contest. Twice he finished first in design and always finished near the top each week (save one). He was the most creative with an eye for beauty and style. He was sent home because he did not make the same forward progress on the Camera Challenges as did Karl and Meg. Marks upside and following would be greater than Karl’s, who comes across a bit spoiled and (if I can’t have it my way I’m leaving) or joining the ladies (after leaving Mark and Kevin). Karl has a tremendous eye for style and flow but not equal to Mark. Meg is the lady that I want to help with my color selection when a fresh coat of paint is needed. When full time and attention is required, without the “hurry up designers you have 15 minuets” Mark was always the best (Sorry Karl, on a good day Kevin was your equal, just not as consistent as you). Kevin, however was genuine like Mark and Meg. As a fan of most HGTV shows I would always watch Mark if he ever gets his own show because his talen is superior. Make it the Mark and Kevin show! With their creative talents and exceptionally kind and genuine personalities as well as their ability to get along (did I say Kathy Noooooo, what the @#!^ was her problem) and co-create style, function and beauty in any room. Kellie was beautiful and great to look at but she could not bunkup or bunkbed up! Thanks for listening and letting me vent. I love your show and have learned alot of really cool things. PS, With coaching and a little practice Mark’s CC would have become exceptional. Almost as exceptional as his design talent.

  21. Carla Shipman says:

    Mark looks great on camera and has had his hits and misses in the design challenges. I enjoy Karl and his designs, but am not sure that I would watch his show on a regular basis. Kellie seemed to get overwhelmed too easily. I felt for all the designers who had to work with Kathy. She just bogged them down. However, it was an interesting experience to see how they worked under pressure from difficult people. Meg is charming, does good work, but could use some pointers from Stacy and Clinton is she is going to make a good camera impression on a long term basis.

  22. KevyB says:

    The biggest problem with Mark (besides those atrocious belts) is that nobody could love Mark as much as Mark loves Mark. I like a little humility in my hosts.

  23. TracyP says:

    I was very sad when Mark was sent home…he was the only one that I eagerly waited week to week to see what he would come up with next…and now he is gone. And, he is easy on the eyes. I have to admit that he does need a good spanking with those belts…what was he thinking?! But I do appreciate how he steps out of the box and really designs. Good luck to Meg and Karl…I am not sure if I would watch a show from them…time will tell. Maybe Mark can get his own show eventually!!!!

  24. Karen West says:

    I have watched all the Design Star Shows and have wondered why some very talented designers were let go. Antonio is a great designer but not for the average person. I wonder why Dan, who is a talented designer for any home lost. I know that you are looking for a person who would have an unusual type show but they do not always relate to the average person. The only designer I totally agreed with was David from the first season. Camaera presence can be taught to anyone but designing is a true talent that can’t be taught. When choosing your next design star please focus more on the talent of a designer. Then your talented producers can produce a showperson to present the designers talent.

  25. Pam says:

    Karl can certainly produce sophisticated styles and awesome layouts!!Meg’s style is very “cottage” like, I too love this in the right setting. I agree, Karl does not really bring anything new to HGTV. But Meg can find star pieces in a junk pile, and this could be a new take on HGTV.

  26. Jean says:

    I agree that Mark was the best looking (not a minor thing in a tv host) and was very creative. Frankly I can’t see myself watching a show hosted by either Carl or Meg. Of course, the only really successful designer to come out of this series is David Bromstad.

    I also agree that they really need to bring Clive back. His humor and kindness helped to defray the snarkiness of some of the judges. Frankly I wonder how Gorder would have done with some of the challenges presented to the contestants. Can you tell I’m not her No. 1 fan? Vern either.

  27. Bonnie says:

    Frankly, I have not been impressed with ANY of the designer’s on this season!! Not a one of them could decorate their way out of a wet paper bag!! Wow! I now just watch the show because of David,
    who is not only extrememly talented, but hilarious to watch on tv.
    He is a true star. As for the others….not so much.
    Just glad they got rid of Kathy, (who’s arrogance was almost bigger then her bug-eyes) and Doug, (who just had some serious issues)
    those two were simply ‘scary.’

  28. Phyllis says:

    I think Karl is the most talented of the two. Meg talks like a
    Rachel Ray wanna be host. Using that “Bubbly” irriting talk to lure
    you in. Only Rachel Ray can get away with that. That’s her true personality. Sorry, but Karl should win. He just needs to work on
    his camera presents.

  29. Janice Barnes says:

    I would like to see Karl win, Meg is too unorganized and catchy…. Karl’s designs seem to be more orginal, I have enjoyed all of his designs.

  30. Nancy says:

    I can’t believe the judges chose Meg. Nice woman but too cute. If I wanted cute I’d watch Sesame Street. Won’t be watching her show – an the title I don’t like. Now I’m not too sure I will watch any of the judges either. They leave me wondering. Karl has a cleverness in his designs that is eyecatching and imaginative. I wish him all the best and hope he gets some really important cliens.

    • Libby says:

      Agree completely.

      Meg is not cute enough to get away with acting cute. Hate the “crime” idea. Wonder about the judges too.

      I was intrigued with Karl and wanted to see more. Done with show.

  31. joann says:


  32. suzy q says:

    Painting is the most inexpensive way to refresh or redo a room. Then to add architecture and interest. In hard economic times I watch HGTV to inspire me and see things in a new and different way. I do not need to see another redo show that features a 10, 20, or 30 thousand dollar remodel of a single room. Karl’s use of paint, trim, and mosaic tiles turned my brain on! HGTV get on right page with your programming. Gas is $4.00 a gallon, groceries are outrageous, money is tight. I looked forward to learning from Karl, I found him endearing and admired his outside the box eye for creating design. Shame on you for not choosing him because I wanted a realistic way(and means) to keep my surroundings pleasing to me and mine without getting a refi on my house(and you can’t get one of those easily either!!!). I remember Vern, Genevieve, and Page doing a creative redo show don’t you?

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