… and my overly premature assumptions on each contestant:
Hometown: Montclair, N.J.
Summary: Blanche has a deep and diverse portfolio. Based on her bio and portfolio I think she will last deep into the competition.
Hometown: Atlanta, Ga.
Born and raised in New York City, the arts have always been a part of Doug’s life. Growing up, he studied visual arts and design and then later turned his passion for aesthetics into a career. Doug worked for several of New York’s top advertising agencies as a graphic designer before moving to Atlanta 12 years ago to open an art gallery. His talent for art consultation soon led to him designing interiors for several of Atlanta’s restaurants and nightclubs. While his favorite design style is mid-century modern, he also loves the glamour of Hollywood regency and the sleekness of modern minimalism. Doug, who describes himself as a loyal friend, loves antiquing and yard-sale cruising in his spare time.
Hometown: Chevy Chase, Md.
Instead of pursuing a career in political science at the behest of her parents, J says she decided to follow her dream to be an interior designer. With more than 11 years of professional experience, she has designed dozens of residential and commercial properties across the country. J, who studied interior design at Howard University, says she can do anything for her clients, whether it’s paint a room, build a table or reupholster furniture. She characterizes her design style as eclectic and modern. She says she loves to incorporate a client’s global souvenirs into the design to personalize the space.
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
As a kid, Karl says his love of design was “there from the beginning.” By age 10, he frequently rearranged his parents’ furniture while they weren’t home and was mesmerized by building blocks and floor plans. Karl, who studied architecture at the University of Illinois in Chicago, has more than 10 years of practical design experience and says that he can excite people with his passion for design. He characterizes his personal design preferences as “ultra-modern minimalist,” but often completes traditional designs for his high-end clientele. As the youngest of six, Karl says he is extroverted, loud and loves to live in the moment.
Hometown: Edmond, Okla.
A self-described “fireball,” this married mom of two says people sometimes underestimate her design talent. Originally from Arkansas, Kellie grew up in an artistic family. Her parents were artists and allowed Kellie to mix paints and create artwork in their studio. Kellie, who holds a degree in interior design from the University of Central Arkansas, has more than 10 years of professional experience as a designer with a residential builder. She calls her design style “warm contemporary” — that is, it includes lots of color and whimsical touches.
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Kevin, a fashion merchandise director and window dresser from Chicago, says he was first inspired to become an interior designer by watching design shows on TV. Encouraged by friends who loved his room designs, Kevin decided to follow his dreams and audition for HGTV Design Star. He describes his favorite style as “eclectic retro” — a look with a mid-century feel that includes clean lines and pops of color. On a small budget himself, he says he designs with “cheap” in mind and understands the importance of repurposing items whenever possible. Kevin says he is a lot of fun, friendly and focused.
Hometown: Dallas, Texas
Leslie, a former Dallas Cowboys cheerleader, cruise ship entertainer and mom of a blended family, has a wide variety of design experience ranging from remodels to home staging for real estate agents. Leslie, who describes herself as fun with a larger-than-life personality, helps clients “tame their domain” and believes that a stress-free, organized home offers the happiest and healthiest environment. With her preferred design style of “simple, traditional elegance,” she offers a less-is-more design philosophy that’s easy and inexpensive. Above all, Leslie considers herself a survivor. After winning a two-year battle with breast cancer, she is ready to live her dream as the host of an HGTV design show.
Hometown: Miami, Fla.
Mark, who grew up in a large Cuban family, says he always had a natural knack for design. After winning a scholarship for his design work in high school, Mark went on to earn a B.A. degree, Design in Architecture, from Florida International University. With a self-described passion for edgy, modern styles, he moved to New York City where he specialized in luxury hospitality design. Despite a successful career, Mark says he missed the Florida sun and returned to Miami to start his own firm. His favorite design styles, which include mid-century modern, Asian-inspired minimalism and postwar industrial, combined with his love of martial arts, are the inspiration for his current line of chandeliers that are crafted from brass knuckles.
Hometown: Chicago, Ill.
Meg says she began her career in design the moment she decided not to attend law school. After she earned a degree in criminology, she soon enrolled at The Art Institute of Chicago where she earned a B.F.A. in interior architecture. The interpersonal skills she learned during her criminology studies help her develop profiles of her clients and uncover their true design preferences. As the owner of a design firm and a home decor store in Chicago, Meg characterizes herself as a determined, direct and high-energy competitor. She describes her design style as a preppy mix of modern and traditional, but she also counts the vibrant pastel colors of “Palm Beach chic” among her favorite looks.
South Orange, N.J.
After completing high school in Honolulu, Hawaii, Tyler moved to the East Coast to attend Marymount University. Since earning a bachelor’s degree in interior design 12 years ago, Tyler has worked as a professional interior designer in the New York City area. He believes that most of his design skills were developed by on-the-job experience with clients, who he says appreciate his attention to detail. Tyler says he enjoys the latest design trend of “industrial chic,” which includes the use of recycled materials and dark metals paired with wood. As a professional designer, he says he always strives to give his clients the design they love, but will not hold back if he disagrees with a design decision.