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HOME > HGTV Design Star > HGTV Design Star 4

'HGTV Design Star' cuts Lonni Paul, reveals fourth-season's Final 2

By Christopher Rocchio, 09/08/2009 

Lonni Paul became the ninth finalist eliminated from HGTV Design Star's fourth season during Sunday night's broadcast of the reality competition series.

"I don't know what I could have done to change anything," said the 49-year-old interior design business owner from Los Angeles, CA after her ouster.

"I don't think I have anything to be ashamed of.  I think I did a great job. I feel like I've grown as a designer and learned a lot about myself and what I can do."

Sunday night's HGTV Design Star episode began with the three remaining finalists -- Lonni; Antonio Ballatore, a 40-year-old set designer from Los Angeles; and Dan Vickery, a 27-year-old interior designer and bartended from Portland, OR -- each learning they'd be designing a room for a celebrity.

Antonio learned he'd be designing an office for Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List star Kathy Griffin's assistants, while Lonni and Dan discovered they'd each be working with a former Beverly Hills 90210 star -- as Lonni would be renovating Tiffani Thiessen's guest room while Dan would be making over Jason Priestley's guest room into a nursery.

The finalists would have 30 work hours over the course of three days and a budget of $20,000 to complete their new designs.  In addition, each finalist would have the assistance of two carpenters.

The finalists met the clients they'd be working with and learned what styles the celebrities envisioned for their respective rooms before the challenge commenced.

Dan wanted a crib, nursing chair, dressing table and daybed for the Priestleys' nursery, and also wanted to take advantage of the high ceilings by adorning it with art that resembled the hull of a ship.  In addition, he also intended to use light colors.

Since they're eco-friendly, Lonni wanted to construct a bed out of reclaimed wood, change the carpets to hardwood, and use a textual wallpaper for the Thiessens' guest room.

Antonio followed Kathy's instructions of cleaning the room out and starting from scratch.  He planned to create a "zen, modern, tech headquarters vibe" by including both workstations and conference tables, as well as a giant U.S. map to map out tour dates for the comedian.

All three of the finalists made good progress during the first day by completing some of their shopping and getting to work on the spaces.

The second day then commenced, and each of the finalists received a visit from Designed to Sell star John Gidding -- who questioned their concepts.  In addition, each of the finalists did some additional shopping and completed some more of their spaces.

As the third and final day began, and each finalist made the push to get their designs done before time expired.

"I'm feeling very stressed this morning," said Lonni.  "I'm hoping that I'll be able to accomplish everything in the room that I want to in the eight hours I have left."

Lonni's stress level only increased when she arrived at the Thiessen residence with only a few hours remaining and saw the piece of reclaimed wood she had envisioned as a headboard still sitting in the back of a pick-up truck.

"Then when I got out and ran up, I realized he hadn't even routered out the back to put the blocks in in order to hang it," opined Lonni. 

Installing the headboard proved to be an even bigger problem than Lonni anticipated, as it took her design right down to the wire.  Sensing it was a make-or-break moment, Lonni made an executive decision.

"They worked for a long time trying to get it up on the wall," she said.  "Finally time was going to be called.  I just made the call, we're going to have to lay it down and prop it up against the wall and call it a day, because otherwise I wasn't even going to have that beautiful headboard in the room."

The three finalists then reconvened in the studio, where they were met by HGTV Design Star's fourth-season judging panel, which consists of former Trading Spaces designer Vern Yip and interior designers Genevieve Gorder and Candice Olson. 

The finalists would be judged based on design sense and hosting skills.

Genevieve thought Dan's design was "working on so many levels" and added she was "really impressed;" Candice commended Dan's room for representing a theme but not taking it too literally; and Vern thought Dan's original artwork was a "beautiful focal point." 

Despite the positive reviews for his design work, Vern cautioned Dan to watch his giggling while Genevieve said she noticed a stiffness.

"Other than that, you picked really the ideal moment to kind of step it up and be a rockstar," added Vern.

Vern complimented Lonni for being "gorgeous on camera" and both Genevieve and Candice said they were fans of her temperament.  However Genevieve said she thought some aspects of Lonni's design were repetitious from previous challenges, and Vern questioned her decision to not hang the headboard.

"Time was up, and there was really no choice," explained Lonni.  "It was either take the headboard out or put it across and balance it on the two side tables."

Still, Vern described the room as "such an unexpected take on eco-friendly" and said Lonni proved she belonged in the Top 3.

Candice described Antonio's hosting as "unique" and "unorthodox," but thought it worked.  In addition, she also complimented the functionality of the space and the color scheme.  Vern added he liked the map for adding style and function but thought the room's accessories weren't to scale. Antonio was also criticized by Genevieve for being predictable.

The judges then deliberated their decision before host Clive Pearse revealed Lonni was given the boot.

HGTV Design Star's fourth-season finale will air on Sunday, September 13 at 10PM ET/PT and feature the judges selecting the season's winner.

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