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Design Star Season 4: Where Are They Now?

Want to know what happened to season four contestants after the show? We caught up with some of your favorite designers and got the scoop.

Alissa Sutton

How has your life changed since Design Star?
My time on Design Star was short-lived, yet the beauty of life is that it is always changing (hopefully for the better) and it's how we embrace the change that matters.

What have you been up to?
I was chosen as one of the seven designers to design a residence as part of the “WoW Collection,” at the new W Hotel and Residences in Hollywood, which officially opened on March 31st.

I am completing the interview suite at the Four Seasons sponsored by Vitamin Water for Young Hollywood studios.

I have written four “Design Insights” articles for Angeleno Magazine's interior issues.

I am finishing up an amazing project in Vegas for a hotel and casino executive.

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
I have become friends with Gary Andrews, Lonni Paul and Antonio Ballatore. Antonio came to Cantoni for furnishings for one of his upcoming episodes; it was great to see him and catch up. Must watch him in action to see how it all turned out.

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
I was part of last season's twist where ten contestants got to choose the eleventh designer to join the cast. I was the first to be voted off and I realized I was being judged by my competition, which is an awkward position to be in because everyone wants to win. Later, I was told by a few contestants that they saw me as a threat and thought I was really talented, which is a great compliment but at that moment I would have liked to have had the chance to show what I could do on the show.

Lesson learned: We don't have control over many situations in our life, we must stay faithful and approach every event with the right attitude knowing everything always works out for the best!

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house?
Candice Olson

What's your home "secret shame"?
You asked and I must admit I do have a "clothes chair." I would like to think other people have them, too. It's a chair that collects pieces of my wardrobe I have worn. I am very busy so it's easy to just throw it there until I take it to the cleaners. I suppose it would be just as easy to throw it in the hamper.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
Madonna, Gwen Stefani or Lenny Kravitz

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
The Bible
The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho
Joel Osteen's new book, It's Your Time: Activate Your Faith, Achieve Your Dreams, and Increase in God's Favor

Amy Sklar

How has your life changed since Design Star?
I feel the show has increased my visibility, and I have noticed my referral base has really increased.

The living room in the Santa Monica townhome features an elegant neutral palette.

What have you been up to?
I am working on a full remodel of comedian Patton Oswalt's new Los Feliz, Calif., residence. I have also been working on a historic mid-century modern residence in Silverlake, Calif., built by the esteemed architect Raphael Soriano. Soriano designed homes for the famous mid-century architectural photographer Julius Schulman and worked closely with noted architects Richard Neutra and Rudolph Schindler.

Amy creates a relaxing bedroom for the Santa Monica townhome.

In addition, I have recently completed a top-to-bottom design project for a three-story townhome in Santa Monica and am currently in the schematic design phase of my first restaurant project in Silverlake in Los Angeles.

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
I am so fond of some of my fellow contestants. We really went through a life-changing experience together. I also got to chat with some past seasons' contestants who I think are amazing. I really think that Nate, Lonni and Dan are incredible people. I feel very lucky to have met them. Matt Locke [from season two] is also a fantastic person.

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
I walked away from my Design Star experience not doubting for a minute my strength as an interior designer. However, I have learned I am not cut out to be a reality show contestant.

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house?
David Bromstad or Lonni Paul

What's your home "secret shame"?
The garage. It's is our purgatory for all things in and out of our lives. All we have to do is watch an episode of Hoarders and my husband and I immediately start cleaning it out.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
I would have desperately loved to refurbish Grey Gardens, the famous East Hampton home in disrepair owned by the Bouvier Beales. The residents weren't so much the celebrities as the home was.

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
A medical manual, The Narnia Chronicles and The Alchemist

Jany visits the Christ the Reedemer statue in Rio De Janeiro, Brazil.

Jany Lee
How has your life changed since Design Star?
After being on Design Star, I was able to start and open my own interior design business in Dallas. The publicity from the show has been a wonderful start, generating various opportunities to work on projects ranging from an entire home renovation to a boutique nail salon to a Japanese restaurant.

What have you been up to?
I have recently been asked to teach a workshop at the Institute of Academy and Design in Sacramento. I am truly excited to meet design students and to inspire them to follow their passion. I am also participating in a "Dancing with the Stars" local charity event to raise money for a no-kill animal shelter that I volunteer with here in Dallas. Dancing is one of my other passions so I can't wait to put my skills to the test.

Jany fosters dogs from a local no-kill shelter, Paws in the City.

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
I have been in touch with Antonio and Lonni. Both are doing well. Antonio was busy filming his new show, and I am looking forward to watching it.

Jany spends time with her many foster animals.

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
One of the lessons that I learned from my experience on Design Star was to not hesitate about making a decision and to follow your instincts. Following your gut and being true to yourself is important in allowing yourself to grow.

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house?
Even though Candice Olson was one of the judges on Design Star who analyzed and sometimes criticized our designs, I like her eclectic approach to design. She's fun to watch and has a great collaboration with her crew. She's also from my home town of Toronto, Canada, and I've been watching her since she was on a local TV show before she started with Divine Design.

What's your home "secret shame"?
I foster dogs with a no-kill shelter called Paws in the City, and with a constant stream of stray dogs living with me, my backyard gets damaged all the time. I have had to replant grass and change my landscape design every year. I have learned to use less grass and more pea gravel in my design to make it more functional for the pets.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
I am a big fan of Ellen DeGeneres and would love the chance to design any room for her. Not only is she funny, but she is kind and such an inspiration to me. I also admire Oprah Winfrey, even though she already has Nate Berkus as her designer.

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert
The Pillars of the Earth by Ken Follett
The Story of Edgar Sawtelle by David Wroblewski

Jason visits with a fan of Design Star Maddy, who has Cystic Fibrosis.

Jason Champion

How has your life changed since Design Star?
It's great. It has put me in a different arena of clients and a magnitude of projects.

Jason makes up for his princess room disaster on Design Star with this beautifully pink makeover.

Did you participate in any events or get a specific job because of the show?
Yes, I was able to lend my celebrity to a charity close to my heart, Habitat for Humanity. I was able to secure funds from IKEA and Target to make one family's dreams come true.

A big supporter of Habitat for Humanity, Jason designs an inviting living room for a deserving family.

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
Of course! Jen, Torie, Lonni, Nathan and Antonio. Jen and I have worked on a project in Sarasota. Nathan is showcasing my furniture in his new store, MESH. Torie has called in on a hospital visit I was making to a young girl name Maddy, a fan of Design Star, who has Cystic Fibrosis.

With help from Target and IKEA, Jason also creates a serene master bedroom retreat.

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
Go with your gut!

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house?
Jen Guerin

What's your home "secret shame"?
My office. I have fabric samples pinned all over the walls.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
Jake Gyllenhaal

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, anything by Chelsea Handler and I Hope They Serve Beer in Hell

Jen hangs out with castmate and friend Jason Champion.

Jen Guerin

How has your life changed since Design Star?
The most surreal aspect is getting recognized almost a year later. The amount of press I received from being a part of the show was mind blowing and it helped to launch my series of lectures on color throughout California.

Jen's cover shoot in her studio for the Home and Design Page in the San Diego Union-Tribune

Did you participate in any events or get a specific job because of the show?
There were a couple events in which I was involved such as the Gingerbread Collective here in San Diego, which was a charity event for the homeless over the holidays, as well as a couple of giveaways on the local San Diego radio. I worked on projects in Arizona and Georgia to help design color palettes for expansive exterior commercial buildings as well as nightclubs in San Diego. I am speaking at the Landscape and Home Design show in San Diego and lectured at the Women's Expo both in Pasadena and Del Mar last fall.

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
Jason Champion and I have kept in very close touch and worked on projects together since. Jason, Nate and I had a chance to play and catch up in Florida this last year as well, which was an absolute blast.

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
I learned the direction I have taken my career is the right choice for me. I love designing color palettes for clients and have a strong sense of design, as well as educating clients on green and reusable objects for their homes. I need to continue on that journey, so I brought on an interior design partner, Glen Gorham, to take care of the rest of the details when it comes to working with clients so they get the full package.

The U-31 nightclub in North Park in San Diego, designed by Jen.

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house?
Jason Champion can have free rein in my home any day!

What's your home "secret shame"?
I live in a tiny bungalow in urban San Diego, so there is no room for anything. I have no choice but to store my Christian Lacroix and other heels on top of my kitchen cabinets and my Converse collection inside my kitchen pantry. There is always room for cereal somewhere in my cabinets.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
Betsey Johnson

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
Coco on Chanel (a film based on the book, The Nonconformist,) Bitter Is the New Black and Eat, Pray, Love

Lonni Paul

How has your life changed since Design Star?
My company, Lonni Paul Design, is still busy, but now I get recognized everywhere I go. Airports, restaurants, shopping, everywhere. People are so nice and supportive when they stop me and have such kind things to say. The fans are really great. It's amazing so many people watched the show. Other than that, I'm working like crazy, raising my four-year-old twins and doing volunteer work for the Children's Hospital Los Angeles and Step Up, a group of professional women that help underserved teen girls. I'm spending six months mentoring a professional woman on her career.

Did you participate in any events or get a specific job because of the show?
Yes, I did a fabulous apartment renovation and design in NYC for a wonderful couple, Michael and Stephanie, who called me after seeing the show. I just finished Tiffani Thiessen and Brady Smith's (who I met on the celebrity challenge) kitchen and playroom and am working on their nursery, reading room, office, second guest room and living room. Tiffani and I are working to launch a new line of eco-friendly children's furniture, and we're very excited about it. I'm a spokesperson for Silestone and spoke for them at KBIS in Chicago along with Dan. I also worked on an installation at the Los Angeles Mart called DreamScape, which involved seven design teams paired with seven artists. I'm in talks with three different production companies about doing a design show, and I did a blog for CB2 and some work for the KTLA Morning News show. I'm a regular contributor to a radio show, The Art of Living, and have been on CBS's Home Wizards show.

Lonni's husband, Don, with their son, Jett

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
Yes, Dan, Nathan, Jason, Janie, Tori and Amy. Amy and I went to a Dwell show together. Dan moved to LA from Portland and lived with my family for several months. We've formed a company called Lonni Paul + Dan Vickery Design Group and have several projects we are working on together. We worked on Jason Priestly's home, Dreamscape and are doing the architecture and interior design on a mid-century home as well as several other projects. Something I'm very excited about is the launch of a company where I can help all the people that have called or emailed me from Design Star, but don't have the resources to hire me long distance. The company is called "My Design Box." People can send in a photo of their room with measurements and in three to four weeks, we'll send them everything they need to complete a fully designed room on their own. It's been rewarding to hear from people how much they love it. I've also become friends with Matt Locke, Sparkle Josh and Kim Myles.

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
That reality shows have nothing to do with reality — ha! Also, to trust my instincts.

Lonni with her twins, Jett and Sophie

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house?
Candice Olson

What's your home "secret shame"?
My bedside table — it's a catchall. I go through it every couple of weeks so it doesn't become too overwhelming.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
It's been fun working with Tiffani for sure. I'm finishing up Melissa Hart's new house in Connecticut and Meatloaf's house here in LA. I just met Keanu Reeves so if that works out it would be a blast. I'll let you know.

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
Wilderness Survival, How to Build a Boat and Spearfishing Techniques (Ha! The first one is the only real book.)

NataLee with the newest member of her family, Conner

NataLee Callahan

How has your life changed since Design Star?
My life has changed quite a bit since Design Star. My stay on the show was much shorter than I planned or expected, and upon my arrival home, I learned I was expecting a baby. I had a little boy, Conner, around the first of the year. He is so adorable and looks just like his daddy.

Did you participate in any events or get a specific job because of the show?
Since the show I continue to stay active in the media (taking a short break with the birth of my son). I have a regular design segment on Studio 5 on our NBC's affiliate. I continue to be involved in an organization near and dear to my heart called Heart 2 Home, which does extreme home rebuilds. I am heading up the design for a project in April for a family who had a child die from the swine flu, and then their home burned to the ground shortly after. In addition, I started a website with great design ideas and where individuals can send in their design dilemmas to me and I evaluate and offer my solutions. It's called www.designedtothenines.com. I will also be posting podcasts and my opinion on many design topics. Also watch for updates on the H2H organization, my thoughts on this season of Design Star, as well as interviews with past/present Design Star contestants.

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
I have briefly touched base with most of my fellow contestants. I have continued to stay in touch with Nathan and Jason the most. I have yet to collaborate with anyone, but would love to!

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
Wow. I learned a lot from being on Design Star. First off, don't go on a competitive reality show pregnant. (I had no idea I was, I swear.) Second, take care of yourself, drink lots of water. I was willing to sacrifice life and limb to achieve my dreams, but it ended up backfiring on me, because instead I looked weak and unfit. If you don't take care of you first, you can't get business done. Next, scale back your plans when working in a strange city and with new people. Plan a design you can do all on your own without counting on others to pull through for you to make it happen. Finally, when it comes to your dreams, don't let anything or anyone get in your way and never give up on it.

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house?
Since I think I could do the best job designing my own house for me, it would have to be Mike Holmes. I would love to be the president of his fan club. What can I say? The man is a stud with a big heart and his love for helping people in a construction dilemma aligns very nicely with my love of beautifying the newly constructed homes of those deserving families. Hmm, maybe he would collaborate with me on a project. Do you think he'd want to come to Utah and head up a Heart 2 Home project?

What's your home "secret shame"?
I am a fabriholic (as I call it). I have a really hard time going to the fabric store without leaving with at least one piece of beautiful fabric, especially if I think it is a good deal. As a result, I have a closet full of "fabric I will use someday" but may or may not ever use them.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
I wouldn't consider myself a very star-struck person, so maybe a celebrity who has done something really kind for people that has gone unnoticed and has a room that needs some help. Someone who is deserving of it.

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
My scriptures, the Twilight series and something to read to my children

Torie Halbert

How has your life changed since Design Star?
Before Design Star, I was primarily a custom home designer. Now I am also a regular on Great Day Houston doing room makeovers with Ashley Furniture. So, part of my career is designing high-end interiors and the other part of my career is making over deserving families’ homes — totally different ends of the spectrum — and I am growing as a designer because of it. Probably like the rest of the cast, I am noticed in public most places that I go. I enjoy it. That part has not changed me a bit.

Torie with the host of Great Day Houston, Deborah Duncan

Did you participate in any events or get a specific job because of the show?
My exposure on Design Star has opened many doors. I have been invited to many high schools and colleges to speak and been honored with luncheons. For five college students from across the U.S., I was their chosen interior designer to do their final term project on (what an honor). I have been a guest of honor at charitable antique shows and fundraisers and was invited as a VIP guest during the filming of Extreme Makeover: Home Edition in Seabrook, Texas, with the likes of professional football and baseball players. I have also been featured in many magazines in the Houston area and was named one of Houston’s Most Dynamic Women for 2009 by Houston Modern Luxury magazine.

Have you kept in touch with fellow contestants?
I talk to Jason every week, sometimes every few days. He’s also a great stylist; he actually helped me find the perfect dress to wear to the 45th Annual Academy of Country Music Awards in Vegas in April. Jason and I are working on a residential project in Sarasota together. I also still keep in touch with Dan, Lonni, Natalee, Nathan and Antonio.

What was the most important lesson you learned from being on Design Star?
Be open to others’ ideas and be open to new colors and combinations that I’ve never tried before. We all grew from Design Star.

Which HGTV talent would you let have free rein in your house? Candice Olson on the interior and Jamie Durie on the exterior.

What's your home "secret shame"?
My game room still isn’t completely decorated; it drives me crazy. I keep saying after I finish the next client’s home, I’m finishing my game room. Hasn’t happened yet.

What celebrity home would you most like to design?
I would like to do a country music artist's home, like Carrie Underwood or George Strait’s ranch.

Which three books would you take on a desert island?
Only one book, The Bible. Other than that, I would not be reading. I would be enjoying my surroundings.

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