To become the champion of HGTV’s Design Star: Next Gen, Carmeon Hamilton had to get through pressure-cooker contests like refurbishing a train car and creating a modern set for The Golden Girls, with quick reflexes and her moody color palettes at the ready. After six weeks of challenges, the Memphis-based designer (and Domino Plant parent!) won $50,000 and a deal with the network for her own series. There’s a lot to be learned from her creativity on the show. Here are four we won’t be forgetting anytime soon.

Wall Murals Can Be a Quick Fix

 

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In episode 1, Hamilton got to work reinventing a space with her signature shade: Urbane Bronze from Sherwin-Williams. To draw everyone’s eye to the back of the room, a few swipes of white against the moody backdrop created a graphic mural in just 20 minutes. Going freehand removes the agony over every brushstroke, and framing out a specific surface area will cut down on the space you need to cover.

Don’t Be Afraid of “Boring” Colors

 

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When judge Jonathan Adler approached Hamilton about whether a certain shade of green would have “old lawyer office vibes” in episode 2, the designer reassured that she would be able to provide a fresh take on it. Layering rattan furniture and chunky white tables shakes off its bad reputation. 

White Can Be the Hardest Color to Work With

 

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“I wanted to take a risk and break away from a bold wall color: I was going with white,” Hamilton recounts in her blog about episode 4. “I wanted to show that color wasn’t a crutch for me.” To keep the space from reading blah, the designer corralled palm fronds into a makeshift headboard for a sculptural metal canopy bed, building one big focal point.

You Don’t Need a Wall to Have Shelves

 

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Rather than reinvent the set from The Golden Girls to the letter on episode 5, Hamilton brought in a part of her own culture, African Kuba cloth, to transform into table runners. To create some separation between the kitchen and dining room without completely closing things off, she installed floating shelves suspended by brass pipes. The end result is an island that can look out onto the dining room, while still allowing for privacy and storage without taking up wall space.

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