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Atlanta’s “Top Designer” takes on a new challenge, and helps you spruce up your home

Atlanta's Big Daddy of design Kerry Howard

Atlanta’s “Big Daddy” of design is bursting out of the local scene and returning to television as part of a new design show on HGTV.

Kerry “Big Daddy” Howard first came to the attention of the design world in 2008 as part of the second season of Bravo’s short-lived “Top Design” competition reality show. At the time he was living in Cumming, Ga., and struggling to establish his company. He survived in part by doing small budget jobs, often acting as the “gay best friend” for women redecorating their homes. But things have changed.

“We have come a long way,” Howard says with a smile.

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Home & Real Estate: Design on a dollar

Kerry Howard gives tips on designing with a budget

The Great Recession and the weak recovery that followed have changed how many designers operate and how people are approaching their own home design. Many designers, like Midtown’s Kerry Howard of Howard House Interiors, have changed their business model so they can better fit into smaller budgets.

“I deal with a lot of people on a tight budget, because everyone is on a budget, and what we do is a bible for a room and agree on one price and then they can do all the legwork,” says Howard, who is gay and was a contestant on “Top Design.”