Ellen DeGeneres’ furniture design show premieres Monday on HGTV

Funny lady and furniture lover Ellen DeGeneres is on a quest to find America’s next great furniture designer. Her new show, “Ellen’s Design Challenge,” premieres at 9 p.m. Monday on HGTV. She’ll put six up-and-coming furniture makers to the test, challenging them each week to make something new under a variety of circumstances. The winner will re ceive $100,000. Contestants include a blacksmith turned furniture maker from North Carolina, a young designer who makes pieces in her Brooklyn studio, and a rustic industrial furniture maker from Maine.

Free design advice available at Novi home show

For anyone scratching their heads over what to do with a certain space at home, members of the American Society of Interior Designers will be on hand offering free 15-20 minute design consultations at this weekend’s 2015 Novi Home Improvement Show at the Suburban Collection Showplace in Novi (did I mention its free?). “Whether the consumers’ concerns are paint colors, fabrics, space planning, etc., we are there to be of service — no restrictions,” says Linda Shears, one of the approximately 20 ASID designers who will be at this weekend’s show. “We will advise them on any kind of room — from closets to kitchens to great rooms.” The ASID’s booth also will have four living room vignettes, representing classic traditional, Lake House Cottage, Eclectic Transitional and Clean Modern. Matt Fox and Shari Hiller, hosts of “Around the House with Matt & Shari,” also will present their “Top 20 Decorating Tips” at this weekend’s show. (See stories, 13H, 15H.) The Novi Home Improvement Show, presented by the Home Builders Association, runs from 2-9 p.m. today; 11 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday; and 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. Tickets are $10 for adults; $9 for seniors; and kids 12 and under are free.

‘Design 2 Ways’ returns to Michigan Design Center

Mark your calendars: Twelve local interior designers will go head-to-head as “Design 2 Ways” returns Feb. 6 to the Michigan Design Center. Just like last year’s event, designers will pair off in six showrooms, creating individually decorated and styled vignettes, but each using three similar furnishing items. Vignettes will include a sitting room, den, living room, retreat and lounge (pictured is designer Rachael Young’s vignette from last year’s event). There will be a designer presentation at 11 a.m. on Feb. 6, followed by a free open house from 12-4 p.m. Tickets are $10 for the designer presentation with proceeds benefiting Birmingham Bloomfield Art Center’s ArtAccess Program. The Michigan Design Center is at 1700 Stutz Drive in Troy. RSVPs are requested; call (248) 649-4772.

Remodeling costs recouped down in 2015, report says

Remodeling Magazine recently released its Cost vs. Value 2015 report, and while costs rose consistently, values only increased half as often. Studying 3,672 projects in 102 markets, the report found the cost-value ratio dropped to 62.2 percent for 2015, down 3.9 points from last year. But it’s still the second best number in the last five years, according to the magazine. So what projects get the biggest bang for their buck? Entry door replacement (102 percent of cost recouped at sale); stone veneer (92 percent); garage door replacement (88 percent); and sliding door replacement (84 percent). For big projects such as a major kitchen remodel costing between $25,000-100,000, the magazine found the national average was 67.8 percent of the cost recouped. Some parts of the country do better when it comes to recouping costs; in San Francisco, for example, all 36 projects tracked topped 100 percent. The Midwest was in the middle. Replacement jobs generated a higher return than remodeling projects. To see the full report, go to

Decor app lets users comparison shop, browse design ideas

You find an upholstered chair you love, but then ask yourself that universal question: can I find a similar one cheaper somewhere else? Imagine clicking on an app on your smartphone or tablet and you can immediately comparison shop. nousDECOR, an online interior design platform, this month introduced its first mobile app that lets users snap a photo of a furniture piece or decor item and search for similar products across the company’s library of more than 8 million items from hundreds of popular online retailers such as Crate & Barrel, Cost Plus World Market and Target. It also lets users browse thousands of inspirational images from renowned professional designers. nousDECOR’s app is free and available for the iPhone; it will be available soon for the Android.

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