Contest Challenges Families to ‘Channel their inner designer’

October 15, 2009 Updated: October 15, 2009

CityLine designer Janette Ewen with her 'kid-oriented' extreme dream home.  (Salvatore Sacco)
CityLine designer Janette Ewen with her 'kid-oriented' extreme dream home. (Salvatore Sacco)
Get out the hammer. Citytv is inviting families across the country to “embrace their inner architect” by building their ideal home—in miniature.

With the addition of the popular Extreme Makeover: Home Edition program to its new fall line-up, Citytv is launching an online contest in which families can build a small-scale version of their own extreme dream home.

“The aim is to encourage viewers to interact a little bit with the show, and they're able to do that by building their own version of the extreme dream home,” said Koreen Ott, Citytv’s director of marketing and PR.

“[The contest] is in the spirit of the show itself—it allows people to work together as a family and do a fun project. It’s a really fun excuse to come together as a family.”

Contestants may use whatever materials they choose, such as popsicle sticks, building blocks, cardboard, pop cans, pipe cleaners, and construction paper. The mini-house should measure two feet by two feet, and the price of all materials used must total no more than $100.

Once the house is built, photos of the completed project can be uploaded to Citytv's website at Each entry must be accompanied by a brief description of how the home was constructed and the inspiration behind it.

“People can use whatever material that will help convey what their extreme dream home looks like, and that creativity and the description of the inspiration behind the design will help to determine who is going to be the winner,” said Ott.

The lucky winner will receive a “Gourmet Inclusive” one-week family trip for four to Azul Beach Hotel in Riviera Maya, Mexico.

Azul Beach especially caters to families with young children and provides loaner baby equipment, parent support, and has a kids’ club. The Gourmet Inclusive concept offers such indulgences as candlelight dining on the beach, a fresh fish fry and butler service to the canopied beach beds, and an all-lobster menu.

Samantha Sannella from Design Exchange with her creation.  (Salvatore Sacco)
Samantha Sannella from Design Exchange with her creation. (Salvatore Sacco)
CityLine's Ramsin Khachi shows off his mini-house. (Salvatore Sacco)
CityLine's Ramsin Khachi shows off his mini-house. (Salvatore Sacco)
Top designers Ramsin Khachi and Janette Ewen from CityLine, along with Samantha Sannella from Design Exchange helped launch the contest by creating their own Extreme Dream Homes which are on display at Citytv Toronto’s new location at 33 Dundas Street.

All three design experts will judge the top ten entries as selected by Citytv and the winning entry will be announced on on November 12. The contest started on September 28.

“We have already received quite a few entries, and once the contest closes then we will put a gallery up on the website that showcases all the submissions,” said Ott.

Hosted by Ty Pennington, Extreme Makeover: Home Edition is a reality television series providing home renovations for deserving families. Each episode features a family that has faced some sort of recent or ongoing hardship, such as a natural disaster or a family member with a life-threatening illness.

The show's producers coordinate with a local construction contractor, who in turn works with various companies in the building trades to bring about a makeover of the family's home.

The makeover is performed in seven days while the family is on vacation, which is documented in the episode. If the house is beyond repair, it is replaced entirely. The show's producers and crew film the makeover but do not pay for it, although the producers do pay for the family’s vacation. The materials and labour are donated. Many skilled and unskilled volunteers assist in the rapid construction of the house.

The Parents Television Council, a Los Angeles-based organization advocating responsible entertainment, has given the show its coveted “Seal of Approval,” and has also named it the most family friendly series on network television since its second season.