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New Yorkers Build Dream Home in New Design Contest

By Della Hasselle | March 19, 2011 11:37am | Updated on March 20, 2011 10:06am

By Della Hasselle

DNAinfo Reporter/Producer

MIDTOWN WEST — A few ordinary New Yorkers teamed up with acclaimed interior designers to make their perfect homes in a contest at Pier 94.

The New York chapter of the American Society of Interior Designers is presenting its first ever "designer + consumer challenge" at the Architectural Home Design Show this weekend.

The contest features four "Dream Teams" that include New York-based contestants and their famous design partners.

Designers James Rixner, Jamie Drake, Bjorn Bjornsson and Barbara Ostrom paired with people from all neighborhoods of Manhattan to create rooms in a 10 x 10 space of the showroom floor.

Projects, which were completed Friday, included a Hollywood glamour-inspired dining room with art-deco furniture and a luxurious old-world style Manhattan bedroom.

"All the fabrics, lights...I feel I've learned a lot in the past couple of days," Hells Kitchen resident and dining room "customer" Andy Young, 32, said. "This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity."

Other rooms included a "Campbells tomato soup"-colored living room custom-made for a lawyer with conservative tastes, and a play-meets-work study and living space featuring a cartoon-inspired painting and bookshelves.

"It's about filling the space with joy," designer Jamie Drake said about the multitasking, Manhattan-inspired living space he created with Byron C. James. "We wanted people to have a little bit of whimsy and light-heartedness."

While the finished products gleamed with freshly painted walls, ironed bedsheets and finishing touches like Swaravotski crystal, marble counters and Persian rugs, a few of the designers admitted that the setup got off to a rough start.

In addition to the tight deadline of just a few weeks, some say they were flustered by a miscommunication involving initial room dimensions, painting mishaps and last-minute accessory replacements.

"It was definitely a challenge," designer Barbara Ostrom said. "But I'd say it was fun."

Consumers and designers alike say the final product was worth the hurdles they had to overcome, and voters never seemed to notice the difference.

"I like it when you see the completed room, because it really shows how to set something up," psychologist Barbara Meyers commented. "I like a finished product. It's so put together."