• I Wrecked My House
  • Weekend Reno
  • Selling Big
  • Gourds, Guts & Glory
  • Totally Random
  • All For Nothing?
  • Sheltered
  • Caroline & Dave
  • Sandy & Maryse
  • Design U
  • Design U
  • Me, My House and I
  • Broken House Chronicles
  • Lofty Ideas
  • Urban Legends
  • Made in Canada

Design U

Design U is the pre-eminent institution of higher learning for the design-challenged. Through training and education, Design U attempts to bring out the inner designer hidden deep inside those that show no signs of design life. 

The design-challenged can be easily spotted - those people with the groovy wood-paneled basement or the plastic coffee table and lovely floral-patterned sofa in the living room. Or maybe this sounds familiar: an attractive milk crate nightstand next to the queen size bed propped up by stacks of telephone books. A sad lifeless space with no one to care for it.

Well now there is help. It’s time to revitalize that poor neglected space and send the design-less to Design U.

The premise: Concerned friends and relatives know someone among those nearest and dearest to them who needs help. By enrolling them in Design U, professional designers provide the education and training the design-challenged need to become masters of their domain.  

Design U takes our students and gets them into shape by registering them for “Interior Design 101,” a crash course in design, taught by the best designers in the business. Our neophyte designers learns about colours, textures, spatial division, scale, symmetry, and even learns about different design styles like contemporary, country, and classic. After a one-day crash course at Design U, the real test begins: they must put their newly-acquired design savvy to use in redesigning a space in their home. Along with our host, Maureen Ross Neilson, lead carpenter, Tyler Hamilton, and assistants Will Mood and Christina Maureen Rice, our students are given two days and $3,000 to complete the project. At the end of 48 hours, our Interior Design Instructors hand out the final grades. Will our students pass or fail?  Will they ever look at curtains the same again?  Will they recall their untroubled days of stereo on milk crates with joy or sadness?

While the spaces undergo transformations, our students discover that filling and designing a space isn’t as easy as buying some Swedish furniture and replacing the velvet Elvis. Design U is there to educate, inform and ultimately allow the final decisions to be made by the participant.  Should the walls be painted in mocha or caramel? Should the shag rug be thrown out or turned into funky throw pillows? Can there be such a thing as too many lamps? These are the kinds of design dilemmas our participants face as they tackle their 'home work' with an eye toward making their space livable again. In the end, they hope to make the grade and graduate with an honorary degree from Design U.

Because a good space is a terrible thing to waste!

For more information about Design U please visit our website at




Fast Facts

Episodes: 52
Duration: 30 Mins.
Seasons: 4
Filming: 2004-2007
Location: Ottawa, CA

HGTV Canada

TVB Hong Kong

African Business Channel

Du côte du chez France

Sitcom Italy

Pyramid (Kuwait)

RTM Malaysia

Daydreamer (Poland)

Channel Four (Finland)

ION Media (USA)


Ernst Hupel


Melanie Martin


Baron Bryant

Project Consultant & Lead Carpenter

Christina Maureen Rice

Seamstress & Project Assistant

William Mood

Assistant Carpenter & Project Manager

Blair Varden

Assistant Carpenter

Penny Southam


Ramón Robleto


Tyler Hamilton

Project Consultant & Lead Carpenter

Jeff Palmer

Assistant Carpenter

Lucie Soulard

Assistant Carpenter


Design U Logo

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Season 2 Cast

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