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‘Ellen’s Design Challenge’ Kicks Off A New Season With A Special Preview Show

Although the series doesn’t officially air until January 18, fans of Ellen’s Design Challenge have the opportunity to catch the preview show to see who the competitors are before the show actually begins.

HGTV posted to Twitter on January 1, “Ellen’s BACK! Meet the cast of Season 2 of Ellen’s Design Challenge tonight 11/10c #EllenDesignOnHGTV @theellenshow.”

For those who missed the first showing, there are several more airings of Ellen’s Design Challenge preview coming up on HGTV.

Ellen’s Design Challenge preview show is titled “Meet the Cast,” and Ellen revealed the 10 furniture designers she chose. She then informed her two judges, returning judge Christiane Lemieux and former guest judge Cliff Fong, that they must immediately eliminate two of the 10 contestants. The judges take a look at each of the 10 contestants’ previous work and then look at a computer rendering of something they would build for Ellen. Some of the designs are impressive, and several designers are moved through this phase quickly. The final three are asked to do a sketch, and from that, the judges pick the two participants to be eliminated.

Once the final eight are chosen, Red Carpet Crash shared that like last season, the new crop of competitors will sketch, design, and build original and unique pieces of furniture. To avoid possible elimination, their work must stand out and fulfill any requirements and instructions given. They will each have a carpenter to help them create their designs.

Last season on Ellen’s Design Challenge, a few of the designer/carpenter teams didn’t mesh well, and it usually ended up with a contestant leaving. When teams can’t communicate with each other concerning a design idea, there is often a substandard or unfinished piece of furniture submitted for judging. Hopefully, the new participants have learned from the previous season that although they may be used to working alone, they need these carpenters to help them transform their ideas into a completed product, and they will all strive to work as a team.

Chip Wade, Matt Blashaw, Jeff Devlin, Matt Muenster, Karl Champley, Brooks Utley, Stephen Zimpel, and Ali Azhar from the DIY and HGTV networks will be paired up with the designers this season on Ellen’s Design Challenge. Besides the carpenters, each contestant has available to them a team of builders and a design/workshop area. Even with all this help at their fingertips, they will still have to work fast and efficiently since they will only have a certain amount of time to complete each design.

Once again, the winner will walk away with a $100,000 cash prize courtesy of, and their work will be featured in HGTV Magazine. This season, the participants will face new challenges, including designing furniture for The Ellen DeGeneres Show’s greenrooms.

“I am so excited for season two of Ellen’s Design Challenge,” said Ellen. “I promise this season is going to be bigger, better and armoirier.”

“Ellen’s signature style and wit make her relatable and so much fun to watch on HGTV,” said Kathleen Finch, chief programming officer of HGTV, Food Network, and Travel Channel. “Ellen’s Design Challenge lets fans see her like they never have before—expressing a personal passion for home and furniture design.”

According to Deadline, besides going from six to eight designers, Ellen’s Design Challenge will have nine episodes this season. Ellen’s Design Challenge did very well in the ratings last season, ranking as one of the highest-rated shows in the HGTV network’s history with more than 12 million total viewers. The series also ranked as a top 10-rated cable program for the Monday 9-10 p.m. time slot among the 25-54 age groups.

Declaring a winner will hopefully go a little easier this time on Ellen’s Design Challenge than it did last season. Each piece made by designers must be an original design, and after Tim McClellan was declared the winner, unfortunately, it was discovered that another designer had an existing piece that looked similar to his winning design. McClellan, although obviously disappointed, was understanding and graciously accepted the final decision. The runner-up, Katie Stout, was then brought back under the guise of doing an interview for the show, and then Ellen informed her of what had occurred and that she was now the winner.

Ellen’s Design Challenge is produced by A. Smith & Co. Productions in association with Telepictures, and by DeGeneres’ own production company, A Very Good Production. Along with DeGeneres, A Very Good Production’s Jeff Kleeman and A. Smith & Co.’s Arthur Smith and Kent Weed are the executive producers.

To meet the eight new designers, check out one of the additional airings of Ellen’s Design Challenge one-hour preview special on HGTV. The next one is scheduled for Sunday, January 17 at 11 p.m. ET on HGTV. Check local listings for other available times. Ellen’s Design Challenge premieres on Monday, January 18 at 9 p.m. ET.

[Image via HGTV/Facebook, cropped and resized]