VALERIE WHITNEY, Business Writer
DAYTONA BEACH -- Port Orange interior designer Alissa Bennett recently auditioned for HGTV's popular "Design Star" television series and she'll also compete for a $1,000 design prize this weekend at the 51st Annual Daytona Beach News-Journal's Home Show.
Bennett is one of three area interior designers who will compete to win the local "Daytona Beach Design Star" competition that is part of this year's Home Show. The other competitors are interior designers Beverly Brock and Julie Baker.
The competition here is modeled after the television show. Carter Oosterhouse, carpenter and HGTV host, will announce the winner on Sunday, the final day of the three-day show, which is expected to attract more than 15,000 people from throughout Central Florida.
Each of the three contestants was asked to design a room. Home Show attendees can vote for their favorite look. The winning designer gets $1,000.
Bennett, who sits on the board of the Volusia Building Industry Association, has racked up several wins in area design competitions in recent years.
So what does she plan to do with the prize money if she wins? "Take a much needed mini-vacation with my family," she said.
Bennett, a graduate of Florida State University, also is in the third phase of auditioning for the HGTV series, she said.
"I started the process over two weeks ago when I auditioned during an open casting call in Miami. I was so excited to get the call back and return for an on-camera interview, as well as a five-minute, on-camera design demo," said Bennett, owner of Design Studio A, located in Port Orange.
Also competing this weekend in the Home Show design competition is Brock, the owner of Method Interiors, a residential design firm in Sanford. She won a first-place award for design during the 2006 Parade of Homes show in Central Florida.
The lifelong Florida resident said her spouse and her mother inspired her to go into the design field. "We didn't have much money (when I was) growing up, but she always managed to have a beautiful home," Brock said about her mother.
Brock married her high school sweetheart, Chris Brock, after college. He played major league baseball and she traveled with him around the country. She said the places they visited added to her appreciation for quality design and regional architecture.
Brock earned degrees in interior design and marketing from Seminole State College and Florida State University. She has six years of residential design experience.
Brock said she is excited about the Home Show. "It is going to be fun," she said, adding that if she walks away with the prize money, she plans to reinvest it in her business.
Baker is owner of Model Furniture Gallery, a 10,000-square-foot showroom in Orange City that serves residential and commercial customers.
A former public school teacher, Baker started the business almost by accident. She was helping a friend who was a designer involved in a project for the Parade of Homes and rediscovered her own passion for fashion.
"I had wanted to be a fashion designer when I went to college," said the University of Central Florida graduate. Instead, Baker, who is married to a builder, went into education and taught for several years.
After helping her friend, Baker said, she kept getting calls for decorating help. She took interior design classes at then Daytona Beach Community College, now known as Daytona State College.
"We started with nothing, from the ground up and grew," Baker said Wednesday.
Since that time, her business has become well known among homebuilders throughout Central Florida. In 2008, she won a first-place design award in the Parade of Homes.
If she wins, Baker said, she would probably share the money with her team members.
Source : http://www.news-journalonline.com/news/20111020/local-interior-designers-compete-at-daytona-beach-news-journals-home-show