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Entries FAQ

Judging FAQ

Winning FAQ

Whole Home Design Categories FAQ

Interior Decoration Categories FAQ

Kitchen & Bath Design FAQ

Emerging Professional Category FAQ

Commercial Space Category FAQ

Entries FAQ

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Judging FAQ

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  • What does the judging process look like?

    Judges provide their subjective expertise and an essential human component to the competition evaluation process. They are selected by the Award Committee and assigned to judge specific award categories based on their areas of expertise. Judges receive a training webinar and are required to adhere to the competition’s judging code of conduct, and to abstain from judging any entries for which they have a conflict of interest (including cases where they recognize a specific member’s work). All competition entries are screened for eligibility and completion by competition administrators. Qualifying entries then move to the judging round, where they are evaluated by a panel of judges. To avoid influencing each other’s scoring, judges work remotely and in isolation from each other. Judges are provided with the competition rules, the judging criteria, and each assigned entry’s project name, project photos, before photos, drawings package and design statement. The scores from individual judges are automatically averaged to determine the entry placements. Following the award ceremony, entrants whose entries qualified for the judging round may choose to view their aggregate judging scores. Accredited member judges are permitted and encouraged to enter their own projects into the competition. They are not assigned to judge an award category for which they or their employees have submitted entries.

  • I’d really like to receive feedback from the judges on my project. Is there a way to do so?

    Yes! Following the award ceremony, entrants whose entries qualify for judging will have the option to view their aggregate judging score, as well as the category average. Use this info to improve your chances of winning next year!

Winning FAQ

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  • How can I improve my chances of winning?

    Attend our “Behind the Curtain” competition webinar series! Attend the live webinars, or members may view them at their leisure on-demand. Stay tuned for details. To get you started, we asked past judges to tell us the biggest pitfalls they see year after year, and they were only too happy to pass along these tips: • Don’t be afraid to enter! The biggest mistake is missing out on the opportunity to show off your work and learn something from the competition. Last year, 41% of the winning entries were submitted by first-time winners! • Be thorough in your entry preparation. Include all required info, submit as many images as possible, ensure that you do not identify yourself to the judges, and have a trusted friend proof read your entry. • Tell a story with your entry. Winning entries draw the judges in, and lead them through the why’s of the project, as well as how the client’s needs and project goals were met. After the award ceremony, you may use your judging score feedback to focus your improvement efforts for next year.

  • How common is it that first-time entrants are winners?

    Last year, 41% of the winning entries were submitted by first-time winners! Regardless of whether you win, we’re confident that entering your project in the competition will be a fantastic learning opportunity. If you’ve been on the fence about entering, we highly encourage you to take the plunge!

  • Where can I see past winners?
  • What are the choice awards?

    Choice awards are an opportunity to celebrate decorating and design excellence with the wider community. Finalists for the choice awards are drawn from select winners and categories once the main judging has been completed. These finalists are automatically entered into the choice awards. This year, we’ve updated the People’s Choice Award, and introduced an Influencer’s Choice Award for the first time. We look forward to presenting the following choice awards in 2022: People’s Choice Award – selected by the general public from among the gold winners of each category. Influencer’s Choice Award – selected by a Canadian design influencer from among the winners of the Whole Home categories.

  • Are winners notified in advance of the award ceremony?

    Yes. While the formal announcement of all winners is not made public until the awards ceremony, category winners are notified ahead of time, typically a month or two in advance.

  • My project won Bronze in the competition previously, but I’d like to try again for Gold. Is that allowed?

    No. Once your project has won any DDA award, you may not enter it again.

  • Some portion of my project has won in the past. What does that mean for entering it again this year?

    You are only permitted to enter components of a project that have not won in the past. E.g., if a project’s family room won last year, you may enter the same project’s kitchen this year, but not the family room.

  • Last year, my entry received a good score. Why didn’t I win?

    Yikes, that’s a loaded question! There are so many details that go into your submission and the judging, and winning entries typically have outstanding scores from each judge in all criteria. Maybe your entry could use improvement (Clearer photos? More engaging story?). Maybe you forgot to include some key pieces of information (Floor plan dimensions?). Maybe other members’ work was extra strong this year. It can be disappointing to work hard on your entry, to be justifiably proud of your work, and yet still not win. We’ve all been there. Look at it as a learning opportunity and use the judging feedback to see where you could improve to strengthen your entry for next year.

Whole Home Design Categories FAQ

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  • What kind of project qualifies as a whole home?

    To qualify for this category, the project must include (at minimum): a kitchen space, a full bath, an eating space, a living space, and a sleeping space. If the project does not include each of these, its components can be entered separately into other categories. Entrants are welcome to include any other spaces in addition to the minimum spaces listed above. Spec and model homes are welcome.

  • What led to the decision to create the Whole Home Design categories?

    The Whole Home Design categories were created for many reasons, the most significant of which were: 1. To create a premium award category, focused on larger projects 2. To provide the opportunity to get a Canadian design influencer involved in the judging (via the Influencer’s Choice Award) – a members’ request for many years. 3. To break up the volume of entries previously found within the Interior Decoration categories, and allow each category to evolve apace with the scale of the competition. 4. To accommodate the many requests we’ve had to include spec and model homes. Historically, there hasn’t been enough spec/model home entry volume to warrant their own category. While these new categories aren’t spec/model specific, they do accommodate the scale of a spec/model home better than our previous categories. The competition administrators will continue to monitor the volume of spec/model home entries for future years. We are so excited for the inaugural year of this prestigious new award category! And we look forward to the winners being able to own the title of “national whole home design award winner”.

  • Some portion of my whole home project has won in the past. What does that mean for entering into a whole home category this year?

    You may not re-enter any winning components. If your winning component was an optional room (e.g., secondary bedroom, powder room, etc) do not include it within your whole home entry. If you’re not able to include a non-winning kitchen, full bath, and eating/living/sleeping space, you cannot enter this project in the whole home category.

Interior Decoration Categories FAQ

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  • Why are the Interior Decoration categories different this year?

    This year, the Interior Decoration categories have been reorganized. Whole Home Design projects (previously included within the Interior Decoration categories) have been separated into their own set of categories. The previous budget-based Interior Decoration categories have been replaced with fewer categories that sort by project scope, with single room projects further filtered by budget. These changes have been implemented for a few reasons. Primarily, there has long been confusion surrounding the previous Interior Decoration categories. In addition, the volume of entries some years made the previous categories challenging to judge. Additionally, the previous budget-focused category distinctions resulted in wildly differing project scopes competing head-to-head, with judges struggling with evaluating a whole home project next to a single room project. Making this change creates more clarity within the competition, and allows the volume of entries to scale well as the competition evolves. One of the barriers to making this change in previous years was the perception that the winners would be stacked near the top end of any budget range, and that consolidating categories would put lower budget projects at a disadvantage. Reviewing 3 years of competition data has shown that each category’s winners are typically evenly distributed throughout the budget range, and that well-executed lower budget projects are not disadvantaged.

  • How do I know if my project should be entered into the open concept or single room category?

    To qualify as an open concept project, your project must contain: 1. multiple functions within a single open space (e.g., an open concept basement, an open concept family & dining room), or 2. multiple functions must be directly adjacent to each other and flow together stylistically (e.g., a living room and front hall, a bedroom with a dressing room). If your project does not meet either of these criteria, you may enter one room into the corresponding single room category.

  • I decorated a bedroom and a dining room in the same house. Can I enter them together as a single entry?

    Likely not. Unless the bedroom and dining room are directly adjacent to each other a flow together stylistically, they should be entered as two separate projects within the appropriate single room categories.

  • My interior decoration project included a kitchen and bath. May I enter the whole project (including the kitchen and bath) in an interior decoration award category?

    No. You cannot enter kitchens or bathroom projects in these categories.

Kitchens & Bath Design FAQ

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Emerging Professional Category FAQ

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Commercial Space Category FAQ

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