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We are beyond excited to announce our 15 Designhounds Awards 2021 Finalists – The Changemakers. This year’s concept was very different since it was a very different year : The Changemakers were selected based on community nominations and merit, no voting and popularity contests required. Our goal was to celebrate a selection of design professionals that rose to the challenges we all encountered in 2020/2021 and who helped change the face of design through direct support of others or by offering up new business models and solutions to an industry that, while remaining full of opportunity, has forever altered its course.

Notice that there are no winners here – the true winners are those in the community who have benefited from these tireless thought leaders and entrepreneurs. Please watch our awards night on Facebook Live to hear more from each finalist.

Cheryl Kees Clendenon, In Detail Interiors @indetailinteriors

Cheryl is nominated for her huge support in helping the industry navigate legal and financial challenges during Covid. Cheryl had many nominations detailing how instrumental she was in leading the way for designers to navigate the requirements for government support and PPP money.

Cheryl walked her community and several designers through the process personally. One of the designers who did get the loan told me that as a single mother they would have been homeless without that loan.

Jeanne Chung, Cozy Stylish Chic @cozystylishchic

Nominated for launching her experience center/showroom and co-working space.

Jeanne is another fantastic visionary leader in the design community. She opened a storefront in Pasadena to fill a void in custom design services. She has partnered with Monogram Appliances to build an incredible showroom next to her store to give clients a full kitchen experience. She is providing a totally immersive experience for the entire design community.

Jenna Gaidusek, eDesign Tribe

Nominated for all things e-design – this is from one of her many fans: 

I humbly and proudly nominate Jenna Gaidusek. She started edesign tribe and in her early days put out so much free content to help designers be profitable at edesign. As she continued to grow her tribe, using her own money earned from her courses, she developed her groundbreaking software that had everything that edesign was missing.  She then continued on to create higher lever render courses, hired the best of the best grow her small but mighty team and created an entire design ecosystem where people can earn certificates and money all while serving  each other in the industry with kindness and integrity. And she did all this while raising a toddler, moving homes  and trying to expand her family. Which she did. She just gave birth to a beautiful baby boy.

Lenora DeMars, 9 Ten Design

Nominated for being co-founder of Wellness Designed and the Alliance for Healthy Design

For 3+ years I have worked beside Lenora through the creation of a group focused on wellness + sustainability within the interior design industry. Lenora is passionate about getting toxins out of her clients home, knowing the science and dangers of home toxins, and educating both designers and clients alike. Education is delivered through hosting webinars, conversations with manufacturers, sharing resources, and consistent learning.

Leslie Carothers, Savour Partnership

Leslie continues to maintain her Facebook Group DesignWealth and in 2021 launched the first ever Virtual Showhouse. Leslie’s nominations all have listed multiple initiatives, here’s an example: 


Leslie is a thought leader in design and innovation and has helped countless people make positive changes to increase revenue.  Her Design Wealth FB group is a treasure trove of information and support.  In the last year and a half she has pioneered the first of its kind all virtual showhouse as a creative solution to the needs in the industry that arose in the pandemic, sponsored the Ethos Design Collective that elevates the luxury design profession and educates the public, and has recently launched her own beautiful lifestyle blog which is sure to be a huge success.

Linda Holt, Linda Holt Creative

Linda has launched and continues to maintain the group Cellphone Challenge by Linda Holt. Here’s what many of her nominations said : 


Linda has been a bright star during these unsettled times. For creatives, she has shared her unique perspectives and expertise around the art of photography through an engaging FB Group that Linda initiated called Cellphone Photo Challenge. I joined mid way through and, I have to say, that the positive energy and connections established in the name of capturing beauty have been powerful and uplifting. Linda has given the design community a great gift by intuitively guiding  through her eyes as an artist. She now also offers classes that teach how to professionally capture interior spaces through the lens. I have also enjoyed Linda’s ‘Two-Tip Tuesdays’ on IG; a series of creative tips for both design and photography. Fun, inspiring, and entertaining, this weekly series is something I look forward to. Linda has been a strong voice in our  community of creatives, reminding us all that the spirit of beauty can move us through the darkest times.

Lisa Kahn, Sanctuary Collective

Sanctuary Collective launched in March 2020. One submission said:

Lisa’s Sanctuary Collective has provided me with exactly what was needed – a respite away from all the madness. I love seeing Lisa’s posts and have been thrilled to receive little Sanctuary goodies that put a big smile on my face.

Liz Walton of Liz Walton Home in her studio. Photo – copyright Rebecca McAlpin

Liz Walton, Liz Walton Home

Liz is nominated for empowering up and coming designers through her Design Blueprint Course. 

“I would like to nominate Liz Walton since she has been recognized as a leader, mentor and innovator in the interior design and kitchen design industry.” Liz serves as a role model and develops individuals in her industry by sharing her successful business practices with up and coming designers through her Interior Design Blueprint online course. Liz also serves as a mentor to her all-female team and demonstrates the highest levels of professionalism, integrity, and customer service with both her clients and trade industry partners.

Marsha McDonald, Seacrest Design

Marsha is nominated for her work in diversity and in support of her Caribbean heritage. 

Through her social platforms Caribbean Resiliency and Diversity in Design, Arts and Architecture – Marsha introduces and celebrates designers and architects of color and draws attention to design talent in Jamaica and other parts of the Caribbean. She also leads informational summits and fundraisers for her communities and all this while she is an active interior designer and educator – even in her local area schools. Marsha said it best: “Diversity is the cultural currency of our region and resiliency is its backbone!” 

Michele Alfano, Michele Alfano Design

Michele was nominated for the launch and development of her Poetic Modernism Brand.

Michele reflected on her mission to link the five senses and the five universal elements: fire, water, air, light, and space. Being the daughter of a physicist, Michele is drawn to uncover the science behind emotion and design. Michele’s multisensory design approach heightens your ability to collect information and experience the world, enhances your sense of self, and amplifies your daily life. This philosophy led her to trademark POETIC MODERNISM, an evolution of a new kind of modern movement; design that ignites resilience to achieve a more balanced lifestyle. Her purpose is to design innovative, multi-sensory spaces that will recharge my clients physically and mentally so they can bring their A-game to business and life decisions.

Sarah Robertson, Dearborn Studio

Sarah has built a huge following on social media through diligent and carefully produced content around her design work, most notably over 100,000 followers on Tiktok. Here’s what one of her fans had to say: 


“Sarah is a leader and changemaker in many areas. She uses all sorts of social media to push the boundaries of good kitchen design. She , promote others in the design field through her Instagram posts, blogs, podcasts, and soon-to-be-launched Kitchen Confab, where visiting designers can amplify their voices. She incorporates innovative and unique storage solutions in all of her projects, and does so in a way that is both practical and visually stunning. Finally, I am nominating Sarah has inspired and influenced my own practice, as my own personal changemaker.”

Vanessa Helmick, Fiore Interiors

Vanessa is nominated for pivoting her business during Covid as single mom and retail owner. Several of Vanessa’s nominations mentioned all the same things and here’s one that sums it up best : 

“Vanessa is the first person that comes to mind as a changemaker. She has been educating clients and colleagues on the facts and obstacles of the supply chain crisis and shares how to pivot during a pandemic. She does webinars, lots of one on calls to help advise us, designers. I personally have learned so much from her. She is a single mom, and she had to figure out what is best for her daughter. It meant she continuously had to adjust her business even before the pandemic, yet both her design and retail business have grown even while she was homeschooling. She got a rather large magazine feature out of it.
I am amazed how she still makes time to help us out anytime we have questions.”

Rachel Moriarty, Rachel Moriarty Interiors

Rachel was nominated for developing her own signature brand and her presence that inspires others to become more visible. One of her supporters shared these thoughts:

 Rachel has not only consistently shown up in her own business, but has sought to inspire and build up others in their businesses- whether through her messaging on social media, through industry events and trainings, or just giving of herself , being a leader and champion for other creatives in our field. It has truly been a joy to watch her business flourish and to see how she uses the platform she has created to help others grow too.

Scott Koehler, Dream Kitchen Builder

For his relentless pursuit of knowledge on technology in kitchen bath and throughout the home one submission said: 

Scott just keeps pushing the envelope with his pursuit of information on all things AI, technology, security, privacy and the list goes on. He is still an active designer and dedicates his time to the Signature Kitchen Suite Design Council and still finds time to contribute to Veronika’s Kitchen and Bath Industry Group AND manage his own Clubhouse KB Show every Friday. Aside from that he’s an engaged Grand dad too – amazing how he just does it all. 

Laurence Carr, Laurence Carr Design

Has built her TV Channel on EarthX TV, Chez Laurence, with a focus on sustainability. One submission of many said:

“Laurence has done a tremendous job in the last year alone in promoting circularity and sustainability through her EarthX television series, Chez Laurence as well as connecting like minds and spreading the message of going green through her work with Sustainable Furnishings Council as a Brand Ambassador. She constantly challenges herself to learn more about our industry and promote companies who are doing good through sustainable practices, in using sustainable materials, and in the messages they also promote. She brings great design together with an accessible message and method for more awareness and interest in Sustainability in our Interior products industry.”