Mr Neville Knott

Research project: TV Makeovers and Irish Domestic Interiors, Creating the Imagined, 1990 to 2014


This reserach will discuss if fundamental differences can be identified between the ‘interior design' that exists in reality, and the same design that undergoes the television production process. 

Does the television makeover programme fully represent the reality of the ‘interior design' or has the process created ‘the imagined' by accident, or on purpose and at a hierarchical level, what adjustments were made, and if so, why? The arrival of Interior Design ‘Makeover' programmes on television, developed by production companies from 1993 onwards saw the arrival of a new type of subcategory with its origins in reality and lifestyle formats, described by Andy Medhurst (1999,103) as ‘the era of lifestyle' while Rachel Moseley (2000) described it as a ‘makeover takeover'. This new genre combined, education with gameshow entertainment to produce iconic shows such as ‘Changing Room', ‘Homefront' and ‘Showhouse'. The ratings success of such shows in their countries of origin resulted in the formats becoming commodities that were sold worldwide, bringing inspiring interior design ideas that reflected the local economies to the masses. The creation of the interior designs, to be filmed, edited and broadcast as television content for a global audience, can be perceived to following the design process taught both academically and within industry, resulting in a visual space that combines, colour, light, texture, mood, and object placement in a way that accurately represent the design in reality. Do television production companies create the imagined by capturing imagery using specialist camera equipment that has the ability to distort space, adjust colour, enhance lighting and create mood using music? Do interior designers participating in the process reinforce this outcome by altering layouts for camera, as well as using visual merchandising styling techniques?

Using interviews with producers, directors, postproduction editors and design participants this paper will use one specific production ‘Showhouse' to discuss the topic.

  • Research degree: PhD
  • Title of project: TV Makeovers and Irish Domestic Interiors, Creating the Imagined, 1990 to 2014
  • Research supervisor: Professor Penny Sparke
  • Other research supervisor: Dr Fiona Fisher


I am head of course for the Honours Bachelor of Arts Degree in Interior Design in the Dublin Institute of Technology.

My specialist areas include, Internal Structures, Retail Design, Hospitality Design, Commercial Domestic Design, Recreation Design and Visual Merchandising.

I have qualifications in Interior design, Visual Merchandising and a Masters Degree in Creative Digital Media. I has presented papers internationally at academic conferences and I am co-author of The Retail Visual Assistant iBook (2013)  

I have worked in the interior design industry for over thirty years with companies such as, Switzers, Brown Thomas, Clery's, Sempere, George Pacific, Adare Productions and Crown Paints. I am on the international colour influence panel based in London presenting future trends to the press and media. For over twenth two years I have been a designer and broadcaster on television programs such as, Beyond the Hall Door, Showhouse, Roomers and Neville's Doorstep Challenge on RTE 1, TV3 and the Home Channel.

Areas of research interest

  • Makeover television
  • Construction of the makeover programme
  • History of reality TV
  • Product placement and taste
  • Lifestyle television programmes and the construction of the expert hos
  • Taste maker (The Design Expert)
  • Boom and bust interiors
  • Emergence of lifestyle television
  • Creating the imagined on television


  • Diploma Display Design
  • BA Interior Design
  • MA Creative Digital Media

Funding or awards received

  • Dublin Institute of Technology Funding for PhD Research 2016-2018