Mary Jean Adkins is convinced that designers make a difference.
Just check out the faces of residents at Little Angels in Elgin whose bedrooms were decorated by members of the Chicago and Suburban chapter of the Interior Design Society.
"We feel so proud for these girls," said Adkins, public relations director for Little Angels. "They just kind of light up when they go into their rooms."
Each room has three residents, and design complications include special beds, lots of medical equipment and the need for wheelchair accessibility.
One room with a palette of fuchsia and lime is "spunky, brighter," Adkins said. "The young ladies in the other room are more laid back and older, so those colors are cooler."
Two more rooms in this older wing will be decorated soon, and next year four boys' rooms will be taken on, said Penny Williams of Algonquin, whose design firm in the Barrington area is called Finishing Touches.
When the chapter was looking for a project, Williams recommended Little Angels, where she has volunteered for about seven years.
"They're in wheelchairs and they can't walk or talk," said Williams. "But they have such a strong inner voice, and they get it. It's almost like they can hear your heart."
She tries to go to the residence once a week for games, hand massages, reading or watching movies. She also works on fundraisers like the Sept. 25 gala at the Sanfilippo estate in Barrington Hills.
Fifty-seven people live in the residence, and family members decorate the rooms, but it's not quite the same, said Adkins.
"I love the designers' use of colors, and everything is so cohesive and just beautiful," she explained.
All the residents receive Medicaid and are dependent on the state of Illinois, so there's not a lot of room for extras.
But Williams thinks people like her who give really get the most.
"We are being touched by the reactions," she said. "It makes you want to give back more."
And the designers are up to the special challenges offered by these rooms.
"We can't look at it how a designer would look," said Williams. "Fourteen pillows would not work. But they need a little yip in their skip. We want to bring happiness in their rooms. The colors are coordinated and bright. Our room has a lot of flowers. It might be raining outside, but it's bright and cheery here."