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updated: 4/11/2013 11:57 AM

COD Interior Design Program, Special Spaces Create 'Utopia' for Young Cancer Survivor

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COD News Bureau

Cancer survivor Emily Beazley reacts to the new music room in her home as little sister Olivia follows behind. The renovated music room and newly decorated bedroom were the results of a project between the College of DuPage Interior Design program and Special Spaces, a national organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life-threatening diseases. Click here for more photos.

This project for Emily began when Kelly Knox, Special Spaces Chicagoland Director -- Naperville Affiliate, approached Ann Cotton, COD Coordinator and Professor of Interior Design, regarding the project. Cotton didn't hesitate in agreeing to the project.

"This was a joyful rehab," Cotton said. "We personalized the room as much as possible because Emily deserved something that was bright and welcoming and a personal space that would reflect her determination."

Cotton and her students met with Emily and her family to see the rooms. They learned more about Emily and discovered what she wanted, which included a bed that was higher off the floor to allow for underneath storage; a bookshelf and desk; use of her favorite color purple; and a theme that included music, specifically the Miley Cyrus song "The Climb."

The group also decided to tackle a second room to give both girls an area to enjoy their music. The students worked in two teams, each taking on a different room. Team leaders were Paige Ronchetti (Naperville) and Stephanie Michalek (Downers Grove), who worked on the bedroom, and Liz Wensel (Geneva), Nancy Faller (Glen Ellyn) and Tiffany Miller (Wheaton), who worked on the music room.

Michalek said getting to know Emily and Olivia provided a guide for their ideas. It was a project she will never forget.

"I didn't question it. I just wanted to know where I needed to be and when to be there." she said.

Miller described the experience as both rewarding and wonderful.

"It's sometimes difficult for people to see the true value in interior design. Interior designers do so much more than pick paint colors and redecorate," she said. "They create spaces that people find joy in and give them happiness in their lives, as evidenced by this deserving family. Emily said it best when she described being sick in her old bedroom and the sad memories she had associated with it and how this new bedroom will help her create new, happy memories. Hearing her say that made the entire process and hard work even more worth it."

For more information about the Interior Design program, call (630) 942-2502 or email For more about Special Spaces, call (312) 343-2032 or email