In just a few hours, Catharine Steiner's bedroom became a relaxing garden retreat.
Volunteers from Special Spaces Chicagoland, a nonprofit organization that creates dream bedrooms for children with life-threatening medical conditions, transformed the St. Charles' teen's room Thursday.
Catharine, 16, was born with recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa, a rare connective tissue disorder. There are many genetic and symptomatic variations of the disorder, but they all share the prominent symptom of extremely fragile skin that blisters and tears from minor friction or trauma.
A team of 10 started at 9 a.m. and completed the makeover before 6 p.m., with time to spare before Catharine was wheeled into the room on a chair by her father, Bill, who was covering her eyes.
As Catharine looked around the room, her gaze quickly landed on the blue sky ceiling filled with puffy white clouds. A heart-shaped cloud floated above her bed, which she noticed right away. "I love it," she said multiple times as she absorbed the beauty of a flower-wrapped trellis mural, which was one of many floral murals, and garden-accented decorations. Catharine's mother, Susan, wiped away tears as she looked alternately between her daughter and the room. Susan and Bill saw the room for the first time along with Catharine, as parents are not allowed to peek beforehand. However, Catharine's sister, Amanda, 23, helped out with the project all day and also documented the event.
Genevieve Cipriano, 18, of Glen Ellyn and her mother, Beth, also volunteered their time. Genevieve is a cancer survivor -- and a November 2013 recipient of a bedroom makeover.
Special Spaces Chicagoland team member Andrea Schwemin of Bartlett designed the room for Catharine, keeping in mind her garden-themed request and including the colors of pink, blue, green and purple. Catharine said she chose the theme because she finds it serene and calming. She also requested a 42-inch smart TV to help her connect to the outside world.
Ken and Judy Markiewicz and their daughter, Jamie, of "Crayons Gone Wild! Murals" of Naperville, created all the murals.
"I'm just so blessed that I had all this done. It's just so great that people can take time out of their lives and do all this great stuff. I just love it." Catharine said. "It's so beautiful in here."
Naperville resident Kelly Knox founded the Special Spaces Chicagoland chapter in 2012. Since its inception, 12 ill children have gotten room makeovers. Knox has a full slate schedule for 2014 and a waiting list. For details, visit specialspaces.org.