Three Daily Herald readers received big upgrades in their homes over the winter, thanks to the generous sponsors of our fall Room for Living contest. All had written in and sent photos of the "problem areas" within their homes and were ultimately chosen to win specific packages.
Living room makeover
Cindy Walk of Fox Lake was the winner of the grand prize living room makeover valued at more than $8,000. She and her husband, Jim, have two children, including a 4-year-old with special needs. They have lived in their home since 2004.
"I love it!" she says of her renovated living room. "But it is an adjustment. No one can eat in the living room anymore."
The Walks received a $4,000 gift certificate from Steinhafels furniture store in Vernon Hills and used it to purchase a grayish slate blue sectional with a chaise lounge at one end, a storage ottoman, a light oak rocking chair and a distressed wood side table. They also purchased a rustic fireplace console with doors and shelves. Its simulated fire helps heat the home and there's room to mount a television above it.
"They wanted a rustic lodge feel so she assembled a warm and cozy, but fun, room," said Anne Hildreth, design consultant for Steinhafels. "The sectional with the chaise, for instance, allows them to kick their feet up and relax and it has soft corners for their special needs daughter. We put a textured navy blue and cream patterned throw pillow with it.
"The fireplace television console adds an architectural element and focal point to the room and actually acts as a space heater, too. The fireplace is an LED screen, which simulates a fire," she said.
Walk added the rocker because her daughter often needs to be rocked in order to soothe her, Hildreth said.
"Cindy was so grateful for every dollar of product we gave her. She was the nicest, most deserving person who could have won. I felt good about myself after I helped her," Hildreth said.
Mel Alger of Alger Decorating in Palatine agreed, raving about how pleased he was to paint the room and help this winner, who was exceedingly grateful. "I always like to take time out to do this kind of work for nice people.
"Cindy chose paint for her living room and adjoining dining room that is somewhere between gray and tan. In certain lights, it looks bluish-gray and in other lights it looks tan. It is pretty cool," Alger said.
The Walks also received a $2,000 gift certificate from Yonan Carpet One in Rolling Meadows.
"When Cindy initially came to see me, we discussed all of her options for area rugs and what Yonan Carpet One could do," said Julie Boyko, designer and flooring consultant for Yonan. "I let her know that waiting until her new furniture was in her home was the best way to determine the style and size of the area rug she would need.
"Cindy returned to the showroom with the sofa fabric, accent pillow, paint colors and photographs of her room. After looking at many styles of carpet in our showroom, I suggested that she bring home several samples of the carpet styles she liked and look at them in her home setting and lighting," she said.
In the end, the Walks chose a fun and trendy style of carpet by Fabrica for its color, durability, ease of maintenance and luxurious feel. Yonan Carpet One also provided custom-fitted padding for under the area rug, which contributes to comfort, holds the rug in place and protects the hardwood floor from scratches.
"The rug features artistic swirls of color," Walk said. "I also got a matching runner for my galley kitchen since the rug had to be cut down to fit in my living room."
And when it came to lighting, the Walks received two 19-inch Bright Source lamps in green with sparkles from Lifespan Brands. They put them in their master bedroom (away from the children) and used the $2,000 gift certificate from Littman Bros. Lighting in Schaumburg for the living room.
"The Bright Source lamps provide two lighting experiences in one lamp. The motion part of the lamp emits a relaxing, soothing soft light, while the table lamp gives off a bright light perfect for any task -- reading, working and more," said Jennifer Courington, vice president of marketing and product development for Lifespan.
"We are so excited that we were able to participate in the room makeover contest with the Daily Herald. The lucky winner got to pick out two different lamps to decorate her newly remodeled room. We hope these lamps bring her family fun and light for years to come," Courington added.
The Walks chose coordinating rustic, bronze-colored contemporary Quoizel wrought iron lighting featuring butterscotch onyx shades from Littman Bros.
They cannot have any floor lamps because of their daughter so they received a chandelier for the dining room and matching sconces and pendants for the living room. The Walks also chose a 54-inch ceiling fan for the living room.
The Walk family also received a $100 gift certificate from Treetime Christmas Creations in Lake Barrington to upgrade their holiday decor.
"I am so in love with my new living room. It all came together beautifully. This was a huge gift to us," Cindy said.
Bathtub/shower conversion package
Betsy Lewis of Batavia received a partial bathroom makeover package valued at $6,500, thanks to the Room for Living contest.
"My entire experience with the replacement and installation of my tub were wonderful. I was able to look at multiple patterns and colors for the surface that was going to be on the walls around my tub. Since my old bathtub was pink and the tiles were small white squares, I was looking to update the look," Lewis said.
The whole bathroom dated to the 1950s with small tiles and white grouting and it stood out like a sore thumb compared to the rest of Lewis' updated home.
"I chose a beautiful white with some gray variation in it and a glossy surface. The new white tub and walls look amazing. The people who handled the installation were prompt, courteous and cleaned everything up when they were finished," she said.
Lewis also received a $1,000 flooring package from Yonan Carpet One.
"I chose large square tiles in white for the floor and partway up the wall behind the toilet. Previously, there was a big tile trim piece where the wall and floor met, but the new way is to butt the same tile up against each other there. No trim piece. The guy who installed it for Yonan was a true artist," she said.
Lewis already had a white sink and toilet and had white bead board on some of the walls and she took it upon herself to paint the upper portion of the walls a pale blue.
"My bathroom looks like it belongs in a hotel or a spa. It is absolutely beautiful! I am beyond happy," she added.
"We are thrilled to be able to educate the public about options for their current or future homes. We have fabulous shower and bath solutions that nearly everyone can benefit from and feel very fortunate to be able to give away a bathroom remodel to a deserving reader," said Dimitri Nacopoulus, owner of Bath Planet.
"We really enjoy reading the entrants' submission stories and looking through their pictures. But the best part for us is to look at the before-and-after pictures once our installer is done. It's a very rewarding experience for all of us here at Bath Planet," he said.
Lewis also received an iConnect by Detecto, 8-in-1 body fat scale from Lifespan Brands.
"We feel that having a good-looking scale complements a bathroom and is an important part of any bathroom decor," said Lifespan's Courington. "This scale, in particular, will give the bathroom winner of the Room for Living contest both tools and insight into their vital measurements such as weight, BMI, body fat, bone mass, muscle mass, body water and calorie intake, all displayed in easy-to-follow graphs on their smartphone."
Lewis also received a Detecto iConnect 8-in-1 body fat scale from Lifespan Brands.
Interior door package
Mount Prospect resident Lisa Piagari is deliriously happy with her interior door package from HomeStory Chicago, valued at $2,500, and her $100 gift certificate from Treetime.
"My new doors are gorgeous. It is amazing how much they update the house," Piagari said.
She was able to receive three bedroom doors, two bathroom doors and a laundry room door with her prize.
"I received more doors than I even dreamed of," she said. "I chose two-panel white doors with satin nickel hardware for the bedrooms and bathrooms. For the laundry room, which was an odd size, I chose a matching bi-fold door that has an amazing custom fit now. All of these white doors just make everything brighter.
"They are crisp, clean and current," Piagari added. "I am just thrilled. The difference they made in the house was a wonderful surprise."
She was also highly complimentary about the service she received from HomeStory Chicago. "All of their employees were efficient and very friendly. I would like to give all of them a really big shout-out."
Kate Zeller, general manager for HomeStory Chicago, was equally pleased with the experience.
"We feel passionate about being able to improve people's lives in their homes. In addition, we like to give back to the community by giving someone something they could probably not otherwise afford," she said.
"Ours is a unique service and by participating in the Daily Herald's Room for Living contest, we are able to let everyone know there is a door-replacement option for them that does not involve door frame replacement and is quick, easy and clean," Zeller said.