Three suburban families are enjoying the fruits of the labors involved in entering the Daily Herald's 2017 Room for Living interior makeover contest last fall. They won home improvement prize packages ranging in value from $2,500 to more than $10,000 -- and now that all of the choices and construction is behind them, they can sit back and enjoy.
In each case they saw a notice for the contest in the newspaper, looked at the rooms in their home and decided to give it a try because without help, they knew their homes would not improve anytime soon because of a lack of funds or time, or both. In total, 145 people entered the contest last fall.
Amy and Harry Walters of Round Lake were the winners of the living room makeover, worth more than $10,000. They won $4,000 in furniture from Steinhafels in Vernon Hills and $6,000 in window treatments and flooring from OHi LLC of Elk Grove Village, as well as a $100 gift certificate for holiday decor from Treetime Christmas Creations in Lake Barrington.
In her entry letter, Amy, an eBay vendor and bartender, wrote: "Last year I had 11 people living in my 1,200-square-foot house and it was very crowded. Now we have much more room. My two sons, the girlfriends and two grandbabies moved out a few months ago. Now it is just the hubby, two daughters and one grandson. Since my house is at a normal pace now, I would love to replace my couch and chair, get new carpet or at least clean the ones I have. I have four huge windows that I would love to have window treatments for, too."
As their prize, the Walters received new large-square porcelain tile flooring for their kitchen in cream with a touch of gray, as well as cream and tan vinyl blackout shades topped by a valance, a brown sectional with power recliners, a cream and tannish-gray desk, a rocking recliner, a coffee table with drawers and a top that raises up, and a television stand with shelves that they are using simply as a place for video equipment, books and knickknacks.
In consultation with her Steinhafels designer, she flip-flopped the setup of her family room, placing the television and sectional closer to the kitchen and the desk and bar farther away.
"I like it so much better!" Amy said. She also bought two black-and-white shag rugs (which look gray).
On their own, the Walters have chosen to have their television mounted on the wall and they repainted and lightened up a dark wood bar that they have had for years. It is now gray and off-white. The couple also pulled up the worn carpet on their stairs and discovered wood steps they plan to refinish eventually. But in the meantime, Amy painted the risers off-white and outlined them in gray, while she painted the railings gray and the spindles off-white.
"It all looks phenomenal!" she enthused. "We love everything."
The Walters family has lived in their home since 2000. It is a two-story former summer cottage about a block from Round Lake. The house was originally built around 1948 and now features three bedrooms and 1½ baths.
Harry is a gravel hauler who owns his own truck and regularly goes on leave when the weather turns cold and construction takes a hiatus, so they must always plan for that annual drop in income, Amy explained.
Iris and Barry Gertz of Wheeling were the winners of the bathtub and shower makeover, valued at $6,500. The Gertzes have been living in a two-story townhouse for 33 years and their bathroom (which the entire family shares) was in desperate need of a renovation.
The tub and all of the metal pieces (including the frame of the sliding shower door) had been infected with a bad case of rust.
The Gertzes' prize package, provided by Bath Planet, included a new tub/shower base, shower wall surround, new chrome plumbing fixtures, a corner caddie and a chrome shower rod. She also got a $100 gift certificate for holiday decor from Treetime.
"I have been trying for 20 years to remodel our bathroom tub, which is the only tub in the house. Every time I had a plan, my husband lost a job or we had a major expense and we could not spend the money. Now my daughter is getting married, so any money I wanted to use for a much-needed remodel is going for the wedding. The mold in the seams is not healthy and as much as I try to clean it, I cannot make it go away," she wrote in her entry letter.
The Gertzes chose to replace the tub with a marble-looking shower unit featuring white and a touch of gray on the walls, a solid white floor and satin nickel hardware.
Once it was all installed, Iris decided she had to invest in a gray, wood-look laminate plank floor. She also repainted the walls white and bought new sliding shower doors.
"The whole room is now spruced up," she said. "It looks incredible!"
Iris is a corporate art consultant and Barry sells outside amenities like benches, flagpoles and playground equipment to schools, park districts and hospitals.
Jenna and Matt Kilday of Geneva love the new interior doors they won, valued at $2,500 and provided by HomeStory Chicago. They also received a $100 Treetime gift certificate for holiday decor.
"We are extremely happy and so grateful. These doors have been life-changing!" Jenna said.
The Kildays have lived in their 1989 home for almost two years and had hated the "uninspiring, drab flat-panel doors" in the upstairs hall. Jenna had written in her entry that the old doors made "the upstairs hallway so unbelievably dark and outdated. New doors would completely transform the hall and our master bathroom door was in such bad shape we had to remove it and have yet to replace it."
"We can't believe the transformation," she said recently. "We installed new white two-panel interior doors both upstairs and downstairs, for a clean, modern look and we painted the frames white to match and to brighten the hall."
Jenna is an account representative for a water treatment products company and Matt is a broker and manager for a consumer packaged goods company.