Garage makeover is the prescription

Boy's battle with dust eased after family wins contest

  • Jim Melchert, owner of the Garage Store, shows the Tony and Patti Tzoubris and their sons, Tony, 13, and Sam, 11, how easy it is to store garage items and organize their bikes on special hooks. The Arlington Heights family won a garage makeover contest sponsored by the Daily Herald and Garage Store.

    Jim Melchert, owner of the Garage Store, shows the Tony and Patti Tzoubris and their sons, Tony, 13, and Sam, 11, how easy it is to store garage items and organize their bikes on special hooks. The Arlington Heights family won a garage makeover contest sponsored by the Daily Herald and Garage Store. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Tony Tzoubris, 13, of Arlington Heights shows how easy it is to ride his electric scooter on the refinished garage floor after his family won a garage makeover contest.

    Tony Tzoubris, 13, of Arlington Heights shows how easy it is to ride his electric scooter on the refinished garage floor after his family won a garage makeover contest. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • Patti Tzoubris, shown with husband Tony and sons Sam, 11, and Tony, 13, thought a cleaner garage would prevent dust and allergens from entering their Arlington Heights home, making life easier for young Tony, who suffers from an immune deficiency medical condition.

    Patti Tzoubris, shown with husband Tony and sons Sam, 11, and Tony, 13, thought a cleaner garage would prevent dust and allergens from entering their Arlington Heights home, making life easier for young Tony, who suffers from an immune deficiency medical condition. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The Tzoubris' garage now features storage cabinets and hooks on which bikes and sporting equipment can be hung.

    The Tzoubris' garage now features storage cabinets and hooks on which bikes and sporting equipment can be hung. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • They Garage Store installs multiple brands of storage systems, like these cabinets it installed for the Tzoubris family.

    They Garage Store installs multiple brands of storage systems, like these cabinets it installed for the Tzoubris family.

  • Sam Tzoubris tries out the new attic ladder that was installed as part of the makeover.

    Sam Tzoubris tries out the new attic ladder that was installed as part of the makeover. Mark Welsh | Staff Photographer

  • The Tzoubris family's garage was cluttered before the makeover.

    The Tzoubris family's garage was cluttered before the makeover. Courtesy of the Tzoubris family

  • The Tzoubris family's garage was cluttered before the makeover.

    The Tzoubris family's garage was cluttered before the makeover. Courtesy of the Tzoubris family

 
By Jean Murphy
Daily Herald Correspondent
Posted7/5/2015 7:00 AM

Walking through a dirty garage with a cracking and crumbling floor several times a day is much more than simply unpleasant for the Tzoubris family of Arlington Heights. It is a true health risk because 13-year-old Tony Tzoubris Jr. has three immune deficiency diseases and needs to be shielded from germs.

Tracking dirt, dust and road salt into the Tzoubris home can compromise young Tony's fragile immune system.

 

"For him, getting a simple cold can lead to dehydration, which can lead to another hospitalization," said Patti Tzoubris. "We desperately wage a fight each day to keep everything clean so that Tony can stay healthy."

Tony Tzoubris has one of the rarest diseases in the world, called opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome, or OMS. It is named for the darting eyes and muscle twitches that are hallmarks of the disease. There is no known cause or cure for the disease, which is also listed with the National Organization of Rare Diseases. Only about 80 children are diagnosed with the disease each year worldwide.

He is also afflicted by ulcerative colitis (which affects the intestines) and Hashimoto's Disease (which affects the thyroid). Fortunately, after years of intensive treatments, his mother said that Tony Jr.'s OMS is now considered to be in remission.

The state of the Tzoubris family's garage simply gave them one more thing to worry about. So, when Patti was keeping vigil over her son in the hospital recently after a surgery, she clicked on the Daily Herald website, saw the mention of a "Garage Makeover Contest," and on a whim, decided to enter.

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"We are always so busy that I probably wouldn't have normally taken the time to enter. But, since I was awake in the middle of the night in a hospital room, I decided to fill out the application," Patti said.

A few weeks later the family was interviewed by Jim Melchert, owner of Garage Store in East Dundee, and shortly thereafter, they heard they had been chosen for the garage makeover.

"We live such a doctor-filled life that dealing with our bad garage was just too overwhelming for us. So we just cleaned down our foyer all the time and tried to keep our other two children and ourselves from tracking in the salt, dirt and dust," said Tony Sr.

"Now, thanks to Garage Store, our garage is beautiful. It is the nicest room in the house," added Patti. "The transformation went well beyond anything that I could have imagined and the Garage Store owner and employees couldn't have been nicer or more professional."

                                                                                                                                                                                                                       
 

According to Tony Sr., the whole process was very easy for the family. They simply had to purge excess "stuff" from the garage and tell the Garage Store staff what they wish they could have in terms of organization. Melchert and his crew did everything else, from repairing the cracked floor and applying a polymer finish, to repairing and painting the walls, to installing some organization systems for their outdoor items.

"It amounted to a 100 percent improvement in our lifestyle. Now when dirt and salt comes in on the cars, all we have to do it hose it down," Tony Sr. said.

The Tzoubris family's new garage floor is the same as used in clean rooms, restaurants and manufacturing facilities.

"Having. a clean floor is so important for our child that we also plan to buy special mats before next winter which Jim told us we can place under our cars so that none of the salt and water can seep out from under our cars," he continued.

"Sometimes nice guys finish first and that is certainly the case with Jim Melchert and Garage Store. This is the first time I have had an experience with a contractor that was flawless from beginning to end," Tony Sr. said.

"Doing this particular garage makeover really made me proud because I truly made a difference in the lives of a very appreciative and gracious family," Melchert said. "We resurfaced the floor to eliminate dirt and debris, applied a slip-resistant polymer floor like you see in restaurants and manufacturing facilities have, and in so doing, improved their air quality and their chances for health and well-being."

Since concrete floors are porous, they harbor bacteria and dirt, Melchert said. "Water and other liquids can also get into the floor and begin to break it apart, causing small dust particles to fly through the air. This is particularly dangerous for Tony Jr. because of his diseases," he said.

"So Garage Store sealed the floor with a nonporous coating that is easier to clean and maintain and will prevent future cracking and breaking apart."

The Tzoubris family was chosen from 1,060 entries submitted in the contest.

"We narrowed it down to 10 finalists and then interviewed those 10 to choose the winners," Melchert said.

Garage Store has been helping homeowners reclaim their garages and transform them into another "room" of their house since 2007. Garage Store is the place to go when a homeowner wants either a full garage makeover or a minor tweak.

Solutions range from $339 for an overhead storage rack to $10,000 for a total garage makeover with a polymer floor, wall system, cabinet system, etc.

"All of our products and services for the garage come a la carte so that homeowners can pick and choose what fits into their budget," Melchert said. "We design, install and help them organize."

For instance, Garage Store carries several lines of cabinets and wall systems, as well as hooks, baskets, specialized sports racks, and shelves. In fact, they design and install Gladiator GarageWorks powder-coated steel cabinet systems, made by Whirlpool, which come in silver, red or white. They also carry ceiling-mounted bike pulley systems, SafeRacks and MonsterRax for overhead storage and car lifts for stacking and storing vehicles.

They also re-claim unused attic space above garages, adding pull-down ladders and flooring to suitable space above the garage to add as much as 250 to 300 square feet of storage space to the home, Melchert said.

The application of polymer floors like the one given to the Tzoubris family is one of the Garage Store's most popular services.

"Since our staff has years of experience in applying commercial flooring systems to manufacturing facilities, automotive centers and restaurants, they transfer those skill sets to our residential work," he explained. "We also use our commercial-grade products with our residential customers, adding superior strength and performance."

For more information about Garage Store, call (847) 428-8862 or visit www.garage-store.com.

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