Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Real Life Extreme Makeover

Remember that show hosted by Ty Pennington, "Extreme Makeover"? He would surprise a family who had been through some kind of ordeal or who had done something deserving with a complete entire home makeover. Ty and crew would show up, then the family would leave for the hotel until the "big reveal" in which all the neighbors come and everyone cries including all of us viewers watching on TV. 

I think this was the show that really launched this whole design show/renovation/HGTV mania. (Unlike the show Trading Spaces which failed because everyone painted the neighbor's house a horrible shade of orange and it was so obvious that the homeowners absolutely hated what was done to their living room.) 

Good design has this amazing effect on others-why do you think so many people cry when they get a new kitchen? It's not just because the dishwasher didn't work before, it's because it's art. It's beauty. It's something that had to be created and imagined and brought to life. And when it's a surprise, it's even better.

Last Spring our close friends were walking through an uncertain time as they struggled to have a child. After a couple miscarriages and then news that their expected child had a rare condition called an oemphalicile, (sp?) they faced an uncertain period leading up to her birth. They thought she would need some serious care for her entire first year of life. Miraculously, that precious baby girl was able to have two surgeries days after she was born, and in one month's time she was on her way home all sewed up and crying for food like any other baby. Since the pregnancy was so uncertain for a time, they had not really prepared the nursery, and had only had a small shower for close family. So, a month before the due date, with the help of many friends, I pulled together a real life "Extreme Makeover".

Since I only had two weeks to plan the nursery and get a whole bunch of people on board, I had to do most of the planning via email and by looking at products online. I had one hour to measure everything in the room and snap some photos. I knew for a fact that though she was having a girl she hated pink and didn't want anything too girly. I also needed to design something inexpensive and functional, that could be purchased at two major stores, since there was no time to order anything. Then, I had to coordinate the actual work needing to be done over one weekend while they were away. And like on the design shows, I had to work around a giant futon that had to stay in this very small  room.  

Nursery before

It was a crazy and fun project that took place in one weekend when the couple was out of town and about 20 women got to contribute financially and with the actual set up.  The gist was that instead of traditional shower gifts, people contributed items that were part of the design. So even if they couldn't come to help, they got to choose the items they wanted to contribute like rugs, bedding, storage, etc.


The red and white curtains were the inspiration for the design, which coordinated perfectly with the awesome clearance bedding from IKEA I found the day I went shopping. Some fun fabrics, some scrapbook paper prints, some bright red cubes and textured rugs made for some fun pops of color. I wanted the room to be fun but not too them-ey. They already had the furniture-donated from a friend-we just added color, pattern, function and style. One of the girls did all the sewing which gave it a custom look.

And we did it all for a very reasonable amount of money, which allowed everyone to contribute according to their own budget. 

My friend told me later that the transformation of the room not only was nice looking, but it represented the reality of her child coming into the world, and it helped her to anticipate her arrival, not fear it. 

Makeovers are not just about creating order out of chaos, or showcasing design panache. They can be life changing. Extreme or not, they can be profound and powerful.

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