On a busy Friday night, Stacie Shanks was working as a server at Wildfire in Lincolnshire when she saw one of her tables filled with visitors who had balloons and flowers. As she hustled over to check on them, she was surprised to find the balloons and flowers were meant for her.
Shanks, a single mom of two boys, was the lucky winner of the Chicago-based Divas `n' Design mom cave makeover contest. The design team would spend $20,000 creating a special getaway spot in her home just for her.
"When they told me I won, I thought, `things like this don't happen to me,'" Shanks says. "I can't even win a scratch-off lottery ticket."
Karyn Musick, president of Divas `n' Design, knew she had a lot of work ahead of her to create Shanks's mom cave.
"The living/dining room area, the first area you walk into, is empty, all blank, all white with off-white carpet," she says.
Shanks agreed those rooms were desperate for a makeover.
"It's kind of a joke that I was in my house for 13 years and it looks like I still rent," Shanks says. "But when you become a single mom, your focus is on your children and everything else just falls on the wayside. Do the kids need new gym shoes? Yes. Do I need a painting on the wall? No."
But Shanks did get a painting on the wall, along with new furniture, a new rug and funky accessories to pull everything together. Musick and her designers sat down briefly with Shanks to assess her likes and dislikes, then created a new room (actually two!).
Because Shanks wasn't keen on colorful walls, they kept the walls and couch neutral, but punched things up with a fuschia chair and accessories that carried the color through the design, including a picture frame with a fuschia mat.
Musick says people often get tired of things after a few years, so by keeping the main elements neutral, it's easy to swap out colors through throws, curtains, pillows, rugs and tabletop accessories.
In Shanks' mom cave, Musick draped a comfy earth-tone green throw over the cream-colored sofa and placed peaceful blue candles in varying heights on the coffee table.
Musick also decided Shanks needed to bring her office out of her bedroom, so they set up a sleek black desk and bookshelves in her mom cave. An oversized, bright flower painting-hand-created to match Shanks' accent color-was hung behind the desk. A retro-looking chandelier Shanks had been eyeing was hung above the desk.
The entire makeover was done in a day, although the painting and electrical work was done ahead of time.
Liz DeCarlo is the senior editor at Chicago Parent.
See more of Liz's stories here.