Chicago mom wins a Mom Cave Makeover from local design team

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.

Make it your own!

Every mom needs her own space, whether it’s an alcove tucked
under a staircase or an extra bedroom not being used, says Karyn
Musick, president of Chicago-based Divas ‘n’ Design.

Here are her tips to creating your own:

1. Set a budget before you start.
Decide if you’re going to have a major makeover or just a small

2. Once you designate your area, put
in the elements you like and need. Some moms need a
work area with bookshelves, computers and file cabinets. Some
people want a place to escape without husband or kids, so maybe
it’s a loveseat and a TV where they can just go relax at the end of
the day.

3. Use colors or seasonal
designs in things that can be swapped out easily, such as on
throws, pillows, curtains and rugs. Keep the big pieces neutral so
they can last a long time.

4. Add accessories, but don’t
break the bank. “I’m a big fan of Hobby Lobby,” Musick says. “I go
in and buy little things to place on clients’ bookshelves or tables
to add some bump to the room. I also like HomeGoods and Pier One.
They have little things like pillows and candles and cool lamps and
they’re not really expensive.”

5. In finding your style, look
for things you gravitate to when you go shopping. “Whatever you’re
drawn to are obviously your likes.” Build the room around that,
adding personalized items. “Personalize it as best you can, because
that’s your little space.”

6. If you decide you’d like
professional help, it’s a good idea to have a soft number of how
much you want to spend for your project before sitting down with
designers, Musick says.

For more information, visit

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.

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