Fresh New Kitchen, New Bath on Tap for Winners of AARP Room Makeover Contest

Two Families Win Showcase Room Renovations Where Designers Will Demonstrate that User-friendly Renovations Can Be Low-Cost and High Impact

WASHINGTON, Aug. 21 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Top flight designers and remodelers will arrive next week in the homes of two families on opposite sides of the country named winners today in AARP's "Recession Remodel" Room Makeover contest. The families in North Carolina and Washington state won a designer makeover for their kitchen and bath.

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The designers will develop plans that over the next three months will transform the winners' outdated rooms into stylish, safer and more comfortable places for all their family members - old, young, agile and not so. The makeovers will showcase the user-friendly "universal design" approach to architecture and remodeling. By careful placement and sizing of key features, it eliminates impediments and arranges all the room's features to be easier to reach, see and use. Maybe most importantly, the makeovers will also demonstrate that both universal and desirable design can fit in a recession budget.

Nationally known universal designer Cynthia Leibrock, ASID, will work with local interior designers and remodelers at each site to develop a new, user-friendly room that reflects not only the owners' taste but also the best of today's easy living design. "These makeovers will demonstrate how universal design can create attractive and appealing rooms that are also safer, more comfortable and more efficient for everyone who uses them," said AARP Senior Vice President for Livable Communities Elinor Ginzler.

Not too long ago, North Carolina winner Jamie Hammill moved with her mother to their family farmhouse in Richfield about an hour outside Charlotte where her mom had grown up. But the pleasant old-fashioned farmhouse kitchen she remembered now raises challenges for Hammill's mother whose knee trouble puts the lowest and highest cabinet shelves out of reach. Her kitchen makeover will likely change that and also address the kitchen's inadequate lighting and the general lack of storage. The project will also demonstrate adaptable design, planning for future changes without paying for those changes now.

On weekends, Washington state winner Mary Waggoner cares for her 84 and 83-year-old parents who live in a nearby facility the rest of the week. But her parents use mobility devices that Waggoner's bathroom wasn't designed to accommodate, and their safety and comfort are progressively more at risk. The bathroom can't fit her mother's wheel chair. The traditional shower/tub combination poses a safety hazard for her father who uses a walker and prevents her mother from bathing when she visits. As their needs change, the bath may become progressively less usable, eventually preventing their visiting at all. The winning renovation will remove these barriers by adding a wider doorway, or a walk-in shower, or a higher, more efficient toilet, or other safety and cosmetic features to make the room both more attractive and more useful to everyone in the family.

Both makeovers, which will be completed by October, will be chronicled on video for AARP's website -- -- and AARP will document these makeovers to film a series of "how-to" videos for its home design webpage. These "how-to" videos will teach do-it-yourselfers how to make easy, user-friendly upgrades to their own homes.

"I am looking forward to getting started on these projects," said Leibrock. "Universal design is just really good design that can extend people's lives in their homes for years without increasing the cost of the project. More people need to explore it when they think about remodeling. I hope these projects raise some curiosity." Leibrock, an award winning author, popular speaker, and Harvard lecturer, designed her own home in the mountains outside Denver to be a showcase for universal design ( It proved its value this spring when she had hip replacement surgery and her husband tore his Achilles tendon. Both of these healthy, active, athletic sixty-somethings ended up on mobility devices in the same month. "We were able to do all our rehab at home without assistance," said Leibrock, "and believe it or not, in few a weeks we will be cycling, hiking, sea kayaking and river rafting in Alaska."

Local chapters of The American Society of Interior Designers and the National Association of Homebuilders' Remodelers Council are providing assistance to AARP in implementing the "Recession Remodel" Room Makeovers. For more information on the projects or to follow their progress, please contact Nancy Thompson at 202-434-2560 or or visit

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan membership organization that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We produce AARP The Magazine, the definitive voice for 50+ Americans and the world's largest-circulation magazine with over 35.5 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's 40 million members and Americans 50+; AARP Segunda Juventud, the only bilingual U.S. publication dedicated exclusively to the 50+ Hispanic community; and our website, AARP Foundation is an affiliated charity that provides security, protection, and empowerment to older persons in need with support from thousands of volunteers, donors, and sponsors. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands.



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