'F' for Freebies

Social Space Makeover Contest

I’ve been able to work with some amazing sponsors here on Making it Lovely. Last year, I partnered with American Express and used their Membership Rewards points program to redo our bedroom. This summer, I was offered the chance to redo another space with 150,000 points, but I’ve been very fortunate lately, and I thought that you might like the opportunity instead. So I’m working with them to give it away!

(That’s enough to win that settee above and then some!)

You could redeem points for gift cards to stores like Pottery Barn, west elm, or Crate & Barrel (I love using my points that way, though I’ve been eying the camera equipment lately.) Or go for something fun like a Wii or a barbecue. There are a million things from which to choose.

Winning 150,000 American Express Membership Rewards points would go pretty far in redoing a room. Given a shopping spree like that, what would you get? I’ll tell you what you should get. Wait, that sounds like I should be shaking my fist at you. What I mean is that the winner will also receive a custom design plan from me with advice and suggestions for the makeover!

A little before & after inspiration…

Brandon and I did this backyard patio makeover on our own (manual labor and all), but every post about makeovers should include a little inspiration! The contest winner will receive a custom design plan like the one I created for our patio to help guide them (though you’d be free to use the points however you wish).

So, how do you enter?

American Express and I want to help you makeover your social space. It could be the living room where everyone hangs out and chats, your kitchen (everyone always ends up in the kitchen at parties, right?), or maybe a it’s a patio or back deck. Where do you spend time with family and friends? We want to help you spruce it up!

Leave a comment with the following to enter:

  • Tell me what space you want to make over, and why. Be brief (a few sentences is fine). I’ll be including your words in the voting round if you’re a finalist!
  • I need photo(s) and/or video of the space. This will also help determine the finalists, and your images are part of what people will be voting on, so make ’em good! You can host your photos and videos on free sites like flickr or YouTube, or you could post them to your blog if you have one. Please don’t post photos or video here — simply include a link to them in your comment.
  • You can enter as many separate spaces as you’d like, but only one entry per person will be selected in the finals.
  • Make sure you enter a valid email address when leaving your comment. It won’t be published publicly, but I’ll need it to contact you if you’re a finalist.

Entries will be accepted through Saturday, June 11, at 11:59 PM CST, and only US residents are eligible. I’ll select the top ten finalists and post them on Monday, the 13th. The winner of the 150,000 Membership Rewards points and custom design plan will then be chosen by readers of Making it Lovely! The runner-up will also receive a prize: a $100 gift card to The Home Depot. Good luck to all of you!

* June 12: Comments are now closed. The ten finalists will be announced Monday, June 13.

Sources & Paint ColorsNeed design help? Let's work together.

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  • Christine
    June 11, 2011 at 6:57 am

    Our apartment has one “social room”: a combined living room, dining area and kitchen. Since my husband and I (plus our sweet dog, Phoebe) spend quite a bit of time and host friends and family in this small space, it would be great to transform it into a space better suited for entertaining. I love reading about interior design, but don’t know where to start to make choices that work together. Right now the furniture is mainly a mix of hand-me-downs and Craigslist finds that are all different styles and when guests come over, we end up pulling dining chairs up to the couch area to have enough seating. We plan to stay here for several more years, so we are also thinking ahead about how to make this space work well for kids. Nicole’s sense of style plus the American Express points would help to make this space more cohesive, add some color and fun, and make it a lovely place for spending time with family and friends! :)

    Thanks for offering this generous contest!


  • katie
    June 11, 2011 at 8:01 am

    oh good grief, do we ever need this!
    we’re in the end process of remodeling our family/dining room/loft(which used to be the garage). it’s as bare as they come right now…and we seem to be at a little bit of a standstill. we’ve been doing the work ourselves and doing projects as we can afford. the american express points would be just the boost we need to put the finishing touches on the space. and although it’s been a beautiful process of living in a constant state of dust and candle-lit dinners at the kitchen island, i think we’re ready to wrap it all up with a big shiny bow.

    thanks a million!


  • Jessica Nordskog
    June 11, 2011 at 9:28 am

    We had a baby in January and moved in March. Our new house has an L-shaped living space. We have 3 problem areas:
    1. There’s a massive “dead spot” in the middle of the dining and living room (the corner of the “L”)
    2. The fireplace, mirror and built-ins need a major upgrade.
    3. The curtains are from the original owners. They’re functional but ugly!

    We’re excited to someday entertain in our new space and we want to be proud of what we’ve done to it!


  • Summer
    June 11, 2011 at 11:31 am

    My husband and I live in a cute little one bedroom apartment in Chicago with our two cats. Unfortunately living in such an old building means our main living/social space is one big open room with an awkward floor plan and not a lot of space to put our friends and family when they visit – and we love to have people over.

    Since we rent, it seems so difficult to find ways to make the space our own. I’d love some design guidance because right now the space just feels so cluttered and like we still live in a college dorm.


  • Lisa
    June 11, 2011 at 11:54 am

    What a fun contest!

    We bought our house in Hoffman Estates, IL in 2007 and have gutted and remodeled nearly the entire inside. Meanwhile, the outside has been neglected and is looking rather sad (as is our bank account). I would love to makeover our deck to make it an inviting space for our whole family, including our one year old daughter, Erin. It has so much potential.


  • Deanna M
    June 11, 2011 at 12:07 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    Thank you for the wonderful contest!

    The social space I chose is our backyard patio. It’s a lovely space that has, over time, turned into an uninviting, hodge podge of stuff. My dream has always been to have a cozy, inviting space. We have lovely saltillo tiles, French doors, a nice patio cover, and trees.

    Three things that would stay would be our granite and copper fire pit and the Adirondack chair(s). My husband made the chairs and there is only one in the photos because the second one isn’t finished yet. I would not be opposed to painting or re-staining them. And the grill. Which we use a lot.

    We live in central Phoenix, Ariz., which means we can be outside using this space most of the year. We’re just moving into the hot season, but even when it’s hot, we use the grill several times per week. Misters would be a perfect addition to keep the area cooler during the summer.

    I’ve never been able to pull together any kind of cohesive design for this space and it would make me so happy to make it more friendly and inviting (camoflaging the camper would be nice too!).

    Here’s a link to my photos:

    Thank you!

  • Michele
    June 11, 2011 at 12:10 pm

    Thanks so much for hosting this contest. I’d like to make over our new sun room and deck. The room connects to our kitchen and will be bright (lots of windows) and cozy. We look forward to using this as a space to hang out with friends and family. We’ll have lots of seating in the room (probably a bench, couch, wide ottoman, and a breakfast/coffee bar facing the backyard), as well as a lot of storage for my 18-month-old son’s toys. We’ll also have seating outside on the deck. You can view recent pictures here: http://mingshan2.blogspot.com/2011/06/big-house-project-part-10.html and the whole project here: http://mingshan2.blogspot.com/search/label/home_improvement

    I’ve been blogging for many years and would be honored to partner with American Express on this project.

    • Michele
      June 11, 2011 at 5:41 pm

      I forgot to mention that we are really struggling with the look of the space so would really benefit from the custom design plan too! Thanks for considering us.

  • cate s. h.
    June 11, 2011 at 12:52 pm

    Hi Nicole,
    Great contest! My handy husband is building a screened-in porch on our 1960s ranch. I cannot WAIT for it’s completion, but we’re on a super tight budget, as we’ve just welcomed our new baby girl Elsie. I refinished and reupholstered four chairs for the porch, but other than that, we have nothing. I have dreams of a great long dining table, a hanging daybed for afternoon naps, a bar cart of some sort, and some fab accessories. I’d love a plan from your creative mind!
    Thanks for the opportunity!

  • social space makeover contest – making it lovely blog « heather and mike’s goings on
    June 11, 2011 at 12:55 pm

    […] of the awesome home design blogs that I follow regularly (Making it Lovely) is having a social space makeover contest, sponsored by American Express. The winner receives […]

  • Alicia O
    June 11, 2011 at 12:58 pm

    We would love to makeover our yard! We have lived here since 2007 and we rarely ever use it because we have no shade. We have a neighbor that lives behind us that we desperately need some privacy from. We would love to be able to take our 2 little boys and dog outside to play more and we would also love to be able to have our family and friends over for gatherings. It would be awesome if you could make a more welcoming space a reality!!


  • Heather Banks
    June 11, 2011 at 1:00 pm

    Help! We’ve been remodeling the inside of our home for the past 2 1/2 years but have totally neglected the outside of our home – including our front patio that has a lot of potential but is just barren and boring! When we had our daughter Zoey 10 months ago we really stopped all work on our home and now that she is getting close to walking we want to spend more time outside with her and entertaining friends and family but have no place suitable to do so (our backyard is even worse than this, with a death trap back porch!)Would LOVE to be considered for this awesome contest, here is our entry and photos:


    Heather Banks

  • Julie
    June 11, 2011 at 1:22 pm

    Hi Nicole! How generous of you to host this giveaway! And also, you look stunning in that dress. (Will flattery get me anywhere? ;)

    I, too, try to make it lovely for my friends and family, but alas…this year, I have fallen short. Like – freakishly short. Incredible Shrinking Woman…short. I’d FLIP OUT if I could makeover my back yard/patio so I could host my girlfriends, make a nice space for my husband to enjoy his (occasional) cigar, and my daughter’s playdates. The yard/deck are teeny tiny, but we live in Austin – so outdoor space can be enjoyed for the majority of the year.

    I even JUST NOW (56 minutes ago!) finished a garage sale in order to scrounge up some cash for the project, but I made enough to paint the deck, maybe? I am dreaming of ground cover (grass? something sturdier against the Texas heat?), some perennials, some more decking, and patio furniture/lighting.

    I so wish I had started tackling this early Spring, but my 19-month old started daycare, and as such, has been sick ever since. Well – surgery Monday for the ol’ tubes in the ears bit for my little one, and hopefully she’ll then feel good enough to enjoy her yard. Now, we have to make it for her. When we moved from NYC, a big reason was to raise our child with some outdoor space…

    My blog hosts a number of rad chicks who are the Ultimish…not quite the ultimate mother/wife/girlfriend/daughter, etc., but close enough. I want to be the ultimish homemaker. Yard maker?

    Sigh. But unless, I find an old lamp with a genie in it, we may have to put it off even longer.
    Be my genie, Nicole. Be my genie.


  • Ann
    June 11, 2011 at 1:29 pm

    This room—the sunroom, fireplace room, or “in there”—has an identity crisis. It’s a walk-through to the back of the house. Has great windows into the backyard, an out-of-proportion fireplace, and doorway to the back porch. It’s narrow, with unlovely painted paneling and funky trim on the bookshelves. Floors need refinishing. Too-big couch seems placed to watch the traffic walk by the fireplace, rather than for conversation. Not too social! Knock out the wall to the kitchen? Could smart furniture help this room feel less accidental? We need some clever eyes to help us see the possibility “in there”…please help us make it lovely!

    Longer story: my husband will renovate the 50’s ranch we bought. The daydream: a hip redo with energy efficient perks and hospitable, vibrant living space that feels like us. The reality: unglamorous tasks like grounding outlets (R.I.P., electric coffee maker), insulating the attic, removing AstroTurf from porches/entrances (baked on through the decades), and pulling barrels (yep) of poison ivy out of the once-well-tended wilderness of a backyard get priority and funding over the fun and pretty. The twist: We had a baby! It feels more important than ever for our home to feel livable and lovely. Thanks for considering us!

  • Charity D'Amato
    June 11, 2011 at 1:34 pm

    Ahoy Matey! Put on your sea legs you are invited to hop aboard and put your magical design sense to work on the S. S. Amelia, a 1971 21” Airstream Land Yacht.

    I’ve wanted a “silver bullet” since I’ve been in 4th grade, I dreamt of adventures, entertaining and camping out in style…my goal was to buy one by the time I was 40. Well, last year I turned 35 and decided there was no better time to get started than now. I went to my trusty Craigs List, shopped around a bit and decided on “Miss Amelia” my new friend.

    Let’s just say I’ve bit off a bit more than I had to chew, if you know what I mean.

    Come to find out, this little aluminum camper needed more than paint, cute curtains and adorable prints from Etsy. I started the project by needing to replace the entire undercarriage steel cross beams, we’re talking major welding work. Currently she is completely gutted and now is the fun part of putting her back together.

    I love your traditional-with-a-twist style and I know you could chart and navigate the perfect interior space for an open road design adventure. I have been reading your blog for years and would be honored to have your help with this project. Fingers crossed!

    Below is a small blog I posted a few pics for your review, but feel free to poke around and explore, she truly is a labor of love.


  • Jaclyn Levy
    June 11, 2011 at 2:01 pm

    I created a short story along with photos using Facebook to submit our so-so master bedroom in consideration of this awesome opportunity and contest. I hope you enjoy it!


    Hi! Welcome to our home. I’m Jaclyn and this is my handsome husband Kevin. We moved to Illinois in 2008 and were fortunate enough to buy a Frank Lloyd Wright inspired home. We will be celebrating our five year wedding anniversary this Summer! In honor of our upcoming anniversary, we would like to make over our master bedroom into a restful, romantic retreat, but are truly lost as how to unlock the room’s potential to make that happen. Currently it is a hodgepodge collection of furniture from a headboard and night stands my husband built, to an Ikea dresser, to the dresser we found while dumpster diving. It would be a wonderful 5 year anniversary gift to have the opportunity to work with Nicole and American Express to make over our master bedroom into something lovely. Thank you for considering us!


  • Jessica Nordskog
    June 11, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Our recently purchased home has a room that was added off the back. It’s a square room with wood paneling and brown carpeting – ugh!

    We refer to it as the “rumpus room” because it’s currently where all of our baby toys are. We would love to turn it into more of a rumpus room for adults with just a hint of “baby.” More of a place to hang out with friends with coffee or cocktails while the kids crawl on the floor.
    Help us, please!!!


  • Lisa
    June 11, 2011 at 2:35 pm

    Hi Nicole-
    You rock! Thanks for a chance to win a makeover. Our Seattle 1932 tudor has a fabulous master bedroom that deserves far better styling than we have provided. Right now, as you can see in the video, all it’s sporting is sad hand-me-downs (plus one cool bookcase and antique bedframe). A little American Express magic + your incredible creative touch could turn it fabulous in a weekend. I have no doubt. Thanks again for the opportunity and also for the inspiration. Visiting your blog is always a sweet daily treat.

  • Megan
    June 11, 2011 at 3:02 pm

    Our front porch is a great place to eat dinner with friends, hang out after the kids are asleep, or just sit and watch the world go by. Unfortunately, it also has almost no furniture, a lot of peeling paint, and an ugly front door.

    We’d love help making it into the beautiful space we know it could be – private enough for a cup of coffee on the glider, public enough for neighbors to stop by and chat any time.


  • Jaimie
    June 11, 2011 at 3:06 pm

    I would love to makeover our backyard.


    There’s really nothing worth looking at back there, and I’d love to make it into a nice space to have the neighbors over and sit outside having a drink. The patio furniture is hand-me-down from my MIL, and it’s not bad by any means, but it’s rather boring. I’d like something with more personality to it.

    In my dream patio we’d rip out the cement and replace it with flagstone maybe, as well as removing the roof (which was added after the house was built and blocks most of the natural light to the living room) and replace it with a wooden pergola to filter light without totally blocking it altogether. A firepit would be nice too I think.

    There is next to no landscaping and I’d like to do something but I have no idea what. We live in a drought zone and I hate watering the yard to keep the grass alive – it’s expensive and wasteful. I don’t like the limestone around the base of the two trees – our house is red brick in the front and the limestone just doesn’t make sense. Not to mention whoever patched the stones around the little tree used a dark grout and it looks poorly done. I’d like to repave them with something that matches the house and looks nicer, or maybe not repave it at all. I’m pretty sure I want some daffodils in place of that monkey grass.

    I want to redo the fencing around our garden. It’s pretty sad looking, and could use something sturdier than the flimsy wire fencing with chicken wire attached. Probably making it into a raised bed garden.

    Over by the side of the house you can see a piece of lattice wood. There are also several giant rocks that came out of the garden at the base of it to keep the dogs from digging back there. It’s where the AC unit and the garbage can are, and it needs a proper fence.

    Oh and the number one thing I really want to do is paint the exterior of the house (and the shed) a medium brown with a touch of grey, or maybe a sage green, with cream trim.

  • Ashlea Walter
    June 11, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Oh my, what an opportunity to turn our under-construction-for-two-years-but-who’s-counting KITCHEN into a space I happily can share with friends and family. We started working on it before our first little birdie was born, then of course, family life happily got in the way. But then I think we just got used to the chaos. Now with baby #2 on its way, I’m fearing that another two + years will go by. Yikes, please help!

    The kicker was when I realized Wren’s play kitchen that I just finished for her 2nd birthday was truly the nicest part of our entire kitchen. Case in point – the real oven still lives in the basement after we took it out to put in the floors. Aaaahh, the irony of being a Mama.

    Here are some pics of the space. Pick me, pick me!


  • Katie
    June 11, 2011 at 3:51 pm

    It has been so fun reading others’ posts on what space they would redo and thinking of which one I would vote for. I consider ourselves skilled DIYers and this year’s budget was spent finishing a beautiful space for our new baby boy. We turned this office: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/AzY_kaOFE_sXT4meTvHFgA?feat=directlink

    Into this nursery (everything from the floors and French doors to the draperies, furniture, bedding, and decorations we did for $1300 by doing all the work ourselves): https://picasaweb.google.com/singleleafphoto/FinishedNursery?authkey=Gv1sRgCKSF6sa9xubdPw&feat=directlink

    But nurseries aren’t all that great for entertaining. And a social space which needs some love and attention is our backyard. We would love to have a space that would work well for entertaining and what we currently have doesn’t really scream “come on in”. In fact, it reminds me of the pit in the TV show “Parks & Recreation”. We have begun some of the work already – we rebuilt the rotting fence so it would actually contain our dogs, and we removed the pond liner so it wouldn’t be a mosquito haven this summer – but this was all we were going to be able to get done this year. I think a nice patio with furniture, a grill, and possibly reseeding the yard and doing a bit of landscaping would make it a functional social space, but we aren’t really sure where to start or how to rework it. As always, we’re willing to do the “get your hands dirty and make your back sore” labor it takes to stretch every penny out of the funds as possible. You can see what we have to work with here: https://picasaweb.google.com/lh/photo/Q302bb_g1EcNqZ0272tXdAC8RRAqs1rzJ-Oz4dfY0S4?feat=directlink

  • Jill
    June 11, 2011 at 3:53 pm

    yay for this contest!

    we bought our house last summer. not needing a formal living room, we decided to make it our music/craft room, a shared space for the husband and i. right now, it’s pretty much his room. everything about the room feels temporary to me. it’s just a lost space that we don’t use together or with guests. i fear it will become a giant storage unit for guitars and thrift store bric-a-brac.

    seating, lighting, clutter organization/storage would be welcome additions when we host crafternoons and jamborees or when it’s just the two of us spending time together. it has the potential to be a really special room. and as the gateway to the front porch…we might actually enjoy more fresh air.

    check out my pictures. i must warn you — the room is blue, very very blue.



  • Catherine
    June 11, 2011 at 3:54 pm

    People immediately gravitate toward our Sunroom. It could be the perfect place for late night cocktails, reading during a thunderstorm, or laughter filled meals minus the mosquitos! Unfortunately, the flooring was removed after water damage, leaving us with plywood chunks on a bare deck floor…and a sad, solitary old nursery glider as the only seating. I would love to see it at its full potential!

    Thank you so much for this opportunity – – so generous!


  • Marcia
    June 11, 2011 at 4:35 pm

    What an amazing contest! Thank you for being so generous!

    I’ve recently redone almost my entire house, but there is one space that hasn’t seen any love. The house is very narrow (like most houses in Philly), and the first floor is a combination living/dining room, so I’d like to have another place where everyone can go. I’m hoping to re-do the basement, and since I bookmarked practically every page of your basement remodel, I could really use your help!

    The house was my grandparents’ (and where my dad grew up), and the basement used to be where he and his friends hung out. However, after some flooding and 40 years of neglect, it’s pretty much a disaster. The broken linoleum was pulled up, displacing hundreds of creatures that had never before seen the light of day, but there’s so much more to go. There’s a bathroom and space for a future laundry room, but right now it’s just a mess.

    Take a look: http://goo.gl/eYueW

    And thanks again!

  • Michelle Chilton
    June 11, 2011 at 4:54 pm

    As a daily reader, I’d just like to say I absolutely love your posts and thank you so much for hosting such a wonderful contest. As much as I would appreciate this for myself I am entering this for my amazing mother, Barbara. She is a very courageous woman who has encountered many battles in life and has ALWAYS put everyone else before herself. If given the opportunity I’d like to use this as a means of ‘paying her back’ on behalf of all the lives she’s helped and inspired, including mine. Every piece of furniture and/or décor you see in the pictures is over 20 years old and as much as I’ve loved growing up on that pineapple covered couch and loveseat I think it’s safe to say it’s time for them to go! PLEASE help me help my mom!


  • Erin H
    June 11, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    Hello Nicole-thank you for this awesome opportunity.

    We purchased our 1925 duplex (first time homeowners and landlords!) in May of 2010. In the past year most of our funds went to the rental side to get it ready for our first tenants-central heating, updated electricity, new front door and window.

    Upon moving into our side, we pulled up all the carpet (sans bedroom) and lived on the original, damaged hardwood floors for two months, and finally in July we put in laminate flooring which did wonders for our living room, hallway and office.

    I am hoping to be considered for either our kitchen (wildest dreams), bathroom (second wildest dream), or bedroom-probably the most worthy candidate. Like most blank canvases, our home has much potential, it’s just a balancing act of funds and time.

    I love our charming home (even though my voice sounds incredibly bored in the video-so not bored!) and would like to keep its vintage feel as we continue to make changes in the coming years.

    Here is an intro to our home:

    Secondly, a complete house tour:

    Thank you again!

  • Lynn
    June 11, 2011 at 5:07 pm

    I am so excited about this opportunity! thank you so much for spreading the lovely!!

    My boyfriend and I bought our 1938 Spanish bungalow in a shoddy suburb of San Francisco 2 years ago. We share our home with our dog, Bacon, and cat, Kirby. Our house has so many amazing features that I love. But as i know i don’t have to tell you, its age bring many aspects of home ownership that i loathe.

    I would love to make over the livingroom. It is the room you walk into from the front door, and it is the room we spend nearly all our free time in. Its amazing triangle shaped window, and lovely sconces on every wall make it both breathtaking and a nightmare to try and decorate around. I would love the opportunity to get your ideas and have some extra cash to buy amazing pieces to compliment the room’s unique features and style.

    thanks so much!!


  • Jill Browning
    June 11, 2011 at 5:38 pm

    Hi Nicole!

    Thank you so much for this opportunity! You can view pictures of my home on my blog: http://jillbrowning.com/blog/2011/06/11/contest-submission/


  • Grace
    June 11, 2011 at 6:12 pm

    Nine months ago when we purchased our new home, we were so excited by the great room downstairs. We were newly a family of 4 and had just moved from a 2 bedroom, 1.5 bath. We had big plans for the space — play room, media area, entertainment, office, all in one. Fast forward to today and the room has become more of a catch all for stuff then a gathering place for people. We have a lot of the major pieces, but it lacks personality and the right layout to function properly. It is L shaped and I think well suited for a multi-purpose room, but more of a challenge then I imagined. We are looking for some inspiration to bring it from BLAH to WOW!


    And since that room is not so inviting, we mostly gather here:


    But this again, lacks personality. No paint, very little on the walls, temporary chairs that don’t match our sofa. We would love some advice on where to go from here!

  • Jessica
    June 11, 2011 at 6:23 pm

    This is an awesome giveaway! We moved into our first house a year ago, and we’re in love with everything…except for the kitchen. We enjoy entertaining and having dinner parties, but everyone always ends up in our kitchen, standing around awkwardly. The room is a good size, but it’s pretty much a blank slate (there’s even an entire blank wall), and we’re stuck on how to update it without doing a full-scale renovation. We haven’t even painted yet because we don’t know where to begin!

    You can find photos of our kitchen here:

    Thanks for considering us!

  • Frances Robson
    June 11, 2011 at 6:33 pm

    We are a family of 6. We moved into this house 4 years ago. The photos I am sending you are of the room above the garage that is shared by two of my daughters (ages 14 and 16). This room is very large and is also regularly used to entertain guests. We would love to do this over in a style that would be good for such multi-purposes.


    Thank you,
    Frances Robson

  • Sarah Carnes
    June 11, 2011 at 6:43 pm

    Please help us make over our tiny ’70’s kitchen. It was built in a house designed for entertaining but the kitchen is cramped and hard to use and while it’s ’70’s stylish, it’s horribly dated. The appliances are all vintage 1971 with the exception of the dish washer. Can you help us please?


  • Stephanie Chefas
    June 11, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Hi Nicole!

    I’m super excited to learn of this generous makeover giveaway and to hopefully benefit from your decorating expertise!

    About a year ago, my boyfriend and I moved into our first apartment in the Los Angeles area. We moved in together with virtually nothing and slowly began acquiring household items as the months went on. The idea was to focus on guest areas first (living room, kitchen, bathroom) so our friends and family would feel welcomed and then concentrate on our bedroom last. Much to our disappointment, I lost my job about six months ago before we could really start to tackle the bedroom.

    Though we were able to purchase a dresser from IKEA and a neutral rug from a local vender, much of the room is a collection of mismatched furniture and odds & ends given to us by the landlord. The room just never received any creative attention and has become our least comfortable and unwelcoming room in the apartment. In fact, I’ve never extended an apartment guest tour to the bedroom because of its depressing ambiance. We would love for this room to become the warm and cozy sanctuary we’ve always envisioned it being.

    Thanks for considering our bedroom! Any advice or suggestions for “making it lovely” would be a dream come true!


  • Stephanie Chefas
    June 11, 2011 at 6:50 pm

    Hi Nicole!

    I’m super excited to learn of this generous makeover giveaway and to hopefully benefit from your decorating expertise!

    About a year ago, my boyfriend and I moved into our first apartment in the Los Angeles area. We moved in together with virtually nothing and slowly began acquiring household items as the months went on. The idea was to focus on guest areas first (living room, kitchen, bathroom) so our friends and family would feel welcomed and then concentrate on our bedroom last. Much to our disappointment, I lost my job about six months ago before we could really start to tackle the bedroom.

    Though we were able to purchase a dresser from IKEA and a neutral rug from a local vender, much of the room is a collection of mismatched furniture and odds & ends given to us by the landlord. The room just never received any creative attention and has become our least comfortable and unwelcoming room in the apartment. In fact, I’ve never extended an apartment guest tour to the bedroom because of its depressing ambiance. We would love for this room to become the warm and cozy sanctuary we’ve always envisioned it being.

    Thanks for considering our bedroom! Any advice or suggestions for “making it lovely” would be a dream come true!

    Thanks again,


  • Nissa
    June 11, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    HELP!! Why us? Because our Living Room has SO much potential! It’s a big room with 12 foot ceilings, large windows that let in a ton of light, a brick fireplace … but it’s been two years since we’ve built this house and it is still builder-grade b-o-r-i-n-g. We’ve done the best we can with what we have (leftover couches, tables and lamps from our college days) but we just haven’t had the money to do the room the way it should be done. Please help us, we are so ready to be out with the old and in with the new!



    Thank you!

  • Heidi
    June 11, 2011 at 7:17 pm

    How kind of you to offer up your points to a winning reader! I know the winner will be excited to have your advice, as well!

    My husband and I have been working hard to lose weight – I started at 366 pounds, and he started at 220 pounds. So far, we have lost 100 pounds together (55 for me, 45 for him) by being more active and cooking lots of fresh, healthy food in our kitchen. We’ve even been hosting dinner parties with the goal of showing people how delicious and filling a meal under 600 calories can be.

    Unfortunately, our kitchen is tiny and not very well-equipped. I know that some small fixes (like cupboard paint and countertops) and some new supplies (like some good pots and pans) would really help us on our weight loss journey. It would also help us continue share our healthy recipes and lifestyle choices with our party guests and my blog readers.

    (And if you’d like to see more about our journey, I’ve been blogging our experience at http://heidi-finishing-the-hat.blogspot.com/)

    Thank you for the opportunity to enter!

  • Kerry Axley
    June 11, 2011 at 7:21 pm

    We need help is an understatement. Our back yard and patio is embarrassing, sad, pathetic and in dying need of some attention. We’ve been using it more now that we have a toddler who wants to play outside for hours on end. If only I didn’t worry about losing her in the weeds or getting hurt on all the structural hazards or blinding her from the lack of aesthetics and crummy design choices I’ve made. Wait I don’t think there is anything in our yard that can be considered a design choice. Please help, that’s all I can say.

  • JessK
    June 11, 2011 at 7:27 pm

    Thanks for a great contest, Nicole! I would love to make over our family room. I had big plans when we moved in 3 years ago, but then the real estate market crashed, leaving our condo across the country unsold and eating up most of our extra cash. What little we’ve had has gone to rooms for the 2 children we’ve added to our family in that time. We could really benefit from your expertise! The space is a good size and gets lots of light, but it is extremely boring and the furniture from our tiny condo does not really work–and we can’t all fit on it any more! Please help! :)

    Pictures on my blog:

  • Vanessa
    June 11, 2011 at 7:30 pm

    Hi Nicole. I’m adding my cement pond to the mix. Please consider our backyard pool for one of your amazing makeovers! Thank you -Vanessa


  • Virginia
    June 11, 2011 at 8:12 pm

    Hi Nicole, what an awesome opportunity; thank you! We would love to make over our family/craft/mancave/guest room. This is the bottom floor of our narrow townhouse and the first room you see upon walking through the front door. It’s the space that holds our hobbies (crafting for me and restoring old arcade cabinets for my hubby), our instruments (piano for me and guitar for the hubs!) and also entertainment items like video games. I’ll shamefacedly admit that despite the chaos, we’ve actually housed guests in this room on a futon on the floor, since our two bedrooms are occupied by us and our baby daughter. I would love for the space to be “zoned” a little bit better (the arcade collection may move elsewhere, with the exception of Donkey Kong) and be able to function as a more cohesive and welcoming-looking family room with a sofa bed for the occasional guest, and also be outfitted with wall shelving to house our huge collection of books (currently living in boxes in the garage).

    Link to photos with descriptions in the captions:

  • Jill
    June 11, 2011 at 8:25 pm

    This is perfect timing because my husband and I are going to work on our large screened porch this summer, and we could really use some advice and those reward points. It is a great space for relaxing and entertaining, and it’s one of the reasons we bought this house, but it really needs some help. We have this wonderful old glider that I had reupholstered in May and some other furniture that can stay or go. I’ve seen a rug online that I love, but it’s out of our price range unless we get some help, and I have other ideas for making this the cozy, cheerful space that it should be.

    Thank you for hosting this great contest!!

  • Janet
    June 11, 2011 at 8:36 pm

    Hi Nicole, My entry into the contest is a deck. Since my husband and I bought our house two years ago we have kept busy. We’ve done a lot of work on the inside of the house, but so far the only progress we’ve made in the backyard is pulling up weeds and trees. We have a beautiful deck with great entertaining potential. However the deck is empty. We need some real outdoor furniture and some design help to make it great.

    Thank you so much for considering my entry.


  • bridget b.
    June 11, 2011 at 8:38 pm



    I would LOVE to make over my backyard. We’ve lived here 6 years and we never go back there because it’s such a mess. There’s an ancient playplace back there that has become the hangout center for the neighborhood cats along with a collection of old satellite dishes and odds and ends. We’ve also been babysitting an unassembled patio set for a relative for about a year.

    Now that we have a 14 month old, we’d love to make the space safer for her. The concrete part is also pretty small, so we’d like it a little bit bigger to be more inviting for family get togethers.

    I envision cobble stone pavers and a pergola covering. I’d like a multi-functional patio set where we could eat dinner outside or just sit and relax with a book.

    My daughter is a total water baby, so I would like a wading pool and toy sprinkler set. We’d also like an updated clubhouse/playplace combination where our daughter and future kids could hang out. I would add a cute little fenced in area around the bottom of the playplace to create her own mini “front yard”.

    Nice landscaping would round out the backyard.

    Thanks for such a great contest!

  • Kim
    June 11, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    I’m so excited for the opportunity! I absolutely LOVE your house and your ideas.

    We bought our house a few years ago. It was a such a dive….kind of still is….but, we’ve come a long way and we see it as a diamond in the ruff.

    Our kitchen:
    We would love to open up the space to the main living area. My favorite feature in the house is the surround brick fireplace and the vaulted wood beam ceiling. Also, the kitchen needs a serious makeover. Everything needs to go. Not only is it outdated, but it’s a sad sight. The cabinets are in terrible condition, they don’t close properly. And, we could utilize the space much better if we opened it up to the other side of the wall (and to the lviing area). Please refer to the pics.

    Out Master Bath:
    It isn’t so master. The shower is tiny, and has serious leaking problems. The floors need to be ripped up (the tiles are chipped) and the vanity needs to be tossed. Its a small space and it needs some love!


    Thank you for your consideration! We love our house and would love to see it in it’s full glory! We need help. Badly;)


  • Natalie
    June 11, 2011 at 9:04 pm

    Pick Me! Pick Me! My living room is a cross between someone attempting to be grown up and someone still going through their college years. The furniture is mismatched, the carpet is crying because of the wear and tear it has received from my two large pups, the couch is in tatters, and the rug is just blah. This room is screaming for a makeover. SCREAMING! Please choose me! We will take ANY advice you have to give…even if there is no money involved. :)



  • Kathleen Scott
    June 11, 2011 at 9:12 pm

    When I moved into my house four years ago, I had big plans for my family room. It was going to be entertainment central, consisting of great seating for guests and a flat screen to watch movies on.
    Unfortunately, my room has yet to evolve into that wonderful hangout spot. I am grateful for the furniture and items that I have acquired over the past four years from the folks, but I am ready to move the transitional pieces out and replace them with some fun and comfy pieces.
    Right now I have my parents’ old living room set, which I love because of nostalgic reasons;however, the couch is not a friend to anyone over five feet, which my guests and I surpass easily. Back in the day we rarely sat in the living room, so it wasn’t a biggie, but today I would love a sofa that supports my entire back, and doesn’t require me and my guests to scoot down and lean to the side in order to get comfortable. Right now, my dog Barney has the best seat in the house.
    I would love for you to help make my family room a lovely place for me and my guests to watch movies, listen to music, socialize and read the “Making It Lovely” blog.

    Social Space Makeover Contest:

  • Shawna
    June 11, 2011 at 9:32 pm

    My husband and I moved with our three kids ages 4, 2 and 2 months last month. We moved out of our first house that was completely redone and darling into a 1970 fixer upper. The single owner home has not had an update since it was built so we have our work cut out for us. I would love to makeover a space that our family can enjoy everyday. We moved our old furniture into this house and we are really feel the need for a change, as you can see we can’t even decide on a wall color. We spend the bulk of our time as a family and hosting friends in the living room so I have this room high on our priority list.

    Flickr photos of living room:

  • Shawna
    June 11, 2011 at 9:37 pm

    My husband and I moved with our three kids ages 4, 2 and 2 months last month. We moved out of our first house that was completely redone and darling into a 1970 fixer upper. The single owner home has not had an update since it was built so we have our work cut out for us. I am thrilled to have a formal dining room for the first time and would love to make this space over into a special place for our family and for hosting our family and friends. The owner left the hutches and buffet and we simply moved our table and chairs in. Every time I walk into this room I am excited about the potential but not sure what direction to go for decor.

    Flickr photos of dining room:

  • Intisar
    June 11, 2011 at 9:43 pm

    We have been in our house almost two year (7/15), and little by little we are getting things to our liking. BUT our main room that we hang out in, could definitely use some help! It has paneling, half brick wall with a fireplace and about a foot of brick on the floor in front of it. We have painted the paneling for now, but I don’t think that is a permanent fix. Other then that we have stuck a sectional and a tv in there.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/63972558@N06/5823229068/in/photostream (excuse the mess, I have a 14 mth old.)

  • Audrey
    June 11, 2011 at 9:49 pm

    Last year my best friend and her husband bought an old, brimming-with-potential foreclosure which required a full remodel. They’ve made beautiful progress, though often feel uninspired due to the sheer length of time they’ve been engulfed in the renovation process, both enjoying a sense of accomplishment, yet having to sacrifice many of the comforts of home we often take for granted.

    We got to experience the renovations first-hand during a move across the state, when we were welcomed into their home to live until we could find place of our own. I’d like nothing more than to repay them with a makeover of their backyard space.

    Becky and Nick love entertaining family and guests outside, though the state of the backyard hasn’t exactly provided the most welcoming of spaces for social gatherings (yet). I would love to break up the yard with simple landscaping, and an area for grilling and relaxing (a patio, perhaps?). Thanks for the opportunity!


  • Mindy
    June 11, 2011 at 9:50 pm

    There’s really only two words necessary to describe why I’d like a makeover for my Living Room: VERTICAL BLINDS!!! There are 71 of them in fact, with an additional 27 in the adjoining dining room. The only thing competing with the blinds is the number of shades of brown, beige and taupe! We’ve been here two years and I’d love the opportunity for help in creating a fun, comfortable space for my family and friends. I want people to walk in the door and think “wow, a happy family lives here.” Thanks!

    link to pictures on Flickr

  • Nick Klaus
    June 11, 2011 at 9:56 pm

    I’m respectfully submitting my space. I’m a recent college grad, and I just moved into my first apartment: a studio in Los Angeles. I have a maybe 250 square foot living space that needs to serve as a sleeping, eating and workspace. (though not necessarily all at the same time). My needs are pretty simple, but I don’t really have a lot to start with.

    What I’m looking for is someplace that I can come back to after work and relax in. I’d like to be able to invite friends over and have them be able to sit down someplace. It doesn’t look like much now, but I don’t think it’ll take too much work to get it up and looking great.

    Here’s the link to my entry into the Social Space Makeover Contest.

  • erin godbey
    June 11, 2011 at 10:00 pm

    Oh goodness, please pick me! I’m in desperate need of a backyard makeover, specifically a patio. We’re going to re-seed the lawn and put in a new fence, which leaves no room in the budget for any landscaping or a patio… I’d love to have a patio so much, it would be just perfect for entertaining and relaxing. And of course I’d love to see what you would recommend for outdoor furniture and decor! You can see a couple photos and a short video of the sad space here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/eringodbey/sets/72157626815526055/with/5823249066/

    Thanks so much for the generous giveaway, so kind of you! (and Amex too!)

  • Erin R.
    June 11, 2011 at 10:01 pm

    What an exciting opportunity. We bought our house 1 1/2 years ago and have spent a lot of time working on the inside. We love to entertain, but don’t have an especially large house. We do, however, have a large backyard and love to entertain outside and we live right across the street from an amazing botanical gardens which has a fantastic summer concert series, which makes for wonderful entertainment from some big names in music. We haven’t yet had the resources to create a wonderful space in our yard, but we do have the ability to do the work ourselves. We also have two young children and would like to make this a great space for them as well. We have a large blank canvas and would be thrilled to have the opportunity to create a space for some incredible outdoor entertaining.


  • Nicole
    June 11, 2011 at 10:05 pm

    Hi Nicole!

    So excited about this contest! Thanks for giving us the opportunity.

    The social space I would like to spruce up is our dining room. It’s the first room you see when you enter our home, and people naturally gravitate in there. We’ve been working to get the house ready to enjoy as newlyweds this coming September. We consider ourselves to be creative people but for some reason we’re just stuck on which direction we should take with this particular space, thus this room has looked like this since we’ve moved in.


    Thanks for considering us!

  • Intisar
    June 11, 2011 at 10:06 pm

    Ok, here is our other room we use if a tv isn’t needed. We haven’t done anything beside paint and redo the floors. I’m not set on the color and the couches are from the old house, and the curtain are pretty much place holders until we make more important design decisions.
    http://www.flickr.com/photos/63972558@N06/5823261490/in/photostream (before)

    http://www.flickr.com/photos/63972558@N06/5823276600/in/photostream/ (current)

  • Jolene
    June 11, 2011 at 10:19 pm

    The social space I would love to transform is my living room. I just moved into a 1920’s apartment after moving back to st. Louis from Kentucky for 8.5 years. My furniture was mostly broken and cheap pieces left by roommates as they moved on. None of it was worth the expense of moving back and so now I have a dining chair and a card table in my living room and at the moment not much if a means to change that. I would love a space for relaxing and playing with my dog, or using as a guest room when the double French doors are closed. My camera didn’t survive the move sforguve the cell pgone photos.


  • janet
    June 11, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    I added pictures to my empty flickr account just for this! Yay Making it Lovely!
    My son and I moved into our home two years ago. It has been chaotic adjusting to some major life changes, however now things are FINALLY settling down.
    So, on to the home improvements. First room, the kitchen. The only thing I have done so far to this room is add new lighting and clean the mounds of dog hair left by the previous owner. Would love to paint, change out hardware, paint, replace countertops & horrible, horrible flooring, add new appliances (not black) & paint.
    Thanks for the great contest. Here’s to good fortune! And here is the link to my NEWLY ADDED pictures on flickr.

  • Sasha
    June 11, 2011 at 10:54 pm

    Wow, Nicole! This is SO nice of you!
    We bought our 1940’s house in August 2006. Five years later, we are still working on it. We’ve had major issues…rewiring the entire house, plumbing, re-joisting the roof and repairing termite damage…meaning what little money we have had has gone to this. Decor has taken a backseat to function. Although as you’ll see in our Kitchen, it’s still not functional. Having a stove would be completly awesome. Wining this would be such a blessing (for either room)!. Thanks again!
    ~ Sasha


  • Gigi
    June 11, 2011 at 10:56 pm

    Flickr newbie here! I tried to put some type of order to the pictures.

    I would love to makeover my deck. I’m currently in the process of redecorating my living room. I have always wanted to have a party and open the doors to the deck and just let the party flow out there. I’ve been living here for 4 years, and all I have so far is a grill and a lounger, whose cushion desperately needs to be replaced. You’ll see it’s missing in the pic. Would love to move the lounger under the deck and do something totally different on the deck.


    Good luck everyone! Nicole, I do not envy you in having to pic the finalists!

  • mary
    June 11, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Our backyard needs help! Sadly, because it is so hideous, we’ve been too embarrassed to use it as a social space. We have an old concrete area that I would love to use as a patio, and it’s defitely in need of some landscaping. We’ve been overwhelmed by where or how to start… so it would be unbelievable if we had could finally host a party here. Thank you!


  • Allyson H
    June 11, 2011 at 11:36 pm

    We purchased our first place (Phoenix condo) a month ago. After moving across the country a couple times we didn’t have any furniture, and so far our furniture has been from Craigslist or from the curb. We love our new place, but certainly have some challenges to overcome, such as: vertical blinds (which we can’t get rid of now unless we want to cook eggs on our floor), dated tile around our fireplace, and the general challenges of not having an older house with character, as we would like.


  • Nicole S.
    June 11, 2011 at 11:47 pm

    My back yard is embarrassing. We bought a foreclosure/abandoned Chicago bungalow in October and have been working hard to make it lovely. The one mega-eyesore that remains is our back yard. We’re working towards improvement, but it would be great to get some suggestions from Nicole, as we are first time gardeners. Check out my latest blog post for the full story:


  • Amber Wallace
    June 11, 2011 at 11:57 pm

    After 8 years of marriage, 3 kids and many many small apartments we finally moved into our first house earlier this year. So thankful and happy! Moving from 650 square feet to 2200 is a big jump. Currently all our extra money is going to sprinklers and grass for our yard. Inside we have a large loft that everyone ends up. It needs to work for kids and adults. It’s also where our only tv is. We pretty much have two big pieces of furniture and…nothing! We have lots of company come and I want it to reach it’s full potential. I think it could be amazing and know it would be great in your hands. Thanks for the opportunity!

  • Kathy
    June 12, 2011 at 12:07 am

    Hello Nicole
    We just moved from 1920s bungalow in IL to a Mid-Century modern near Seattle. We could really use some help w/ our basement. The basement is a large family room that walks out to the backyard and has a great view of downtown Seattle. Right now it is just a mess http://www.flickr.com/photos/kathyz65/sets/72157626940663786/

  • Gillian
    June 12, 2011 at 12:17 am

    Can’t seem to get my comment to show here- guess i’ll email you the link :) thanks!

  • Gillian
    June 12, 2011 at 12:35 am

    Ok- now the post is showing :) heehee- oh well we emailed you already earlier anyway with the link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Tx5vZpPDdDs

  • casacaudill
    June 12, 2011 at 1:27 am

    I’d love to get a chance to redeem the 150,000 American Express points to makeover our bedroom. Why? Because we’re in our mid-30s and we still have Ikea furniture and zip ties holding together a $30 sconce that broke six months ago. We’re successful professionals but from the looks of our bedroom you’d never know it. I’d love to be able to ditch the curtains of various lengths, get some real art for the walls, and find a headboard that says “we are adults” instead of “we are just out of college.” They say the master bedroom should be your sanctuary – for us it’s the place we crash and walk through on the way to the bathroom. Nothing more, nothing less.



    The saddest part about our very sad bedroom? The rest of our house is lovely.

  • OurSoundHome
    June 12, 2011 at 1:58 am

    Wow, what a fun and generous giveaway!

    My husband and I purchased our first home this past fall. It’s in an amazing location on the water of the Puget Sound in the Pacific Northwest – we are truly blessed! That being said, we definitely purchased a “fixer-upper!” We’ve had a lot of fun, but it’s a lot of work, too. It was built in 1934, and no one lived in the home for the past 3 years (it was an older couple who owned the home, and they moved across the country to be closer to their kids). So, we’ve had a lot of general cleaning up in the yard to do – pulling out blackberry bushes and pruning the heck out of the roses and other shrubs. It’s starting to look more green and has a bit more life, but we really need some design ideas for our patio! I think it could be a really fun space, and we want to spend more time out there to enjoy our view this summer. Right now, all we’ve got is the concrete and a couple plastic adirondack chairs (love them, but real wood would be awesome). Anyway, take a peek!! Thanks!


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