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Social Space Makeover Contest Finalists

I’m working with American Express to give away 150,000 Membership Rewards points and a custom Making it Lovely design plan. We’re looking to help people make over their social spaces; the spaces where they spend time with family and friends. Nearly three hundred people entered (here was the original call for entries), and it was no easy task for me to narrow them down to just ten finalists. There were poems and haikus, letters from non-persons, clever videos, photos with funny captions… it was a pleasure to receive so many wonderful entries (thank you)!

Below are the finalists’ entries. I tried to even the playing field by giving everyone the same photo/video space (500×750 pixels), and approximately the same description length (this symbol […] means that I edited the comment for length). Many of the finalists have additional photos and information, so I’ve included a link to them (and also to the original comment) with each.

Now it’s your turn to vote! The winner will receive 150,000 Membership Rewards points and a custom Making it Lovely design plan to help guide them in redoing their space. The second place winner will also receive a prize: a $100 gift card to The Home Depot. So here we go! The finalists, in no particular order…


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.

Megan’s photos
Megan’s original entry

Mary Sue

“My name is Mary Sue & my original 50’s kitchen needs help! It has some really cool features like the original stove with a pullout range, and porcelain & chrome counters. My family of three spends lots of time in this tiny room cooking and dancing. It lacks some features (i.e- a dishwasher!)… We would love your help making it modern!”

Mary Sue’s photos
Mary Sue’s original entry


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. […] 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.

Charity’s blog post
Charity’s original entry


We could really use your help with the totally outdated LR in our new (old) apartment (just closed last week!). It’s a great space — will be the perfect LR/DR space for our growing family (2yo daughter + twins on the way!). But we have absolutely no mojo (or resources) left to design it to the fullest potential. We’d LOVE to have this major to-do off the list + host a proper housewarming/baby shower there later this summer.

Lisa’s blog post
Lisa’s original entry


When my husband and I bought our house 6 months ago, It came with a lovely covered back patio and pergola that I immediately fell in love with. I thought it would be so easy to find my own inner Nicole and make my house as cute as you’ve made yours. But my back patio is in desperate need for help. Here is why you should pick me:

My husband has nowhere to put his lawn equipment other than on the back patio. My son has a zillion outdoor toys that are ugly eyesores. We’ve been trying to save for a garden shed as a storage solution, but we are not there yet.

Jayna’s blog post
Jayna’s original entry


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!) […]

Heather’s blog post
Heather’s original entry


The room I have that needs your intervention is my living room. For (oh goodness) 7 years we’ve had my husband’s grandparents floral couch/chair set and I long for grown-up furniture. This space connects to our kitchen and is our main social area.

I also have 2 beautiful danish modern chairs that I inherited from my grandmother (I included a link below to the type of chair they are) in our basement that simply need new fabric on the cushions. Didn’t want to pick that out until new furniture was in the works to coordinate.

• Nicole’s photos here and here, chair here
Nicole’s original post


Hi Nicole! My husband and I just bought our first home early last month. It’s in a great location, but the upstairs… the upstairs needs love. Industrial carpeting, old paneling (poorly installed), and unsafe guard rails. It could be a GREAT social space for us and our friends, particularly during the rainy months– we live in Oregon, and the rainy months are MANY. But right now? We’ll leave the door upstairs closed.

We discovered WOOD FLOORS under the industrial carpet, so now we just need to put the funds together to sand, stain, and refinish the floors (and some pieces of furniture)! We’d have a GREAT space. There also is the possibility of having some exposed beams from the roof. So exciting!

(and as you can tell from our blog, oregonkaisers.blogspot.com, we’re not afraid of a lot of projects and elbow grease!)

Jessika’s video
Jessika’s original entry


HELP! We’ve been in our house for 3 years and I have no idea what to do with this room! It’s our entry living room (we mostly use the family room) and I hate that this is what people see when they first enter our house. We have our old college sectional which is disemboweled, an old C&B rug that’s seen better days and that’s IT. Please help!! I am at a loss as to what furniture, rugs or curtains to buy- I need you Nicole!! It’s a blank canvas and I need your artistic vision (and those AE rewards points!) :)

photo and Amber’s video
Amber’s original entry

Capitol Jams

My husband and I live in a 1 bedroom condo with our nearly 15-month-old daughter. I love our apartment for many reasons, not least of all for it’s open floor plan where we do most of our living. It has a lot of great style with the maple floors, exposed beams and the exposed fir (original firewall) that makes it look a little bit like a ski lodge meets loft. I love some of the personal and handmade touches: the knitted pipe cozy to the left of the window and the fabric book slings on the radiator covers come to mind.

[…]We don’t get much natural light with the big window and being on the ground floor of our building, and we’ve never known how to bring in more lighting into this space. The toys are a little out of control, and while we love the mid century furniture, the red chair in particular desperately needs to be replaced or needs to have fresh upholstery. While most of our home is pretty child-proofed, the shelves under the window are a slight nightmare – stacked and unkempt books and forgotten items, as well as a HUGE stereo that doesn’t function as it is designed […]. Besides a couple of sad looking bolsters I made for the couch, we don’t have any pillows and really need some help with accessories that would work in this space.

Capitol Jams’ photos
Capitol Jams’ original entry

So there you have it: all ten finalists! You can cast one vote for your favorite below. The voting period will end Friday, June 17 at noon CST, and the winner will be announced next week.

(Good luck and congratulations to all ten finalists!)

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  • Shannon
    June 17, 2011 at 6:47 am

    Charity!!! Can’t wait for an adventure in Amelia!

    June 17, 2011 at 10:03 am


  • Heather
    June 17, 2011 at 10:58 am

    Charity! I’ve always wanted a silver bullet too! I would love to see it transformed into its cute potential!!

  • Becky
    June 17, 2011 at 11:25 am

    Go Heather!!!!!!

  • joanne
    June 17, 2011 at 11:35 am


  • Lex
    June 17, 2011 at 11:39 am

    Voting is not working… 20 minutes left. Really disappointed!


    • Making it Lovely
      June 17, 2011 at 11:48 am

      SurveyMonkey, the service I’m using for the votes, is down! I’ll extend the voting period by however long it’s down. Sorry for the inconvenience, but it’s beyond my control.

      I’ll update as soon as I know more.

      • Lex
        June 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

        Thank you!!!

        GO LISA!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Lesley Lucas-Tolbert
    June 17, 2011 at 11:43 am

    I vote for Lisa Hooper

  • Brian
    June 17, 2011 at 11:45 am

    Go Heather! You are the best!

  • Fred
    June 17, 2011 at 11:46 am

    surveymonkey.com is down. So the voting is not possible. Not fair.

    • Making it Lovely
      June 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

      Yes, I just left word about that in a previous comment. I will extend the voting period slightly when it is back up.

  • pat
    June 17, 2011 at 11:50 am

    System down could not vote for heather :(

  • Nick
    June 17, 2011 at 12:01 pm

    Still down, I cant vote for Lisa!

  • joanne
    June 17, 2011 at 12:38 pm

    when is voting till?What time?

  • Making it Lovely
    June 17, 2011 at 12:39 pm

    SurveyMonkey is back up! The voting period has been extended for one hour (until 1:30 CST).

    Thanks for your patience.

  • joanne
    June 17, 2011 at 1:31 pm

    Should have a runnoff between heather and lisa since you extended the time longer and changed the rules. A lot of our voters did not get to vote.

    • Lex
      June 17, 2011 at 1:33 pm

      It wouldn’t have made a difference – it’s a landslide now.

      • Matt
        June 17, 2011 at 1:45 pm

        How is 1.5% a landslide?

  • Tommy
    June 17, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    Congratulations to Lisa, although it looks like Heather may have won if the server did not crash.

  • Lex
    June 17, 2011 at 1:47 pm

    Actually several of Lisa’s team were waiting until the end to vote and would have lost out if it ended prematurely.

    • Matt
      June 17, 2011 at 1:49 pm

      Yeah, right.

      • Lex
        June 17, 2011 at 1:50 pm

        It’s total strategy, Matt! That way the other sides relax and slack off.

    • Matt
      June 17, 2011 at 2:04 pm

      Your strategy isn’t unique.

  • joanne
    June 17, 2011 at 1:54 pm

    I think you should split the money between lisa and heather 28.2 and 28.7 is very close. Heather was winning by points when the system went down 20 minutes before ending.

  • Deridre
    June 17, 2011 at 1:55 pm

    The results are showing a .5% discrepancy now…what is the final count??

  • Making it Lovely
    June 17, 2011 at 2:02 pm

    I need to look at the data before officially announcing a winner. The results were very close.

  • Ox
    June 17, 2011 at 2:03 pm

    Lisa was ahead for 25 minutes after the poll was suppose to close and now she’s losing? I don’t understand.

    • Matt
      June 17, 2011 at 2:05 pm

      And Heather was up by 3% before the contest was extended by a half-hour.

      I second Joanne’s opinion and think a runoff between Heather and Lisa is in order.

    • Lex
      June 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

      It was 29% to 26% in favor of Lisa at 1:30PM CST when the contest ended.

  • joanne
    June 17, 2011 at 2:14 pm

    Looks like Heather won and then you closed the poll. heather had 28.7 lisa 28.6

  • joanne
    June 17, 2011 at 2:20 pm

    Maybe you should split the money in half, to be fair to heather and lisa who were truly the top 2 winners.

  • Making it Lovely
    June 17, 2011 at 2:24 pm

    The results may not have been as close as they seemed. As I said, I need to analyze the data further to determine a winner. This will take a little time.

  • Emily
    June 17, 2011 at 2:29 pm

    Wow this is a lot of drama! The whole end of the contest was a nail biter and pretty wonky with the polls going down about 20 minutes before the contest was to end. Then, the addition of the extra 40ish minutes above and beyond the original allotted time seemed to offer a definite advantage to one of the contestants. And then it seemed the polls didn’t actually close at the allotted time, or perhaps the actual display of results was delayed. Who knows…sorry Nicole that you have to deal with this, it was very nice of you to set this up in the first place!

  • Mary Simon
    June 17, 2011 at 3:00 pm

    LISA WON! No splitting money-LISA GETS IT ALLLLLLLLL!!!!! She won when the polls closed!

    • Matt
      June 17, 2011 at 3:09 pm

      The polls were supposed to close at 2:00 Eastern Time. Heather was up by 3% at the time the polls “crashed”. Repeatedly typing in capital letters doesn’t make you any more right.

      • Mary Simon
        June 17, 2011 at 3:23 pm

        LISA WON!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • Mike
    June 17, 2011 at 3:03 pm

    Just crazy. First, Heather was up then the site crashes. Then the site comes up and gives more time than was actually lost which gave Lisa the extra time to come back. Then the voting doesn’t close when it should…Wierd. Maybe there should be a runoff between the two closest to winning. Nothing against Nicole either, but wonky survey monkey jacked this one.

  • Making it Lovely
    June 17, 2011 at 3:25 pm

    Comments are now closed.

  • Making it Lovely
    June 20, 2011 at 9:09 am

    After a lot of drama in the end, and a lot of data crunching this weekend, I can officially announce Heather as the first place winner of the Social Space Makeover Contest. I’ll be sharing her design board on Making it Lovely later this week.

    After resolving some issues with the voting data, the second place actually goes to two winners: Lisa and Mary Sue. They were only six votes apart, and in my book that’s close enough to call it a tie.

    Thank you all for voting for your favorite finalist in the Social Space Makeover Contest!

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