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Unique Custom Room Makeover Wins National Design Award


September 16, 2010


AARP Media Relations, (202) 434-2560,

Bruce Carlson, (206) 517-2313,





Washington, DC – Two Seattle interior designers and a local residential builder have earned a prestigious national award for their volunteer makeover of an inadequate 1960’s bathroom. The firms, Penates Design, IDI, llc and Chermak Construction, Inc., turned two cramped bathrooms into a spacious master bath. For their user-friendly design and volunteered services the firms were named 2010 Dream Home Award Winners for Community Service. 

The unique bath was designed as part of a contest sponsored by AARP and won by a Snohomish, WA woman.  AARP established the contest and funded construction of the Snohomish remodel to showcase universal design, the design approach that invisibly eliminates impediments and arranges a home’s features to be easier to reach, see and use by everyone from toddlers to elders.

Mary Waggoner, the Snohomish homeowner and room makeover winner, is a full time public relations professional who cares for her elderly parents on weekends.  Her original bathroom could not fit her mother’s wheel chair and prevented her from bathing when she visited. Its traditional shower/tub combination posed a safety hazard for her father who uses a walker and has low-vision.

Volunteer designers Michelle Molloy of Penates Design and Mary Curley of IDI, llc, and volunteer General Contractor  Howard Chermak of Chermak Construction, Inc. remodeled the bathrooms to both update it and remove barriers by adding a wider, angled doorway, a curbless walk-in shower, an automated lighting control system that provides ambient and task lighting, a state of the art ‘hands free’ toilet/bidet, heated slip resistant flooring and custom mosaic tile walls.

“Penates Design, IDI and Chermak Construction worked to the highest standards of their professions on this pro bono project and AARP is proud to have been associated with them on it,” said Elinor Ginzler AARP Senior Vice President for Livable Communities.  “Their final product is as beautiful as it is user friendly.”

Nine out of ten older Americans want to stay in their homes for as long as possible and census data shows that they do what they say.  As boomers like Mary Waggoner have begun to recognize from caring for their elderly parents, a few important changes can make their homes much more comfortable and convenient for everyone in the family regardless of age or ability.

Volunteer designer Michelle Molloy entered the project in the design competition.  “Our company, entered the contest to showcase how remodeling a bathroom to incorporate universal design brings freedom to life for boomers who want to stay in their multigenerational homes.  We are delighted to win such a prestigious award,” she said.

Volunteer designer Mary Curley hopes the award continues to bring attention to the pressing need for housing that supports the human life-cycle, “This project speaks to the undercurrent of change happening in the design industry- the global recognition that our surroundings should be designed to fit us, rather than forcing us to fit the built environment,” she said. “Home should be a haven, that when designed and built properly, can continue to reap benefits for generations to come.” 

Volunteer General Contractor, Howard Chermak, hopes this project will bring attention to needs in our local communities that can only be served by volunteerism.  “I was amazed at the generous response from contractors who were willing to give their time and money in such a tough economic environment,” he said.

AARP is a nonprofit, nonpartisan social welfare organization with a membership 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 35.1 million readers; AARP Bulletin, the go-to news source for AARP's millions of members and Americans 50+; AARP VIVA, 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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