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'Ugly Happens:' Downtown design team offering free room makeover competition

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By Walt Reichert

Think you have the ugliest digs in Shelbyville? A house with furniture that was trendy as heck in 1968? A dwelling that's a cornucopia of clutter? A room with a view - of hideous accessories?

Well if you qualify, four designers from downtown businesses would like to give you a free room makeover - that is if they select yours as the "Ugliest Room" in Shelby County.

It's the "Ugly Happens" contest sponsored by Shelbyville Merchants Association for Retail Trade (SMART). Contestants are asked to send three pictures of what they consider their ugliest room. Using the pictures, designers from four downtown businesses will choose from the among the ugliness three finalists who will compete for the title of "Ugliest Room." The general public will get to pick the winner.

The judges are Amie McGruder, manager with Making Ends Meet; Debbie D'Angelo, owner of Surroundings design studio; Carol Bolton, manager of Tracy's; and Liz Scherff, interior designer at W. J. Andriot's.

The idea is to not only aesthetically resuscitate one dwelling, or at least a portion of it, but to promote downtown businesses.

"SMART members work together to promote downtown Shelbyville and shopping here," D'Angelo said. "There is so much new home construction in the area we want people to be aware we're here and the services we have to offer."

Bolton said residents often overlook downtown businesses when they are shopping for appliances or furnishings for their home.

"I had a lady ask me the other day if we were new here in town," Bolton said. "There's a great deal of unawareness of what downtown has to offer."

The designers said when they choose the finalists they will be looking for rooms that are cluttered, that have poor space planning, outdated furniture or dismal color choices.

They said when they do the makeover they will consider the owner's wishes before making changes. For example, if the room has a favorite piece of furniture or accessory, they will work around that.

"We're flexible," McGruder said.

Because of cost considerations, Bolton said the designers will not tackle kitchens or bathrooms, nor will they make structural changes to the room. They will not knock out walls, for example. However, they will add furniture, carpeting, paint and accessories.

D'Angelo said a top dollar figure for the makeover will be announced at the Home Expo that will be held July 12 at the Shelby County Fairgrounds. SMART has a booth there.

"We will have a top dollar amount and if the winner wants to go over that, it will be their responsibility to pay for the extra," D'Angelo said.

The contest will officially kick off at the Expo Saturday, July 12. The deadline for entries is Aug. 16. The three finalists will be chosen by Aug. 19 and published the week of Aug. 25.

D'Angelo said the design team plans to have the makeover accomplished by the Celebration of Lights in early November.

'Ugly' timeline

July 12 - Kickoff at Shelbyville Home Expo at the Shelby County Fairgrounds

Aug. 16 - Deadline for entries

Aug. 19 - Three finalists chosen

Week of Aug. 25 - Publish three finalists and vote for winner

Sept. 6 - Deadline for votes on winning ugliest room

Sept. 10 - Announce winner

Sept. 16 - Start makeover project

Oct. 24 - Projected date for completing makeover

Nov. 8 - Before and after photos at Celebration of Lights