Shelter. A home away from home. Ronald McDonald House Charities provide just that for families with children being treated at hospitals around the world. When one of our editors stayed at a house during his child's recent surgery, it inspired us to pay it forward by renovating our hometown house. We not only updated the aging facility but also created a calming, consoling refuge that helps make the days and nights a little easier for families coping with a child in a hospital far from home.
Click ahead for a tour, then see slide 19 to find out how you can help your local house.
To make residents comfortable—both physically and emotionally—we updated the kitchen and baths with modern amenities that better serve the multiple families using them each day. We also decorated public rooms with soothing colors and cushy furniture that provide a restful, homelike break from the hospital environment.
Comfy seating and cheerful, flowery accents greet families.
Color The indigo blue in this room (and other Benjamin Moore blues throughout the house) sets a calming, peaceful mood. Blue is a good choice for any room where you want to unwind.
Simplicity By limiting colors to just four hues used in large blocks (on solid-colored furniture pieces, wall paint and the floor via oversized squares created with carpet tiles), we also minimized the visual busyness that can result from too many patterns. A row of cabinets keeps clutter out-of-sight. Both elements create an overall sense of stability, order and organization.
Comfort Old furniture had been donated piece-by-mismatched-piece. We partnered with La-Z-Boy to furnish the room with coordinated, oversized, comfy furniture that encourages families to relax. A large sectional divides the space into two seating areas, offering plenty of room to spread out or snuggle up.
Natural light We left the numerous large windows unadorned to let rejuvenating sunlight stream in and provide a twinkling city skyline view at night.
Small Details A leather ottoman does double duty as a soft, safe coffee table.
Donated furniture and accessories offered the basics but looked mismatched.
The LG flat-screen TV, surrounded by new furniture and a new color scheme, is great for movie night or video games.
A table encourages family time over games and puzzles. Along the hallway, carved doors from Jeld-Wen reflect the home's heartfelt mission.
Storage Cabinets from Merillat offer organized spaces with multiple tall pantries, roll-out trays, two-sided peninsulas and more. Soft-close doors and drawers reduce noise—important for anyone when kids are around. Large-capacity LG refrigerators hold more groceries than most; easy-access French doors and bottom freezer drawers make finding food easier.
Simplified food prep Energy-saving electric ranges are easy to operate, and the much-used microwaves have an EasyClean coating inside.
Good planning The island and peninsulas also serve as buffet space for donated foodstuffs. Cubbies and baskets hold small snacks.
Filled with multiple families preparing meals at any given time, the kitchen felt closed in by cabinets over the island and peninsulas. We opened the space and created a fresh look with improved functionality.
Wood-look laminate floors and lacquered tables and chairs clean up easily with a damp mop or cloth. Built-in display boxes above the cabinets allow for pretty accents.
Clean-up Stylish hi-arc bridge faucets from Kohler accommodate everything from veggie washing to pot filling; roomy apron sinks handle a ton of dirty dishes. Quiet, extra-capacity dishwashers keep up with the daily routine.
Durability Nonporous countertops and backsplashes from Granite Transformations are heat-, stain- and scratch-resistant and virtually maintenance-free.
Color A bright blue wall color and crisp white shutters highlight the cherry wood cabinets.
Residents come to this cozy escape to curl up with a good book, check e-mail or search the Web.
Texture It's easy to sink into the soft pinwale corduroy and plush faux-suede upholstery on the overstuffed sofa and side chairs. Soft, chunky and fuzzy fibers on the pillow, rug and footstool add warm, homey comfort.
Art Paintings or photos of landscapes and nature help to relax and soothe. They offer a distraction from stressful circumstances—as opposed to abstract art, which can sometimes jar the senses.
Cheer A bee-motif pillow provides a playful sofa accent.
A tiny desk was tucked against this wall.
We built a roomy, two-computer station desk unit outfitted with plenty of upper- and lower-cabinet storage, new computers and two ergonomic desk chairs.
Sure to inspire giggles, this second-floor elevator door's smiling canine was one of three painted by local artist Kathryn Finney.
We kept the existing wall and floor tile in this public bath to minimize construction inconvenience but installed new fixtures, countertops, cabinets and paint (see next slide).
Fresh look White cabinetry and modern hardware offer a crisp, clean alternative to dated pine cabinets. We traded out the standard molded counter-sink unit for a square vessel on a new granite countertop. A sleek faucet adds style.
Eco-style A new water-conserving toilet will considerably lower the house's water bills.
Kid-friendly Situating the faucet at the side of the sink makes it easier for kids to reach the handle.
Art accents For simple art in both the bathroom and laundry room (next slide), we framed pages from books.
We freshened the hard-working laundry room with red and gray paint to coordinate with the existing sensible linoleum tile floor. New red handles on upper cabinets continue the theme. Two Energy Star-rated ultralarge, high efficiency top-load washers and two extra-large-capacity front-load dryers handle heavy usage.
Bright-hued pillows and a geometric pattern rug invigorate this space that sees lots of activity. Plump leather sofas offer relaxed seating. Shelves on the rolling cart hold a flat-screen TV, along with baskets and soft bins to corral toys, game pieces, craft supplies, books, DVDs and more. A wood sign offers an encouraging message: Hold Fast to Your Dreams.
Many families travel far from home to get the best medical treatment for their seriously ill children. Sometimes, this separates family members. And for children facing a difficult medical crisis, nothing seems scarier than not having Mom and Dad close. Ronald McDonald Houses, including 45 in the Midwest (such as the one in Des Moines, pictured), provide a home away from home where families can stay close to their hospitalized child at little or no cost.
Ronald McDonald House Charities provides stability and vital resources to families so they can get and keep their children healthy and happy. The Charity could use your help. There are many ways to help families: make a monetary donation; deliver a meal; volunteer at the house; work at a fund-raising event. To find out more about the house in your area and its current needs, visit rmhc.org.
Midwest Living® proudly thanks sponsors who donated the newest and most innovative products to update the Ronald McDonald House: Kohler, Jeld-Wen, Merillat, La-Z-Boy and Morton. Their contributions are highlighted on this and the following slides.
Kohler: We love the sleek lines of the new faucet in the bathroom (pictured). But what got us really excited was the new kitchen apron sink that can be installed over existing sink cabinets, meaning homeowners can now get this great look without a total cabinet replacement.
Replacing old wood interior doors with white doors made an unexpected but incredible difference throughout the house. Even more special was being able to customize the doors with carved hearts to reflect "The House That Love Built" theme.
Our remodel offered an opportunity to improve storage throughout the house. We replaced cabinetry in the kitchen and bathrooms and added new cabinetry units in the great-room and library. As a bonus, specialized features inside cabinets facilitate organization.
Furniture in the public rooms had to be comfortable yet durable. Though La-Z-Boy is known for its recliners, we chose the company's newest ultracushy stationary upholstery pieces and case goods to serve the comfort of both parents and children at the house.
The System Saver water softener and pellets prevent scale build-up in the water heater and pipes; eliminate hard-water spots on dishes, faucets and tile; and help soaps and detergents work better for cleaner dishes and laundry and easier cleaning for the staff.
Interior designer and project manager Carol Schalla, Senior Home and Projects Editor, Midwest Living, 1716 Locust St., Des Moines, IA 50309
General contractor Tom Mass, Wolin Mechanical Electrical, 1720 Fuller Rd., West Des Moines, IA 50265
Ronald McDonald House liaison Brenda Miller, Executive Director, 1441 Pleasant St., Des Moines, IA 50314
Kohler 800/456-4537; kohler.com
Jeld-Wen 800/535-3936; jeld-wen.com
Merillat 866/850-8557; merillat.com
La-Z-Boy 800/375-6890; la-z-boy.com
Morton 888/649-2837; mortonsalt.com
Benjamin Moore Paint 800/672-4686; benjaminmoore.com
Granite Transformations 954/435-5538; granitetransformations.com
LG Electronics USA 800/243-0000; lg.com
Benjamin Moore Paint 
LG Electronics USA