Better Homes & Gardens Home Improvement Challenge 2009 Winners

Better Homes and Gardens received over 3,000 entries in their 2009 Home Improvement Challenge. A number of impressive home improvement projects competed for more than $60,000 in prize money in categories that ranged from kitchens and baths to renovation and decorating.

Grand prize winners Dana Liston & David Ellis.

Contestants spent a total of over $112 million on their home improvement renovations, with an average expenditure of $36,000 per project.

In addition to a $40,000 grand prize, the top pick in each category received $2,500 for their efforts. Winning projects are featured in the September 2009 issue of Better Homes and Gardens magazine and will also appear on a special episode of Today’s Homeowner with Danny Lipford airing the week of September 21-27, 2009.

Home Improvement Challenge Winning Entries

  • Renovation: (Grand Prize Winner) Dana Liston & David Ellis, Venice, CA
  • Addition: Pam Schulz and Clark Dikeman, Culver City, CA
  • Outdoor Improvements: Rick and Jacque Bailey, Brecksville, OH
  • Kitchen: Ann Steenwyk, Sheboygan, WI
  • Decorating: James Little, Naples, FL
  • Green Improvements: Laura Stukel, Elmhurst, IL
  • Bath: Meg Kopald, Shelburne, VT
  • Exterior Facelift: Sonjia and Bob McKelvey, Belpre, OH
  • Project under $5,000: Jackie Kalin, Valparaiso, IN

Home Improvement Challenge Grand Prize Winner

Grand prize winning home before . . .                     and after renovation.

Grand prize winners Dana Liston and David Ellis of Venice, California, completely transformed a 1,350 square foot, two-story bungalow into the house of their dreams, doing much of the work themselves.

Design Tip

To find the perfect paint colors for your home, pick up color coordinated paint brochures at home centers (The Home Depot) or paint stores, or check out Behr Color Smart where you can upload pictures of your house to see how it will look in different colors

Exterior Facelift Winner

Exterior facelift winning home before . . .                     and after renovation.

The exterior home facelift winners—Sonjia and Bob McKelvey of Belpre, Ohio—transformed the exterior of their home into a quaint cottage with the help of their architect son. Details such as shingle siding, eave brackets, and a paver walk added curb appeal.

Design Tip

A paver patio or walk is a do-it-yourself friendly project that can really enhance the look of your home without breaking your budget.

Outdoor Improvements Winner

Water feature in backyard of Outdoor Improvements Winner.

Rick and Jacque Bailey of Brecksville, Ohio, were the winners of the Outdoor Improvements category for their beautifully landscaped backyard that featured stone walls and patio, an outdoor kitchen, and a splashing stone water feature.

Landscaping Tip

When chosing a water feature for your backyard, be sure to select one that is sized for the area it will occupy and that blends in with your home’s décor.

Addition Winner

The addition winner’s kitchen featured a brightly colored ceramic tile backsplash.

When adding a kitchen addition to their 1940s home in Culver City, California, Pam Schulz and Clark Dikeman were determined to make the room as environmentally friendly as possible. This included using green building materials, solar roof panels, and windows above the cabinets and doors to capture the breeze and natural light. They also used a colorful array of ceramic tile in a random pattern for the kitchen cabinet backsplash.

Photos courtesy of Better Homes and Gardens.


  1. We are very taken by the McKelvey “facelift” in the Sept. issue. We have been working on an almost identical treatment over our exact same garage door and have not been able to come up with a design that makes our building inspector happy, and he can’t come up with a structural design that makes us happy. We need to know how the treatment was constructed to bear the weight, considering it was added on. We need to use a solid roof, as the idea is to keep the snow and ice of Flagstaff, AZ off the driveway just outside the garage door. Since Tim McKelvey is an architect, we were hoping to contact him to get a drawing we could submit to our building department. We would like nice corbels to support the roof. We can e-mail photos of what the inspectors have made us do. It is nearly complete but hope to redo it. We do our own work where possible.

  2. How can I find out what type of cedar shingles the McKelveys used and where to buy them? (Reference: BHG Best Exterior Facelift Sept.2009)

    • Hi Jody,
      Many of the products used on the Better Homes & Gardens Home Improvement Challenge winners are listed in the reference section at the back of September 2009 issue of the magazine. I’m not sure if the cedar shingles was among them.

    • Hi Pam,
      To find out the paint color that was used, you’ll have to either contact Better Homes and Gardens or check your library to see if they have a copy of the September 2009 issue, then look in the reference section in the back.

  3. Hello

    On your Saturday program you showed a Formica granite look a like. Could you help me locate this with a url or company name. I live in Hampton, Va.

    Thanks for your help.


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