Better Homes and Gardens Home Improvement Challenge 2008

Better Homes and Gardens headquarters
Better Homes and Gardens magazine headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa.

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The 2008 Better Homes and Gardens Home Improvement Challenge contest showcased a number of great home projects, from beautiful kitchens and baths to impressive additions and exterior facelifts.

There were also categories for green projects, decorating, organization, outdoor improvements, and whole house remodeling. The winners were selected from nearly 5,000 entries, based on four criteria:

  • Aesthetics and appearance
  • Creativity of project idea
  • Functionality of project
  • Use of materials

Here are just a few of the innovative winning entries.


This master bedroom—designed by graduate student George Marrone of Aston, Pennsylvania—used a soothing palette of greens and browns and included grasscloth wallpaper accented by upholstered panels in ultrasuede fabric.

Lynette Hasselgren and her family downsized by over 1,000 square feet when they bought a historic log cabin in Walkersville, Maryland. To imbue the home with a distinct sense of style on a limited budget, she used a mixture of paint, fabric, and inexpensive items gleaned from the dollar store.

Outdoor Improvement

What started out as a way to help their autistic child, took on a life of its own when Brett and Terri Bennink of Portland, Oregon, built an upscale playground in their backyard. Using many salvaged materials, the project soon mushroomed to include a bluestone patio, fountain, and rustic gardening shed.

Kitchen Renovation

While gutting her kitchen in Chapel Hill, North Carolina, Tanja Vujic was struck by how open the room looked with the rafters visible. She decided to keep it that way, making the 16’ vaulted ceiling a focal point of the room.

Another winner in the kitchen category was Emily Kennedy of Loretto, Tennessee, who created the look of the country kitchen she had always dreamed of by covering the walls and ceilings with white bead board and adding a triple window over the sink to lighten up the room.

Bathroom Remodel

In order to avoid the expense and hassle of a major bathroom renovation, Jacqui Norman of Ames, Iowa, decided to work with what she had and could salvage. The existing vanity was painted and retiled while slate chalkboards from a school were cut into squares for the floor with green glass tiles used as accents. Total cost for the project was $1,600.

Whole House Remodeling

Erin and Adam McIntyre planned to move to the country in LaGrange, Kentucky, and convert an old barn into a house. When they couldn’t find one, they did the next best thing by renovating an existing chalet style house and adding a faux silo and large addition.

The home features numerous unique touches, such as the sliding barn doors on the windows, rustic exposed hand hewed beams, gutter chain to direct rainwater, precast concrete countertops in the kitchen, custom wrought iron light fixtures, and a millstone set in center of the silo floor.

For their efforts, the McIntyre’s were awarded the $25,000 Home Improvement Challenge grand prize.

Tips for Your Next Remodeling Project

If you’re thinking of replacing the faucet in the bathroom, consider installing a water saving model such as those in the new Lahara Collection from Delta. The flow rate of 1.5 gallons per minute makes them 30% more efficient than standard faucets. They are the first faucets from Delta to receive the WaterSense
certification from the Environmental Protection Agency and are available at The Home Depot stores.

Design Tip

Cooler colors, such as blues and greens, have a calming influence and are perfect for bedrooms. Colors on the other end of the spectrum, like yellows and reds, project more energy and are a good choice for active areas like kitchens, living rooms, and dens. Neutral and light colors can make small spaces feel larger as well as transitioning between other colors.

To get a feel for how paint colors will look on your house, check out the interactive features of Color Smart from Behr. You can choose between a wide range of coordinated colors and even submit digital photos of your home to see how they will look on your walls. Color Smart kiosks are also available at The Home Depot stores.

For more photos of these projects, see our Better Homes and Gardens Home Improvement Challenge Slideshow

Other Tips From This Episode

Keeping Picture Frames Level

Simple Solutions with Joe Truini:
Keeping Picture Frames Level

To keep pictures level on your walls, add self-adhesive rubber bumpers (available at hardware stores and home improvement centers) to the bottom corners on the back of the frame. Not only will your pictures stay put, but the bumpers prevent the frame from marking the wall and can keep dust from collecting behind it.

Gila Window Film

Best New Products with Jodi Marks:
Gila Window Film

Windows are a great way to let light into a room, but they can also bring in unwanted heat and harmful UV rays from the sun. Gila Window Film is DIY friendly product that blocks UV rays and reduces solar heat gain. It comes in several tints and is available at The Home Depot stores.

Buying Energy Efficient Appliances and Electronics

Thinking Green with Danny Lipford:
Buying Energy Efficient Appliances

To reduce the amount of energy used in your home, look for the Energy Star label when buying appliances, heating and cooling systems, electronics, and lighting for your home. In order to earn an Energy Star rating, products have to meet strict government standards for energy efficiency. If just 10% of homes in the U.S. switched to Energy Star appliances, it could reduce greenhouse gases the equivalent of planting 2 million acres of trees. Learn more about saving energy in your home by visiting the U.S. Department of Energy website.


  1. I found some Better Homes & Gardens Fabric & am wondering where I can buy it. The patterns are Kamden, Brangill,
    Bally & Hattie. I saw them at a Universal furniture swatches.
    I would appreciate a response.
    Thank YOu

  2. My renters moved out owing rent and leaving me a very do over house. I am looking for projects that I can do with free or cheap things. Example, back splashes using brown paper and glue. Krylon spray paint for countertops.Anything that is unusual, unheard of, as long as it is free or cheap. LOL HELP


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