Katie Wunderlich would cry if she ever had to have granite countertops in her kitchen. She doesn't like things that are beige or that match too much. She prefers a flea-market lamp to a store-bought one.
And her husband, Michael, is right there with her.
"He loves me, and he loves that I'm funky and different and not so basic," said Katie, an Elmhurst native and York High School graduate. "We love to think out of the box, and we love color."
So when Michael and Katie bought their first home together last August, a 1950s ranch on Montrose Avenue in Elmhurst, they couldn't wait to put their mark on it. But their plans for a remodel in the kitchen, which perhaps needed it the most, were derailed.
"Two days after we closed, we had massive water damage," Katie said.
A leaky roof and an August downpour all led to a big, unexpected expense for the newlyweds.
"We had to get a new roof, which was definitely not in our budget," she said.
As a "small cry for help," they produced a YouTube video and essay to submit to HGTV's design show, "Meg's Great Rooms." (See attached video.)
Meg Caswell, the Meg of "Meg's Great Rooms," is no stranger to Katie's family. Meg was mentored in the design business by Katie's mom, Karen Lee, who owns Total Window Treatments in Elmhurst. Caswell got her design show after winning HGTV's "Design Star" last year, and she was recently renewed for another season.
"My mom taught her a lot," Katie said. "It's been fun to see Meg talk about my mom (on the show)."
But even without the connection to Meg, the Wunderlichs' video and essay about their un-fun kitchen sold itself.
"The water has caused the wallpaper to peel off the walls and created damage to some of the cabinets," Katie wrote in her essay. "A few of the cabinets are swollen and don't stay closed."
Aside from the water damage, the kitchen was just outdated and boring, with a vinyl floor and discolored tile.
"It was very plain. Nothing had been touched. The stove and dishwasher were original, the fridge was Montgomery Ward, which isn't around anymore," she said. "It just was not us."
And, adjacent to the kitchen was a bland four-season room that was just loaded with potential and certain to get a designer's creative juices flowing.
Representatives from HGTV came to Elmhurst and interviewed them, and about three or four months later, they learned they were chosen for a complete kitchen makeover. They are Episode 6 of a 13-episode season.
"We had a meeting with a bunch of designers, producers and Meg, and we just went through what we like, things we dream about doing in our kitchen," Katie said.
They told the designers they wanted to keep the style true to the 1950s character of the home, and that they really like blues and greens.
"I gave them a sample of recycled glass countertops that my husband and I really liked, and they worked with that and put it into the space."
Katie doesn't want to give away too much about the new kitchen because their episode of "Meg's Great Rooms" airs at 8 p.m. this Saturday, June 16.
Katie and Michael will be seeing the show for the first time, along with their friends and family.
"We filmed hours and hours and hours, and the program is only 20 minutes," she said. "So, we're very anxious to see what clips they're going to use."
They filmed Katie and Michael cooking in their "before" kitchen to illustrate how inconvenient the space was. They filmed the design team meeting at Roberto's Ristorante. They filmed at her mom's store, because her mom did all the window treatments. And, at the beginning of every show, Meg drives through the towns where the makeovers happen, so there should be some neat scenes of Elmhurst streets or neighborhoods.
They also filmed at the Kane County Flea Market.
"I collect jadeite, and so they really ran with that," she said. "When we went to the fairgrounds, that was something we were shopping for."
Katie and Michael had to move out of their home for three weeks during the makeover. They put their faith in the designers and hoped for the best, and that's what they got.
"We love everything," Katie said. "It really feels like us. It's just amazing that that's our space and we didn't have anything to do with it."
Katie cried through the whole reveal—and it wasn't because they gave her granite countertops.
"I don't know what they'll show, but I doubt there's going to be much of me talking because I cried the entire time. I was just so overjoyed," she said.