The awards keep on coming for Jonathan’s bedroom.

This time it’s an Award of Excellence to BarberMcMurry Architects from the International Interior Design Association Tennessee Chapter. The award for Long-Term Design was presented at the annual Composing Great Design Awards ceremony last week in Nashville.

Knoxville-based BarberMcMurry partnered with Kingdom Design Ministries and others on a special project completed in March. It was a room makeover, but no ordinary fixer-upper. This was a room makeover for a 14-year-old Blount County boy who is immobile and confined to a wheelchair. Jonathan, whose last name is being kept private at the ministry’s request, was diagnosed with “locked-in-syndrome” following a brain aneurysm and stroke.

Kingdom Design Ministries creates dream room makeovers and renovations for children who have experienced devastation in their young lives, like in Jonathan’s case. It’s all done at no charge to the families.

Jonathan’s room is his world. It needed to be special. It was by happy coincidence that BarberMcMurry was drawn into helping to make that world real. The connection with KDM came through Barbie Corzo Thomas, an interior designer with the firm. Turns out she was a longtime volunteer with the ministry and member of the KDM board.

So it happened that Jonathan’s room makeover became part of the Triple Dog Dare Ya! Design Challenge. KDM set the challenge to inspire volunteers to finish three room makeovers during one weekend. On March 3, the challenge was met.

“We hope this is one of many room makeovers we do with Kingdom Design Ministries,” Thomas, who holds National Certification for Interior Designers Qualification, said Wednesday as she reflected on the mission accomplished.

“Giving back to our community through projects like this is important to each of us personally, but it’s also something that BarberMcMurry champions and encourages us to do.”

Previous to the IIDA award, Jonathan’s room project had already been recognized as the winner of Kingdom Design Ministries’ own awards: the Judges’ Choice Award, People’s Choice Award and Kids’ Choice Award.

One room, many makersBlount County Realtor Jackie Mills, of Realty Executives Associates, worked with KDM and BarberMcMurry’s interior designers on the project. The room is now fully accessible for Jonathan’s motorized wheelchair and has an upgraded décor to reflect his love of video games, which he can play with the help of an eye gaze computer and his older brother, Timmy.

Along with professional interior design services donated to the effort, 11 BarberMcMurry employees volunteered during the construction weekend to complete the renovation. In partnership with Mills, the team raised $4,660 toward supplies and materials. More than 25 furniture, paint and technology vendors and suppliers donated materials or labor.

Along with Thomas, three co-worker designers, all of whom hold NCIDQ designation, volunteered for Jonathan’s room makeover. All came away from the project uplifted.

Katie Lowery: “The IIDA award was an honor to receive, but what it really meant to us was that this project had an impact beyond Blount County. We put our whole hearts into this renovation, and this award shows that the whole state of Tennessee recognized the value this project had to Jonathan and his family.”

Kristin Bowman: “Jackie Mills is an all-star. Thanks to her, we were able to fundraise for some of the specialty equipment, like the ceiling track and lift, that Jonathan and his family needed.”

Julie Dalby: “When we designed the room, we wanted to incorporate Jonathan’s love of video games but we also wanted to help him regain some independence. The LED lights in the ceiling and the window blinds can both be controlled by a single touch to a remote control, which Jonathan can operate.”

As for Thomas, she added that while the award presentation last week was special, it came in second-place to the reward she received on March 3 when the finished room was revealed.

“The most gratifying thing about this entire project hasn’t been any award, but seeing the reactions of Jonathan and his family when they first saw that room. It meant so much to them, and that meant everything to us. No award can top that,” Thomas said.

Also from IIDA

The project was one of two Awards of Excellence presented to BarberMcMurry by the International Interior Design Association Tennessee Chapter. The firm also was recognized for Small Corporate Design for its interior design at Analysis & Measurement Services Corp.

BarberMcMurry designed a renovated addition that houses laboratory and testing spaces, as well as an electromagnetic compatibility chamber for AMS, a nuclear engineering consulting firm in Knoxville.

Bob has served in a variety of roles since joining The Daily Times in the 90s. He currently is editor of the business section. When someone gets promoted, retires or gets hired at a new job in Blount County, he's the man to email.

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