Kristin Wall Helps Deliver Dreams

When the doorbell rang on Christmas Eve, Beth and Brian Spencer found five angels on their

Among them was Guilford resident and design professional Kristin Wall, there with four friends to deliver tidings of joy on behalf of DesignWish. Each year, the five-woman DesignWish team conceives, creates, and completes a miraculous room makeover for a deserving area individual or family.

For the Spencers, adoptive parents to three young children with special needs, the unexpected gift (they were secretly nominated by Beth's grown daughter) was a beautiful, functional space in which their Guilford family can thrive.

Along with Kristin, the DesignWish team includes Lisa Leonardi, Patty MacNeil, Robin Reed, and Julie Cousins. Right now, the ladies are looking for that next deserving shoreline family with a room-and a lifestyle-awaiting transformation. Nominations are being accepted through Wednesday, Dec. 16 at

Founded just three years ago, DesignWish has been "growing every year," says Lisa Leonardi, who thought of the idea and brought it to her friends and independent co-professionals, Kristin and Patty. And grow it has, requiring additional woman power by year two, to the delight of Robin and Julie, who signed on.

"With each year we hope to grow in number and support, so we can provide for more than one family," says Lisa. "This grassroots project is all heart and, as we grow, we hope to touch the lives of as many people as possible who need a helping hand."

Kristin was introduced to the DesignWish concept over a cup of coffee with Lisa and immediately signed on. Lisa, proprietor of Madison's The Room Doctor, and Kristin, proprietor of Wall to Wall Home Concepts, LLC, of Guilford, actually compete directly for clients, but have built a close relationship as peers.

"We are in competitive businesses, but as far as we are concerned, there's no competition," says Kristin.

The mother of two (Griffin, 8, and Connor, 6) moved to Guilford with her husband Jim in 2001 and five year ago started her business, which includes interior home design as well as home-staging services.

With the addition of Patty MacNeil of Linden Shores Interiors in Branford, DesignWish was born in 2008, delivering a living room makeover. In 2009, with the addition of Branford's Robin Reed (of Robin Reed Ltd.) and Julie Cousins (Let's Get Organized), DesignWish increased the magic to produce the Spencer's family space.

Nearly a year later, Kristin visited the Spencer's home and talked about the dramatic makeover, done in two days.

"This room was full of people. Before they got here, volunteer professional painters from different companies, all working together, came in and painted the space. We had a small army of people working on this," says Kristin.

The five DesignWish principals anchored the room's transformation with the "family wall," which keys in on the Spencer's faith and love of family, explains Kristin.

"We custom designed that wall for the family. A man, Daniel Magee, who does custom framing, approached us after he saw an article and he said, 'I want to help you-whatever you design, I can make.' We had a photographer, Catherine Kiernan, who gave us a free photo shoot."

The final product, a three-piece, soaring design, recalls stained-glass windows and holds black and white images of family. It overlooks the serene, functional space that now defines the Spencer's home, tastefully filled with furnishings (new or re-purposed), fabrics, floor and window treatments, electronics, cabinetry, and other design elements. Everything arrived thanks to donations and free services from no less than 35 key donors, contractors, and merchants and 18 volunteers. Cash donations from individuals and local businesses added to room's estimated $75,000 makeover value.

The DesignWish team's working to gather those resources again as nominations roll in at its beautiful website, designed gratis by Margaret Tehan. It's also reaching out for sponsors, says Kristin.

"A lot of these vendors who've been contributing are vendors we know and they love to help. Right now we're especially look for sponsors to help pull it off."

Kristin says the DesignWish team wants plenty of nominations to review and looks forward to delivering another surprise visit to a winning family or individual on Dec. 24.

"This is what we love to do. We can't wait."

DesignWish is a collaboration of Connecticut shoreline interior design consultants and retail sponsors that aims to transform a room in the home of a deserving individual or family. To make a nomination; become a sponsor; or volunteer goods, services, or manpower, visit Nomination forms, available at the site, must be returned by Wednesday, Dec. 16.


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