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Omaha Magazine

Once Upon a Bedroom: A Fairytale Room Makeover

Mar 01, 2022 09:58AM ● By Karen Campbell
blue kids room with canopy over bed

Photo by Bill Sitzmann

“I can’t wait to check it out!” exclaimed Lia Olson, age 3, at the reveal of her new bedroom.

As the door opened, the delight on Lia’s face said it all. Her revamped bedroom—complete with a one-of-a-kind, “big girl” canopy bed (to replace her crib), two custom bookshelves, a reading bench, and a fresh, fairytale-like color palette—surpassed her wildest dreams, as well as those of her parents, Carrie and Andrew Olson.

Diagnosed at age 21 months with a high-risk form of leukemia, it was important for Lia to have a peaceful, comfortable space to convalesce at home during her final months of treatment, expected this spring.

This young girl’s room makeover was made possible by Designing Dreams, a nonprofit that coordinated their first bedroom remodel in 2014. 

The organization pursues its mission to “create healing spaces for children with cancer, inspiring happiness and hope,” by raising funds through private donations, volunteer help, and pro bono work by local interior designers. The organization serves children and families in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Nebraska.

“We get an understanding of what that child is up against with their cancer treatment and what their greatest needs are,” said Kelly O’Donnell, executive director and board member of Designing Dreams.

Tara Miller, owner and lead interior designer of The Heartland Interior Design, was contacted by Designing Dreams to reimagine Lia’s bedroom.

“Out of all the talented designers
here—and there are many talented ones—I was so thankful and honored to be asked to participate in this unique opportunity,” Miller said.

With help from The Heartland Interior Design team member Chelsey Segura, Miller worked to give Lia’s new room a lighthearted, tranquil, storybook aura that would be conducive to healing.

 Reading is a favorite activity of the Olson family, so Miller had two custom-made bookshelf towers and a reading bench installed in Lia’s room. The area under the reading bench provides additional book storage.

“We also added a really fun scallop trim on the front of all the woodwork, so it just felt a little softer,” Miller said. “It’s the perfect space with the most relaxing shade of sky-blue paint. It feels like you are up in the clouds.”

A large area rug with hues of blue, pink, yellow, and green—Lia’s favorite colors—was donated by Feizy Rugs. Lia’s new bedding and additional furniture were donated by Nebraska Furniture Mart. 

Miller said The Heartland Interior Design donated design time; oversaw project management, orders, freight, shipment, and deliveries; and completed warehousing and installation. Miller's husband and a family friend contributed some "sweat equity" as well. Due to delays in materials, the room took about seven months to complete. 

Carrie said Lia’s new room has made such a positive impact on their family and is a “daily reminder” they are not alone in Lia’s battle. 

“This has lifted our spirits ever since we knew that Lia was approved for the bedroom makeover,” Carrie said. “We looked forward to this for months, and in the middle of difficult cancer treatments, and it was a huge bright spot to have something to look forward to.”

She added if Designing Dreams’ goal is to make a difference in the lives of kids fighting cancer, then that goal has been achieved, and surpassed, for Lia.

“We will forever be grateful to The Heartland Interior Design and vendors who donated, and [to] every donor, volunteer, and board member of Designing Dreams,” Carrie said. “Thank you for giving us hope and making us smile during a time we needed it most.”  

Visit to donate and learn more.

This article originally appeared in the March/April 2022 issue of Omaha Home. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.  

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