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Designer Stephanie Stroud transforms a cottage at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital

Dated, dingy, drab—these are the words that came to mind when local designer Stephanie Stroud first stepped foot inside a cottage at KVC Prairie Ridge Hospital last June. The cottage, used to house elementary-aged boys and girls in severe psychiatric distress, was built in the 1980s and hadn’t been updated since.

“It was very bland; it was all earth tones and not at all a happy-kid space,” Stroud says.  “And if you’re a child struggling with mental illness, there’s nothing about that space that would lift you up.”

So Stroud, who has worked with Design for a Difference since 2014, decided to partner with the program and local showroom Madden-McFarland to turn the downtrodden living quarters into a happy haven for kids who need it most.

“It was a no-brainer that that’s where I would do my next project,” Stroud says.

Before demolition began, Stroud had to first raise funds to cover the cost of renovations. Local charity KC Can donated $25,000 toward the project, and KVC was able to raise the rest of the money for the $100,000 makeover.

“The first thing we did was meet with the staff to get their input from a functionality standpoint and a design standpoint,” Stroud says.

After their needs were assessed, Stroud’s plan was put in place. It included creating a second therapy room, knocking down walls in the kitchen and making over the Kids Store, a market-inspired space where patients could redeem points for good behavior.

The old carpet was replaced with flooring, donated by Shaw Floors. New paint, donated by Sherwin-Williams, went on the walls, as did a mural inspired by an image of the beach by artist Rob Kroenert.

“I wanted to give them the feeling of an escape to a calm environment,” Stroud says of her design inspiration. “I took the walls from a beige tone to a watery blue.”

With the help of Madden-MacFarland, new modular furniture was installed to allow for more seating in the community room, and donations of toys, games, books, and bedding came pouring in from local residents.

And finally, after months of hard work, the staff and patients at KVC Prairie Ridge were able to see the end result.

“The little kids were in shock, jumping up and down and saying ‘This is so beautiful,’” Stroud says. “The staff had a lot of tears and hugs.”

The end result was not only a more uplifting environment but a space that feels more like home. And thanks to the success of the children’s cottage makeover, Stroud was able to raise enough money to transform KVC’s other residences for teen boys and girls.

“I think it’s important for everyone to use their talent to give back,” Stroud says. “Nothing gives me more joy than to transform someone’s space and make their lives better because of it. It touches more people than you realize.”