Interior Design Students turn dream room into reality for ailing Elkins Park girl

Six Interior Design students helped make a 12-year-old ailing girl’s wish for a comfortable, trendy and fun family room come true in a fabulous makeover that was unveiled on Saturday at her Elkins Park home.

Rina Goldberg suffers from mitochondrial disease, a complex metabolic disorder that affects growth, motor control and many of the body’s organ systems.  She had asked the Make-A-Wish Foundation to help create a cozy retreat where she could spend time recuperating from ongoing treatments.

When Lauren Baumbach, interim Interior Design program director, got the request from Make-A-Wish this summer, she said, “It sounded like a perfect fit – our students have the talent and know-how to carry this out.”

Interior Design students Kimberly Madeya, Christina Corsaro, Kristina Colosimo, Savannah Bridge, Mari Randall and graduate Michael Griffiths started working with Rina in August to turn her dream room into reality.

Because her daughter experiences extreme lethargy and weakness from the disease, Stacy Goldberg said it is important for Rina to have a room where she can spend a lot of time, be comfortable, have space for her favorite things and interact with her family.  “The disease is unpredictable and can be life threatening,” Stacy Goldberg said, “and this room gives us some magical moments to have with her.”

With Rina about to have surgery, the students worked on a tight schedule, drawing up three different plans based on the girl’s wishes.  Ultimately, Baumbach said, Rina chose ideas from each of the three design plans, and the students pulled it all together, including choosing colors, lighting and finishes.  They also designed murals for the doors with images depicting good health and positive attitudes.

And, much like the popular television show “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition,” the Interior Design students met at Rina’s house Saturday, Sept. 20, for a whirlwind session of assembling the furniture, installing the lighting and hanging the pictures on the walls.  Because Rina had stayed out of the room for several weeks during the makeover, when she first saw it on Saturday, it was a big surprise.

“I love this room,” said Rina in an interview from her home, where she’s planning to make a scrap book with the designs the students gave her.  “It’s very comfortable and has all the things I wanted –it’s fun and comfy.” 

“It was really rewarding to see how our designs can change someone’s life,” said Kristina Colosimo, a senior Interior Design student. “It was also a great learning experience – we had a client, restrictions on what we could do, a budget in place, things that were already bought – and very challenging.”

Based on this experience, Interior Design students will collaborate with Make-A-Wish Foundation on three additional design projects for ill children as part of the University’s Day of Service on Oct. 1.  Beyond that, Baumbach said she hopes this can be an ongoing community service opportunity for students in the program.

Top Photo Caption: Interior Design students (left to right) Kim Madeya, Christina Corsaro, Michael Griffiths, Kristina Colosimo and Interior Design Program Director Lauren Baumbach show their family room designs.

Bottom Photo Caption:  Interior Design students (left to right) Kristina Colosimo, Kim Madeya, Michael Griffiths and Christina Corsaro join Rina Goldberg (center) in her newly designed family room.

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