Design Gives Back

DESIGN GIVES BACK was created by interior designer Kelee Katillac –


It was 1992 and I was an interior designer in Kansas City, Missouri, recently returned from a New York City design firm. Besides typical client work in Kansas City, I had also been contracted by Better Homes & Gardens Magazines to create pages of rooms, DIY ideas and interiors for Meredith Publishing.

In my newly acquired apartment, there were noises in the middle of the night in the space below mine. It turned out that they were of the worst kind: domestic abuse. Debra, the victim, had suffered a breakdown after the split-up with her abuser; she had lost her elementary school teaching job and was struggling to get back on her feet again. However, she was still living within the same walls that had witnessed many terrible things. Day after day she was reminded of the past and the rooms seemed haunted by violence. Finances would not allow a move. Somehow, she would have to find a way to make the old space “new” again.

We started with making curtains, then a new paint finish that repaired a bedroom wall that had been broken by a fist. With each action of design therapy Debra began to feel better. A battered wall repair somehow began to heal a shattered heart and mind, as well. The correlation between home, creative action and mental wellbeing became apparent. The take-away: change your surroundings to begin a change in your life. Eventually, Debra returned to teaching and became happily married.

Over the past 20 years I have case studied, written books and facilitated healing makeovers for those that are critically ill or in-need. Cancer patients, bullied kids, seniors living in group homes, and many others have benefited from the “Miracle Makeovers” provided by Design Gives Back. Corporate sponsors, volunteers, designers, artists, realtors, carpenters and many others have given time and talent to help those who needed a room to grow and heal within.

In 1997, a three year project for Habitat for Humanity was supported by Better Homes & Gardens’ DIY Magazine and published featuring the “House of Belief” Showhouse that was created as a national pilot project.

Now, in “full-circle” we bring Design Gives Back to Better Homes & Gardens Realtors — those that help so many folks everyday to find homes that support growth, families and wellbeing. I can’t thank-you enough for your help. Together, we can provide rooms and homes for change.

Note: Upon her request, “Debra” is an alternate name and a few details of our first recipient’s story have been changed to honor her privacy.



Interior designer Kelee Katillac’s work has been featured in the pages of USA Today, House Beautiful, Better Homes & Gardens, Designer Builder, Country Home, Body & Soul and hundreds of other publications worldwide. She has been a guest on CNN, The Oprah Winfrey Show, The Discovery Channel, Pure Oxygen, The Family Network, and ABC’s “View From the Bay” with Spencer Christian. In addition, Kelee is the author of two nationally-acclaimed books including House of Belief: Creating Your Personal Style. She is also the founder of Design Gives Back an initiative to provide rooms for hope, health and happiness for those who are critically ill or in-need.
View recent publications featuring Kelee Katillac Interior Design

Kelee Katillac … and her book House of Belief: Creating Your Personal Style…. it’s beautiful.
—Oprah Winfrey



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