2014 Winner


When you buy a new house, you’re never sure what you’re going to get. The previous owners may not have kept it up to standards, and only when you start remodeling one small room do you realize the project might just be the tip of the iceberg.

This year’s winner of the Operation Rescue Room contest is Jill Wanous of Minnetonka, whose attempt to remodel her bathroom led to a complete overhaul of the walk-out basement.

When Wanous embarked on the bathroom remodeling project, she discovered water damage and mold issues.
“The whole basement needed to be gutted,” she says.

“It’s a 1950 house and the previous owners had done nothing to update it,” Wanous says. The drywall needed to be removed and the wiring upgraded. Windows need yet to be replaced. Insulation has to be installed in the outer walls, and the whole space is dire need of modernizing.

All that aside, it was photos of the bathroom by itself that convinced visitors at the 2014 West Metro Home Remodeling Fair to vote it “the ugliest room in the West Metro” and award Wanous the $1,000 cash incentive to remodel.

Wanous’ cramped bathroom had a host of problems. There were 1950s mosaic pastel tiles in the shower. No electrical outlets. No fan. The floor had three layers: laminate on top of linoleum on top of another layer of 1950s tile. A yellow textured ceiling and outdated paneling added to the overall unappealing aesthetic.

“When I got the mailer about the contest, I felt that this could win,” Wanous says. “It was a pretty clear pick.”
But the bathroom was just the beginning. In order to turn the basement into a livable space, the project will cost more than $5,000 and will likely take several more months to complete.

That’s why this story shows before- and mid-project photos while stories about past Operation Rescue Room winners have shown before-and-after photos of the remodeled rooms.

Still, progress is being made and the cash prize for winning has helped fund the remodeling and moved it forward, which is why Wanous says she would definitely recommend others submit their own ugly rooms for the contest.