By Molly Snyder Senior Writer Published Aug 16, 2010 at 9:05 AM
A couple of months ago, Tzivi Stern received an e-mail from her mother that started with the message, "Not that your living room is that bad, but ..." The e-mail contained a link to a contest called "Room For Improvement" hosted by Dwell Magazine that's offering a $10,000 living room makeover.

Stern, who lives on Summit Place on Milwaukee's East Side, entered the contest and is now one of 20 finalists.

"We beat out more than 800 entries to earn the dubious title of being one of America's ugliest and most in-need-of-help living rooms," says Stern, a preschool teacher.

The winner of the contest receives $10,000 worth of Room & Board furnishings and access to a design consultant. The voting, which can be done via this link, ends on Aug. 25.

"Do I want to be officially named winner of all things tacky? For pricy furniture, heck yeah," says Stern. "I think if you believe in the effort to ‘Make Milwaukee Beautiful' then you really have to get the word out and vote for the home team."

Stern, her husband and her 1-year-old daughter live in a bungalow that was built in 1914. Stern's husband bought the house three years ago and she moved in when they got married a year later. Stern says the house has a lot of potential, but because of other life demands, they have not given it the attention it deserves.

"We've been at a standstill for a while. I think the idea of just emptying out the living room and starting from scratch with amazing items might just be the push we needed," she says.

According to Stern, the house is in a great neighborhood, but it needs a lot of work, including what she describes as "big-time stuff" like a new roof, windows and exterior paints.

The paneled living room was definitely on her list of future remodeling projects, but the Sterns weren't sure what to do with the space. She admits it's not the worst living room in the world, but believes it really needs some "umpf.

"As far as our dream look, it's kind of hard to see the forest through the trees," says Stern.

"You just keep adding and adding pieces to a melange that already doesn't work and it just gets harder and harder to see the ideal picture. Luckily, the prize comes with a design consultant. I think the editors did their best to pick finalists that would appreciate quality modern furniture, and we sure do."

Molly Snyder started writing and publishing her work at the age 10, when her community newspaper printed her poem, "The Unicorn.” Since then, she's expanded beyond the subject of mythical creatures and written in many different mediums but, nearest and dearest to her heart, thousands of articles for OnMilwaukee.

Molly is a regular contributor to FOX6 News and numerous radio stations as well as the co-host of "Dandelions: A Podcast For Women.” She's received five Milwaukee Press Club Awards, served as the Pfister Narrator and is the Wisconsin State Fair’s Celebrity Cream Puff Eating Champion of 2019.