Ben’s Project

Designed by Corinha Designs & Hometown Woodworking & Shawmut Design and Construction

“It was an honor for me to participate in creating a dream room for Ben and his sisters, Lucy and Charlotte!”

The first task was working to effectively maximize the budget for this project by combining custom made products with ready made and store bought items. The inspiration for five – year old Ben’s design came from his love of airplanes and flying. It was critical that we create a space that stimulated Ben’s imagination but also allowed him to navigate more freely through his room.

Designed By

Corinha Designs & Hometown Woodworking & Shawmut Design and Construction

From The Designers

We worked with a pale green wall color chosen by Ben and we were lucky enough to find bedding that launched our theme and inspired our mural. Custom made woven wood roman shades were combined with a unique biplane light fixture and strip lights above his new closet door. The closet door – mounted on a track so that it moved easily – is painted like an airplane hanger door.

The most amazing piece in Ben’s room is the unique cabinetry created by Gail O’Rourke of Hometown Woodworking. Gail took my initial design of open shelving with base cabinets below to hide Ben’s breathing machines. A wonderful wall system surrounds Ben’s hospital bed and blends seamlessly into his room and the blue wall behind his bed contrasts beautifully with the white wall cabinets.

Lucy’s room presented quite a design challenge. Lucy wanted to keep the luscious orange colored walls with lavender trim. After much searching, the right combination of fabrics was found to create a picture perfect room for Lucy which thoroughly compliments her personality. With a stage in the corner for concerts and plays, a new dresser and full sized bed, Lucy has a space that will suit her for years to come.

Sweet little two year old Charlotte was a perfect client. She was in need of a big girl bed and was outgrowing her crib. Mermaid glittered roman shades with a lavender checked window seat enhanced the white built-ins in her room. A metal toddler bed that grows with her to a twin size was placed against a pale lavender wall beside a hand made monogrammed pink bookcase/toy box made by Gail O’Rourke.

Thanks to Simon’s Furniture in Franklin and Curtain Call Workroom for reducing your rates, and all the volunteers who made the process so much fun. But most of all thank you to Ben and the Elwy’s, for creating on opportunity that has been so rewarding. We too, have benefited greatly.”

From Custom Woodworker Gail O’Rourke, Hometown Woodworking

“This was my second project with the Dream Team with Room to Dream. And what a wonderful experience!

“Ben’s room needs some cabinets” was the first message I received from Room to Dream. I visited with Ben, his wonderful family and together with Karen Corinha (the designer),we viewed the space and discussed their needs, brainstormed and dreamed. After much measuring, I headed home with the promise of a design for new cabinets. On my drive home, I had time to think more about Ben, and his cabinets…. then it came to me. Ben didn’t need cabinets; he needed a solution that would help him overcome obstacles – physical and emotional – and a solution that would meet his needs today, next week, next year and for years to come. I was delighted to be part of that solution.

Ben’s case presented several challenges. We needed to find materials and finishes that could withstand day to day use, be durable and clean easily. We needed a design that took into consideration space requirements for Ben’s medical equipment, fit seamlessly into his room, blending with his environment. And then, we had to make sure that the solution would grow with Ben.

The answer was a bedroom “surround” made from quality plywoods and hardwoods. The high quality finish was applied by hand, blending the colors and brightening his environment. The casework was designed with each piece of equipment and electrical requirement in mind. The angled shelving – all adjustable – was designed to embrace Ben’s bed and add function to each piece. Lighting under the shelves ensured its usefulness even on the darkest of nights. And the best part, should Ben’s family ever have to move to another home, Ben’s surround can move with him.

Every facet of Ben’s project was a true collaboration. Karen Corinha designed rooms for Ben and his siblings to reflect their individual needs. Dream Team Leader and Architect, Mike Collins designed a closet – complete with a hand-painted door – on runners to make it accessible to Ben. The Shawmut Team widened and pocketed doors, lowered light switches and removed and replaced thresholds to solve many of the obstacles for Ben. Droves of volunteers primed, painted, fixed, installed and offered support and encouragement.

Ben’s mother, Rani, exclaimed when seeing Ben’s new wall “surround” for the first time: “It looks like it was always there.” This is the greatest compliment you can give to a cabinetmaker.

In my experience with Ben and his family, we not only built cabinets and solutions, we built friendships.

To Room to Dream – Thank you.

To Ben Elwy – Dream BIG!”

Gail O’Rourke, Hometown Woodworking

From The Family

Room to Dream came into our lives when Ben was hospitalized for an extended period of time at Boston Children’s Hospital following tracheostomy surgery to help him breathe. This was the summer before his Kindergarten year, and our lives were in chaos. Our construction project to make our house accessible for Ben’s walker and wheelchair was not going well, we had a 9 month old baby who was being passed from babysitter to neighbor while we drove back and forth to the hospital, and our 7 year old daughter had lots of activities going on but we were so stretched we could hardly participate in them. I had taken a leave of absence from work to be with Ben but as a result we were having a hard time making our mortgage payments. A Children’s social worker told me about Room to Dream and encouraged me to complete an application, because they might be able to create a healing space for Ben in our house. It seemed like such a far-fetched idea, but I had nothing to lose. While Ben slept in his hospital bed, I completed the form, and then promptly forgot about the application as I focused on Ben’s health.

Two months later, with Ben home, attending school, and me back to work, I got a phone call from Stefan Nathanson, the founder of Room to Dream, saying that our application had been accepted, and that the team wanted to meet with us at home, and introduce themselves to Ben. I could not believe it. At this point, some of the kindest, most generous, and truly wonderful people entered our lives—and they never left! Not only did they create an amazing healing space for Ben in his bedroom, they also created fun and whimsical bedrooms for Lucy and Charlotte, and added accessible features throughout our house, including a ramp in our garage so that Ben could leave and enter our house completely independently. Fostering Ben’s independence was one of Room to Dream’s goals—but another accomplishment, which Room to Dream may have attended but was not clear to me from the start, was helping our family feel like we mattered in this world, that I mattered, and that we should keep working hard to make sure that Ben and our family could continue to advocate for Ben and help him be the best person he could possibly be despite being born with a rare neuromuscular disorder called Schwartz- Jampel syndrome.

Room to Dream thought of everything during Ben’s project. Ben’s room had cubbies for his many pieces of equipment, but they made sure that airplanes, and his love of flying, featured heavily throughout. If you looked closely, you could see that an oxygen concentrator was safely tucked into a nook, that trach cleaning supplies and medications were easily accessible in cupboards, but what jumped out at you when you walked in was that this was the bedroom of a young boy who dreamed of being in the sky. The airplane sketch for the wall motif that all members of the Room to Dream project team signed for Ben still remains framed on his wall. He is 21 years old now, but all of us will never forget the extreme kindness, generosity and love that we were shown so many years ago, and which we still benefit from today. We are delighted when we hear from Stefan, Bill, Michael and other members of the project team, who spent so much time with us, and who we remember as if we just saw them yesterday.

Thank you Room to Dream for believing Ben and the Elwy Family. We have never forgotten your support, and we pay it forward whenever we can.

Special Thanks

We would like to thank all of the volunteers as well as the donors below for being a part of this Dream Team!

Smart Coats

California Closets

Sherwin Williams

Shawmut Construction

Onsite Studios

Susan Buta at Boston Natural Products

Paul Hannaford at Hannaford Immigration Law

Colleen Faltus at Healthy Fusions

Harvey Building Products

Davis Electric

Caddis Insulation

Maplehurst Builders



Jean Plotka

Eliene & Wander Oliveira