Early next month AARP and the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) will announce the winners of a contest they organized to demonstrate to AARP members the ease with which kitchens and bathrooms can be updated. The organizations say simple improvements can make these rooms more accessible and user-friendly for everyone in the household, regardless of age or ability, without compromising style or breaking the bank.

A contest like this "is a great way to capture the consumer's imagination," says Amy Levner, AARP's manager of housing and mobility options. "The best way we found to educate consumers is to show them what they can do. [Accessibility] is a difficult topic to talk about; it's so much easier to show it" through before-and-after photographs of remodeled rooms, for example.

The "Recession Remodel" Room Makeover Contest was open to owners of single-family detached homes who are at least 45 years old and live in any of the 50 states or the District of Columbia. To enter, homeowners had to submit an essay describing the physical challenges or obstacles they or their family members face with their current bathroom or kitchen layout or design, along with photos of the room. The entry period closed June 14.

One bathroom and one kitchen will be selected to receive up to $5,000 in simple, low-cost, universal design-focused improvements. The prize packages include design plans, products, contractor installations, and the assistance of local ASID designers, who will contribute their time and services to remodel the winning bathroom and kitchen entries.

Visit www.aarp.org/remodel in early July to see the winning entries.