Chaska's Cindy Carlson decorates homes in need

Chaska’s Cindy Carlson wants to bless people’s lives and living spaces.
Cindy Carlson shows Jodi Schoutz options for an upcoming project.

Worrying about home décor when it’s a struggle just to stay afloat might sound silly to some, but as any good interior designer knows, the space that surrounds you can have a huge impact on your entire life.

It’s that belief that motivates Cindy Carlson, owner of CKC Grand Design in Victoria, to share her talent with families in need. Believing a fresh coat of paint or a few new accessories can make a house a happier place, Carlson reaches out to bless those unable to afford home improvements. “There are people living in toxic conditions,” says Carlson. “I’ve seen homes with black mold that could make people sick. And they can’t afford to fix it. I’ve been in homes of people who can’t afford simple things like drapes or blinds. I want to help with things like that and make renovations possible for struggling clients.”

Carlson, who has been an interior designer since 1998, began her charitable renovations about a year ago and she dreams of more to come. “I’d like to pick a family once a month or every other month and do something to make their home and their lives better,” she says. “I’d like to have a storage facility to collect unwanted furniture and décor for clients with needs. A van would be great too, so we could transport things for people. What would also be really wonderful is if other contractors might donate time or materials. Then, we could grow this to a bigger thing. Help more people on a larger scale.”

Jodi Shoutz met Carlson at church and got to know her more while providing temporary daycare for Carlson’s daughter. “Cindy knew we had already replaced the windows and siding on our home. But the inside was another story,” Shoutz says. “We had smoke-stained drapes and flooring and had wanted to replace them for several years. She knew it was wearing on me. So she offered to help us out.”

Carlson provided Shoutz with carpet, pad and paint at cost. “Cindy even offered me work every now and then when I needed it,” Shoutz says. “She didn’t have to do that. But she is a very giving and caring person. She wants to bless others and give good things to people.”

Carlson has also worked on other homes, supplying carpeting, painting and installing laminate wood flooring in one and redecorating a 16-year-old girl’s room in another. Carlson says that she gives as much as she can, from carpet to paint to accessories. Anything to make somebody’s life a bit better.

Not only does Carlson have a heart for helpful home redecorating, she is passionate about minimizing the negative environmental impact of renovations. She tries to find new homes for discarded furniture and accessories, is committed to carrying green products in her showroom and recycles whatever items she can.

When she redecorates for a client, Carlson often asks the homeowners what they plan to do with the items they’re replacing. If they don’t wish to keep the items, Carlson will offer to sell them, give them away or save them for someone with a need. “I try to keep people’s needs in mind,” says Carlson. “So when I stumble across something other clients can use, I try to get it for them. I also bring lots of things to Mary’s Wish in Waconia. Good stuff. New stuff. Tables and Chairs from places like Pottery Barn.”

CKC Grand Design recycles all removed carpets and tiles and often encourages clients to consider reupholstering furniture with some of the many fabrics sold in their showroom. “There are lots of ways to reuse or recycle items in a home for a fresh look,” says Carlson. “You don’t always need to rip things out and re-do.”

Reviving Your Décor

Interior Designer Cindy Carlson recommends a fresh coat of paint as the easiest way to spruce up a tired look. Consider painting cabinetry or replacing the knobs and pulls. Paint a center island. Then embellish it with corbels or other decorative moldings to make it look like new. Choose colors you like instead of following fads. “The latest trend toward grey walls is depressing,” says Carlson. “Color affects your mood. Pick colors that make you happy.”

Rearrange, regroup or repaint your accessories for a fresh look. For example, Carlson recently roamed a client’s home and collected accessories to reuse for decorating their mantel and bookshelves. You may already have the pieces necessary to update your décor. Look around and be willing to experiment.


Cindy Carlson hopes to be able to help families improve their lives by improving their living space. If you have a need or know someone who might benefit from a bit of charitable home renovation, or if you’re a contractor willing to donate time or materials to this charitable cause, contact Carlson at