'A competition:' Students design outdoor spaces for display at NARI Home Improvement Show

WEST ALLIS -- Spring is a time when many start thinking about making upgrades to their home, and some young professionals made a name for themselves at the NARI Spring Home Improvement Show.

The show took place Feb. 15-18 at the Expo Center at Wisconsin State Fair Park.

"There's over 250 exhibitors and thousands of people who have come through," said David Kittleson with NARI.

Irma Sanchez-Mora

While there were big name brands and companies aplenty -- sprinkled next to them were college students.

"We have a competition. We had the theme of 'outdoor living space,' and we had to design something," said Irma Sanchez-Mora, a student at Waukesha County Technical College.

Four colleges were in the running for best design team: Mount Mary University, Waukesha County Technical College, Milwaukee Area Technical College and Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.

Mount Mary University

Waukesha County Technical College

Milwaukee Area Technical College

Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

"I've seen this since a very young age, and I was very interested," Sanchez-Mora said.

Irma Sanchez-Mora

Sanchez-Mora, a student of architectural drafting and interior design, was one of six other students who helped design the show piece.

"We went with an outdoor, rustic, industrial bar," Sanchez-Mora said.

For seating, they used stools and swings. For the patio, tables and chairs.

Each college did something different and unique, and independent judges would decide the winner. Sanchez-Mora said the benefits of being selected to display at a home improvement show are pretty big.

Waukesha County Technical College

"Speaking with a worker at a firm -- they offered me an internship, so it's a great way to find an internship," Sanchez-Mora said.

From big-time professionals to up-and-coming amateurs, the NARI Spring Home Improvement Show proved the next big design idea can come from anywhere and anyone.

Students said Sunday, Feb. 18 it would be a few more days before they would hear back on the winner.