Friday, May 21, 2010

Designed for a Fresh Start: Rooms Revealed!

This was without a doubt the most unusual project I have worked on to date.  It was certainly not hard, but it required plenty of hard work.  And in the end, a reward  from the most unlikely person.  I had just descended the staircase, tired, sore and sweaty with the last bag of trash in hand.  I heard a sweet little voice coming from a sweet little boy of no more than 4 years old, who was standing in the room I just left. I heard him say "it's so pretty"...to his mother and sister.  A big sigh and broad smile from me.


I gave a little preview here.  Now for the back story and how this project started...

Jennifer Sergent, of  DC by Design did a post called "Designer Bedrooms" and showed this picture sent from her friend, designer and blogger, Jill Sorenson, who is the founder of the charitable organization Knock Out Abuse.  This is a room from the shelter for abused women:


I sat on it for few days, but couldn't shake the image. I picked up the phone and called fellow designer and blogger Lauren Liess, who lives one town over from me. She saw Jennifer's post too.  Ok decision made.  I will sign up to work on a bedroom re-do. That eventually turned into one large bedroom and the foyer/living room space.

On a chilly day in March the volunteer designers met at the shelter office signed confidentiality agreements and were then driven to the location.  By now many of you have seen the "group" photo of us on the staircase. After touring the spaces, I joined forces with Lauren knowing that we could pool resources, share rides (the location is 45-60 minutes away on a good traffic day) and if you read her blog...she is energetic, has plenty of projects under her belt showcasing some very impressive DIY skills, and the fact that I am more than 20 years older was pretty darn smart of me...don't you think? The bonus, we both love bargain hunting/thrifting and knew this could be a lot of fun while helping people in the process.  We measured, photographed, then didn't set foot in the spaces again until painting day.


In the meantime, we hunted and gathered.  We had one super fun afternoon scouring the thrift store and found really great stuff for our 2 spaces (and a few treasures for our own homes).  Next, I spent a day at Lauren's house and while I held and fed her darling baby boy, she sewed all the pillows for our spaces!  And since she has two little ones, I did as much running around as possible.  We talked on the phone, emailed, and I downloaded and sent  photos from stores....in other words a variation of e-decorating!  And, in no time our plans came together for the 2 spaces.




The Bedroom:

What the client asked for: this came by way of the shelter's director, Cathy.  The bedroom space needed to sleep three and a sturdy bunk bed was necessary and hopefully a headboard for the twin bed.  Plenty of storage, nothing too fragile and the drapes, which were recently made, had to stay. 

What we proposed: It was more of a series of decisions, since no presentation would be required.  We knew the drapes had to stay, and possibly the dresser already in place, in case we were unsuccessful scoring a replacement. So, the cream and gold from both of these items had to be considered.  Lauren and I both love serene paletes and the color aqua. We scoured her remnant inventory and found a small piece of the aqua and white damask pattern that would be our starting point and later find a home on the twin bed.

The end result: A soothing retreat that would feel like a haven for a  mother and her young son and daughter. We focused the design around an adult female client since there is a very large playroom for children that was getting a fantastic update.

The details: All items from these 2 spaces were either already there, donated from our day of thrift store shopping (including a pair of near new Ikea chairs), donated from others, from my storage room or Lauren's abundant fabric stash!  We added a second small cream chest on the other side of the room in the place of the original dresser. A  fairly new TV with it's own DVD player (donated from a client of mine) was put on top for better viewing and 3 drawers below for more storage. We both forgot to take a picture of this!  Purchased new: 4 lamp shades, 2 black decorative pillows, 3 sets of sheets, 3 bed pillows and 3 cotton blankets. All from Target.  And, the 2 black curtains rods from Joanne's Fabric & Crafts. Much of the paint was also from our own supplies with 3 new gallons purchased.  Talk about on a budget!


Before

After!







Before

After!


The Entry/Living Room:

What the client asked for: a more inviting space with extra seating.

What we decided: approach it like a modern day parlor! Start with the drapes with pink grograin ribbon detail I already had (buying new drapes would take up far too much of the budget from our personal funds) and work from there.  Lauren had the brown fabric with the pink, black and green accents and everything else evolved from that as we added in color and artwork.

The end result: a cheerful conversational space where adult women could gather and connect and hopefully talk about promising futures for themselves and their children!!!


Before



After!







Behind the scenes: The "before" pictures of our bedroom were not entirely accurate because the room had just been cleaned up to get ready for it's new occupants. On the morning of load in day, I arrived early and got quite a surprise! What I found was a room very close to the image I borrowed from Jennifer, plus a whole lot of toys and books. Stuff everywhere, covering every surface that had to be bagged and cleared for Tom the handyman to even put the bunk bed together and for us to get the room done!

The French style gold & cream dresser and nightstand were identical to the pieces I had growing up in the bedroom I shared with my sister!

For the living room, we  had picked out a wonderful old gold mirror at the thrift store that was suppose to go in between the windows. But it never arrived at the shelter.  So we pulled this medieval couple from our art pile. I think they look quite good for last minute!

The pink hydrangeas from my house were mistaken for fakes more than once and were toppled over...water and all!  Regardless of budget, fake flowers or plants will likely never make it into either of our designs!

The beautiful dresser with lion's head pulls in the living room was found on our thrifting day and slated for the bedroom...then went missing.  It was literally delivered as we were packing up to leave! Lauren and I took one look at each other and knew we could not re-do things and re-take pictures in the bedroom since the occupants had arrived home and the sun was going down.  So we both dropped our stuff, moved the dresser along the stairs.  I gathered all the containers I could get my hands on, cut some very thorny roses just outside the door and Lauren....grabbed handfulls of the green "plant" with the roots still attached!!!  Flexibility is a necessary designer trait!


Before

After!

I hope you enjoyed this post and are inspired to take on a challenge in your area.  If you are located in the DC metropolitan area would like to help out Knock Out Abuse please contact Ellen at 202-725-5604 or mailto:www.knockoutabuse@gmail.com. There are still many opportunies and work that needs to done in other local shelters.

I want to thank my partner in design on this project Lauren, for a fun collaboration! Jennifer Sergent who can make up the perfect bunk bed...as in bounce a quarter off it and was there at every turn helping us on load in day, including some last minute sewing!!! Cathy for helping put together that old iron bed,  for keeping things in sight during all of the chaos and caring about these women everyday!  Danielle, for lending a hand many times.  Ellen, who never complained when I sent her on 2 "tours" of Home Depot looking for items not only had she never heard of...but it seems neither had the kids working there! And of course, the ceiling medallion you so graciously paid for...and I don't even have a picture to show! All of the voluteers who painted, assembled, hauled furniture and helped with electrical issues.  And special thanks to you Jill, for caring enough about this cause to make us care too.

~Rebecca

To see more pictures of amazing transformations, please visit these blogs:
DC by Design
Design Dossier
Dream Design Live
Hardwood Artisians
Live Like You
PureStyle Home

ALL PHOTOS ARE PROPERTY OF A&A UNLESS OTHERWISE NOTED AND MAY NOT BE COPIED WITHOUT WRITTEN PERMISSION.

34 comments:

  1. AMAZING, LOVELY, BRILLIANT, and WONDERFUL! I love Lauren's blog and was excited to see the staircase photo appear on BOTH your blogs....knew something special was UP! What a fabulous gift you have bestowed with your time and talents, and I know from volunteering that you came away feeling equally as blessed as those that you helped. I laughed when I saw the french prov stuff, because I grew up with it, too! Many hugs to you both! xx P&H

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  2. Wow. This transformation is amazing. The time, commitment and heart that went into all of this is obvious. I just know that you put in hours and energy beyond what you could ever write here and the love and dedication shows. I'm so glad you bumped into the little boy in the hallway to reaffirm that your efforts had been worth it and to back me up when I say that this use your talent is not only admirable, but time and energy very well spent....

    Oh - one last thing. I had that complete bedroom set for years. It never looked quite as good. ;)

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  3. WOW! What a transformation! I'm sure the new occupants are beyond thrilled! Very kind of you both to volunteer your time and services. xx

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  4. Rebecca Thank you! Thank you! Thank you! for taking on this task and creating the most beautiful bedroom and living area for the women and children. You and Lauren are an inspiration...you are truly angels! I smile knowing all the women and children who pass through this shelter will now have a beautiful place to live and heal.

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  5. Rebecca: What a wonderful service post! I'm a "layed off" architect and know a lot of "layed off" interior designers in our town. I'd be willing to bet I could find at least a few of them who would join in with me to help in a similar manner with a similar cause in our town. Thanks again for sharing the process and outcome here on your blog!

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  6. Even the pillars look great ;)! You and Lauren did an amazing job...love your lead up with a filled car and aqua! I'm impressed!

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  7. You all did such an amazing job! The transformations are just unbelievable. You should all be so proud! Have a great weekend and stop by if you can for my new giveaway. (It's a really good one.) :)

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  8. Love it all and am thrilled for the recipients. How rewarding! I would love to be a part of something like this. I guess I just need to start looking around, don't I?

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  9. You are so inspiring! And what a great work and good deed you've done! I can see your efforts were so appreciated, even from this little guy who must have seen his share for being there in the first place!
    You did amazing with your resouces! It looks fantastic!
    I'll go on over to Lauren to see!

    Happy weekend indeed!

    Victoria

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  10. Rebecca- love this post & all the details. big hug & so glad we did this. THANK YOU!!!
    xoxo

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  11. HI I just saw this on Pure Style Home and popped over to say that you must be a very generous, and kind person. That would have take a lot of time and effort. What a great initiative. Big hug from Australia. xoxo

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  12. Rebecca, I think it just looks magnificent!! I saw the photos over at Lauren's. What an amazing job you guys did. I am blown away - it is so tranquil and truly lovely. So many people will feel so comfortable here, and feel the love, I hope.

    Great work!
    xo Terri

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  13. I applaud you and Lauren for your impressive work! I'm certain the reward was not in the end product, but knowing some individuals who need a lift in life will be enjoying your efforts. I am proud of you! Excellent post.

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  14. Pure inspiration and bravo to you all for the dedication to sharing your talents and your ability to restore strength and order - breathing new energy, new life into those who need it most. I am in awe and want to follow suit and do something to help those less lucky.
    I know I am lucky, and have talents to share.
    Thanks for the inspiration, beautiful work.
    pve

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  15. What an amazing transformation!!! That is what it is all about. It doesn't take a big budget, just big ideas. Bravo to you and your team!!!

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  16. I was touched and impressed by your work. You and your team are unsung heroes that will not get all the recognition you deserve, but you are storing up treasures in heaven when you so selflessly do for others "especially the least of these." Blessings and Thank- You! Meg

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  17. Rebecca -- I loved reading all the behind the scenes details of your design decisions -- what a great day -- group hug!

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  18. Touched and amazed by your efforts, not to mention you abilities. What a way to make a difference in the lives of others. The emotional well being of the occupants of these wonderful and warm rooms will be lifted up beyond what we can even comprehend going forward...This is such a wonderful gift that you and all the others who made this happen, have given!
    xx

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  19. I saw some pics of this wonderful project over at Lauren's blog... The before and afters are soooo amazing! Wonderful tranquil paint choices, beautiful furniture arrangement and awesome use of the things you had! I am completely and utterly impressed on so many levels! Keep up the inspiring work... My girls were talking about these posts this morning at coffee. You all have really motivated people with this project... Well done!!!
    -ME
    P.S. Stop over to my blog to get in on my very first giveaway! (If karma has anything to do with anything... you should be the big winner... HA!)

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  20. what a wonderful job you did on these two rooms. They look like a home and they are inviting. I can only imagine how it made the occupants feel to have such loving people care enough to do such a wonderful job for them. Kudos to you for your heart and for a job well done, Kathysue

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  21. What a gift you all have given these women and children! You have created a beautiful place for them to live at what must be an incredibly difficult time in their lives. How generous of you to give back by sharing your wonderful talents.

    xo
    Brooke

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  22. You all have done such a great job. Thank you for giving of your time and energy to people in great need. The rooms are just beautiful and I know having a happy fresh environment will help these families so much. I hope you have a great weekend. Well deserved.

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  23. Good things happen to good people. And you just made that happen for the women and children who deserve good things and beautiful surroundings. Kudos to you and your colleagues for a job well done.

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  24. Wow, I am clapping for you gals! Beautiful job.

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  25. what an amazing collaboration for a worthy cause. all of you put your heart and soul and creativity into a project that will resonate with so many for years
    xo
    debra

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  26. love your collaboration with Lauren... such a great project for a well deserving cause.... I love your blog and added you to by favorite links... Fay

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  27. So inspiring! What an incredible experience that will last a lifetime and such a wonderful gift you've given to these mothers and their children. The transformations are absolutely incredible!

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  28. What a wonderful project; congrats to you and Lauren on a beautiful job.

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  29. What a beautiful collaboration...such an amazing gift to be able to give to these people. Thank you so much for sharing it with us!

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  30. What wonderful transformations. That was so nice of you and the others to volunteer you time to do that.

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  31. Thanks to everyone who stopped by to leave such a nice comment...very much appreciated!
    ~Rebecca

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  32. Rebecca,

    On behalf of Knock Out Abuse Against Women and myself we can not thank you enough for all of your hard work. The shelter looks amazing thanks to your dedication, amazing talent and generosity. It was a pleasure working with you and I look forward to more projects in the future.

    Thank you so much for being a true champion of Knock Out Abuse.

    Thanks,

    Ellen Blankenstein

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  33. Hi Rebecca! Great job! I'm having a sleepless night and wanted to check out your blog after a long time to see if you had pics of this shelter project that you mentioned awhile back. I'm glad I checked! You guys really came up with a warm and welcoming place for the ladies and children. Bravo! I'll be sure to check in more often to see the other great pics I'm enjoying now. :)

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  34. Rebecca,
    What incredible spirit you have! How wonderful to give back using a talent that brings you joy. I can't imagine how good you felt after it was all over and you saw how happy everyone was. It makes me want to look for a similar project here in Atlanta.
    Sherry

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