All I can say is that there are times that all the hard work is worth it. We were honored to be invited by Trove Market to join a team of 9 fabulous designers to create a 'housewarming' for a group foster home, Central Texas Table of Grace. Given only one month from walk through to installation, this was a quick project to put it mildly. However, in that month, I was time and again pleasantly surprised and humbled by the generosity of those I know - and those I had never seen before.
The point of all of this was to elevate the lives of kids who have only really experienced hard knocks. It was an incredible project to work on, and I cannot tell you how touched I was at the experience, the reaction of the homes director Stacy, but most of all the stories told the night of the open house.
We worked with our generous friends, family, suppliers, vendors, and strangers (thanks random guy in Lowes who handed me all the cash in his pocket) to secure amazing items for the space. The goal was to really take the wall to wall sofas, fluorescent lighting, and sad beige walls to a new place. That place was the newly minted Hangout Zone. Not only is this a place that is comfortable for watching movies or TV at the end of a long day, but interactivity became key. Through the lego wall, the dry erase board - ripe for art, inspirational sayings, or games like hangman and tic-tac-toe - and the newly created game corner, this room has become a place that the kids really want to hang out, play, and create.
Before and During
The day got off to a great start - meaning we painted the whole room... but luckily I didn't have to paint a thing! Thanks to the generosity of Austin Coatings, we had a professional crew come in and knock out the walls and ceiling in a matter of a few hours. The sad beige is now gone, and a light bright space welcomes the kids to the new hangout!
While the painters were doing their thing, I was assigned a fabulous team of engineers from the Ebay volunteer crew to install the barn doors and hardware generously donated by TriSupply. I painted the doors (one for our hangout zone and one for the study) over the weekend prior, and Hightech Signs donated the cool frosted decals that designate the space. The engineers grinned from ear to ear and applause was heard throughout the house when the first door was hung!
In the meantime, my awesome crew of volunteers; Samantha, Meghan, and Rita worked out the engineering and logistics of turning a pile of record album frames and a twister game mat into graphic wall art. Cutting each circle out of the mat, mounting it, and getting each one perfectly centered - BRAVO to the team!
One of the generous donations that came in was 4 tubs of legos! We were so excited about this donation, and rather than just put them into the room to be played with decided to mount them to the wall. Voila - instant interactive art! Thanks Nancy for getting the lego wall started for us!
While all of this awesome work was happening outside, inside we were arranging the furniture, hanging the felt wall covering (thank you Filzfelt), installing the planters on the wall (Peacock's Plumage donated my kind of greenery - you can't kill these guys - just give 'em a dusting once in a while), hanging artwork in awesome plexiglass frames donated by Wexel, and getting the dry erase board hung. Thanks to Nicole of Merry Design Studio for getting the dry erase board ready for the big reveal. Once again, the twister engineering team got to work to install the grid onto the wall. Looks amazing!
We installed a ton of pillows on the sofas and the newly created bench seating in the game area - some donated, some custom made for the space by yours truly - and a few throw blankets (thanks West Elm) to create a cozy and comfortable environment. Perfect for movie night, curling up with a good book, or fun conversation in the new 'hangout zone'!
When she moved into the space, Stacy had purchased a storage piece with an electric fireplace insert (you can see it's original state in the first photo above). One of the things that was emphasized the day of the walk through was how much she loves the fireplace - so that was to stay in the room. Well, if you know me you know how I like to take things to the next level. Through the incredibly generous donation of materials and labor, Precision Craft Woodworks built a stunning walnut fireplace surround. We repurposed the storage piece in the game area as a bench and game table, and placed the electric insert into it's new home. Room elevated - check!
Back to the stories at the open house... we installed on Wednesday - no short of 12 hours to get it all done and finishing touches in place. When the designers all left, the kids were brought in to see the changes. Stacy told stories of tears, of being touched by 'nice people in the world', by an elevated pride in their surroundings ("nobody better mess any of this up!"), making of beds WITHOUT being asked, and a newly rejuvenated desire to attend school (which means they are following the rules and allowed to stay in the house). These kids were touched deeply. That in itself - gratification enough to last me a long while! (and I may or may not have cried a bit myself)