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Family Shelter Update

You might remember a few weeks back we started working on a pretty awesome project for the San Fernando Rescue Mission, a family homeless shelter,  and with that we launched our indiegogo campaign to help raise funds for the furnishings. Thanks to many of you we are at 78% of the goal which is incredible considering we aren’t even halfway through our timeframe. THANK YOU THANK YOU THANK YOU. If you haven’t heard of this project read this post which explains why we are doing this and how much help from you would be appreciated.

Since the announcement, the building has changed a ton and we thought it was a good time to give you an update on the progress so far and what we are planning on doing with the interior.


The first floor is the communal area – lobby where they’ll be greeted and counselled, living room for family hang out and activities, dining for, well, eating, and computer lab for homework and job search.

We ideally want the whole building to feel much like its name: ‘Home Again’ so the cozier the better. When we were there last week we finally came up with the right art direction – its gonna be all ‘Country Cabin in the Suburbs’.

It’s a tricky project because we don’t want it to be to precious, or hipster or even too pretty and high-end. It needs to be comfortable, durable and functional but of course we want it to be stylish enough to make all of you donors proud. The living area has no real light source and they chose a pretty slate blue paint color, so I think if we go in this ‘Rustic Mountain Cabin meets Charming Suburbia’ route, it will be all of those things. The general color palette will be neutral tones of gray and taupes and browns with hints of blue and hunter greens with pops of some happier brighter more inspiring colors – like rusts and oranges. That’s right. I’m styling with orange. Deal with it.


This is what it looks like now…  not so warm and inviting,  yet, but these guys are working their butts off to transform the space so that we can get in and start futzing around. Wade and his team did a pretty good job of picking out the paint colors. I was so nervous to see the choices because they happened before we were on board, but they are pretty darn good. Slates, taupes and simple warm neutrals.

This is our main inspiration image (which I’ve used before, because I just love it):


The big communal living room will be split up into three different areas that will have big comfy sectionals and loungy armchairs.  As most kids will be in school during the day this area will be for the families to regroup after their day. The sectionals are most likely to be in darker fabrics, so they remain fairly durable, the coffee tables and storage pieces will be in pretty woods and the we’ll bring in color in the pillows, throw blankets, lighting and art.


In the living area there will also be a really cute area for the kids to play and read.  This is where we might add a fun, educational wallpaper or decals to make it more young and engaging.  We’ve had a few companies reach out who do great lines of kid’s furniture so we’re hoping to add small tables and chairs, bean bags and much-needed storage and bookcases.  There’s also another kid’s area on the second floor where we might add a reading tent and wall to ceiling picture rails for books.


There’s a large communal dining room (not cafeteria-like is the goal) where each family will have their own table to sit at and a large commercial kitchen where the families can cook together. Not only does the mission provide shelter for the families but it has a very much hands-on approach, in that people can learn how to cook for themselves so that when they leave they can live healthier lives within the community. There is even a community garden right outside to grow vegetables.


The computer lab, which sounds very scientific and techy, will have 7 workstations and a round communal meeting table and will be used by the adults for job searching and training during the day and in the evening the kids will use it to do their homework when they come back from school.  No one ever really wants to do homework let’s be honest (heck, no one really wants to design a computer lab), so we’re looking for this space to be really inspiring and a place that they’ll actually want to ‘hang’ out it.  We’re planning on installing a big pinboard so that the staff can regularly add and update the job vacancies and we’ll put educational yet fun artwork/photography so that it doesn’t just feel like a boring office space.

There’s also an emergency shelter that can house up to 30 people to stay in overnight.  This will be predominantly filled with bunk beds so that people can get off the streets and rest their head for the night.



The 2nd floor is where all the staff offices are and where the 11 family bedrooms are located. There’s a mother and baby room which we’re going to make as lovely and relaxing as possible.  Naturally I get super excited about that one. If we get enough funding we’d love to be able to do something special with this room (as we would with all the rooms) and maybe add some nice wallpaper, cute artwork and a hanging mobile.  I can’t imagine those first few days/weeks of having a newborn without having your own home, so we want this to be really, really special.

There’s also two larger family bedrooms (for families with lots of kids) that are joined by a door so that the parents can stay in one room and the kids in the other. Both of these will have their own bathrooms.


All the other bedrooms will house one family at a time with mostly bunk beds. There’s room for a small dresser and nightstand which doesn’t seem like a lot for a small family but they are encouraged not to hoard a ton of stuff so that the rooms don’t get too cluttered.  They only stay in the shelter for a maximum of 10 weeks (with flexibility) until they are re-housed into their own apartments.

In case you are wondering who stays here (I wondered) it’s based on the needs and situation of the family. There is a waiting list but they try to accommodate as many people they can or help place the families if they can’t. They don’t allow any active drug users and instead refer them out for help before they can stay.


The wall colors as of now are painted in swiss coffee which is known as “the contractors favorite color” but we have plans. The bunk beds, which have been kindly donated, are a simple wooden frame that we might add a fabric headboard or sideboard to or we might completely paint them out.  The bedrooms are pretty small, think a dorm room, and can really only fit two bunks, a small dresser and a nightstand. We may end up having them look and feel the same throughout but maybe change out the fabric on the pillows, headboard and duvets etc. Again, we’re looking at a neutral palette with wood tones, blues, grays and pops of happy colors.  We don’t want to get too specific and theme out each room, it’s not like it’s a fun hotel people are staying at for the weekend so we want to be as sensitive as we can when decorating the spaces.  We’ll probably add plug-in wall sconces above the beds and hooks or picture ledges so that they can put up their own pictures, cards and kid’s artwork.

Orlando from Homepolish is tackling the 2nd floor living area which is be funded by Ray Romano and the classroom.  He’ll have an update on that soon enough!

Throughout the whole shelter we want to put up inspirational artwork, posters and photography and we’re hoping some of the kids from the current shelter will collaborate on a big art project like a painted wall mural, or community quilt that we can display somewhere.

Although we are almost at our target which is incredible, we do still need your help so that our vision can be realized.  The smallest amount goes a long way to helping and donations of anything from blankets and toys to furniture and artwork is most welcome.

I would like to give a big thank you shout out to the following who have already emailed in about donations:

Amy Coe | Art Resource GroupChairishKelly Ventura | The Jealous Curator | Jones Group InteriorKalisherLeah KochLulu & Georgia | Meridian Interiors | Minted | Modop DesignMoore & GilesSerena & Lily | Strand Books | Taiping CarpetsTarget

We’ve also had some wonderful people email in about volunteering their own free time, which we will definitely call upon nearer to when we install, get your painting, DIY pants ready!  On behalf of the San Fernando Mission and my team, we thank you all! xx

It’s not too late to help – head on over to the Indiegogo site and read more about the donation options. In case you missed the video we made, check this out:

See the beginning post here, a last little nudge to our indiegogo campaign here, an art roundup of our favorite work from the artists that have donated here, and a big thank you to those who donated here.

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9 years ago

This is absolutely amazing!

Andrea U
9 years ago

Love to see a project like this come to the city that I work for – yes, it is always the money (funding) and of course, having the right organization to run it all. This is truly amazing.

9 years ago

Can’t wait to see what you do! Just a note to say that fabric headboards in a shared living space doesn’t seem like a practical choice — hard to clean, can spread lice, etc. All the other ideas sound great!

9 years ago
Reply to  Stephanie

Ditto this comment–washable everything is a must! And non/hypo-allergenic where applicable.

Sounds like it is going to be awesome!

9 years ago
Reply to  Stephanie

I agree a vinyl or pleather-like headboard might be better. There’s an opportunity to make everything look nice as well as practical and easy to maintain, but it’s important to keep that in mind. Tall cabinets and movable furniture will also be great because such cabinets don’t take much floor space and movable seats can be rearranged as needed. Sectionals not so great – not everyone likes to have skin contact with others. Most people are egocentric anyway. Think of buses or trains; people sit down and put their bag on an empty seat, they don’t consider others who also bought a ticket and who may want to sit as well. I imagine two people taking up space on one sectional and other people not being able to find a place to sit.

9 years ago
Reply to  Lane

Don’t forget this is a place where families live. Sectionals and sofas are a must. No I don’t like to cuddle with a stranger but with my child? Absolutely. If you look at the floor plan there’s plenty of single seating too.

Emily Klug
9 years ago

During my interior design classes I always loved contract design above residential. This is like the best of both worlds! I’m so thrilled you took on this project and it will have such an impact on these families and children. Simply wonderful!

9 years ago

Great update to your first post.

9 years ago

so lovely, warm and welcoming … brought tears to my eyes.

9 years ago

I’m excited to see more of the progress. This project gives me more reason to admire you as a designer and person! Where is that sectional from the comfy sectionals photo from?

9 years ago

Love your inspiration for the space! Can’t wait to see the finished product. Looks like you guys are moving right along.

Josh – The Kentucky Gent

9 years ago


This is truly amazing! I had a vision in my head and all I could communicate is that the space should feel like a warm hug. Yep, that’s the extend of by design vocab. Somehow, you took that idea and turned it into something so much greater. It’s truly and honor to work with you and your team.


9 years ago

This is so wonderful! Do you still need people to volunteer their time?

9 years ago

can’t wait to see the finished product!

9 years ago

I’m so excited you are doing this! I’m from L.A. and we were horrified when the mission burned down, and donated right away. My friend April is actually Community Relations Coordinator there! Wish we still lived out there so we could help in a hand-on way, as well. Can’t wait to see more!

9 years ago

It’s great but it’s also a little over the top. I mean, this is a place where people should recover and get on their feet and not the place where they might want to live forever. Most people want to be self-sufficient and contributing members of the society. Most people would prefer if someone helped them find a job instead of a free space to live. Large beds for adults are a little over the top and too big for the limited space. Something like a convertible sofa may be better suited so that they have a bedroom that doubles up as a private space. Adult bedrooms should also have a small desk or a small table. Large dinning room could be split into 3 separate dining areas with moving walls to double up as homework center, additional classroom, conference room, and/or family room. Everything else is great. It’s a great project overall. Make it pretty but don’t make it hard to clean and maintain, because who is going to clean it? and should they worry about cleaning upholstered sofas and many pillows or should they look for a job to get back on their feet? Besides people who experience… Read more »

9 years ago
Reply to  Lane

I debated on whether or not to add my 2 cents in on this comment (and some of the others) and I just can’t keep my mouth shut. “These people” have hit a “rough patch” in their lives and this organization is offering them a soft place to land, get themselves together, and make a plan for their future. As someone who has both a degree in design and also completed a project extremely similar to this one, with all due respect regarding “most people”I couldn’t disagree more with your comments and generalizations.. First of all the overall effect a person’s environment has on their psyche, mood, outlook, and productivity is without a doubt directly connected-and while it may be the case that “some” of these people don’t maintain their own homes keep in mind they do not have a home-some NEVER have had a home. Obviously if the powers that be at the shelter wanted to create a stark, sterile, environment, that read “hurry up and get on your way already..” They would’ve hired someone else to take on the task of setting that tone. Yes the spaces need to be durable and functional, but they also need to… Read more »

patty blaettler
9 years ago
Reply to  Jessica

love your response. I absolutely concur.

9 years ago

I’d like to share an outline of a project we’re involved in on the East Coast. We partner with a group that has a rehabilitation plan for mainly homeless women and children. There is no one shelter. We partner up with local churches, temples, mosques and other faith initiatives who house the families for a few weeks each. This is a specific program, and the goal is employment, so families are usually in the program no more than three months. A typical day: after waking up, and breakfast (which they prepare themselves from the donations of parishioners), a van picks up the children and takes them to school. Those under school age go with their Moms on another van. The women partake in classes, GED if necessary, and other vocational courses where they learn employability skills. Young children are in the same location in a day care. The vans then bring them all back to the house of faith, where volunteers prepare dinner for them and help them and their children with homework. A few evenings a week, the Moms also take classes in budgeting, job search, and parenting. Volunteers teach these classes as well. We have air mattresses, clean… Read more »

Steph Smith
9 years ago

I’m not sure how to email in regarding donations so please don’t post this in the general comment section. I recently purchased a building with about 20 cubicles. Each has a desk, wall cabinets, etc. There are also nice cubicle dividers and a few book shelves. They are in good condition, though in the standard awful corporate style that makes you feel soulless and sleepy. If you would like them for your project, please email me and I can send you photos and arrange to have them delivered.

9 years ago

Didn’t see the video last time…it’s a tear-jerker in the best way. We *are* lucky, blessed, etc! And you are awesome. Love seeing the progress!

lynnie gill
9 years ago

Hi Emily,
Happy easter to you and your family. Congratulations on the Shelter, and HOPING THOSE DONATIONS KEEP COMING, We ALL read your blog for free (gotta be worth a 12mth subscription to the BEST HOME MAG out there). Since you did your jeans post, I have wondered what colour lippy you wear, in particular in this last post… how about opeining the old makeup bag to us readers???? as a suggestion, keep up the fantastic work, but dont forget to take a breather every now and again. One of your many aussie fan/readers, lynnie

lynnie gill
9 years ago

PS oh please let Brady DO your makeup kit.. (laughing at the thought of it) xox

9 years ago

What’s wrong with orange?