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Meet One Of Our Readers, Rusty, And A Feel Good Safe House Room Makeover On The Other Side Of The Planet

Hello!  I’m Rusty. I live in Perth, Western Australia. I’m a very early retiree and have a background as a Secondary English, English Literature and Art Teacher; Educational research; PR and Recruitment; Occupational Safety and Health, Youth Programs in the construction industry; and ran an Education and Training Consultancy as well as doing Freelance Writing (although with all the typos I regularly make in the comments, you’d wonder, right?! Ha! I blame my numb fingers on a touch-screen tablet late at night when I settle in to snack on the blogosphere).  

Phew! That’s a lot, but I enjoyed every single career change because it involved making a difference in the world and my community, particularly youth.

I’ve been following Emily for a lonnng time, finding her via Jungalow’s Justina Blakeney; Charlie was on the way (and look at him now!). I was immediately drawn to Emily’s fun approach to design, her quirkiness and love of vintage, the way she takes design risks rather than sticking to one ‘forever style’; she moves and changes as life changes and I’ve basically checked in daily ever since. I subscribe to Emily’s “Done is better than perfect” approach. I love that she doesn’t shy away from the difficult topics either and also walks her talk. Emily is, indeed, a good human.

Some of you may know that I escaped long-term domestic abuse, including coercive control, in a flippin’ pandemic, last year. Man! It was hard. Since I was somehow lucky enough to remain in my cozy home (I still dunno how that even happened!), I committed to pay it forward and help others.

I’m mentoring Sienna, a 20-year-old young woman, who has lived with abuse her whole life. She finally escaped by literally jumping out of a window through the flyscreen and calling the police who came with body cameras! She left with her clothes and has never returned. By working with the (wonderful) youth services, after a couple of months of couch-surfing and living out of her car, she was given a room in a Safe House – a large, supported accommodation, secluded in the outer suburbs of Perth, with 24/7 carers on-site for safety and advice.  

She moved into a large-ish room, with hospital-grade linoleum floors, broken closet doors and zero outside light, because the area outside her room is a storeroom. She was so grateful to have a roof over her head, but the furnishings were limited and basic – let’s call the furniture ‘bodgy’, (an Aussie word). There was only a blind on the lightless window and it was, well… Ugh!  

Emily posted about Pen + Napkin doing a-maz-ing work in LA (they do fabulous, much-needed home makeovers for families transitioning out of homelessness) and blogged about a project she worked with them on. I commented, “Whaaaaaat?!? I’m doing a makeover for my mentee…”.  Emily commented back “Hit me up, you’re paying it forward. I wanna help!”, or words to that effect!

I was a little in shock that this legit, famous person called Emily Henderson (that we all love to bits!) was going to help little, nobody-me do up a room in a Safe House, for young person she’s never heard of, literally on the other side of the planet! It took me a minute to believe it was happening.  Then I got big-time imposter syndrome, but kept barrelling along, driven to help my mentee. TIP: Trust your gut – you can do it.

Due to my personal situation, I had no car, so getting to the Safe House was difficult – it’s 22 miles from where I live. As a result, I only physically went to her room just three times through the whole project! #Just.three.times! It was my first attempt at remote designing too. I shared with Emily, what I hoped to get for Sienna – a bed, mattress, a chest of drawers, a rug, maybe some lamps, a pouf, and the like. I decided against getting a desk, because in all likelihood, when she moves into a share house, her room won’t be big enough to fit it in. We used a desk at the Safe House. Her goal is to study to become a Primary School Teacher and continue to pay it forward. Yaaay!

I got Sienna to send me photos of her room and take basic measurements. Sienna came to my house numerous times and I worked out her ‘style’ and colors she really liked (warm tones and nature), found comforting and inspiring (being an ex-Art Teacher helped with this process). Turns out her style was modern, clean Bohemian. We also made the artwork for her room – it needed to be personal and actually mean something to Sienna. We made a huge wall hanging to cover the big empty wall, using a ginormous Eucalyptus branch I found one day while walking my scruffy-dawg and lugged it home, and included some photos of her with her friends to remind her that she is loved. She also took a photo of the city skyline, had it printed cheaply and we whacked it into an IKEA frame – the river foreshore is her favourite “safe place” to sit and contemplate her future.

Bed Frame | Rug | Floor Lamps | Nightstand (similar) | Glass Dome | Oval Woven Vanity Tray

Hot Tip

Make the artwork yourself so it’s cost-effective and meaningful.

I got to work fast and looked for furnishings online, making ridiculously meticulous lists, including prices and alternatives for each store we needed to go to and ensured we stuck to budget every step of the way. I needed to keep the number of stores to a minimum due to the transport issue. Sienna was also working three part-time jobs, so I had to fit in around that. Gah!

Hot Tip

Find back-up alternative products in case you can’t get what you planned.

I did hand-drawn sketches of the room and furniture placement (just call me technically challenged) and collected ideas like I was obsessed, because I was. My hope was that she could own some furniture for when she moves out, since they can only stay at the safe house for 12 months. 

We did in-person shopping, because I wanted to teach Sienna how to shop, choose colors that complement and contrast, deal with measurements, how to buy full-looking curtains that cover the entire window, benefits of mixing textures, and especially, the difference the little details can make to the overall feel of a room. We could do in-person shopping because Western Australia really has not had any Covid (for real – how lucky are we?!), due to our border with the rest of the country and the world, being shut hard for two years.  

VISIT ONE

The first time I went to the Safe House, I spent about 20 minutes getting a feel for her room. Then, we went shopping in-person! Meticulous lists in hand, handbag cross-body to free up my hands, tape measure and a pillowcase from the quilt cover already purchased that would guide the color scheme of the room; we grabbed a cart each and hit Kmart (really great in Aussie), Target (nothing remotely like the fabulous US Target – sooo jealous, you guys!) and IKEA, over only two separate shopping trips. We also went to a haberdashery store for some craft supplies to make the artwork. We added some vintage at the end (hello giant Leopard that waves to Caitlin’s giant bathroom Giraffe).  Whoo-hoo!  

Pouf (similar) | Dresser | Faux Sheepskin Rug (similar) | Yellow Floral Sheets (similar) | Arch Mirror (similar) | Curtains

Through sharing about the project with everyone I came into contact with and saying what a good human Emily Henderson is, I made a connection at IKEA via Sienna’s Case Worker. She couldn’t help with discounts, but met with us there and short-circuited the process of finding what I’d selected online (IKEA is such a rabbit warren!).  

We live in Perth, Western Australia, the world’s most isolated capital city. Uh-oh! Stock shortages galore! I roped my friends and family in to help with gathering the items as they arrived, remember – no car. My brother lives between the city and a rural property about 4 hours away and he came to the city to assemble furniture, put up curtain rods, and be the wonderfully supportive big brother that he is. I gathered the furniture as it came into stock, piece by frustrating piece, thanks to the generosity of others.  

Hot Tip

If you are considering doing a project like this, know that you need a support team.  Share about it, inspire others and they’ll come running to help, with bells on!

VISIT TWO

Early one morning, my brother came to my house and we loaded up all of the furniture onto his ute (you guys call them trucks). We drove to the Safe House and got to work! The first thing to happen were the curtain brackets and rods. We only had permission from the facility, to drill into the wooden window frame since the walls are brick.  Consequently, the curtains aren’t hung as high as I’d like them, hence the puddle of curtain on the floor is more of a tsunami. My brother and Sienna started putting the bed together while I hung the curtains. The second they were up, Sienna had a mini-meltdown of happy tears – turns out these were the first ‘proper’ curtains she’d ever had! Hugs were needed and fast!  

Once the chest of drawers and bed were assembled and I’d put the ‘coffee table’ together, things really started to look better! Now, this ‘coffee table’ is mighty sturdy and cost a total of $19 on clearance! I re-worked my plan on the spot in the store for this unplanned mega-bargain and we used it as a ‘drop-zone bench’ at the end of her bed. Pivot, people, pivot, to take advantage of an unforeseen bargain!

Bench (similar) | Statue (similar)

I didn’t have any wire hooks to fit the picture rail and we were dead on budget, so I got old wire coat hangers from a friend and my brother made hooks out of them which we attached to fishing line to invisibly hang the mirror, photo and wall hanging (Yes, he’s amazingly creative and handy).  I covered the wire hooks with masking tape to make them ‘disappear’ against the wall, hehehe.

Hot Tip

Pivot, take advantage of unforeseen bargains & be prepared to make what you can’t buy/afford.

Once the furniture was assembled and in place, we unpacked the mattress. Have you ever seen one of those rolled-up mattresses unfold? Crazy-cakes people! You slice the plastic bag and “Whooosh!” that thing does a mighty gasp as it inhales and grows right before your eyes, you have to jump outa the way! I wish I’d videoed it. Hilarious! Sienna couldn’t sleep on it for 48 hours for the springs to settle in, so she slept on her old mattress on the floor for two days. (The mattress from IKEA took too long to arrive, so I went with one from another big box store).  

VISIT THREE

I went back for the final time, to style, put all the flourishes in place and take the after photos to send to Emily. This was a pretty quick process compared to the rest and sooo much fun! Within about three hours, we’d finished, had another couple of happiness-induced, mini-meltdowns and sat on the bed for decompression and an ‘after’ chat.

Really, it’s the little things that make it a home. Mood lighting; the money box bird; containers to corral make-up and perfume (these are actually from the kitchen aisle); candles; soft furnishings.

I cannot tell you how satisfying, heart-warming and rewarding seeing the finished room was. In the week following the safe house room makeover, Sienna started saying “I’m home” when she called me, instead of “I’m at the house.” Yes, I’ve written a novel here, but I cannot find the words to explain the feeling. It made me happy to my bone marrow, to the very core of my being, for her to call it “home”. Mission accomplished, team EHD!

Faux Plant

I often comment that Emily is “A good human”.  I mean it.  Seriously, this remarkable super-woman is making a tangible difference on the other side of the planet we call Earth, our communal home. Gratitude and kudos flow!

The next project is likely to be a Women’s Shelter – making the common areas friendly and welcoming, instead of the standard bland, institutional look they so often have. Here we go again – at least this time I now have a car to cart stuff around.  Yippee!

With love, Rusty. 😊 xx

Sienna’s Words:

“I never realised how important being in a comfy, safe and beautiful room was until I experienced it for the first time.  The room I had helped me get out of an unsafe situation, yet I felt like I didn’t really belong – it felt very temporary. Now, knowing that I can keep this furniture and it really speaks ‘me’, I can definitely sleep better – it’s now something I love coming home to. It feels like me. I want to thank Emily immensely for her generosity, and for reaching out and really making a huge difference to my life when I was forced into a situation that had almost left me homeless.”

*Design and photos by Heidi Schmidt AKA “Rusty”

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Arlyn
10 months ago

Rusty, my friend. What a treat for this Friday to see you on the blog, see this project. Maybe it’s because I’m 9-months pregnant and raging with hormones, but by the time I got to your comment about Sienna being emotional over her first set of “real” curtains, I was a wreck. It’s so SO easy to forget how fortunate we all are who don’t have to deal with these trying and unfortunate situations. I’m so glad she had the strength to literally RUN away and carve out a safer, happier life for herself, and also that she has someone like you who has been there to help guide her through. What a difference I’m sure this beautiful new room will make to her healing, her mental health, how she feels about her journey. You helped to make her a HOME, not just a place to land, and that’s so beautiful. You’re a beautiful human, as is Emily (and literally everyone that works at EHD). I love you all. 🙂 <3

Karyn Meadows
10 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Congrats on your pregnancy Arlyn!!

Susan from FOAS
10 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Beautiful post, Arlyn.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Aryln! It was such a heart-warming project.
Felt like we’d never get to the top of the mountain, but we did, Yaaay!🤗
Now I’m waiting for ypur bedroom revesl on Arlyn Says!
Mmwwaahh! xx

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

Sending extra special hugz for you, nena and Charles…not long now!
💗💗💗

Vera
10 months ago
Reply to  Arlyn

So well said Arlyn! ❤️😭

Courtney
10 months ago

Oh, I love this! You’re a good human too, Rusty!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Courtney

Aaaww, thank you. 😊

jasmine
10 months ago

aloha Rusty, this is beautiful work. I’m so happy that you could connect with Sienna and Emily and Pen and Napkin. What a wonderful, wonderful gift.
(p.s. I’m from Perth too! But I haven’t been home or seen my fam since March 2020. Stay safe over there x )

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  jasmine

Jasmine, that’s hard. Our borders will open, eventually.
Covid cases are trickling up and it’s a bit overwhelming to think of NOT living life as normal very soon.
Yikes!
Hope you get to hug your family soon.

Nic
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I moved from WA to Sydney in July. It’s a hard adjustment to make, but it will get easier! Just focus on what you can control yourself and try not to look too much at the big picture.

I miss home and this was a really lovely, unexpected connection to come across. Your act of kindness is rippling out x

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Nic

Thanks Nic. xx

Katie
10 months ago

This is the best makeover story, because it is so much more than just a room makeover. Way to go Rusty!!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Katie

Thank you! 🙂
The room is the catalyst for positive change.

Beth
10 months ago

I can’t tell you how much I enjoyed this makeover. It’s so fun and cheerful. The rug and bedding are gorgeous. Moving the desk was genius–the room looks so much bigger, even with the larger bed. And I love that you were able to take advantage of an unexpected bargain and work around the room’s limitations. Of course, the most important thing is that it makes Sienna feel happy and secure. Great job!

But really, if anyone deserves a feel-good makeover, it’s you, Rusty.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Beth

Beth, thank you!
What I’d love is a simple IKEA kitchen, coz mine is a beauty – 1950 original with a teeny-tiny sink! Ha!🤣
I moved the desk to create a separate zone. The room is quite big, so we could do it.

Liz
10 months ago

Oh Rusty, this is pure magic! Many of us feel like we know you a bit from your wonderful comments here and on Arlyn’s blog. It’s incredible to hear about this project and how your experiences have informed paying it forward. You’re the best! xo from Liz in Boston, MA

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Liz

Liz, thank you so much. 😊 xx
It’s interesting how the internet creates these interconnected, cross-pollinated communities.

elle
10 months ago

What a wonderful wonderful story and project that highlights many beautiful humans! The finished room looks like home, but the journey was the best — working together to plan and procure and produce a finished product built relationships that feed the soul. Rusty, you are a hero and Sienna is on her way too. Thanks to all for sharing this.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  elle

Elle, the journey was an uphill one!🤣 Sooo worth it though.
Sienna is, indeed, on her way.
I’m so proud of her for the progess she’s made in just 7 months!

Lia
10 months ago

Brilliant job, Rusty. It’s like you made physical the love and support you were already giving her as her mentor. Huge hugs to you both (and your brother)!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Lia

Oh, Lia, that’s a beautiful description and that’s what it feels like.

Leah
10 months ago

Love the translations for the Americans 😅
Beautiful story, had to grab a tissue. You’re a beautiful human too Rusty. Thanks Em for supporting a wonderful project.
Aussie Aussie Aussie oi oi oi!!!!!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Leah

Hahaha🤣🤣Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!!!!
I’ve gone through sooo many tissues already!

Joyce Garrity
10 months ago

too wonderful, warm and welcoming. Have always loved Rusty and glad to lear some Aussie lingo.
my deco on a budget tip is cover boxes with contact or wallpaper ( from goodwill!) for organizers, less plastic, almost free! You can also make bookshelf backdrops.. (my overly active visual designer would wrap/paint a backdrop for inside bedside table so the lamp pole disappears.)

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Joyce Garrity

Thanks, Joyce.
I’m very into creating with what I already have.
I lined the inside of a dark bookshelf with colourful paper to jazz it up snd enliven it.

Robin
10 months ago

most days I come here to see what Rusty has to say. So what a treat to see this post! hope to hear more from Rusty!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Robin

Robin…your comment is so sweet!
Now I need more tissues! xx

sarah
10 months ago

my heart! well done Rusty! And such a good idea to share this globally EHD team! Rusty thank you for sharing and giving to others. My take away, branch art is beautiful, there are less barriers than you think to help others, and “If you are considering doing a project like this, know that you need a support team. Share about it, inspire others and they’ll come running to help, with bells on!”

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  sarah

I have a big branch art mobile in my house too. I like the injection of nature and have a lot of my own creations sprinkled throughhout my home – ceramic vessels, paintings, textiles …
I could not have done this without the helpers, spesh not having a car at the time! Gah!

Zoe
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Would love a DIY post from you on creating those mobiles, Rusty!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Zoe

I’m up for that! 😀

Elise
10 months ago

Rusty!! You did an amazing job making over Sienna’s room. Especially since you were going through rough times yourself. I feel that we all know you from your daily comments here and on Arlyn’s blog. Be proud of what you have accomplished, and keep it going. Looking forward to more of your guest posts.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Elise

Elise, thank you so much!😊
It truly lit me up to do this project.

Sam E.
10 months ago

Simply perfect, Rusty, both the room and your loving and compassionate work to pull it together. You’re a good egg!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Sam E.

Thank you, Sam. xx
🥚🙂

Nora
10 months ago

Oh, this is just lovely, Rusty! What a beautiful idea, and so good to hear of Emily’s support – and especially what this project has meant for Sienna. What a big change – I love how cozy it now feels, and how much more personal. It’s wonderful to come here and find this story of kindness and resilience and care. And helpful tips! Thank you for sharing this with us.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Nora

Nora, thank you.
Emily’s support means Sienna now has furniture as she moves forward and it makes me sooo happy!
If I can inspire someone else to jump in and help someone, it’ll be great.
You really do need helpers though. The no car thing was such a hurdle.
🤗xx

DW
10 months ago

Talk about a makeover that makes over hearts – oh my. Kudos to you & Sienna for sharing your very vulnerable stories with EHD followers, so our hearts can be stirred also, & for planting hope through action.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  DW

Thank you DW.😊
In the beginning, I felt immense humiliation about my personal situation.
Once I shared, almost everyone has been supportive and kind.
Some people find hearing the realities difficult though, as it makes them feel uncomfortable for various reasons.
Thing is, domestic violence, abuse (other than physical), and coercive control, happen in EVERY society, every neighbourhood and at every economic level.
We need to tslk about it, so people who are suffering in silence and so, so scared, can find the resilience and support to get out!!! 🌱

Jo
10 months ago

I love you, Rusty!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Jo

Aaawww! ☺

10 months ago

Sounds like there is a wonderful human being on the other side of the planet in Australia!! Beautiful story! I found myself tearing up almost immediately and although I rarely read any article through to the finish, your and Sienna’s story kept me intrigued. Thank you for sharing, and thank you for being a beautiful human being!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Vicki Peel

Gah! Vicki! Now I hafta get more tissues … aaaagain!
Thank you for your kindness. xx

Aquagirl809
10 months ago

This entire post made me smile! Rusty, you are a good human. Bravo!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Aquagirl809

Thank you! 😊

Crissy Perham
10 months ago

I’m so glad that you both could escape your terrible situations and find each other! Great work on the room, Rusty, and best of luck to you, Sienna! Please know there are Americans cheering you on, every moment, from afar!!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Crissy Perham

Thanks Crissy.🤗
That means a lot.
Sienna’s reading the comments too.

Patricia
10 months ago

far more personal and homy now. great job Rusty!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Patricia

Thanks Patricia.
It was so institutional before and soulless.
🙃

Susan from FOAS
10 months ago

Rusty this room is as beautiful as your soul. I am so happy to be your friend and super proud of you and Sienna for making new lives for yourselves and one another. Like Arlyn, I had tears in my eyes as I read your post. I think you have a future in writing, Rusty, if you want that. And of course you are moving from one room for Sienna to the public rooms for an entire shelter! That is so you!

Much love to you, Sienna and your support systems. I can’t wait to hear more about your next step.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago

Hi Susan! (and all the other FOAS)🤗
It’s a wild ride and I’m still picking up the pieces of my life.
Sienna and I are both 7 months free and making such progress, it makes both of us pinch ourselves.
I’m interested to see what comes next, too!😏

Trueblue
10 months ago

This post was a heartwarming surprise. So glad Sienna was involved in the process. The branch art captured the spirit of the room for me. I would appreciate closeups and the intent of the items strung from the branch. A very refreshing post. Thank you Rusty for your contributions. I was a sponsor in the Big Sister program for a girl whose family’s old rental home had worn unpainted floors, and only a few pieces of furniture. She didn’t have a bedroom of her own to furnish. Just half of what was done here would have meant the world to her.

Siel
10 months ago
Reply to  Trueblue

This! The best part in this post for me was that Rusty took the time to engage Sienna in the make over by taking her to the store for buying curtains and furniture for the first time ever, and creating personal and meaningful decorations together. This way the make over isn’t simply a given charity but an empowering proces. Keep up the good work! Would love to read more from you.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Siel

Siel, thank you.😊
It’s more meaningful to help someone help themselves, plus then they can do it agsin and maybe even help someone else doen the track.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Trueblue

Trueblue – is this the Salvo’s Big Sister/Big Brother program???
Good on you for getting involved and making a difference.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Trueblue

Trueblue (Aussie?) the branch holds huge gumnuts from a fallen tree (the milliins of seeds went everywhere! Ha!), photos of Sienna with her friends, little wooden love hearts Sienna drew on, wooden die-cut leaves, wooden beads, etc. Each part was chosen for a reason. Then we strung fairylights around it and hid the switch behind the dangly bits.
If you zoom in on it, you’ll be able to see a bit more detail.
🤗

Dana
10 months ago

Hands down, love this! Thanks for sharing your story Rusty, and paving a path for others.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Dana

Thank you, Dana.🙂

MKP
10 months ago

So so beautiful! Rusty, you did an amazing job. I can’t even believe the before vs after. You took it from a room that looked very much temporary and sad to a space that feels like a warm and nurturing and safe home. What a wonderful place for Sienna to live over these next 12 months as she continues to heal and discover her next steps. I am so happy for you, Rusty, that you escaped your own domestic abuse and have no doubt that your impact on Sienna’s life will be monumental. Great job!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  MKP

MKP, your comment made me pause and then dash, for more tissues!
😊xx
The before and after “feels” are chalk and yummy cheese.
8 wanted to room to be welcoming each time Sienna xame home, like s hug.
It worked!

Erin
10 months ago

Rusty! Wow, the only thing better than your design skills is your sweet heart. Thanks for putting that good energy out into the world, it is positively contagious.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Erin

Oh, Erin, that’s so sweet and kind,😊xx

Melissa
10 months ago

Rusty! Sitting here misty-eyed on the other side of the world. Beautiful work by a beautiful human. Especially love the cozy utility of the drop-zone bench and the natural glamor of the eucalyptus branch. Thank you so much for sharing your good work!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Melissa

Melissa, thank you. I love your descriptions!
🤗

Fiona
10 months ago

What a wonderful job…both in making it a home but also going the extra miles and shopping with her too. You were the perfect makeover designer and partner. I am curious about which mattress did you end up getting that was making all the exhale noises!?

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Fiona

Thanks Fiona.😊
The mattress from IKEA just wasn’t arriving and held everything up, so I shifted my plan and bought one from a place called Fantastic Furniture (an Australian bix box shop).
My contact at IKEA said IKEA’s mattresses will soon be packaged that way too. It’s much easier to transport all rolled up (the packaging came with platic recyclable wheels to roll like a suitcase!) and quite a fun experience to unfurl!

Emma
10 months ago

I want to assume that this discussion already took place and that the name has been changed, but I just want to confirm that the mentee is aware of any identifying information being shared here, including her name, area, and what look like framed family photos? I volunteer in a shelter with women who have escaped similar situations and I know how protective they have to be of their whereabouts, for good reason. Awesome makeover, the big rugs makes such a huge difference in the room feeling cozy!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Emma

Emma, Sienna gave absolute permission to use her first name and is fine with the content.
She’s been part of the process all the way through, so it’s all good.
I understand your query, particularly given my own situation.

I bought the biggest rug we could afford, also being mindful of the potential size of her future room/s in a share house.🙂

Emma
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Oh good! I figured you would also understand my concern. Speaking of rugs, in my first apartment I scored a big 8×10′ rug for $80 on Craigslist – money very well spent. I’ll keep it around until we’ve worn holes through it! ha

Rusty, This is seriously amazing! I always see your thoughtful and positive comments on each post and love your spirit.
You keep saying Emily is a good human, and yes, that’s true, but also, YOU are a good human being! This was seriously so heartwarming. It’s nice to learn more about you and also about how you were able to help Sienna. Good job! It looks wonderful. Also, that cheetah immediately made me think of Caitlin’s giraffe!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago

Hello Lovely,
Thank you for your sweet comments. Yup, giant animal figurines all the way! It’s a thing.🙃
Cheetah?! I thought it was a Leopard…but maybe??🤣

Reply to  🥰 Rusty

oh! you’re probably right. i have no idea 🙂 i’m not a big animal person, so let’s go with leopard.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago

🤣

Stacia
10 months ago

I have watched this story unfold over time and love knowing that there are people like all of you out there in the world who helped to make this happen (including your brother Rusty!). I am inspired to keep myself open to my own ‘pay it forward’ opportunity. The room is sophisticated and welcoming – beautiful work everyone! 🥰

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Stacia

Stacia, do it. Pay it forward. 🤗xx
Reaching out to someone is asimple act, but it csn makesll the difference!
If you don’t know where to start, look up volunteering in yoursrea and dip your toes in, you’ll be able to connect with other people doing the good work.

Yup, my brother is an absolutely solid rock in my life and he helps many others, too.
Ooooh, luverly, “sophisticated” hehehe🙂

Stacia
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Just wanted to let you know that I have already started the process – and it involves a DV shelter here in Maine (US). I had been trying to decide where to put my efforts and honestly, your story opened my eyes to the needs that our local shelters have. The timing, your story – it all just clicked! ❤️❤️

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Stacia

Yaaaaaaaaay!!!!!!😀💞

Kimberly
10 months ago

Wow! I loved reading this—what an inspiring project. And Rusty, your writing style is to fun to read. Beautiful room.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Kimberly

Aaaah, thank you Kimberly. 😊

Emie
10 months ago

Sweet, dear Rusty!!! What can I say? This make over is so much more than changing the physical space. It’s about touching Sienna’s life and letting her know that she matters. The transformation is spot on and oh, so personal. I love the idea of having Sienna involved from the beginning, it allowed her a sense of “ownership” in the process and final product Kudos to you for rolling with the changes due to supply issues. Being able to pivot is a skill and you hit the nail on the head! And, as you mentioned, it does take a village. Thank you to everyone who made this possible.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Emie

Emie!🤗 As you’re aware, it was an uphill battle at times, but we did it!
Yup, having troopers to help me get it done (as well as background support from the other side of the world, both financial and emotional) was crucial.
Sienna learned so much, beyond the makeover, via the process of decision making and process.
Mmwwaahh! 💞

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

* process of designing a safe, cozy space (oopsie, typical dodgy hands) 🤣🤣

Elaine
10 months ago

I’m not crying Rusty, I’m not, it’s just something in my eye 😭
You really are a true blue human being, you walk your talk, you follow through. Like you I survived (and eventually thrived after) an abusive relationship. And I can honestly say that, this post, where you’ve shown how you helped create a home and a safe space for Sienna, has made my heart swell, sing and do a little dance all at the same time! Sending you both big hugs from West Cork 💖

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Elaine, thank you. 🤗
They say suffering makes us stronger and it sounds so ‘twee’, but it’s true!
I bet you’re stronger and have a strength within that you never thought you’d find??
I’m foing a little happy dance here for you. So glad you’re free and thriving!
xx😘

Elaine
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Stronger, but also wiser and kinder. I’m so glad that you’re free too x

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Elaine

Ah, yes! I think I’m a bit wiser now.☺
Thanks, Elaine.

Rachel
10 months ago

Congratulations Rusty! This (and you) are beautiful. Not sure if it is possible for EHD to give you my email from this post, but if they can please pass it on – I’m from Perth, have a car and live like 5 mins from IKEA so would love to help if I can on your next feel-good project! x

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Rachel

Hey Rachel! 👋
Fellow Perthian!! Whoo hoo!
I’ve been thinking about how we can connect … what if we meet up somewhere next Saturday morning at 10am??
I have an idea, so if you’re up for it, comment back and I’ll tell you.
Rusty 😊

Rachel S
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

I can’t do Saturday morning unfortunately (schlepping kiddos to sport) but could do 1pm?

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Rachel S

Okay!👍
1pm at the South Perth foreshore.
Meet you at the flagpole (near the Boatshed cafe and restaurant).
Yes??😀

Rachel S
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Yup see you there!

Rachel S
10 months ago
Reply to  Rachel S

Yup see you there!!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Rachel S

Gonna be 42!!!! I’ll still be there to meet you and then we hihhtail it into an AIRCONDITIONED cafe!!!

Rachel S
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

Haha yes! I was thinking the same thing!!!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Rachel S

WE DID IT!!!
EVEN WITH THE FURNACE WEATHER!!!
YAAAY!!!🤗

Susan
10 months ago

This made me cry. Rusty, it’s nice to meet you 🙂

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Susan

I’ve been having leaky eyeballs alll day! Every time I read the comments!
Hi Susan 😊

Gretchen
10 months ago

Oh I’ve been waiting for this post! Amazing transformation with so much thought and love behind every design choice. Kudos to you Rusty – your strength and spirit and creativity are inspiring.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Gretchen

Thank you so much, Gretchen.😊

Shannon
10 months ago

Amazing! The story, the room and the people behind it-all incredibly beautiful. So inspiring, thank you!!!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Shannon

Shannon, thank you. 🙂
We can all make a difference. We can be open to seeing the need (in whatever shape or form it appears) and taking a leap to reach out.

Roberta Davis
10 months ago

Bravo, Rusty! Youi are a good human, too! And the room is so homey and comfortable. What a difference you have made in Sienna’s life!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Roberta Davis

Aaah, thank you.🙂
Sienna’s made a difference my life, too.

Roberta Davis
10 months ago
Reply to  🥰 Rusty

that’s how it works, isn’t it?

Lisa
10 months ago

It looks amazing! That bedding! All of it! I am so glad Siena has this space to anchor her start on a new life.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Lisa

Hi Lisa 😊
Amazingly, the bedding wasn’t expensive!
It’s a solid cotton with 350 thread count and feels so nice.
Every, single item had to be affordable to pull the room together as a whole, on budget!
Sienna is doing really well and it’s only been 7 months.

Brittany
10 months ago

Amazing job, Rusty! It looks so homey and your connection with Sienna sounds so lovely for the both of you. I hope someday we get a peek into *your* home!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Brittany

Thank you Brittany 😊
I’ve been busy on the home front oo.
I have a new back porch deck (ala my brother and BIL), switching lighting out, painting windows and doing ypuch-ups (so tradies coming and going) and I’m having a go at using those stick on tile decals in the kitchen, coz it’s borrrring and old.🤣
Basically, making this ol’ girl MY home now I’m free.🤗

Kara
10 months ago

This post makes me simultaneously hate the world (all the abuse!!) and love it. Not a dry eye around after reading that.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Kara

Kara, every time I read the comments I need tissues.
After my brother read the comments yesterday, he sent me a text saying he’d bring more tissues coz it sounds like I might berunning low!🤣🤣

Sheila
10 months ago

So many eloquent comments here that there’s not much I can add except that I can’t just let this post go without saying thank you to Rusty and Sienna for sharing your stories with us. All the best to both of you!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Sheila

Hi Sheila,
Thank you. 😊

It’s so important that we talk about abuse (physicsl, emotional, financial, social…coercive control….), so it’s part of the discussion moving forward.
The shame I felt is the main reason I didn’t reach put, for YEARS.
Every neighbpurhood, every country, every socio-economic level…it’s everywhere and neighbours can make a difference by NOT turning a blind eye or ear.

Deborah
10 months ago

Hi Rusty! I’ve been so excited to see your post, and it is wonderful! It’s beautiful in thought, planning, execution, results and best of all, done with empathy and heart. You created a beautiful home for Sienna and with Sienna, and HOME is so important, a place of refuge and security, and now of cozy beauty. I love that you worked with Sienna to create this lovely space and to help teach her how to do it and with a budget! Skills and experiences are always important, as you know having worked at so many different jobs, many skills and experiences give a person the flexibility and confidence to achieve their dreams – I feel that you are on your way towards your dreams Rusty. I believe this opportunity to help someone who experienced similar emotional pain (emotions are also experienced physically) gave you purpose and focus which undoubtedly had helped as you transitioned out of your own awful experience. I am so happy for you and Sienna!! It’s wonderful that your brother helped with logistics and installation! Many thanks to Emily and EHD for providing the funding, and giving you the opportunity to share it here with all of… Read more »

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Deborah

Deborah, hi! We FOAS get around, huh?!😊
Thank you somuch for ypur lovely, kind words.
Sienna and I are quite a team! We’ve learned that we both have a huge connection with the number 7 (zoom in on her wall hanging – we made a 7 to go on there, too) and are more similar than we thought, while aso being quite different.
Life. It’s amazing, with all its twists and turns.
Long live FOAS!

MM
10 months ago

Ahem…something in my eye…pardon me…
This is so heartwarming. Excellent job on balancing the design with the budget and barriers (no car, etc.). It takes talent to design when there’s a great budget. But it takes talent and a lot more when there isn’t. And nothing replaces really caring for your client. That’s where the magic happens! Congratulations on many levels to both you and Sienna.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  MM

MM, thank ypu for ypur sweet comment. 🙂

priscilla
10 months ago

hooray for good human beings!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  priscilla

I’m findingmoresnd more hood humans, now I’m free!😊

Lindsay
10 months ago

The Eucalyptus Branch Art!!!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Lindsay

Get out there, find a branch (my own branch is from my Elm tree), gather your bits n bobs and make your own!🤗

K
10 months ago

I loved getting to read this story!

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  K

Thank you K. It’s for real, heart felt, and Sienna is on her way!😊

Vera
10 months ago

Rusty!!! ❤️😭 I’m brimming with joy. You escaped a terrible situation yourself and channeled your energy and talents into blessing someone else. This is the most inspiring type of story.
The room is now warm, welcoming, personal, and beautiful. What a new chapter for Sienna.
You are wonderful Rusty. And thank you Emily and Team EHD for supporting this. ❤️

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Vera

Vera, I’ve got through today with less tissues til I read your comment!
Thank ypu for ypur kind words.😊xx

Lucy
10 months ago

When I get down on the toxicity of the internet, this is exactly what I need to remind me what a beautiful sense of community and togetherness it can foster. Rusty, kudos to you for putting yourself out there and for paying it forward. Your design feels warm and inviting. It must really be a place of comfort for Sienna. And thanks to Emily and team for spotlighting this important work.

🥰 Rusty
10 months ago
Reply to  Lucy

Lucy, thenk you so much, that’s so kind.😊

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