The reveal of the Family Shelter (that so many of you generously donated to) is finally here. Without driving too far into sappy town I’ll just say that designing a space for families with children that would otherwise be on the street or living in their car was a very, very, very, very, very, very, very good opportunity. It was intensely satisfying on every level. Whether it turned out to be beautiful or not I was going to be proud of it, but the fact that so many companies, and you, gave so generously to help make it look beautiful was a massive bonus. We believe STRONGLY that coming home to a house (temporary or not) that you are proud of effects your mood which effect your actions and therefore your future. Pretty design makes lives better. It just does.
As a recap: This shelter will be their temporary home ’til the parents can get back on their feet, where they can learn the skills that can help them find and keep jobs and homes. Meanwhile their kids (as young as newborns and as old as teenagers) can have a safe, healthy and comfortable environment to be raised in – environments that you and I take for granted on a daily basis. I never had to sleep in a car as a child, and my children hopefully won’t. For those of you who can say the same thing, know that this isn’t the reality for everyone. And now there are dozens less kids that don’t have to know that as their reality too.
Life just got wildly better for them thanks to the San Fernando Rescue Mission. Better lives for families with children = a better world for all of us in the future.
The shelter is broken down into a few different spaces. This one, today, is what we called the ‘Ray Romano Room’ because well, Ray Romano gave a lot to the entire shelter to help make it pretty. He and his wife have a foundation which gives generously and rather anonymously to child advocacy and educational programs. It’s not like he wanted or asked for this call out on the blog, I can’t imagine he reads the blog. But Ray, I heard you donated a lot to the shelter so we dedicated this room to you. Thank you. Also, I loved you in Parenthood 🙂
As you might remember we joined this whole task as the building was in serious construction phase and we had nothing to do with the architecture or the main finishes of the space (paint colors were chosen, carpets were already ordered, etc). This was both good and challenging. It was great because it was less work in a lot of ways especially since commercial design isn’t exactly my specialty, but if we didn’t like the choices then we kinda had to work with them anyway.
Here’s where we were when we first started – total construction site then a big empty room. To the left (down that hall) is where all the family sleeping rooms are (which we’ll show you later, but picture really cute dorm rooms). This room is for families to spend time with each other – helping with homework, playing games and yes, movie nights. It’s basically their family room, so it is meant to be for fun and relaxing. There are computer labs, classrooms and other common areas of the shelter, but this room should be more inviting and more for fun.
But it was a bit tricky. It was long and narrow, with lots of different doorways and hallways leading into it.
Now, they had chosen two paint colors for the main space – a darker slate gray and swiss coffee (I think Valspar). When they told me it was ‘Swiss Coffee’ I thought ‘Great!’ because I thought it was the Benjamin Moore or Behr Swiss Coffee which I used here and is VERY pretty. But this ‘swiss coffee’ is made by a different company, and is the one that I have had in a few apartments which is not great. It’s a heavy, dark beige, with a decent amount of green in it. I thought we could work with it in the design, but we couldn’t. It was bumming us out. So the night of the install (the night before the opening event) we painted it. We chose Half Moon Crest because basically we KNEW that we loved it and that it would go with the slate gray.
The second the roller hit the wall we breathed a sigh of relief, not to sound dramatic or throw that color under the massive bus or anything, but never use that color. ‘Swiss Coffee’ from Behr. Just stay away from it.
As this room was pulled together we became VERY excited. The layout was tricky, the finishes were a challenge but with a lot of really happy furniture and accessories, in a color palette that we loved, we designed something that we are all pretty happy with.
Now, that is a family room. I haven’t been inside very many (if any) family homeless shelters, but this space sure doesn’t feel like what I would normally picture. In a good way.
Ginny was the lead designer and project manager on this project and together we really pulled together a beautiful family friendly space that will undeniably make people happy and proud when they come home.
The families have an area to gather in, the kids can sit around the table/chairs and the older kids or adults can do work or homework at the tables in the back. There is a TV on the opposite wall to those club chairs (which we didn’t shoot) for movie nights. When we had the opening gathering everyone IMMEDIATELY hung out in this room. There is a larger more formal living room that doubles as a the main common area downstairs (which we are shooting today, actually) but it’s not as fun and playful. I think that this room is a room that is hard to not feel happy in. I don’t think I’ve ever gushed about a project that I’ve done before so much – I realize I sound like I’m REALLY into my own work, but first off Ginny gets a lot of the credit, and secondly I think I just didn’t expect it to turn out so well.
As we were designing it and pulling together all the furniture and accessories I knew that it would have potential and that it would be a great space, but I didn’t expect it to look this good. I didn’t know that it could be a portfolio piece.
Working on a pro-bono project can be tricky because you want to prioritize it high on your list but there are days when you just can’t because all your paying jobs are staring at you, demanding results with terrifying and stressful consequences if you fail in any way. My team was paid of course so they stayed on top of everything, so thank you. Designing and managing this size of a job is huge and there are a lot of moving pieces. The shelter staff worked a lot with us to help with the ordering, coordinating and unpacking (with help from a lot of volunteers) which is really the unglamorous and most tedious part of designing.
That there is the Ray Romano Room. The Family Room. All set and ready to create so happy family memories for these families.
1. Rug | 2. Be Brave Throw Pillow | 3. Fox Throw Pillow | 4. Curtains | 5. Ram Head | 6. Task Lamp | 7. Elephant Head | 8. Lion Head | 9. Play Table | 10. Arm Chair | 11. Copper Side Table | 12. Northern Electric by Jessica Brilli | 13. Fox Head | 14. Lounge Chair | 15. Play Stools | 16. Table Lamp | 17. Upside by Alexandra Nazari | 18. Table Top | 19. Pool by Kelly Ventura | 20. Climbing by Happy Red Fish | 21. Table Leg | 22. Dresser
*Before photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD. After photos by David Tsay styled by Ginny MacDonald.
A quick word about David Tsay. He volunteered to shoot this shelter which I was obviously PSYCHED about. It’s a tricky place to shoot with a lot of overhead commercial-style lighting and frankly we needed someone really good to capture the space. Thank you once again David for far exceeding my expectations. This was shot when I was in Spain, and it was the first project of mine EVER that I didn’t style and instead let my team style it. They did SUCH a great job. Thanks, everyone.
See the beginning post here, the first update 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.