With each project that I have done with the Houston Furniture Bank D.I.V.A.S., I am always amazed by how beautifully we are able to transform these once sterile spaces using all donated furniture, into cozy and beautiful homes for deserving individuals and families
The D.I.V.A.S. (Decorating Interiors – Volunteers At Your Service) is the volunteer arm of the Houston Furniture Bank, whose mission is to turn empty houses into homes for families in need who have been nominated by their caseworkers. These caring volunteers create home-makeovers from house-hold furnishings which have been donated to Houston Furniture Bank. You can read more about the DIVAS here
A Handful of DIVAS after the makeovers
This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to work with this great organization again, where we transformed several bedrooms, a multi-purpose room and the breakroom/kitchen for the Star of Hope in Houston.
This particular building that we worked on is the transitional living center for women 18-23 years old. Their New Life Program is for their young expectant moms, and their Genesis Program is for those who have aged out of foster care and have now found themselves homeless.
Our day started around 9:00am as a flurry of DIVAS (and DIVOS 🙂 ) embarked on the Star of Hope to begin our makeovers of 7 bedrooms/apartments, the multi-purpose room (classroom and lounge) and the kitchen.
I was assigned the multi-purpose room with my partner Rayna Kelley (a fellow designer), and two helpers – Esther and Betty.
The multipurpose room is a large 27×17 room that they use as a classroom. The room was quite sterile but had a wall of bookshelves that were are great starting point. The room also had a teacher’s desk, 3 large tables and several stacking chairs. They wanted to be able use the room not just as a classroom, but as a lounge area for the girls to enjoy some down time outside of their rooms. I was excited about the large windows and the beautiful natural light that comes pouring into the room. However, the existing mini blinds were unattractive and needed to be softened up just a bit
Although the makeover takes about 6 hours in one day to go from blah to WOW, a lot of behind the scenes planning happens weeks in advance. This includes an initial site visit to the makeover location to measure and assess the needs of the space, planning on paper (floor plans, furniture layout), visits to the Houston Furniture Bank to source donated furniture items, visits to the DIVAS storage located at the home of the founder Ann Cummins to source small accessories and soft goods, soliciting donations from our individual circles of friends, family and clients, shopping for items to furnish our space, and DIY projects and crafts to personalize the rooms.
Several hours of volunteer time goes into each project we do, and I am sure I speak for every single one of our volunteers when I state that it is a joy to be able to do this for these individuals and organizations. The look on the faces of the recipients always makes it so well worth all the hard work and effort. It never gets old! 🙂
Here’s my crew for the multipurpose room
Betty, Esther, Rayna, Veronica
Here’s where the multi-purpose room began
Here we are in action………….
Yes, we are literally drying the paint with a hair dryer. Lol
Lots of frames to fill, so Rayna, Betty and Esther wrote positive quotes to encourage the young ladies
My partner Rayna and I discussed the layout for the room weeks before, and she did a great job picking out the furniture for the room from what was available at the Houston Furniture Bank.
While the girls worked on the art and frames for the room, I was busy putting the room layouts together and adding the finishing touches
Take a look at the finished lounge area.
The red leather sectional was a bit concerning to us, because we never got the chance to measure, as it was stacked in storage with no previous access to it. We never actually saw it in person until installation day. That is scary to a designer! Especially a big red sectional! But as DIVA magic would have it, it fit the room perfectly!
The 2 chevron chairs were picked out by Rayna and we did not have to do a thing to them.
The cocktail ottoman was soiled and kind of gross, and we had it recovered by another DIVA (Ann Shaw) who is the Coordinator for all our projects and activities.
The end table was also from the Houston Furniture Bank, and the accessories and pillows came from my home and some from the DIVAS storage.
We were able to use some soft sheers from DIVAS storage to soften the windows a bit. They were the wrong lengths, but we cleverly disguised that flaw behind the sectional 😉
The art was actually old beat up landscapes that Rayna and our helpers took apart, painted over the existing print with interior latex paint for the great looking abstract art you see now. The frames were actually horizontally oriented and we changed the hanging hardware on the back to hang vertically.
Here is another look at the lounge side of the room
Here is the classroom area AFTER
I had fun styling the bookshelves, but we did not have much to use, so I had to get creative and make sure every shelf had a small vignette. Most of the books came from my collection and most of the accessories came from the DIVA storage unit
Here is another view
We worked really hard on the room and I just love the results.
The big reveal was great! Due to security reasons, only one young lady came in to see the reveal for our space because there was media coverage and cameras. Yes, we were on TV and in the newspaper! Check out some of the media coverage
Here is the news coverage on CW39 NewsFix
Click here to see the article and video in the Houston Chronicle
Click here to see the CW39 NewsFix picture gallery
Although we were all really tired at the end of the day, we went to each room as they were revealed to the residents. There were tears – happy tears, pride and excitement! the young women were so grateful and happy to see their new spaces. What was once sterile and institutional now has personality, beauty and function.
I am looking forward to the next project coming up soon!
Wishing You Beauty and Inspiration!