Back in January, I was contacted by Nicole Yonke of Annette English & Associates, an interior design firm based in Los Angeles. Nicole asked if I would be interested in working with them and Reggie Sully of McCoy Construction (they create incredible homes for some of our most famous Hollywood royalty) and donating time to create a children’s center within the Good Shephard Center for Homeless Women and Children in Los Angeles. I quickly responded with an enthusiastic YES! Dates were arranged, plane tickets were purchased and some “before” snapshots of the space were sent.
The space is large, clean, bright…and boring. It looks vaguely like an office space. The eleven panels of the moveable wall presented another design challenge. The wall had to stay functional for larger events where the children’s center and the next door community room become one larger space.
The room was coated in a warm yellow paint. A huge dry erase board and cork wall were installed. Lookin’ better, but the space still feels institutional. The wall decals seemed like an afterthought and weren’t cutting it for this very special place.
I landed in LA, armed with my biggest movie star sunglasses and a suitcase full of rhinestones and paint brushes.
Surveying the space, my immediate thought was that it was big and open but also in dire need of some warmth and fun. I chose a mid-century Eames-inspired color palette—electric olive, warm chocolate brown, graphite grey (not pictured) and a pair of monochromatic cyans—punctuated with a super-saturated orange-red for visual excitement.
Fletcher Mckean generously donated his time and came to LA to help out; I also enlisted the talents of the fantastic Danielle Brennan. In the shot above, they are applying a color wash to the closet walls in three tones of blue. This will become the base for a very cool graphic pattern. Across the room, I started blocking out the shapes of animals.
A gentle giraffe, proud peacock, lots of lady bugs and a cute little stinker were all about to join this party.
The faux, dark bronze chandeliers were just too stodgy and heavy looking. A quick coat of stix primer and several coats of our orange-red paint brought these babies to life!
Sister Anne, the head of the shelter, asked to help out as well. She is wonderful; her work with these women and children is a true inspiration, not to mention that she kept sending in homemade cookies (baked by the women from the Center) as we worked.
Ready for the big reveal? Lets do it! We color blocked the wall to the right and added a fun pattern to the closet walls.
This non-repeating pattern made up of random images like seahorses, peanuts and taxi cabs was as fun to paint as it is to look at.
A calligraphic branch sprouting almond-shaped leaves in several tones of green and metallic silver play host to seven lucky ladybugs.
The space is now alive with color and fun!
A tall giraffe always reminds us we can reach higher.
In my world, giraffes and peacocks have glittering eyeshadow and lashes for days.
The tail of the peacock, ladybugs and butterfly were finished with hundreds of genuine Swarovski Crystals.
Who can resist a skunk bearing flowers?
When the room was complete, it was a complete transformation—the perfect place for these awesome kids to play, grow and learn. I was both pleased and honored to see some of the reactions from a few of the sweetest reasons why we flew across the country for this project. This project was an honor and done with lots of love.
About the Good Shepherd Center: For over 27 years, they have helped some of the most vulnerable members of the homeless population—women and children. They provide safe housing and real hope for rebuilding their lives through education and career skills programs. I was amazed by this facility; it is truly an amazing place! They have computer labs and even have their own restaurant and coffee shop staffed by the women who live here.