I am so grateful for organizations like Dwell With Dignity that make such amazing changes in the lives of others. Dwell was started by Lisa Robison, a local designer and mom with a heart for the poor. Her vision was to help the homeless obtain a place of their own to dwell as well as the dignity that comes along with it. This local heartfelt endeavor is now known and copied nationwide. The Interior Design Society’s local Dallas/Fort Worth chapter, of which I’m a member, was honored to be a part of Dwell’s worthwhile cause in preparing an apartment for a precious, young family of six.
The headquarters for Dwell is nestled in downtown Dallas in this older home that’s been converted into the non-profit organization. It has grown far beyond their original vision.
This home turned office/workshop is adorable and cozy in and of itself. Some of you may have seen or heard about them on the Nate Berkus show. A media avenue that helped catapult them into a national household word.
See the artwork above on the left hand side? This is a hollow core door that is placed in every single dwelling. Painted in a theme specific to each home, each with their own personality, these doors are the signature piece representing Dwell With Dignity in welcoming each family to their new home.
After many trips to the Dwell warehouse (which has grown in volume exponentially since it started), and many pow-wows between the committee chairs and design team above – Alba Dorsch, Christine Gee, Denise Piaschyk and Dot Greenlee to name a few…..
And after many meetings with various members – plans were underway to begin working on artwork, furniture, drapes, etc. to ensure the project was completed by install date.
It was a team effort between members, but some of the chair heads for each committee put in countless hours above and beyond to pull the project off. Kudos to Dot, Denise, Barbara, Jodi and Christine for your extra dedication! Jodi Clark, a very talented artist and designer, (top left with the glasses on) was lead designer in charge of artwork. Myself and others were there to follow her lead and help bring her vision to fruition. Cutting, painting, sanding, re-framing – you name it she had us doing it. Amazing what you can create for pennies with a little time and energy!
This dated chair on the left, donated by IDS member, Barbara Gilbert, became this cool chair on the right. Thanks to Coverall Upholstery for recovering this chair pro-bono! (See what cool fabric can do to an old “tired” piece?) And, thanks to Childress Fabrics for working with us on the fabric! With a project like this “It takes a village” is an old adage that certainly holds true.
All the preliminary preparation was completed just in time to install the week of the reveal. It was a busy install week and a lot of work. There were drapes to hang and tons of cleaning to do….
Rods to cut and install with limited tools. Here Christine broke the hacksaw trying to saw through a wooden rod. (They finally gave up, took it home and cut it with a proper saw!)
There was ironing to do, lots of goodies to assemble….
Fun to be had and beds to make…..
More ironing to do and chairs to recover….
And lots and lots more cleaning….
And, in the end here’s a glimpse at what this very special family gets to claim as their own. To “dwell with dignity”……a blessing most of us take for granted. Have you ever thought about that? Losing your home……to feel as if you’ve lost your dignity? This made all involved humbled, grateful and honored to be a part of this. Here you see artwork designed by Jodi and painted by members (yours truly included), chairs donated by Taylor King, the coffee table donated by lead designer, Denise Piaschyk, fabric by Kasmir, drapery labor by Shirley Oliver and the rods donated by Williamson Supply. Did I say it takes a village?
All the dishes, kitchen appliances, silverware and utensils were donated by Nathan Grace.
Notice the traditional hollow core door? Donated by Dwell and painted by none other that Jodi Clark herself.
Member Linda Boylan cut down grass cloth and papered the back of the shelves.
Look at this spacious master bedroom for the young couple and their youngest baby. All you see here was either custom made, recycled or donated. The sweet baby bedding was donated by Wee Dreamscapes.
Remember the ladies painting these pictures above? Here they are framed, installed and looking adorable. Most of the bedding was donated by Peacock Alley. These pillows were custom made by member, Christine Gee, the coverlets were purchased retail by IDS.
How sweet is this? A round piece of wood painted cream, letters painted in all sorts of colors and glued around the board to frame this round mirror that’s been mounted onto the back board. Super easy, inexpensive and cute!
A basket of stuffed animals for the sweet little kiddo’s, ages two and three.
A more “grown up” space for nine year old big sister.
A recycled old computer desk, painted and jazzed up for a girlie girl.
Teen dwell, comprised of teenagers in local area schools, made this fun arrangement by gluing flowers on the these branches.
When all was done we were a happy lot….proud of a huge undertaking on a shoestring budget.
Lisa Robison, founder of Dwell With Dignity, and her son stopped by when all was complete to see the apartment before the family arrived that afternoon. She told us Nate Berkus (who did the apartment upstairs for his TV show) would be proud to give us his seal of approval! Even though we were all thrilled with the end result and were confident in the final product I have to admit that was very nice validation!
When “reveal time” arrived, lead designer, Denise Piaschyk, project manager, Christine Gee and a member of the design team, Barbara Gilbert were jumping out of their skin waiting for the family to arrive.
Dot Greenlee, president of IDS, co-project manager and an integral part of the entire Dwell project went to get the family….(Have you ever seen such a beautiful bunch of kids?! So cute I thought I’d melt!)
We were so happy to welcome them into their new home. You can see from their faces what a blessing it was to have been able to share in this. (I’m crying again just writing about it!)
The children were so thrilled with their new rooms…..as were their parents. When was the last time you stopped to thank God that your children had a roof over their heads? When they’ve been without…..the gratification is real, it’s heartfelt and it runs deep.
One of the things that touched the family as much as anything were these amazing family photos taken by Denise, not only a fabulous designer, but a talented photographer. She took the family out a week or so ahead of time and snapped some precious professional photo’s. We framed the pictures and sprinkled them all over the house. A personalized touch specific to the family. They LOVED them! It was so moving just to watch the look on their faces when they saw their sweet family in these beautiful photos.
She loved seeing Daddy and baby sister in this picture. Special kudos to Denise for providing them!
We made sure each family member had a goodie basket and the children had a new boxes filled with toys.
I mean……could you just die! I wanted to bring them home with me!
A happy, grateful family embracing their new home….the little girls excitedly asked me several times….”Do we get to move in today?!” And, happily, the answer was “Yes……today you move into your new home.” A moving experience I will forever cherish.
And, this incredibly precious, sweet, beautiful family will forever be in my prayers.
Other designers not listed above who participated in the project were Kristi Mastrandonis, Nicole Arnold, Kathy Prior, Annagae Li, and Lindsay Ward. Our thanks to all the vendors and volunteers for their contributions to this amazing project.