Design CAN Make a Difference


Design does not have to be serious, it does not have to be stuffy, it does not have to be expensive. What it has to do is serve a purpose. A purpose specific to your set of circumstances.  Last summer I had the opportunity to launch an amazing event called Blueprint for Change. We picked a community member in need and redid a room in their home. The whole thing was crowd-funded by amazing volunteers and local community members. They donated their time and services to help revamp the space. You can read all about the design process here, and check out some of the amazing people who helped out here.

The need in this room was a big one. The little girl we picked was sick, and she needed a place that facilitated her recovery. She needed it to be easy to clean, comfortable, and dark when needed. We also needed it to FEEL like a HAPPY kids’ space. Not a place to go and be sick. These were all big things to achieve. But we were up to the task.

Design Can Make a Difference

We started out by figuring out how to fill a basic need. How do we maximize space so there is both a place to lay down + room to spread out and play. The solution was creating this semi-custom daybed. We built a platform to support two crib mattresses end-to-end. The end result was spot-on, providing a comfy space to lay and heal without eating up too much floor space. The open space beneath served as extra storage for rolling bins to store toys and overflow items.

We also created some shelves and a desk area to serve multiple purposes. First and foremost, as a motivating place to make up missed schoolwork, and secondly as a fun area to put on makeup and play dress-up.

A Little Green Goes a Long Way

Never underestimate the power of a live plant in any space. We injected them throughout the design to bring a living element into the project. Trust me — if you ever feel like your space is lacking, try putting a plant in the room and tell me it doesn’t make it better. These amazing hexagon wall planters were donated by a local artist but are also available online!

Don’t Forget the Ceiling!

The ceiling is often the most forgotten surface in any room. We decided to go dark with the ceiling (Benjamin Moore Mediterranean Teal) and drop the paint line down 10″. This gave us a dramatic surface for the light from this amazing World Market fixture to play off of. When the room-darkening shades were pulled to help manage this little girl’s migraines (a recurring symptom of her disease) this design element made the room feel cozy and comfy.

Cozy Corners

We also had to consider other users of the room aside from the kids. And being a mom myself, I knew that if my little one was dealing with a chronic illness, I would spend endless hours at her side. We found room in the corner for a comfy chair that is the perfect spot for Mom to curl up and do what mom’s do best — make their kiddos feel better. I will never forget how grateful she was for the spot we created with her in mind.

We can get so wrapped up in how design looks, that we often forget that truly good design is about form + function. It is about finding creative and beautiful solutions that also serve a need. If design only looks nice but does not work for your family, your lifestyle, your abilities, your budget…then it cannot be good design.

This project was rewarding on so many levels. It was amazing to step away from how a project looks and really focusing on designing something to make a difference in the way someone lives, and ultimately how they feel. The family was stunned at the result, and a few weeks after we finished,  I got an email from the mom telling me how the thoughtful use of space and functional design solutions were already making her daughter’s condition easier to manage. Boom. Goal achieved. Heart filled. Design CAN make a difference. 

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-Allison H.

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  1. The roman shade with the green tassels on it was custom made by our workroom. We used a simple white fabric with a black out liner added. The tassel garland was actually a last minute DIY to decorate it. I know PB has something similar right now:

  2. Tanaya— this means so much! I feel you. I always struggled with some of the gluttony/consumerism associated with design. But it is projects like this that remind me that being proud and confident in our appearance–whether home or self—truly affects our happiness, organization, confidence etc. And having all of those things definitely radiates out to other points in our lives.

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