Decorate a Heart

As an interior decorator, I want to affect more than just the spaces around me. I want to affect the people around me. This is why I got involved with Little Angels.

Little Angels is a loving home for children and young adults with severe disabilities and complex medical needs. They provide round-the-clock care for all of their residents, as well as educational day programs and outings. It may not be a home in the traditional sense, but Little Angels does provide the most important aspects that make a home — love, care and support.

I first heard about Little Angels from another mom at one of my son’s baseball games. I noticed some pictures she had on her keychain, and when I asked about them, she told me, “Oh! Those are my children!” As we got to talking, I found out that she is a Little Angels staff member; she told me all about the residents she works with, her “children.” Everyone at this wonderful home, from the nurses to the administrative staff to the custodial staff cares about the residents as if they were their own children.

This project was unlike anything I’d done before, and there were a couple distinct challenges. Each bedroom also has a number of immovable fixtures. The residents’ beds cannot be moved; there are curtains around each of them, hung from the ceiling, there are outlets and other electrical fixtures on the walls around the beds that are used to provide medical care. I did not want to ignore these features, but tried instead to make them part of the whole design. Another challenge for me was that the walls in most of these rooms were cinderblock, the floors, linoleum tile. Functional, but a bit of a design challenge. I decided to use color to warm up the spaces as much as possible. After everything was finished, we brought the residents back into their new, personalized spaces. Seeing their faces light up as they looks at their new rooms made the entire process worth it.

I’ve done many different projects with Little Angels over the years, but recently I noticed how utilitarian many of their spaces are. The oldest part of the building was constructed in 1958, and though it was spotlessly clean and very well maintained, it was not nice-looking; the space didn’t reflect the warm, caring atmosphere the people inside created.

So, I got to work. Together with a design team, I helped redecorate about 10 resident bedrooms, bringing color and life into the spaces. My goal was simply to reflect the residents’ personalities in their rooms - to personalize them. Because of the wonderful staff, the rooms already felt like home, and now they look like it too.