Check out this super special project for the Friends of Refugees Hospitality House
A few days ago, I just finished the most wonderful and meaningful project. My dearest friend and college roommate, Kendra asked if I would be able to take on a project in Clarkston. Kendra works as the executive board director with Friends of Refugees and she had been managing the renovation process of a Hospitality House. This home will be used to house interns but also serve as a place for special gatherings for the refugee community. Think baby showers and other special occasions for women and families to gather together.
Clarkston is located here in GA and is noted for its multi-ethnic population and has often been referred to as the most diverse square mile in America. It is home to a huge population of refugees and Friends of Refugees is one of those amazing organizations that aid the resettlement of Clarkston refugees. Can you believe that 60 languages are spoken in this city? I have a very tender heart towards Clarkston because we lived there when Jules was 1 year old. We made so many friends with so many different neighbors and it opened my eyes and heart to the beautiful culture that was all around us.
Friends of Refugees is a non-profit organization that desires to see refugees experience abundant life in flourishing communities. They have so many wonderful programs and if you are interested in helping this community, I highly encourage you to check out their website for more information on how to serve the Clarkston community.
When I came on the first day to see the house, this is what I saw. I took measurements and photos so that I could go home and create a design plan for the spaces.
For starters, this project took me exactly 11 days to finish. When Kendra asked me about my availability, I told her she couldn’t have asked for a better time because I had 2 weeks that I could focus on getting this project from beginning to end. With my kids finishing the school year and my other projects, the timing worked out really well. Plus, I couldn’t turn down an opportunity to go back to Clarkston and be a part of such purposeful work. The best part was Jules helped me with the installation which took 2 days. Since she was able to skip her finals, she came and helped me assemble all the furniture. Jimmy even took Friday off from work to help with the final install. I normally don’t install curtains or assemble furniture but this was a special exception.
The house was built in the 1950s so it has definitely seen some natural wear and tear. The kitchen received a full gut job along with the bathrooms and the floors were originals that were refinished. They look like brand new floors! They are still in the process of replacing all the doors and windows. They received a grant to make the house completely energy efficient so those replacements will be amazing in terms of design and function.
I focused on putting up window treatments for all the rooms including bedrooms and furnished the main spaces of the house. When creating a design plan, you have to consider so many different factors like spacing, color, patterns, cost, delivery times, and more. I have to make sure the furniture pieces will not only fit but coordinate well with each other along with the textiles.
What may be a headache for some people is actually the part I love so much. I really enjoy the challenge of working with all these factors and doing it in a very short timeline. I enjoy working as quickly and efficiently as possible as it really gets my creative juices flowing.
After talking with Kendra, I understood how this house was going to be utilized. This part is very important when talking to clients because you need the home to be completely functional. What good is it to have a house with beautiful furniture and accessories that don’t function for the people who will use it the most? Because this home was going to be used as a space for so many different people, I knew it had to withstand a lot of wear and tear. That means neutrals were out of the question. I needed rugs with color and an open area for many to gather comfortably on the floor.
Here’s the design board I created for the dining room. Design boards help create a visual and an overall design. It doesn’t mean the room will look exactly look like the board but it will definitely resemble it.
The dining room is small so putting a western-style table and chairs would take too much space. I picked up 4 foldable wooden floor tables from the Korean grocery store that could be reconfigured or moved to the living room. So many more people can fit around the tables now and it’s awesome for kids too. I own a couple of these tables myself and they are great for parties. The LoiLoi Jules rug has some beautiful jewel-tone colors and adds both character and softness to the dining space. If they need to use the room for something else, the tables can easily be folded and put away.
These gorgeous blue velvet drapes add both color and can darken the room when needed. They look a lot more expensive than they look and come in other colors. The floor cushions can be stacked up in the corner or tucked under the table so they are out of the way. The multi-panel fabric wall hanging is simple and adds just the right amount of color to the space.
Kendra asked for me to create some storage areas since the house was lacking in that area. We talked about kids utilizing the house so creating storage for toys and puzzles was essential. I found two black pieces that hold a good amount of storage. Since there isn’t a foyer, we added a coat rack and this media console that has cabinets to hold anything from extra shoes to toys and games. A little shoe cabinet will be next to the front door as well. I like adding one mirror to the space and it’s great to have near the entryway.
Ha! Look at Jimmy photobombing me in the mirror. Jules put together this black wood and cane media console. It has cabinet doors so they easily hide all the things that will be stored in this unit.
Kendra and I also talked about the significance of tea drinking for many of our refugee friends. I placed this console to be used as a little tea-drinking station with mugs and an assortment of teas. Tea culture is a sign of warm hospitality and is important to many Asian, Middle Eastern, and African peoples. I added a bunch of baskets so it holds extra storage for whatever they need in the future.
I found all the beautiful art on this wall from Etsy. The top is a photo from the Dead Sea and the bottom is a landscape photo of Africa. The “World of Teas” is a digital download is also from Etsy. I sourced the gold matted frames from Amazon and the hyacinth baskets were from Target. I incorporated a lot of and wicker pieces since they add a nice organic feel as well as bring in some Southeast Asian influence.
For the living room, I came up with this design board.
Here’s how it actually turned out.
The light gray sectional was donated and in excellent condition so that was the main thing I decorated around. I sourced another LoiLoi rug and was drawn to the rich terracotta colors in this one. I played off the rug and incorporated mauve into the velvet drapes and throw cushions. I wanted the windows to appear grander so I added 4 panels. This way, they can easily be drawn for privacy without adding blinds.
Instead of adding chairs, we kept the space open so the Korean tables could be brought into this space if needed. The Moroccan faux leather floor poufs were such a great deal and add additional seating and can be moved around the room. We filled it with a lot of the plastic from all the packaging along with pillow inserts and other scraps. I don’t normally decorate with mustard yellow but it felt right in this room and adds a fun pop that makes the space feel happy and welcoming.
I wanted to incorporate some fun art into the main wall and decided on an assortment of African baskets. I placed a pattern on the floor and then just hung them up with picture-hanging hooks. They add an organic texture and visual interest to the space without it looking overwhelming. The two tiered coffee table was an Amazon find and I liked that it came with the two baskets. Do you sense a theme? Storage! Plus, I tried to find darker pieces of furniture to withstand future stains and scratches.
The baskets were sourced from both Homegoods and Target. The small end tables along with the standing lamp and fig tree were Homegoods finds. Since the living and dining rooms are next to each other, I needed the colors and patterns to complement each other and create a cohesive flow.
The kitchen before
The kitchen looks so clean and beautiful even with all the boxes of decor I had stored in there.
I bought these two shelves from Home Depot along with the brackets and Jimmy installed them so they would be staggered. I love a good shelfie moment and I filled it with some pretty art, dishware, and cups. I donated some of my collection of favorite bowls and cups and they look so good here!
They will eventually add a few stools to create a breakfast area in here.
Thanks to these two for volunteering their time and energy to this special project. It was fun reminiscing our life over 14 years ago when were just a family of 3 all those years ago here in Clarkston.
This was a super special project and I’m so honored to have been a part of it! I can’t wait to see how this home will be used for year to come.
I added drapes and curtain rods to all 3 of the bedrooms and a few things to the bathrooms but am just sharing these spaces online.
And let’s do one final BEFORE and AFTER!
Thanks for reading about this special project with Friends of Refugees! Lmk if you have any questions below in the comments section.
Let all that you do be done in Love. 1 Corinthians 16:14
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