I can’t believe it’s been a FULL YEAR since Gadora was approached about guest-designing a small apartment for a young lady named “Sparrow.” I’d been full-time at Bazaarvoice only a handful of months… but already flexed my design prowess in the Marketing Pit and the 2nd floor lounge (shame on me for not posting those too!). Fred Smith, a wiz in sales, asked if I’d like to take on a project for their team-building day. He serves on the board of LifeWorks, an Austin-based non-profit that among many initiatives also helps transition at-risk youth into what might very well be their first apartment. “LifeWorks’ clients are former foster care children, former homeless youth and teen parents who may have never before received the help they need for a fresh start.” Gadora was in! *My apologizes in advance, this is a long post. But keep reading, “The BIG Reveal” pictures are worth it!
The Challenge: We were pitted against 6 bona-fide design firms (oh the self-imposed pressure!) to transform Sparrow’s space in a single day. We’d have a month to conceptualize, prepare, procure and then 7 measly hours to bring it all together.
The Keeper: We met with Sparrow to discern her likes, dislikes and drothers. She didn’t give us much to go on. When you haven’t had much, you’re not sure what you need. You’d like a roof over your head. And a sense of security. But we learned she liked green. And this lamp. It would stay and be incorporated into the final design. Look for it later!
A quick walk through her apartment revealed she needed A LOT of things to make her place a home. Dishes. A proper sofa. A new bed. New linens. Towels. A desk area for her to continue her studies.
Before: The living room and kitchen spaces. We were lucky enough to get our hands on an apartment who had a small face-lift from last years’ HIC (Home Improvement Challenge) crew. There was laminate flooring and the snazzy glass tile in the kitchen. What had to go? The brown. The dots. The crummy vertical blinds. *You can click on the picture and make it bigger!
Before: The bedroom and bathroom. Through no fault of Sparrow’s, the bedroom carpet was d-i-n-g-y and the bath was less than a retreat. We. Had. Work. To. Do.
Besides making a new place for Sparrow, each team competed in a number of categories. The Green Challenge. Design on a Dime. And then an overall challenge winner would be announced. Gadora thought we’d go for the “green” challenge because 1) Gadora prides herself of repurposing items that would otherwise end up in a land fill, and B) it was Sparrow’s favorite color.
THE BIG REVEAL: After weeks of preparation (I aim to blog about the specific projects and incredibly talented and GENEROUS people who helped it all come together), and a hurried Friday pulling it all together… we were ready for the big reveal! Sparrow spent the day away so we could do our thing, and came back to see her space. *And remember, you can click on the pic to make view it larger!
For fun, let me show you the living room before…
More of the Living Room…
The rugs were cheapies, bought at Ikea, and sewn together. The result? An 8×10 for under $60. Score! The BFF even got in on the action and donated the Klimt print above the futon (and a few items placed about the house). Years of painted base-boards left them fuzzy and kind of scary. They were renovated. BV’s team of painters, carpenters, and movers made a great deal of work look effortless, stopping only to take a quick lunch break.
The poufs’ color palatte was the inspiration for the entire apartment. Sparrow noticed them right off and took a seat to take in her surroundings! The shipping pallet coffee table was hand-crafted by a one Nils Marchand. He deconstructed a few free pallets and sawed and glued them into an amazing coffee table.
We painted over the shabby chalk-board wall, and gave her kitchen a crisp make-over. The generous donations from the folks at Bazaarvoice allowed us to procure a new set of cookware, dishes, silverware, towels, a toaster and we even had enough to stock her pantry. It’s amazing how a new coat of paint changed the hue of her back-splash.
Let’s move into the bathroom, shall we? We took advantage of the clean white glass tile wall and incorporated colors from the rest of the house. I LOVED the shower curtain. Couldn’t have created a better match had I tried (thank you Target). We re-hung the cabinet door and painted the top cabinet a light green to help it disappear.
The bedroom received a huge transformation too! Fred secured laminate flooring that matched the living room and arranged to have it installed before we got there! No more icky carpet! A donated gift certificate from Four Hands allowed us to get her metal hanging lamp. Love. The HEADBOARD!!! I’ll have more on that in a later post, but it was simply a cut-out piece of plywood. Nils made a platform base out of four pallets, and James Bance called a local store who donated a brand new mattress! Thanks to all.
The same gift certificate from Four Hands–a GENEROUS supporter of LifeWorks HIC challenge each year–yielded a lovely desk. Fred snapped the pic of Austin’s Frost Tower, Sparrow previously mentioned she loved it. And this is where Sparrow’s “Keeper” lamp wound up, complete with a new wicker shade. The swanky Louis XV-inspired chair, originally on her back porch, now nests under her new desk.
Here’s Sparrow as she discovers her laptop. You also get a glimpse of Nils’ radical platform bed.
After it was all done, the Bazaarvoice team shares the BV Gong ritual with Sparrow.
And the team, after a long journey, shares a few moments with Sparrow before we leave her to discover her new space.
• • •
Before the HIC winners were announced, we had a few minutes to check out the other apartments. There are some TALENTED people who participate every year. Wow! It’s a way for lovely people to come together (designers and corporate teams of worker bees), to make a difference doing what they love. The Design on a Dime winners were announced. Not us. Then the winners of the Green Challenge. Again, not us. I was certain we had this!!! I looked over at Greg Brown, VP of Sales, and a few other colleagues and saw a certain disappointment that it wasn’t us. While we were truly proud of our accomplishments that day, we are a competitive bunch and we wanted it! It would have made the story that much sweeter! There were some amazingly talented design teams and I secretly knew we’d lost our chance. The winner of the whole thing simply couldn’t be us.
Well, folks, I’m very proud to say… they announced Bazaarvoice the WINNERS of the ENTIRE HIC 2010 CHALLENGE! We were shocked, and celebrated accordingly with hugs and high fives! We were so proud of what we had accomplished, in that one day, for Miss Sparrow. We made her a nest she would be proud of. Behind the scenes, I’d made some lovely inroads with our sales team, who is a lovely, funny and kind bunch of human beings. Thanks Fred for letting me be a part of this! And as there’s only one week for this year’s challenge… I’m ready! Let’s do it! (I promise I’ll post pics long before HIC 2012.)