Well, you can stick a candy cane in it, because one of our favorite seasonal projects ever is officially done!
To recap, we were invited to help with a very special project: decorating a family waiting room at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU. They contacted us in the hopes that we could volunteer our time to warm up the room so it’s more cozy and homey year-round, as well as to add some festive touches for the holiday season. Not only did it sound like a fun project, it had such a deserving purpose that we couldn’t wait to get started. Here’s what it looked like when we first visited.
We set our sights on giving the space a living-room-like feeling for all of the children, parents, and staff that are spending the holidays at the hospital. One major change was a new paint color (Gargoyle), which was inspired by staff members who requested something enveloping and cozy since so many other rooms there are super bright/clinical. Although it might read as gray, it’s actually a mocha/brown/taupe color in person (it’s the swatch on the right of this image). And adding touches like a cozy armchair next to a big bright tree, some soft window treatments, and a bunch of holiday additions (like a little parade of wooden trees around one side of the room) hopefully brought in more of that homey vibe.
The room will also be getting new hardwood floors, a white door in the place of that blonde wood one, and some updated furnishings in a few months – but they didn’t want to wait when it came to making the room feel festive for those families spending their time in the hospital this season, and we’re so glad they asked us to jump right in.
There’s so much that we want to tell you, but let’s kick things off with a recap video that the hospital put together. It pretty much sums things up (and they thankfully cut out the parts where we got all misty-eyed).
Heather, the Senior Child Life Specialist at the hospital, states it perfectly in the video when she says we want families to feel cared about when they come into the room. Decorating for the holidays is a tradition that lots of us treasure, but when you’ve got a child in the hospital it’s probably the last thing on your mind. So we wanted to incorporate a lot of handmade touches to hopefully make it feel more less corporate or cold and a lot more like home.
We already shared four projects in the room – including the faux fireplace and paper garland which, by the way, has gotten even prettier since we first left them thanks to some of the young artistes on the floor. So let’s dive a bit deeper into some of the things you haven’t seen yet, starting with the Christmas tree. We went with white to not only pop against the freshly painted walls, but also since there were lots of traditional green trees elsewhere in the building. We grabbed our pre-lit tree from Garden Ridge, but most of the ornaments came from Target and JoAnn Fabrics.
Presiding over the tree was Bucky, the big cardboard deer, er, reindeer that was sent over by Cardboard Safari. They’re based nearby in Charlottesville, VA so they were excited to help us holiday-up the space for the hospital. We’re told Bucky was quick to earn admirers as soon as we hung him, so we’re glad he’s making friends. Cardboard Safari also donated a few of their snowflake trees to help spruce up (ha! pun!) some of the tabletops. You’ll start to notice that trees are a theme in this room.
Speaking of trees, one element that was super fun was our metallic tree forest that lined two walls of the room. We knew very quickly that we wanted to line something up along the wall panels, but whatever it was had to be thin and lightweight. The idea of a “forest” popped to mind, but we couldn’t figure out a way to execute it.
Then we remembered a cool local shop called Big Secret who uses a laser cutting/engraving machine to make all sorts of stuff. They were super excited to help out and offered to donate their time and materials to cut us a bunch of trees in varying sizes (we just sent them some free clip art that we found online for them to use as their template). Then we coated them in a variety of metallic spray paints so they’d pop against the painted wall and secured them with 3M removable velcro strips (so they can slip right off the wall without damaging it after the holidays).
Another local company that jumped in to help us pull the room together for these awesome kids and families was U-Fab. They made two custom valances for the two big windows in the room out. We liked how the pattern looked kinda festive and seasonal, yet it can still work in the room year-round.
And since there wasn’t time to have a chair custom upholstered, they kindly offered one up from their showroom floor – and boy was it a hit! People didn’t want to get up once they sat in it, and Santa even paid a visit to the kids and had a nice big armchair waiting for him. There’s also talk of U-Fab recovering it with durable/wipeable vinyl if this fabric doesn’t hold up down the line, but all of the staff and kids seemed really excited to have a cozy place to sit by the tree in the meantime.
You also may have noticed the big chalkboard between the two windows. It was one that we built out a piece of plywood and some leftover chalkboard paint. For a fun twist we mixed up some white chalkboard paint too (by adding a couple teaspoons of light colored non-sanded grout to white paint) and painted a house on a hill along the bottom of the board. We thought it’d be a fun way to spice it up beyond your traditional black square, and that it might encourage people to draw a scene – like a wreath on the house or a kid sledding down the hill.
Once we hung it, Sherry wintered it up by dragging some white chalk down the surface on its side (so the natural wood grain came through). We figured until it got doodled on, it was a nice, almost snowy, texture to start with. And we hear it has already filled up with cute drawings and holiday wishes.
One of our favorite details of the room is something that you guys helped us with: the two cork boards that we filled with cards, letters, and crafts that you mailed to our PO Box full of warm holiday wishes for these awesome families. We were completely overwhelmed by how much care and love showed up, and the families are having so much fun looking through the stacks and stacks of other items that couldn’t even fit on the board (we left a basket full of the other sketches, cards, snowflakes that will be rotated in, but can be read from that basket in the meantime).
We originally planned to pin things up to these cork boards – but after learning that pushpins are a no-no in hospital-land AND realizing the room could use some white on that wall to balance the tree in the opposite corner, we painted them white. They could still be used to hold things up (the hospital is known to staple things in lieu of using pins), but we just taped things up with patterned washi tape to get things started, so they can easily be rotated out and enjoyed.
We got stuff from all over the country (Hawaii! Alaska!) and even the world (Canada! the UK! New Zealand! Australia! Switzerland!). Seriously, you guys blew us away. Even a couple of notes from Google showed up! So thanks to everyone who took a second to make these families’ days a little brighter. We saw them soaking up the love firsthand, and it really was the best part of the entire experience.
Those wood wall hangings between the two boards are a little art project that Sherry made using some wood plaques purchased at JoAnn. She just primed a nice wide oval on each one (to cut any wood bleed), painted those ovals white, and used paint pens to sketch some leafy vines on the top and bottom of each one.
Then she drew one little holiday-ish item or object on each one. As much I liked her mittens and her little house, my favorite was the stick-figure reindeer. I kinda want him on a t-shirt. She even took some step-by-step photos for anyone else who might want to make one at home:
Even though they’re not shaped like trees, they seemed to fit right within our cozy, lodge-like vibe – and it was fun to hear the families talk about which ones they liked best.
There’s also an adjacent kitchen right off of the living room area, so we added a little bit of cheer in there as well. This corner is pretty busy and with limited wall-space and heavily used counters, so we just hung some gold glitter wreaths (from Target) on the upper cabinets. They’re locked, which means they’re rarely opened, so the staff actually recommended that we hang something there since other areas of the kitchen are used so frequently (for example, anything on the counters would just get in the way).
An amazingly sweet reader from Australia named Belinda also sent us this canvas print from her shop Poppy Love to Groove, which has a Peter Pan quote on it. The staff wanted it in a place where they could see it all year round – and what better place than right above the caffeine station?
As pleased as we are with how the room looks, the best part has been witnessing the reaction to it. During the span of days that we worked on-site over the last few weeks, we got to meet lots of patients, parents, nurses, and administrators whose sincere appreciation was so heartwarming to witness. It was really rewarding to hear them echo words like warm, cozy, and soothing – which had guided us through this project.
I think we’re really the ones who are the most thankful in all of this, though. It was a fun assignment and an interesting challenge, but more importantly it just felt good to not be so wrapped up in our own home decor and holiday stress (which frankly seem silly by comparison anyways). And of course there are the kids. They really are The Best. Here’s a little proof, courtesy of a fun holiday video that they made. Really, I dare you to watch this and not have a smile plastered on your face:
So we’re sending out one last thanks to the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU and all the people who helped this come together – especially the folks who donated items to the makeover and all of you who took the time to send a little cheer to Richmond for these sweet families. We certainly have lots of blessings to count this season.
P.S. – You can help the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU spread cheer by texting HEALTH to 50555 to donate $10 to support the children. To learn more you can visit CHoR on Facebook.
Update: You can check out all of our favorite holiday decor finds here – many of which are under $15!
WoW! That does not look like a hospital waiting room AT ALL! My favorite part has to be the wooden trees on the walls!
Laura @ Rather Square says
I think my favorite thing is the chalkboard with the white snow hill and house. But I’m liking all the white elements in the room (especially the big tree and the little snowflake trees) – it’s wintery without feeling cold!
There are no words just this…xo
Anele @ Success Along the Weigh says
What a beautiful, uplifting space to be in if you have to be there. Thanks so much for giving your time for that great project!
Brit [House Updated] says
You guys! This is so great! It just feels so warm and cozy and looks fantastic. My fave part is the metallic tree forest, but all of it is awesome! And really, you guys rock for donating your time/resources into this project. Great way to start the week with warm fuzziness from this’
I especially love the die-cut trees.
Well done — now put up your feet and enjoy Christmas!
This is plain awesome. Bless you both for doing such a wonderful job and most importantly, for putting smiles on these families faces and warmth in their hearts during the Christmas season! Merry Christmas!
Stacey C says
The room looks awesome! And for such a great place! You two could not be any cuter in the video! Congratulations!
Fantastic. What a blessing to those kids and their families. You and those who contributed are fantastic, too! <3
It all looks so beautiful! The wooden trees are my favorite! I watched the video, but with the sound off because I’m at work, and the part I loved the most was the way you both look at each other. It is so obvious how much respect and admiration you have for one another…I think that’s why we all love tuning in every day – you set a wonderful example for couples and families everywhere. You give us much more than a glimpse into your home improvement projects…you give us inspiration. Thank you for sharing your lives with us.
Aw, thanks so much Heidi, you’re so sweet!
I thought the same thing…. the way you 2 look at each other. <3
Love the tree and the colors ~ the room is beautiful. Where'd the lil white trees on the tables come from?
Those were Target! Aren’t they cute?! I wanted some for our house too!
So uniquely fabulous. Great job!
It is all your beautiful. Great Job. xoxoxo. I couldn’t help crying a little watchING the Roar Video!!!! John and Sherry you guys are the BEST!!!!!! LOVE MY YOUNG HOUSE LOVE!!!! XO
I know! I totally cried, too!! Great job, guys!!!
Y’all did such a great job! You can really tell a lot of love when into this. I love the wooden trees on the walls and the Peter Pan quote!
Susan Riggs says
WOW, you did a great job! It looks really inviting, I am sure the children and their families love it.
Beautiful!! And I’m sure very rewarding for you guys!
DD Lizzy says
I love the wall color! Thanks for not using white.
Wow. I am in awe. So incredibly awesome and so well deserved by those children and their families.
Robin @ our semi organic life says
A very heartwarming space for everyone to enjoy at such a special time of year. The video was the best, and it really makes you appreciate what you have and not take it for granted. Merry Christmas YHL!!!
Jamie @ Add Some Character says
Absolutely amazing. My favorite part is the video of the kids but I love the reindeer stick art and the wooden trees, too! Thanks for getting into the spirit of the holidays and reminding us not to forget about what is important!
amy g says
this is awesome! what a very special holiday project!
Yeah! I was excited to see how this turned our – it is such a wonderful project. I’m also happy to see my snowflakes arrive in one piece. When I was a kid I loved to receive mail and would spend hours reading old letters and card my grandmother had kept – so I loved the idea of sending something the kids would enjoy. Thank for giving me that opportunity.
They were amazing Tanya! Thanks so much for sending them!
I have no idea what to say about this, but count me among the video-watching criers. Thank you – just thank you for doing this for them.
This just looks so amazing and is such a wonderful thing you guys did. I love everything about it.
I LOVE the tree. I’m not usually a fan of fake trees but that white one is just so pretty. I also love target ornaments. Did you buy the shatterproof ones? I can vouch for that claim… my roommate and I tested them thorougly last year.
Anyway, love this all. I can’t wait to go home so I can watch the videos. :)
Haha, yes, we went shatterproof! So funny that you guys did some quality control.
That video at the end really got me. I’m a sloppy, crying mess. Thanks for sharing this and for donating your time to such an amazing challenge. I’m betting you feel you got back even more.
Amen! Most rewarding project we’ve ever taken on. We are so honored we got to know these special families for the holidays. Best gift ever.
Ditto – the project had me misty then the kids put me over the edge. They are so brave!
The kids got me too. Crying here in Minneapolis. Such an amazing job for some truly amazing kids.
Bonnie C says
Looks great! So nice of you to give of your time and talents. Merry Christmas to all!
It looks amazing and so festive! If only all waiting rooms looked like that…The cardboard “reindeer” and the metallic wood trees are my favourite. Nicely done!
Okay… what do you MEAN I am going to have a smile plastered on my face?
Okay.. I have one… if you can spot it underneath all of the tears. What a sweet, sweet video.
And your room looks beautiful. Love it.. love the little cutout wooden trees.. so intricate.
Oh I know, aren’t they just the best kids? And the staff and families, it just truly is the most humbling and amazing bunch! We really wanted people to watch that last video even if they don’t look at the room makeover at all – they’re really what it’s all about.
Such a wonderful wonderful post, project, and set of videos!! A beautiful job on the room, Sherry & John, it looks amazing! The videos were both so great, and now I am feeling all gushy because our little baby was born at VCU two months ago and it was such a good experience. :) So I have an extremely high opinion of the hospital as a result, then they get you guys on board for this project and my opinion goes through the roof. :)
Aw, I’m so glad! They were just amazing. The staff and the volunteers and the parents and of course those kids. Such an uplifting environment.
Did not watch the video, I am at work and it would turn me into a sobbing mess. But, just reading about everything you did made me a bit teary – a few years ago we spent a week in the children’s hospital with my nephew, and oh man, it was rough. And it wasn’t even the holidays! I hope your changes go a long way in lifting the spirits of everyone in the hospital this month.
Smart move Kimberly, wait until you’re home…I’m sobbing. Thanks YHL (I can’t even think of your first names, and we’re like bffs!) This is so special. all of it.
Wonderful job you two!
Made me tear up a little.
I think my favorite thing is the little forest going around the one side of the room or the little wood wall hangings.
I love how cozy it looks. Doesn’t look like a waiting room at all.
I have spent a lot of time in hospital waiting rooms due to my mother’s illness and my father-in-law’s illness. I cannot even imagine how much more magnified your stress would be when you are in the hospital for a child. What a gift you have given these children and their families. That waiting room space will make a real difference for them. I am still crying a bit over here. Merry Christmas YHL! Thanks for spreading the joy!
Shannon Rode says
Well done you guys! This got me all misty and teary eyed. You guys have the best hearts. Need more people in the world like you guys! Merry Christmas to you all and your families!
Oh my, that just made me tear up a little bit. What a blessing. :)
You guys are so awesome! The room looks fabulous – love love love the wooden trees along the wall. Not gonna lie, little teary eyed over here watching the videos! The Roar video was so sweet. Merry Christmas to you all!!
So now I’m waiting to see my doctor (for just a routine visit) and I’m crying I the exam room. This will be fun to explain. But that is such a great project, gorgeous end result and LOVE the videos. My younger brother and parents spent a lot of time at Children’s Hospital of Orange County and then the Lucille Packard Children’s Hospital at Stanford and making the hospital setting feel even just a little bit more like home makes a HUGE difference.
I love the reindeer, and the chalkboard, and the cut out trees…and Sherry’s little stick reinderr, and…and…and…
Ya’ll done good. ;)
Way to go, you guys! It’s so sweet that you took this time to work on such a meaningful project during what is normally the busiest time of the year in our homes. Having spent time in Childrens Hospital in DC with our 2-week old son, I can tell you firsthand that being there can feel so sad and isolating. Having a warm and comforting room to spend time is such a nice thing. Thank you for doing this and merry Christmas to you!
Oh Kristen, I’m so sorry you had to go through that, but so glad we could help these families in some small way. Thanks for the kind words!
anna whiston-donaldson says
Wow! It looks beautiful! What a labor of love.
This is the best way to start a Monday! Thank you for all you did for these families! And for sharing it with us. Happy Holidays!
I cried watching the that video! I went into preterm labor with my youngest daughter the week before Christmas last year, and spent ten weeks total in the hospital. It was so hard to be in the spirit of the holidays, especially since I was apart from my older daughter. However, things like this make SUCH a difference! I was lucky enough to be in a hospital that really cared about making the holidays bright for their patients and their families, and was able to have a relatively normal Christmas thanks to all of the fun decorations and cheery staff. You will make SUCH a difference for these families. Thank you for caring so much and for making such a sweet space for the families. You are truly wonderful people.
Oh Amy, I’m so sorry that you had to go through that, but so glad to hear that the staff and the cheer they brought into the hospital made some small difference. We are so honored to have been a part of something for these amazing families!
Wow – looks AMAZING! And I have to say the Star Wars snowflakes are everythiiiing. I need a tutorial stat! Great job guys =)
Some quick Googling turned this up: http://anthonyherreradesigns.com/index.php/component/content/article/8-ahd-blog/7-star-wars-snowflakes-2012
I know how I’m spending my holidays!
It turned out so great you guys! I love that your talents could bring comfort like this and I know how greatly appreciated that cozy nook must be to the families.
Way to go!
Love, love, love! I love the deserving cause, the amazing result and all the kids and families that will benefit from brightened spirits!
Wow, what an amazing transformation. You guys did an awesome job, but what’s even cooler is how grateful YOU are to have gotten asked to do it. That’s what the holiday season is all about and it’s nice to have reminders like this that there are such wonderful people in the world.
Thank you for all the cheer you bring to everyone each and every day!
This is ahhhhmazeballs! I love all of it – but in reality I love the video of the kids/staff!
Sometimes….scratch that – ALWAYS the best gifts are the smiles and joy you receive from others that are blessed by your hardwork.
I absolutely love that you guys did this. My favorite part is seeing the video of the children and staff at the the end singing. I’m so glad to see all the smiles!! Amazing! Happy Holidays! xoxox
Considering all the restrictions and regulations you worked with, I think you did a terific job. I believe the children and their parents are really going to enjoy celebrating in that room. :)
The video made by the kids, oh my goodness, so cute!
I work for a children’s charity that supports children battling life-threatening medical conditions. I’ve been there for 7 years. I started I was a single gal and knew it was important work, but I’m not sure I really understood what it really meant in the beginning. Now that I have a family of my own I am in even more awe of the strength of these amazing kids and families.
It makes you feel thankful for your own healthy family. I’m sure you would agree!
Thank you for supporting the families at the Children’s Hospital of Richmond at VCU this holiday.
Aw, thanks for the work that you do! We are in awe of everyone who does such meaningful work. Just dabbling in it was so touching, you can’t imagine the admiration and appreciation for everyone who does this day in and day out! And you’re right, the strength of these families is completely awe-inspiring.
Goodness! That last video has me sobbing. What wonderful, spirited children. I’m grateful they have such loving care providers.
The room looks sooooo great! Like a home away from home. I’m sure that everyone appreciates a cozy, quiet space amid the crazy. Also Sherry you look so prego!! Too cute!
I know, right? The doc said this baby is in the top percentile for height, and suddenly my stomach agrees! Just don’t mind my puffy face (that’s from the happy tears… haha).