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Shelter Reveal – The Bedrooms



The Holidays always seem to make us feel all warm and fuzzy, and to keep that warm fuzzy feeling going, today it’s a big reveal of the shelter, and this time it’s all about the bedrooms.


There are 8 bedrooms total, and to suit the needs of the shelter and the residents each bedroom had to have 2 bunks in them to accommodate up to a family of four. The bunks and the dressers had generously already been donated, so our job was made slightly easier, as we didn’t need to start sourcing a ton of big pieces for these rooms. The bunks were made specifically for the shelter and each have a handy pull out drawer underneath so the families can store their belongings. The shelter encourages them not to hoard too many things (they’d be horrified if they came into our studio!) but to really use this facility as a clean slate to jumpstart them back on their feet.  So we really didn’t need to add much more in the way of storage.


The bedrooms really only serve as what they are – a functional place for the families to sleep in. During the day the rooms get locked up, while the kids are out at school, and the parents are either at work or looking for jobs, so they didn’t need to have areas to lounge or work in. With the shelter being sort of a halfway-house, their main focus is to get the families back on their feet and into apartments of their own.  With that being said, it didn’t deter us from wanting to make these spaces feel as cosy and homey as the rest of the shelter.



Because the kids would be sharing and sleeping in the same room as their parents, ​ we wanted to ensure that there was a good balance and that the rooms didn’t feel too child-like, or too adult. We started off by choosing a color palette that consisted of mainly blues, whites and coral tones, which also felt gender neutral and didn’t sway too feminine or too masculine.

We started off by painting the rooms in three different colors: 2 rooms in Moonlight White, 2 rooms in Soft Pumpkin and 4 rooms in Pilgrim Haze, all by Benjamin Moore. The Soft Pumpkin turned​ out ​to be ​a little more pumpkin ​colored ​than we’d anticipated, once we had it on the walls. But, the walls had originally been painted in a neutral beige, ​ which was very drab and depressing, so we really wanted to bring some life into the rooms. Unfortunately due to the quick turnaround and deadlines we didn’t have time to swatch colors on the walls, and just had to go with our instincts. Let that be a lesson friends . . . always, always swatch.  Fortunately, with the bunks having an orange tone to them, they blended in well, and we used more navy tones in those rooms so that helped to balance it out.


The lighting was all donated by our good friends at Lamps Plus and we spent time selecting different styles within the same palette of woods, whites and gold. Which meant we had lots of different options​ to play with. The books again were donated by Strand, and I cannot say enough good things about them.  They’ll personalize collections for you by the foot. So all you need to do is tell them how many feet you need, how much you want to spend, and they’ll tailor them to specific genres and even certain color schemes, which is music to a designer’s ears. They’ll pretty much do whatever you want when it comes to books, except maybe read them to you in bed at night.


Most of the curtain fabric was donated by Minted, and we had an awesome set of costume designers donate their time to help sew them together. We brought in some nice florals, graphic prints and water colors, all within the color palette.


We were super fortunate that Serena & Lily and Deny Designs offered to donate bedding to the shelter, and we knew this would be one of the main ways we could bring some personality into the rooms.

​Again, keeping our blue, coral and white color story going, we mixed and matched different patterns and prints to create a varied and eclectic feel​ in each room. We stuck with two different sets of bedding in each room, with at least 1 type of stripe. That way it didn’t look too mismatched.


Although the rooms do have a window, they don’t get a lot of natural light because the windows actually look out onto an enclosed fire escape. But we wanted to still dress the windows properly, to make it feel more like a completed room. We were very pleased at how they turned out and it was so much fun to see the kids enjoy their new spaces.

Brian van der Brug from the LA Times snapped this pic after one family had moved into their new space. You’ll notice that they removed a few of the accessories we added while styling, and also added a pack and play, and a kid’s chair. It is so much fun knowing these kids and their families not only have a place to call home, but a space to really make their own.

San Fernando Valley Rescue Mission_Emily Henderson_Bunk Beds_Modern_Blue_Coral_White_Kids Playing

We really couldn’t have pulled these rooms together without the help of some very generous donors.  Serena & Lily,  who have just opened an amazing store in LA, which is going to be a great help for us when we recommend products to our private clients.​ As well as a ton for the kid’s area, they also donated all the striped bedding shown here. Deny Design, which is a super fun company that offers lots of different designs that can be printed onto almost anything – pillows, trays, even desks, and where we got all the floral and patterned bedding from. Lamps Plus, who not only have a great range of lighting, but also have a great range of furniture, which you’ll see in the living room reveal – coming soon. And last but not least, Minted, who has an amazing selection of patterns that can be printed in different colorways, onto different weights of fabric. That way you can make your own pillows, curtains and even clothes.

Now go ahead and get that look for your room:


1. Walnut Table Lamp | 2. Books Donated by Strand Books | 3. Oval Mirror | 4. English Garden Curtain | 5. Midnight Floral Curtains | 6. Painterly Splash Curtains | 7. Pink Flower Vase | 8. Task Lamp | 9. Hand Threaded Art by Happy Red Fish | 10. Dresser | 11. California Dreams by Alexandra Nazari | 12. Pink Duvet Cover | 13. Gold Table Lamp | 14. Metallic Diamond Pillow | 15. White Textured Pillow | 16. Floral Duvet Cover | 17. Thick Navy Strip Duvet Cover | 18. Pink Shams | 19. Navy Striped Duvet Cover | 20. Bunk beds originally custom built and donated by Beds Unlimited, but find a similar one here.

***Written by Ginny Macdonald, before photos by Jessica Isaac for EHD. After photos by David Tsay styled by Ginny Macdonald & Brady Tolbert.

A quick word about David Tsay. He volunteered to shoot this shelter without pay which we were obviously PSYCHED about. It’s a tricky place to shoot with a lot of overhead commercial-style lighting, and frankly, we needed someone really good to capture the space. Thank you once again,  David, for far exceeding our expectations. This was shot when I was in Spain, and it was the first project of mine EVER that I let my team style without me. They did SUCH a great job. Thanks, everyone.

See the beginning post here, the first update post here,  a last little nudge to our indiegogo campaign here, an art roundup of our favorite work from the artists that have donated here, a big thank you to those who donated here, the family room reveal here, and the playroom reveal here. And check out our feature in the Los Angeles Times!

Fin Mark


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Oh Emily, your design contributions are enhancing and impacting so many lives; you really are a gift, you know, what with your talents and enthusiasm. Hope your holidays are bright and merry!

These bedrooms look amazing! We are so influenced by the spaces we’re in, and these rooms look like the perfect fresh for families in need. Bravo and happy holidays!


Wow! Great piece in the LA Times! Looks great–way to go!

Jenny B

It’s just great to hear about people doing good in the world. I just heard an interview on NPR with Linda Ellerbee who had a news program on Nickelodeon for kids. She said one of the things they added to their version of the news for kids, which wasn’t on their adult news shows, was that they were always honest but added the component that whenever there is bad in the world, if you look you can always see people doing good to try and change that. So I am going to always look for the good and call it… Read more »


This is amazing work!

The apostrophe issues are kind of distracting when reading this – for example “kids”- plural – is just kids. It shouldn’t have an apostrophe. As a rule, apostrophes indicate possession (i.e. “the kid’s book”), not plurals.


Distracting for who? The grammar police? Maybe I’m dumb but I didn’t even notice; I was too busy looking at the beautiful pictures and thinking how great it is that there are people who care about more important things in life than where a comma goes in a sentence.

The point of good grammar is to communicate precisely so we create clear understanding. If you have ever been in a fight with a friend due to a misunderstanding, you understand why I disagree with you about ‘there are more important things in life than where a comma goes.” There is nothing more important than our relationships and grammar helps maintain and enhance those.


I agree with Rachael. The punctuation and grammar mistakes are distracting and annoying. A professional blog should be relatively free of basic grammar errors.


Blah – get over yourselves grammar police.


There’s so much goodness in this post. What a pity to complain about something so inconsequential.


Lovely rooms. … but the book donor fell down on job. One of the books is “French Art Treasures at the Hermitage.” Another is by Jose Saramago.
I’d eat my hat if the residents read these books.


Love the rooms, and the generosity of this project! And also got a good laugh from the book title, Love in the Time of Cholera. LOL!


^That’s actually one of my favorite books everrrr! ?

Beautiful work, Emily and team. I doubt there are many family shelters that look so lovely and happy and welcoming.


Love in the Time of Cholera, that is, not the one about the hermitage.


Joanie, your comment is a bit rude. Who are we to judge or say what someone may, or may not read? It was an extremely generous act to donate all those brand new books (I believe they also donated a bunch of kids books for the playroom), and hopefully someone will read through them, even if it’s just one child flipping through the pictures of a french art book, and being inspired by something they may have never seen before. Sometimes those are the types of things that can help spark something for someone – just one random book, at… Read more »


On the other hand, one may consider the donor rude not to provide appropriate, appealing books. This is a continual problem with people off-loading books to poor schools, including schools in foreign countries: It is not thoughtful or generous just to off-load inappropriate things and take a tax deduction.
Hopefully they did donate appropriate kids book for a playroom. But how would you know what was donated?


I agree with you. Books are for reading. Although I am sure it was not the fault of Emily or her team that they were not of topical interest to the general public.

Also I want to add that people who make “critical” comments are likely chiming in on something that is important to them. We all can learn something from someone else instead of just fawning over everyone all the time.


I think this is the best thing I have ever read on the internet. Quiet the sycophants, and start the discussion!


Interesting to see the various thoughts on the books! I’ve visited the Hermitage, and when I saw the book title I wished I could pick it up and thumb through it!


How privileged you are to have visited Russia!


Egg on my face. ;-). While I do have a close friend living in Russia, I have not had the privilege of being there. I have been to the Hermitage in TN though, and remembered there must have been artwork of some kind… So assumed this book was about that. But still, I’m sure the book could/will capture some interest!


This comment sounds like you assume the residents are uneducated. People can be inspired by anything, books, art, nature and don’t have to have a college degree for that. Sorry, but I think you need to get off your snotty high horse.


I’m sure you know best. But if you actually read the LA Times story and know anything about homelessness and literacy, you will learn that shelter residents often have low literacy rates. Which doesn’t mean they won’t like pretty pictures from Russia. It just seemed like the picks were coming from a very privileged position. The Hermitage book does not have high demand on Amazon. Its sale rate means that more than 2.4 million titles outsell it. Maybe it wasn’t the most thoughtful gift. Or maybe it is well-meaning and fine if there are other, more popular titles. I don’t… Read more »


I’ve said it before, but you Emily Hnderson, are making the world a better place. This time in spades.
Also, I think your team is wonderful! I’m especially fan of Brady! But girl, you can not be replaced. Just like the house of the year, you can feel when it’s not styled by you. You got the magic that can not be replicated.

Kudos to you, your team, and David Tsay!

These rooms are so beautiful! You have given back so much to these families that will use this space.



they look great! What a wonderful service you are doing for them!


What lovely, restful rooms to retire into for the night. This was such a wonderful project Emily. You, your team, and the individuals and companies who donated their talent, time and products are inpirations. Thank you all.
It is a mistake to assume that people needing a hand up would never pick up a certain book, in as much as it is a mistake to think someone of wealth would.


That’s not true at all. Amazon’s ranking of ‘French Art Treasures at the Hermitage’ is 2.4 million behind other titles. It was published in 1999. If that is something in high demand in shelters where people are taught how to dress for job interviews, I’ll eat my hat. Any literacy educator will tell you that people without college educations are less likely to read literary fiction that is assigned in, yes, college. These are facts. I love Gabriel Garcia Marquez. Guess what: I read him in GRADUATE school. Not in a homeless shelter. But this is no criticism of Emily.… Read more »


I feel like I should jump in here since I worked on curating the book collection for this shelter project. I actually spent a lot of time thinking about the books to include in this project and then curating the books for the various needs for each room. For the bedrooms, we wanted to include a mix of novels and art books that would inspire the residents while they were relaxing in their rooms. I tried to make sure all of the books were quality titles, not clearance books. I find it a bit demeaning to assume that the residents… Read more »


Good to know, But how interesting that you picked ‘Gulliver’s Travels’ and ‘Blindness’ instead of something popular like ‘Harry Potter.’ I don’t think the point was though that the bedrooms needed job interviewing books. A mix of books is good — popular fiction AND classics. Along with perhaps some Spanish language titles, diverse authors (Walter Mosley?), mysteries. The majority of fiction titles that are read are mysteries. It would be dreary and disheartening for shelter residents to be told, when they have so much to worry about, that they don’t deserve have escapist fiction. They need to aspire to reading… Read more »




Please stand up, put on coat, make your way to the closest bookstore, buy Harry Potter et al, and proceed to the nearest post office, mail books to the shelter of your choice. I realize that you could do this from your computer, but I think you could use the walk to get those positive vibes flowing, I know that you’ve inspired me. Off I go.


I meant to write ‘it would be disheartening to be told… they don’t deserve TO have escapist fiction. (And that) they need to aspire…’

See how easy it is to acknowledge mistakes? And yes, Jami I am going to concentrate on donating fun books. Today I actually was compiling some for a family whose mother is dying of cancer. No art history though. ha.
If people think this mild criticism is hateful, I wonder how they get through life.


Some high schools have Gabriel Garcia Marquez on their reading lists. He’s not just for graduate school.


When I was 16, my mom whisked us away to a hidden women’s shelter in the Valley. I can’t compare it to other shelters, but I will tell you it looked nothing like Emily’s project. It was as you would expect; bare, stark rooms, no decorative accessories, and hardly a book in sight. It’s appalling that you can read a blog entry about a project that pulled together a community and read nitpicky comments. Regardless of their justification, when did the world only see the negative in everything. When I was 16, in said shelter, I was bored to tears.… Read more »


Dear Emily, I’m a lurker who’s read your blog for years without ever leaving a comment. I said nothing as I watched you get criticized for writing about becoming a mother, and I’ve said nothing about the grammar criticism. But after reading this post and the comments that came after it, I just want to say: Thank you for being such an incredibly loving and generous human being. Thank you for not losing your voice in the midst of what must be disheartening criticism. Thank you for being brave enough to be true and original. Thank you for letting me… Read more »


Here here. I agree with everything in this comment. The debate on the books in this post leaves me speechless. It is totally condescending to think that anyone on the planet would not enjoy a beautiful art book or Love in the Time of Cholera which is a magical classic. The Strand and Emily should be congratulated on their wonderful work.



At first, I wanted to comment via trolling the haters. Then I read Maryam’s beautiful comment, so I’d just like tack on to her grace and thank you for the great work that you do.

Maybe for your next act of charity you can work on getting the apostrophe vigilante laid. (turns out I’m not that graceful)




Job well done! I can’t imagine a better place for families to restart their lives!

And to all the haters out there: any books are better than no books at all! In any case, the selection of books was probably out of the control of the design team

Thanks for sharing.I love it!


Mean people suck. Is that grammatically or published in a book you never published?


This is an awesome project, so much kudos to everyone involved. But Love in the Time of Cholera did catch my eye, only as being perhaps a bit depressing. But I LOVE that there are quality books everywhere, even if only to give the place a nice homey feel 🙂

Superb makeover!

Love everything about this look

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