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Midwife Vanessa Dodds has been working on the NHS front line in Dagenham, East London. She was in desperate need of refreshing her small flat which she shares with her young daughter Ariella. Thanks to charity, Design Havens for Heroes, she has got just that - a blue living room makeover!
The aim of Design Havens for Heroes (opens in new tab) - launched by interior designer Francesca Rowan-Plowden (opens in new tab) in Spring 2020 - is to bring together an inspiring community of talent from the interior design field to create a series of room makeovers or ‘Havens’ for NHS key workers working on the front line during the Covid-19 crisis.
'I read about the work that Design Havens for Heroes was doing on Instagram and nominated myself,' says Vanessa. 'Single parenting has challenges, so the renovation of my living room wasn't a possibility or priority even though it was always a desire.'
'I felt grateful, blessed and excited [to be nominated]. It was nice to have something for my daughter and me to look forward to, something to focus on. This blue living room makeover has been a silver lining in the pandemic.'
Interior designers Fiona Duke (opens in new tab) and Julia Alexander (opens in new tab) teamed up on this project with a number of incredible brands and tradespeople to deliver a stunning makeover for the midwife.
Working virtually with Vanessa throughout the whole project from photos, samples, measurements and Zoom calls, the design duo created a scheme to suit Vanessa’s style and practical needs. 'I hadn't even considered how to design my room so was grateful to have the vision of Fiona and Julia, who are such beautiful souls,' adds Vanessa.
Blue living room makeover - Seating area
‘Vanessa’s colour brief to us was bold and bright but also calming,’ says Julia. ‘We chose a gorgeous Edward Bulmer grey blue wall colour Welmish Blew and painted out the ceiling, skirting and woodwork in the same colour to create a sense of more space in this blue living room makeover,’ explains Fiona. A new laminate wood flooring was supplied by Carpetright. For more living room flooring ideas head over to our gallery.
This was layered up with a gorgeous velvet jade sofa from Sofa.com which teamed up beautifully with a double-layered roller blind from Blinds2Go. 'The laminate floor is my daughter's favourite place to do the splits and the sofa has become her reading corner which makes me smile,' says Vanessa.
Table and storage area
In terms of the function of the space, 'Vanessa needed super comfortable seating for relaxing, a table to sit at, more storage for toys and other pieces,’ explains Julia.
Wayfair generously donated a table and chairs, rug, footstool, shelving unit, lamp and pendant, artwork and mirror. Further accessories included a bold print throw from MADE.com and baskets from Neptune for functional and fun toy storage.
‘It is a joyful space to be in now,’ says Vanessa who finds the calming blue tones a relaxing place to come home to after long shifts at the hospital.
'It has really become our "haven". In a time where everyone is facing their own individual challenges, I really appreciated the designers and brands donating products to myself and other NHS workers. Above all, I felt appreciated.'
Rhoda Parry is the Editorial Director of Ideal Home and its sister titles, 25 Beautiful Homes and Style at Home. She is also Editorial Director for Gardeningetc, Amateur Gardening and Easy Gardens. Rhoda is a highly experienced editor and journalist and has worked on many women's lifestyle media brands throughout her career. For the last 20 years, she has specialised in homes, interiors and gardens. A storyteller at heart, Rhoda is passionate about championing, crafting and creating exciting written and visual content for digital, print and experiential audiences.
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