A Designed for Good Makeover: After the Unthinkable, Victims Find Space To Heal Here
Over the last nine years, Wit & Delight has undergone a significant transformation across all facets. What was once a one-woman-run blog has evolved into a small content creation company; developing creative and strategy for brands both big and small. The subject topics at Wit & Delight has also ebbed and flowed over time. With the help of our expanding team of contributors, our content has grown from “pretty pictures of pretty things” to personal stories ranging from relationships to mental health to career development. Our sweet spot has become aspirational but attainable design; serving as a visual feast and inspiration to our network of readers.
Over the past year, Kate and the entire W&D team set out to make use of our platform in a more altruistic fashion, further expanding our content repertoire to help others and create a community for open dialogue. Last summer, we made our first stride with the launch of Designed for Good. The Designed for Good initiative was created as a way to connect Wit & Delight with local non-profit organizations or individuals that inspire us beyond the norm. We then use our team’s vast design and decor expertise to breathe new life into a space for a person or organization in need. For our inaugural project, we refreshed the dining room of a deserving mother and her two adorable boys.
Around the time we started brainstorming ideas on who we wanted to partner with for our second go-around, a friend invited Kate to attend a fundraiser breakfast for a local non-profit The Center for Victims of Torture (CVT). Unknown to her at the time, Kate learned about the history of CVT and their existing efforts happening not far from Wit & Delight’s office. Survivors stood in front of the group of strangers, sharing their personal experiences and the impact CVT has made in their healing journey. Taken aback by the stories, Kate spent the next few days racking her brain on ways Wit & Delight could offer a helping hand and support the work of CVT. It wasn’t long before she realized CVT would make the perfect partner in the second Designed for Good initiative. By using the team’s design expertise and her network of contacts, together we could revitalize CVT’s rehabilitation center in St. Paul.
The Center for Victims of Torture was founded in 1985 as an independent non-governmental organization. Their mission is to create a future where torture ceases to exist and its victims have hope for a brighter tomorrow. Dedicated to healing survivors of torture and violent conflict, CVT provides direct care for refugee communities and torture victims, trains partners around the world to prevent and treat abuse, and advocates for human rights. Since the non-profit’s inception, over 33,000 torture victims and war trauma survivors have undergone their rehabilitation services.
While helping people globally, The Center for Victims of Torture is headquartered in St. Paul at a home known as The Healing Center. Here, survivors are connected with a team of professionals who apply an integrated, multidisciplinary approach to treatment. After ensuring visitors are both safe and stable, CVT provides medical and nursing care, psychotherapy, social services, and physical therapy. Once victims are ready to reconnect with their community, volunteers teach them vital skills such as reading a bus schedule and navigating public transportation. In addition, volunteers tutor non-English speaking individuals in English and accompany them on trips to museums, concerts, library, coffee shop or the grocery store.
The Healing Center hopes to establish an experience much different from the stark square rooms with glaring lights that many survivors were used to. The space is a refurbished Victorian home designed to meet the needs of torture survivors. The home is full of domestic furnishings, large windows, and rooms with rounded or angled corners, hoping to promote the feng shui of healing. While beautiful, the center is not without flaws. Many offices are too small to include anything more than a desk and chair; the stairs are steep and creaky, and the overall old-fashioned aesthetic leaves much to be desired. Here is what the space looked like when we saw it for the first time.
After evaluating the space, assessing damage and interviewing the staff on needs, our team made the decision to focus our efforts on the lower level of the home. The group therapy room used for internal staff meetings, administrative overflow and client group therapy presented our biggest concern. The basement had recently undergone extensive water damage and while structural problems had been rectified, the space was in dire need of new furniture and a fresh touch. The new furnishings needed to be comfortable yet hard-working, with the ability to be rearranged as necessity dictates.
It was immediately clear to us that this project would require help from far beyond the walls of Wit & Delight. We reached out to some of our most-trusted brand partners asking if they would be willing to participate in our second Designed for Good initiative. We were overwhelmed by all of the positive responses and the brands’ willingness to help bring this project to life, almost every company offered to send even more than we had requested. Without the generosity of our brand partners, this makeover story would have never been possible.
Our design team made the decision to visually divide the large room into two different sections, using furniture and visual cues to differentiate each space. One half of the room would include the Covetti Sectional from AllModern that would provide ample seating while still maintaining an open and roomy environment, as not to trigger clients or make them feel closed-off. From Rejuvenation, we received the Folklands Pillow, as well as the stunning Langdon Hand Knotted Rug in 9×12′, large enough to frame this half of the room. The Rawhide Brown Ottoman, the Maris White Marble Clock, and the Lucca Pillow Set in Blush, from Article, put the finishing touches on the space. The softness of the sofa, rug, and throw pillows helped reinforce the comfort and tranquility of the space. Schoolhouse Electric & Supply Co. provided us with a handful of decor pieces that took the living room from good to great. They contributed the Hairpin Table, Brass Planters, Handwoven Mayan Throw Pillow in Mustard and the much-needed piece of wall art, the Split Leaf Print. Last but not least, we finished off this half the room with the Chevron Coffee Table from CB2.
We placed the Lignum Oak Shelving Unit from Article in the middle of the room’s largest wall to serve as a buffer in between the two spaces. In hopes of upping the cozy-factor, we also chose two of their velvet Matrix Lounge Chairs in Yarrow Gold. The oversized armchairs placed behind the Shroom White Table from CB2, and an added light fixture from Target, were enough to shape the second half of the group therapy room. We like how this side of the room ultimately came together with an earthy and retro vibe. Stefani, our Editorial Director, donated a couple of Arden Trading Co. artisan-made kilim pillows from Turkey as a final stylistic addition to each side of the room as well.
Adjacent to the group therapy room is a small children’s room and playroom used primarily for individual child therapy sessions, as well as an administrative overflow and a quiet space for nursing mothers. Before the update, the room’s furniture was outdated and a mess of children’s books and disorganized toys which made the small space feel cluttered and difficult to navigate. A faded grey-blue loveseat set against the back wall of the room provided minimal seating. While small, this room has an enormous impact on CVT’s youngest visitors and we wanted them to feel comfortable, happy and at home. Below you will find the originally proposed mood board, as well as the finished look of the children’s room.
To maximize the space in the children’s room, we added two new bookshelves, one we purchased from IKEA, and one of which we received from AllModern, the 44″ Easmor Ladder Bookcase. We replaced the outdated couch with two adorable mini armchairs from Article’s recently launched line of children’s furniture, as well as their Bamba Pouf. For a much-needed pop of color, we purchased the blue and white wall tapestry from Target. From The Land of Nod, a number of colorful and cute, kid-friendly accessories were scattered throughout the space; including, the Stuart Toy Box, Living Room Lanes Bowling Set, Adjustable Bean Bag Chair, Rainbow Dreamcatcher, Festival Felt Bright Garland, Janod Block Set and fun throw pillows. As the wonderful cherry on top, local game making company, Silly Street was kind enough to donate a few of their character building games and puzzles for CVT’s littlest visitors to enjoy. A few include Silly Street Original Game, Animal Act, So Fly!, Silly City, and the Treasure Map Puzzle (all available for purchase via Amazon).
Everyone at Wit & Delight that played a key role in this Designed for Good initiative was deeply affected by the stories and experiences of the refugees and torture victims of CVT. These are some amazing people and families that need our help, love, and support as they seek a safe asylum in our country. If you are interested in learning more about CVT and how you can give back, here are the top four ways you can help refugees and victims of torture receive the healing they deserve at CVT.
- Visit www.cvt.org/what-you-can-do/donate and become one of 16,000 individuals who donate to CVT’s work each year.
- Sign up for e-mails including advocacy alerts, event invitations and CVT’s Storycloth newsletter at www.cvt.org/signup.
- Sign the Reject Torture petition at www.rejecttorture.cvt.org/metoo/.
- Attend a Healing Center tour to learn more about our work and invite friends to join you. Contact Sabrina Crews at SCrews@cvt.org or 612-436-4850.
Imagery via 2nd Truth Photography
Paige Gardiner is a Producer at Wit & Delight. A recent college graduate, Paige majored in Entrepreneurship and recently launched her own jewelry business Goodrich & Grand. In her spare time, she loves a good glass of wine, a night out with girlfriends and laughing with her mom, which just so happens to be her current roommate.