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Decorex’s charity partner, Design Havens 4 Heroes, was brought into fruition during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Recognising the strong need for NHS workers to have comfortable and homely havens to retreat to, they set out to transform interiors of those who needed their help. And so, we caught up with the organisers to see one of their recently completed makeovers and understand their plans going forward.
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Interior designer, Clare Gaskin, and stylist, Emily Wheeler, recently applied their considerable talent and experience to a beautiful room installation for an NHS frontline paramedic based in London on behalf of Design Havens 4 Heroes.
Gaskin generously volunteered her time and expertise to the charitable initiative alongside interior stylist Wheeler and together, they transformed a room for Gigi, a first responder paramedic in South West London. The aim was to transform a completely empty space into elegant, calm and well-appointed room to act as her haven at the end of a gruelling day working on the NHS frontline.
Gaskin launched her eponymous studio in 2009 and has gained a reputation for designing beautiful, family-friendly and inventive homes. Wheeler is a well-respected interiors stylist and writer who is passionate about the connection between wellbeing and home, having previously been a frontline social worker. In this project they brought together their specialist skills to design a thoughtful, multi-functional living/dining room with a biophilic-inspired-scheme.
“When I first saw posts from Design Havens for Heroes, I knew I wanted to get involved. It felt like a special initiative to give back and thank one of the many NHS workers who we rely on, but especially so through the pandemic,” says Gaskin.
Gigi had just bought and moved into her first home at the start of 2020 and had very little furniture beyond a bed. She was nominated for a haven with huge recognition of the exhausting hours and emotional challenges that she had to face during her frontline work on emergency calls. She dreamed of a Scandi- inspired scheme in neutrals with accents of greens and blues and desperately needed to make space for a sofa bed to accommodate guests.
Clare and Emily spent a great deal of care understanding the room’s challenges and Gigi’s desires, working out a floor plan, mood boards and sample schemes as for any paying client. The first-floor flat is in a Victorian terrace with narrow doorways and a turn in the staircase which made it challenging to find a sofa bed that could be transported into the flat. In addition to layout and location considerations, Clare and Emily also had to work with select products available by donation from brands supporting the Design Havens for Heroes initiative.
Brand donations came from the likes of Neptune, Snug sofa, Dwell, Swyft, 1838 wallpaper, Farrow & Ball, Colour & Co, Bradley Collection, Kirkby Design, Design House Stockholm, Amara, Graham & Green and more.
Wheeler reflects on the importance of having a safe and welcoming interior to come home to and its effect on our wellbeing; “Our homes have enormous impact on our wellbeing and our frontline NHS workers have sacrificed so much through the pandemic, they all deserve to have a space they love to come home to. As a first responder paramedic, Gigi is first on the scene in a crisis and her work is intense, fast paced and demanding. She had an empty living room for much of the pandemic because she had recently moved into a new flat, so she had nowhere to sit and decompress after a stressful or traumatic shift.”
There were tears of joy at the end of installation day when Gigi’s new haven was revealed to her – tears not just from Gigi but from Clare and Emily who put such time, thought and energy into the haven and were thrilled to know how much their hard work meant.
“It has been a huge privilege to spend the last few months contributing to the creation of a special space for Gigi. We were passionate about delivering as much as possible and hoped to create a calm space to return to at the end of a hard and often traumatic day: somewhere which felt personal, a retreat - but with opportunities for entertaining friends and family - something we've all dreamt of so much over the last 18 months or so,” says Gaskin.
Decorex are incredibly proud to be associated with such an initiative and are excited to see how this vital charity will progress.
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