It’s just two weeks since interior designer Francesca Rowan Plowden (opens in new tab) launched Design Havens for Heroes (opens in new tab). Renowned for her transformations of stately and heritage homes, the East Sussex based designer wanted to ‘give back’ in whatever way she could. ‘I felt as the crisis unfolded, I really wanted to help in a creative way and with my interiors background it felt that Design Havens for Heroes was the right thing to do,’ explains Francesca.
Her charity venture brings together an inspiring community of talent from the interior design field. ‘The aim is to create room makeover “havens” for accredited NHS key workers who have been working on the front line during the Covid-19 crisis,’ says Francesca, ‘These people will undoubtedly need the benefit of rest and calm in their own homes, after dealing with the emotional and physical demands of tackling the pandemic.’
With a strong social media presence, thanks to her IGTV colour clinic series, Francesca has been able to call on her design world friends and influencers to support the initiative, including Nina Campbell,Decorex and Kate Watson-Smyth of madaboutthehouse.com (below) as Ambassadors for the charity.
‘I saw this inspiring new charity initiative via Instagram and contacted Francesca to offer my time,’ says fellow interior designer Julia Alexander (opens in new tab). ‘I was delighted to read about a project where interior designers could be useful in a crisis.’
Very quickly a collective of high profile suppliers have also come on board, such as Sanderson, Colefax and Fowler, Farrow & Ball, Neptune, William Yeoward, Blithfield, Ventura Design, sofa.com, The Little Greene Paint Company and Edward Bulmer Natural Paints. The ranks are joined by skilled makers and tradesmen such as curtain makers and decorators who are happy to donate their time, skills, experience and products to the cause. ‘From these offers of help,’ says Francesca,’ we are working to build teams to work together to create these ‘Havens’ for frontline NHS workers.’
Interior Designer Kate Guinness (opens in new tab) (above) is offering her support as she feels being isolated has made us all so aware how important our surroundings are. ‘Juggling a toddler and small baby whilst working from home made it impractical to become an NHS volunteer,’ says Kate. ‘I’d been trying to think of a way to give something back so I eagerly volunteered when Francesca asked me if Kate Guinness Design would like to get involved.’
So how do you nominate someone? Currently followers to the Instagram account are being encouraged to nominate, or tag, a deserving NHS worker. The charity team is assessing all the nominations so that they can hit the ground running in partnership with their allocated NHS worker, interior designer and brands as soon as restrictions are lifted. The projects will range from a colour scheme for your walls to a new pair of curtains.
There’s a sustainable element to all this too, as many suppliers have surplus stock, products from past seasons, or ex-display which can now go to a great cause - creating beautiful relaxing spaces for those who’ve worked so hard. ‘Now the structure is in place, with designers and brands participating, I’m really excited for the makeovers to start and for designers to be paired with a local NHS worker,’ continues Julia Alexander (below).
‘I have been overwhelmed by the response’ says Francesca, who is a mum to four young boys and is homeschooling at the same time. ‘Who would have thought that so much generosity and kindness from the design industry would have come out of such crisis.’
Follow @designhavensforhomes for daily updates or email email@example.com for more information.
With over 30 years of working in journalism on women's home and lifestyle media brands, Rhoda is an Editorial Director, Homes Content, at Future. Over time, Rhoda has worked on the entire homes and gardens portfolio including Homes & Gardens, Country Homes & Interiors, Livingetc, Ideal Home, Style at Home, Woman & Home, 25 Beautiful Homes, Amateur Gardening and Easy Gardens. She was also editor of Country Homes & Interiors for 14 years, leading it across print and creating the blog Country Days. She has also worked at Woman’s Weekly, Family Circle and Practical Parenting.
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