At last we want to share some details on the amazing woman at the center of our Gray Oak Gives Back project.
We first met our Gray Oak Gives Back client, officially, at the end of September. We had known her before that as a true super fan - always commenting on our Instagram posts and showering us with compliments in our messages. A kind stranger who liked what we were doing, which totally and completely touched us. Over the summer, she hired us for a Designer for a Day package and in late September we arrived ready to provide guidance and inspiration for a planned living room transformation.
We walked around her house and learned how after living with the home’s original (1938) fireplace, 34-year-old wallpaper, original light fixtures and decades old furniture she was finally planning a DIY overhaul. And with what little she had, she wanted to be sure we provided our two cents.
As we talked through the project and got to know her a bit, we learned that her daughter was diagnosed with NF as a child. NF stands for Neurofibromatosis. It’s a genetic disorder that causes tumors to form throughout the nervous system (learn more here). It’s a difficult, scary disease as you’re in a constant state of waiting and checking to see if a tumor is forming. Eventually, a tumor did form and it caused cancer.
While the end of the story is happy - our client’s daughter is a happy, healthy, successful 30-something - listening to our client recount just the vaguest of details about her parenting experience deeply affected us. Sonia and I are both mothers to three young children. We are acutely aware of how difficult it is to parent a healthy child with relatively boring issues (runny noses, bad sleep habits, a penchant for drawing on walls with crayons…). Imagining the added layer of something like NF hit home and, frankly, took our breath for a moment.
But our client had never paused to take a breath. She took action in every way she could to nurture and protect her daughter. Nine years ago, she founded the Coast to Cure NF Bike Ride, an annual bike ride to raise money for NF research. Every year, she coordinates each aspect of the ride from finding sponsors to placing route marker flags the night before the ride. And her efforts have raised over $100,000.
What’s truly amazing is that our client’s role as an advocate for NF awareness and research is only a slice of who she is. She is one of these people who does for everyone in her life. For no other reason than she enjoys giving. And so, when we heard her story, we instantly knew that we wanted to give something to her. She is so deserving and we’re just thrilled to be making it happen.
Speaking of - here is the latest on the what’s happening front:
The electrical work 90% there. Here’s a reminder of the plan. First, get rid of the sconces on the back wall. Second, add recessed lighting. Third, move the sconces over the mantel out a bit. They were too tight to the center of the mantel and visually shrinking the fireplace.
BIG thank you to Hanson Electric (Peter and Andy are the best!) for doing this work. They donated their time and were wonderful to work with. Check out the (grainy phone) photo below that shows all the progress!
Next stop is paint. We’ll be back onsite later this week to make final decisions on colors. Keep checking our Instagram stories for all the behind the scenes. AND, we’re busy pinning and planning on Pinterest - remember that you can follow along and watch our ideas unfold there. AND, we’re still collecting furniture and decor donations, so if you’re interested in joining the heart warming fun please reach out (firstname.lastname@example.org)!
This is such a special project and SUCH a special client. Thanks for being a part of this transformation. It’s gonna be a good one.
We hope to be back in 2 weeks with another update- stay tuned!