At the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island, redecorated rooms are designed to change lives.
In a groundbreaking project sponsored by Kravet and NYC&G, 27 design firms recently transformed the drab and dated rooms of the Ronald McDonald House of Long Island (RMH-LI), breathing new energy into this important refuge for seriously ill children and their families. The final result? Proof that great design is not just about sorting through paint chips and fabric swatches. Great design can change a person’s outlook on life.
Great Room by Anthony Bratta, LLC
“In the late 1980s my partner, Bill Diamond, and I designed the dollhouses in the great room, and since then they’ve become a landmark of the house,” says Anthony Baratta of Anthony Bratta, LLC, who was also the creative director of RMH-LI’s Project Design 2013. “I repainted them and freshened the room with bright-colored upholstery on new Restoration Hardware furniture. During the process I loved seeing what the other designers were doing in their rooms. I learned a lot about doing things in ways I had never previously considered.”
Bedroom by Meg Braff Designs, LLC
“We thought about families staying in this room for weeks on end and how we could make the space more comfortable,” says Braff, “so beauty and functionality were our priority.” Braff’s own Brighton Your Pavillion fabric on accent pillows and the bed skirts complements beautiful bedding donated by Jane Wilner Designs and a reversible cotton Stanton carpet from Country Carpet.
Bedroom by Drew McGukin Interiors
“The room’s trapezoidal floor plan and sloped ceiling suggested a prism,” says McGukin, “so we took off with the idea of white light passing through a prism into a full spectrum. To ground the loftiness of the space, we created a network of moldings that accentuates the height but still makes you feel comfortable and protected. The amount of donations and sheer giving that has gone into this bedroom is amazing. There’s something inherently healthy in striving to be a better version of anything, especially yourself.”
Bedroom by Young Huh Interior Design
“My goal was to create an enchanting, optimal-healing environment with objects, textures, and colors that have soothing qualities and evoke happy associations,” says Young. “The view of the playground and garden outside the window inspired the Apple Tree of Happiness fabric from Marimekko, which established the room’s color palette. Despite the long hours working on this project, everyone was always smiling, laughing, and enjoying each other’s company. I truly felt that I was part of a family and that I have made lifelong friends.”
Bathroom, Laundry Room and Phone Room by Danielle Colding Design
“My challenge was to create functional spaces that are youthful enough for a home focused on children,” explains Colding, who redecorated seven spaces in RMH-LI, including the laundry room and bathroom pictured here. “To complement the cutting-edge bathroom fixtures from Duravit, I added fun wallpapers to bring in color, such as the amazing Enyo pattern from Trove. I’ve dealt with a lot of illness in my own family, so I understand how important your surroundings can be at such a stressful time, and how a positive environment can facilitate healing.”
TV Room by Matthew Patrick Smyth, Inc.
“The theme is built around the history of the New York Mets,” says Smyth, who was challenged with upgrading a space that was funded by donations from the Mets to mark the 20th anniversary of RMH-LI and the baseball team’s 1986 World Series win. Benjamin Moore provided the Mets Blue paint, which complements an area carpet with the team’s logo and a suite of vintage pennants Smyth found on eBay. “I thought blue and orange might be overwhelming, but it turns out to be soothing and vibrant at the same time.”
Bedroom by Delrose Design Group
“I chose an aquatic theme because it’s both whimsical and evokes the peacefulness of the sea,” says principal Kerry Delrose, who papered one wall in an Osborne & Little fish pattern and employed colorful furniture and accessories donated by Poppin. “I’m proud to know that kids will have a cheerful and comfortable room to help lift their spirits every single day.”
Nursery by Tilton Fenwich, LLC
“As mothers, we wanted to create a feminine milieu for the moms who stay here,” says firm co-founder Suysel dePedro Cunningham (left). “We started with Lee Jofa’s Kathak paisley wallpaper and accessorized with pieces in muted colors and patterns that keep the space soothing and relaxing.” Her partner, Anne Maxwell Foster, adds, “We even incorporated a blessing written by calligrapher Lila Symons that ends in the phrase, ‘May you always have joy to share and happiness to fill your soul.’”
Bedroom by Mabley Handler Interior Design
“We design lots of beach houses and wanted to bring some of what we do to this project, while complying with the Americans with Disabilities Act standards,” says co-principal Austin Handler. “Serena & Lily donated the fanciful Georgina headboards, and walls are covered in a vinyl Phillip Jeffries grass cloth, which is more durable than natural grass.”
“We’ve enjoyed participating in many designer show houses,” adds Handler’s partner and wife, Jennifer Mabley, “and are always sad that show-house rooms have such a short life span. Here the rooms will serve well-deserving families for years to come.”
Bedroom by Drake Design Associates
“When I walked into this space,” says designer Jamie Drake, “I immediately had the vision of hope being right over the horizon. I designed a wall of horizontal stripes in bright colors to represent the road to recovery. The stripes are three different Elitis wall coverings, installed by America Painting, and Cristina Azario designed and donated the luxurious custom bedding.”
Bedroom by Eric Cohler
“I was reminded of a trip I took with my family to North Africa,” says Cohler, “so we went with a Moroccan theme. The tufted headboards are an iteration of my own design for Lee Jofa, complemented by striped ceilings that recall Bedouin tents and lattice-over-mirror millwork in the entryway, installed by contractor Stephen Fanuka. I wanted to transport the families to another place altogether.”
Bedroom by Amanda Nisbet Design, Inc.
“I wanted to capture the happiness and smiles that come with true hope and the possibility of a new day,” Nisbet says of her cheery space. “I was also inspired by the day-to-day lives of people living at the house, and I wanted to ensure universal accessibility. I used fabrics from my own line because it gave me a deeper, more personal connection to the people who will use the room, and I’m grateful to Ducduc and the New Traditionalists, who donated environmentally friendly furniture.”
“We call this room ‘the bridge,’” says firm principal Kim Radovich, “as a metaphor for passing from illness to health. Artist Lisa Levine donated some incredibly powerful images of bridges for the room, and to make the space more functional, we replaced old doors with pocket doors and used an awkward column to install outlets for charging electronics. I believe the energy of a space can transform the spirit.”
“I took my cue from Shakespeare’s phrase ‘One touch of nature makes the whole world kin,’” says Costa. “Nature has always soothed the human spirit, and our goal was to create a room that fills the heart with peace and quiet the minute you enter, with wood and organic textures throughout and even a tree swing. The paint colors, Benjamin Moore’s Turmeric and Mascarpone, remind me of the color of autumn leaves.”
“To create a serene, peaceful, and elegant room, the incredibly talented Kenneth Widener painted a faux bois pattern on the walls in calming shades of lavender, aqua, and apricot,” says firm co-principal Tatyana Miron. “To brighten the space, we hung mirrors on the wall opposite the window,” adds her partner, Alexandra Pappas, “and beds with scalloped headboards generously donated by Avery Boardman. Compared with the limitless energy and spirit of the staff at Ronald McDonald House, our job was easy.”
“We wanted a calm and welcoming room for the families to come ‘home’ to,” says firm principal Anne Tarasoff, “and we felt that a palette of soft blues would achieve that goal, including the plaid walls, which were hand-painted in a three-stage process and bring a bright pearlescence to the space. Good design is not just visually pleasing; the lifelong benefit of good design is feeling content and complete in your environment.”
“I used traditional shapes modernized with bold, uplifting colors to make the room feel familiar to the families,” says Tavano, “including a Karastan broadloom carpet and custom draperies that go to the ceiling, visually enlarging the space. And all the Kravet fabrics I used are designed for outdoors, so they’re really durable. It’s a joy just knowing that this room will have a positive effect on the lives of Ronald McDonald House families for years to come.”
“I wanted to transport the residents to a place of serenity and happiness,” says decorator Jennifer Mehditash, “and since my ‘happy place’ is Portugal, the colors of Lisbon play heavily in the design. A Gracie paper on the walls and ceiling immediately creates a feeling of another world, and California Closets donated an incredible custom-built closet specifically designed to store things like medication and hospital paperwork. Before entering the house, I wondered if it would be sad and sorrowful, but I was truly surprised at how happy everyone is to be there, to be receiving help, to be around those who care.”
“This room was inspired by the African animal images of world-renowned photographer Andy Biggs,” says Singer, who also designed a second-floor lounge. “I wanted the room to be bright and uplifting, with a palette of sunny yellow, elephant gray, and rich purple. The drapes, a yellow chevron linen by Jonathan Adler, were a catalyst for the design, while the animal print rug by Stanton Carpet makes a perfect foundation.”
“The initial idea was a traditional men’s library,” says firm principal Jon Call, “with a feeling of sitting by a fire, wrapped in a blanket. Carlyle Sofa fabricated the couch, headboards, and ottomans, which are plush and enveloping and keep the steeply pitched room from feeling empty and cavernous. This project has made us all more passionate designers. Ronald McDonald House has definitely worked its magic on me.”
“Children, fun, and entertainment were all on my mind while I was thinking about this space, but good design is also about practicality,” Williams says. “We had to build storage closets in the room and an architecturally interesting wall for televisions. The Tretford carpet is both great looking and wears like iron, and kids love to play on colorful, durable furniture. The whimsical three-dimensional wall mural by Artgroove just makes you smile.”
“I think of this room as a trip to the circus with a stop along the way to pick some flowers,” says Olsen. “A cheerful tulip-print fabric by Paule Marrot set the palette of primary colors plus spring green, which has a ’60s Op Art, super-optimistic feeling. Because the room is trapezoidal in shape, we also striped the ceiling to draw attention away from the fact that nothing sits at right angles.”
“Almost all the rooms at Ronald McDonald House overlook the garden, which is used year-round as a gathering place but was looking tired,” says Hollander, whose contractors donated low-maintenance plants and new paving, furniture, and lighting to create pockets of peace and tranquility. “The people who stay here are going through the toughest days of their lives. We wanted them to be able to get in touch with the healing power of nature.”
“I wanted the kitchen to reflect the warmth that I felt from the residents and volunteers here,” says designer Vasi Ypsilantis (left), “and enjoyed the challenge of creating a new kitchen inside the existing configuration. The Poggenpohl cabinets, Silestone countertops, and Artistic Tile backsplashes were selected both for their design qualities and durability.”
As for the adjacent dining room, the revitalized space “elicits a feeling of high style, whimsy, and comfort, with fun, modern finishes and circular light fixtures, which offset the low ceilings,” says designer Margreet Cevasco (right). “The window treatment and pillow fabrics, from Jonathan Adler’s line for Kravet, inspired the overall palette.”
Bedroom by Jennifer Chused for DwellStudio
Chused installed deep-pile rugs and sheepskins to make the room “comfortable, cozy, and warm.” Keen on creating a place “for both kids and adults,” she used DwellStudio’s Caravan fabric, which has a gazelle motif that’s both sophisticated and playful. “I also added a chalkboard wall so kids can write inspirational messages and draw pictures for the next guests, to remind them they are not alone in their journey to recovery,” she says.
Bedroom by Michael Herold
“A retro wall mural depicting a family of egrets served as the major inspiration and focal point for this room’s design,” says Herold. “I wanted the space to exude Old Hollywood glamour, with an eclectic mix of exotic and traditional elements. The black and gold Gabor chest from Currey & Company anchors the room, and the armoire, from my own collection for Century Furniture, hides the TV and provides additional storage.”