Gimme Shelter!

I was going to wait and post this on Monday, but was so inspired by Jennifer Sergent at DCbyDesign, swift call to action when I asked her to help, that I’m posting this today instead. Turquoise can wait, this can’t!

Fifteen years ago together with my good friend Cheryl Masri we founded Knock Out Abuse Against Women in DC, a not for profit organization raising funds and awareness for victims of domestic violence.  Learning that the number one reason for emergency room visits by women in the US are due to domestic violence, 1 in 3 women will be abused in their life time, and 4 women a day in the US alone are murdered by their husbands or boyfriends, we just had to do something!  The thought of children having to grow up living in fear breaks my heart.  And I can only imagine a mother’s desperate anguish not being able to shield her children from such cruelty.  Domestic violence is violence of the worst kind.  It takes place in your own home (that should be a sanctuary)  and it’s perpetrated by someone you love.

I’ve spoken to many victims over the years, and done many mini documentaries for our charity event.  The violence these women and children are exposed to is of the extreme sort, and is possibly happening right now, right down your street.  When it comes to domestic violence neither race, social status, education or age matter.  It can happen to anybody.

At Knock Out we have a program called “Sharing Spaces”, where we encourage people to donate what they no longer need, and use it to redesign a shelter.  Working in design, I want to commit, at least once or twice a year, to redesigning a shelter. It’s amazing how, what can feel like a little effort to you (like getting rid of a piece of furniture), can make a HUGE impact in the life of someone else!

Danielle and I went to one of the shelters last week to see what needed to be done. The women who run these places are truly angels. They do an incredible job helping the women and children heal their wounds and get them back on their feet.  All the funds go to much needed programs, and sadly not much is left to the interiors. They have to rely on the kindness of strangers.

They gave me permission to post these images I took on my blog, as I’m going to post the progress here.  When you’re life is in a state of chaos, I think no woman and child should have to live like this.  Sadly this is reality for many shelters.





Are you up for helping?

Here’s how you can.  Most urgently right now they need furniture. Vastu furniture DC has already kindly agreed to donate some pieces, and so have other people and stores.  Are you a painter, upholsterer, carpenter, contractor, designer and want to help out? You can e-mail us at [email protected] or contact Ellen Blankenstein at Knock Out Abuse (202)725-5604.   They need EVERYTHING!  But for now, we’re starting with two bedrooms.  Here is the immediate  wish list.


  1. 2 Bunk beds with trundle
  2. Single bed frame and headboard
  3. Tall large dresser ~ 3.5 ft.wide (tv above)
  4. Wide dresser ~ 5 ft. wide
  5. Carpet 8 x 10
  6. 3 Nightstands
  7. Lamps
  8. 4 x 3 bathroom mat (bathroom color mint green)
  9. Bathroom needs new vanity
  10. 4 Single bedding sheets sets (duvet/sheets/pillow case) – this is a continuous need
  11. Chairs of any kind

I would feel much better if I knew the kids were sleeping in places that looked like this.  Wouldn’t you?


photo for shelter

Photo for shleter ss_101309162

And the women could sleep in cheerful rooms like these below.  Maybe we can’t get all the way there, but at least we can aim for it…




Thank You to Ada-Marie for posting the super nice article on my beloved summer house on her fun blog! If you want to check it out

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3 thoughts on “Gimme Shelter!

  1. I'm updating my bathroom at the end of the month and would love to give our vanity to your project. It's in great shape, but just not what we need any more. I don't know when your project starts, but it is your if you want it. We will also be getting rid of a fridge and dishwasher in good shape if they need those.

  2. It is the outcome of fear – fear of violence, fear of the unknown, fear of the unpredictable, the capricious, and the arbitrary. It is perpetrated by dropping subtle hints, by disorienting, by constant – and unnecessary – lying, by persistent doubting and demeaning, and by inspiring an air of unmitigated gloom and doom. Abuse Of An Insidious And Ominous Nature, is the fostering, propagation, and enhancement of an atmosphere of fear, intimidation, instability, unpredictability and irritation. There are no acts of traceable explicit abuse, nor any manipulative settings of control. Yet, the irksome feeling remains, a disagreeable foreboding, a premonition, a bad omen.

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