Designer Katie Reynolds gives Ronald McDonald House a little face-lift

05/03/2014 8:04 PM

05/16/2014 4:00 PM

If you’re looking for a candidate to offer advice on the design of a place populated by families with children, turn to someone who can relate.

Katie Reynolds, an interior designer from Dallas, is well-equipped to tackle the task of helping to refurbish the kitchen, dining room and sunroom of the Ronald McDonald House on Cherry Street. The mother of two small children knows what appeals to families with kids.

So when she teamed up with volunteers from Westlake Ace Hardware, the owner of Lilli Design was there to help with color selection and use of artwork to brighten up the house. The goal? To offer a cheerful space to the hundreds of families the Cherry Street Ronald McDonald House supports each year.

After the team from Westlake repaired walls and refinished furniture and woodwork, Reynolds chose colorful pops of orange, yellow, gray and blue from Ace’s Clark + Kensington collection to reinvent the spaces.

She discussed the details of decorating the beloved house recently:

What did this space look like before?

It needed a little face-lift. It needed life, joyfulness. We found inspiration in a quote, “Find hope in healing,” which is one of the Ronald McDonald House tag lines. It’s stenciled in the sunroom. We wanted to bring an uplifting feeling.

What was your inspiration when choosing these colors?

I was looking for warm, bright colors. I hope the bright colors bring hope to families. For color, I was inspired from some fun rugs that spoke to me. And having a big blank wall — a canvas — that’s where I came up with using the artwork from the families and having that be the focal point of the room.

When you do these for the Children’s Miracle Network, do you see the reactions of the people who use the space?

Sometimes, and it’s wonderful when I do. But it’s rewarding just knowing that they’re going to enjoy it. When Ace corporate contacted me about working on the project, I was excited because the mission of the Ronald McDonald House is inspirational, so it was really special. Working with the charitable outreach Ace is involved in is so rewarding.

Is it true that colors inspire different types of energy or calm?

Blues are known to be calming and soothing, and the orange adds life. It’s a spicy color. Orange and red stimulate the appetite, so they work well in kitchen spaces. The sunroom with the gray, it gets so much light and heat, I wanted a color that reflected the light rather than absorbed it, and gave it a feeling of coolness.

What does your own home look like?

With two young children, there’s a lot of chaos and clutter. I live in a modern farmhouse. I rely on a background of whites and grays, and I add pops of color.

Being a designer, you never love everything for too long. I like to change things out a lot, so I can do that with pops of color, or by changing pillows, rearranging accessories on a bookshelf, or painting something as an accent like a table or bookshelf. A half-day project makes a big impact.

When you work across the country, do you change the way you design, depending on whether you’re in Dallas or Kansas City?

Everything is so global with Pinterest, and big-box design stores sharing the same styles. Everything has become a little more universal than before, when it was so much more regional. Being able to see so many images, other than just a few in print publications, being able to see so many images has changed design. With my clients, they’ll have a digital folder online with 100 photos.

Does that ever become a problem for you as an interior designer, with so many choices?

It can be more difficult for sure. Sometimes people have sensory overload, and yes, I have to remind them that we’re doing one space, and we have to figure out how to create one cohesive look.

Do you have any decorating tips for those with small children?

That’s my specialty. Look for materials and textiles that are easily cleaned, of course. I love indoor-outdoor rugs because the offerings lately have exploded. Pillows and rugs clean well. Outside textiles really do work inside.

Also, use ottomans instead of coffee tables. Make sure every space has good lighting for activity. Avoid glass and sharp edges.

And finally, try to keep everything easy to wipe and clean. Leather and vinyl work well for families with young children. And cleanable paints, like Ace’s eggshell paint, are great.

The gallery wall in the Ronald McDonald House is inspirational, with framed pictures from patients and family members of patients of the home. How can this inspire others?

I incorporate kids’ artwork in lots of spaces. On this wall, I’ll incorporate the artwork from the kids who have been in this home. They draw what they know and love, so you see drawings of hospital buildings, pictures of families, of homes, even of the Ronald McDonald House. I think every space needs something personal to the family.

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