It’s happened again. A historic plantation home, tucked away in the countryside of Cumberland, VA, once again was filled with the sounds of battling staplers and air compressors, the laughter and chatter of 30 women, and the spirit of hope and giving.
For four days in October, the Northfield Foundation was abuzz during the second “Let’s Have a Slumber Party and Make Upholstered Furniture Weekend.” Even with an extra workday beyond the first weekend, the amount accomplished still exceeded expectations: 11 slipper chairs, three vanity stools, two very large round ottomans, three rectangle ottomans, and six storage bench ottomans. Oh yeah, and the cutest little boudoir chair you’ve ever seen and several more cushions for a sofa and chair set. Whew! What an amazing feat, especially when you consider that all of these chairs were built from the frame up.
The volunteers that participated in the weekend are all looking anxiously to the day when the Northfield Foundation opens its doors to the girls it has set out to help. The non-profit organization will provide a safe haven to young women experiencing eating disorders or unplanned pregnancies. They will provide treatment, counseling and education through a supportive and Christian-based atmosphere, financed solely by donations and grants. These services will be provided at little or no cost to the girls and their families, setting the Northfield Foundation apart from many similar facilities around the country.
So how does this apply to our industry? Well, the 9,500-square-foot home is in the process of being renovated as a Designer Inspiration House. Local designers have each designed areas of the home and the custom home furnishings industry has banded together to see their drawings come to life. It was a hard-working, fun and at times emotional weekend filled with plans and dreams for what Northfield will soon become.
Upon seeing the fruits of our efforts, I was struck by how many people and businesses have touched each item fabricated for the house. For example, take just one of the slipper chairs. The frames were purchased at a discount from the Charles Stewart Co. Designer Kathy Maddox and her husband Charles assembled them. Greenhouse Designs donated the foam at cost. Foam to Size, Inc. donated Dacron and tufting twine. It also lent upholstery tools, as did David Stacy Upholstery and the CHF Academy. Rowley Co. donated the supplies, including staples, tack strip and welt cord. The fabric companies Robert Allen, Thomas, PK Lifestyles, Calico Corners, Kravet and Duralee donated fabrics. Many companies even shipped their donations for free. The upholstery labor was donated by workroom professionals from as far away as Massachusetts and Ohio.
All of this was coordinated with countless hours from Christine Shepard of Iron Gate Interiors. And this is only one chair! This does not include prizes and publicity for the weekend provided by the CHF Academy, Custom Sewing Institute and WCAA, as well as huge donations from United Supply, Hamblin Fine Furniture Frames, Woven Materials, Hanes Industries, Textol, and Schneider-Banks Inc., all of which made possible the ottomans, blinds and window treatments. It is amazing to me how everyone has given what they can, one piece at a time, putting together a huge beautiful puzzle.
INSPIRATION TO ALL
Along the way, this home is becoming more than just a designer inspiration house. It is an inspiration to everyone it touches. When the Northfield Foundation was started, the founders had a dream that was yet unmatched by funding. Even two years into the renovations, financing the work is still a constant hurdle. They have survived and progressed on a donation here and a free product there. As frustrating as this can be, perhaps the Northfield Foundation is learning the same lesson that their girls will come to learn. That there are no quick fixes in life. It’s a series of little steps, some forward, some back, and almost all of them painstakingly slow. But true beauty and peace are found only in the best laid foundations. This is the spirit of Northfield. This is the spirit and teachings that Northfield will bring to its girls. This is the spirit that will build Northfield, one donation, one gift, one weekend at a time.
Many thanks to the generous designers who have planned and coordinated the designs for Northfield: Debbie Brooks and Amy Satterfield, Posh, Midlothian; Courtney Ludeman, Courtney Ludeman Interiors, Richmond; Angela Elliott, Angela Elliott Interiors, Richmond; Megan Lowden, Lowden Design Consulting, Richmond; Kathy Maddox and Judy Miller, Draperies Plus, Charlottesville.