Meet LaTanya! We’re Giving Her a Feel Good Makeover!
Today’s post is one I’ve been excited about for the last few months. I’m finally sharing all of the details about my upcoming feel good makeover for the most wonderful woman you’ll ever meet, LaTanya.
I have so much background to share, but in short, here’s what’s happening…I’m teaming up with fellow Chicago bloggers Kim and Scott, from Yellow Brick Home, to give a dining and living room makeover to a deserving woman, here in our community. Now that you know the gist of what’s going on here, let me dive into all of the juicy details on how this amazing project came to be!
Back in January…
At the start of the year, I always like to write out some goals for the year ahead, both professionally and personally. While I mostly share projects around my own home here on the blog, and occasionally family and friends, I’ve always felt like there was more I could be doing with my time, talents, and the community I’ve built here.
I did two makeovers for deserving recipients in the past (this backyard and this bedroom), but it has been a long time. I put it on my wish list that I wanted to do a feel good makeover somehow, someway in 2022.
In early February, I emailed Kim from Yellow Brick Home, and told her my idea. In fact, I even looked up exactly what I wrote to her to get an idea of how this all started.
For the past few years, I’ve wanted to do a makeover that gives back to a family in need, yet I’ve never really made it happen. Would you guys maybe want to do something like this together? I’m sure we could get sponsors on board and find a deserving family in the Chicago area.
Kim and Scott immediately wrote back saying they were having the exact same thoughts! We set up a call and talked a mile a minute about how we would make it happen. We were confident that we could hit up a few of our sponsors to contribute to the project, but how exactly would we find a deserving person or family? That’s where we got a bit stuck.
Jan to the Rescue
My mom has since retired, but she spent much of her career working for a nonprofit, called the Ignatian Spirituality Project, an organization helping those who have experienced homelessness. Jan worked with many people over the years and still stays in contact with some of them. When I told Jan about our feel good makeover idea, she told me she knew the perfect person to receive such a gift!
My mom met LaTanya about eight years ago at a transitional housing center here in Chicago. Each week, my mom visited, through her work, and eventually she became good friends with LaTanya. LaTanya had struggled with addiction and was transitioning out of homelessness. Her story is truly remarkable and you can read it in her own words right here.
LaTanya now works for Cara, a non-profit organization that helps people in poverty build the skills and confidence they need to get and keep good jobs. She is thriving and is just about the nicest and happiest woman ever. Seriously, her smile lights up a room!
When Jan told me about LaTanya, I knew that she was the perfect person to receive a feel good makeover, and Kim and I were more determined than ever to make it happen!
Getting Sponsors on Board
So, we had our idea, we had LaTanya, and now we just needed a little help to actually make it happen. Between the two of us, we’ve worked with many home and DIY brands over the years and we have quite an extensive sponsor portfolio. However, we sat down and listed out exactly what we wanted to give to LaTanya and quickly realized that Amazon Home was our number one choice to sponsor this makeover. Why? Because not only would we need furniture and decor, but we also wanted to gift LaTanya everyday home items…like a vacuum, plates, glassware, and more. Amazon Home sells everything, so it would be one-stop-shopping for such an extensive makeover.
We emailed our friends at Amazon Home and right away they scheduled a call with us to learn more. We told them all about LaTanya and immediately they said they wanted to help in any way they could! Honestly, Kim and I were shocked at their enthusiasm, and I’m pretty sure I cried on the call with all of the Amazon Home executives. Yep, there were definitely tears during our Zoom meeting.
Telling LaTanya The Good News
Up to this point, we hadn’t really told LaTanya exactly what was happening. We wanted to secure a partnership first, to make sure we had all of the resources to give her everything she could dream of, and more! Once we had the green light, we had a Zoom call with LaTanya to tell her the good news…here’s her reaction.
Guys, tears. So many freakin’ tears. It was one of the best moments of my blogging career to tell LaTanya that she would get a completely free room makeover.
Okay, so I haven’t even talked to you about LaTanya’s home yet. There is just so much backstory to share. When initially chatting with LaTanya about the project, she mentioned that she was moving out of her apartment and into the second floor of a home that her her elderly aunt and uncle own. (They live below on the first floor.)
We went and visited during the weekend she moved in to see the space for ourselves. It’s a historic Chicago two-flat with lots of unique original wood millwork and detailing. LaTanya had a few boxes, a couch, television, and mattress and that was about it. Even though she has a job that she loves, giving back to the community here in Chicago, there isn’t a lot of money left over for things like rugs or dishes.
Our original plan was to just make over LaTanya’s living room space. But once we saw her home, we realized that we wanted to do as much as possible to make her entire space feel like home. We decided to make over both the living and dining room and also snatch up any other items she might need for her bedrooms and kitchen.
The Design Plan
We spent about four hours at LaTanya’s home that first day…taking “before pictures”, getting measurements, and chatting with LaTanya about each space and how she wanted them to look and feel. We then sat down and started compiling a design plan for the living room and the dining room.
This post is already getting quite lengthy, so I’m going to send you over to Kim and Scott’s blog to read all about the design plan for the space. The mood boards are so incredibly gorgeous and they link every single big item we’ll be showcasing in the space. I’ll plan to share more about the design plan in Friday’s post here too.
How You Can Help!
I wish all of you could come help give LaTanya the home of her dreams. Seriously, if each and every one of you could come on over and help build furniture, paint, and decorate with us, it would be the best DIY party ever.
Since that can’t happen, I have another way you can help out. LaTanya’s employer, Cara, helps people in poverty find jobs and they’re doing incredible work here in our community. To help them continue to do the work they do best, we had them create an Amazon Gift List of items that they need. It includes things like dress shirts and shoes for those going on job interviews, a janitorial cart to keep their office clean, and much more.
You can check out the entire list right here. If you want to help, simply buy an item (or many items!) and it will be sent directly to their offices. Or, if you want to donate money to their cause, you can do so right here. Shopping for a good cause, is there anything better?
This Weekend, It’s All Going Down!
On Friday, we’re kicking LaTanya out of her place – she will be staying at my mom’s house – so we can take over and get to work! It will be a whirlwind three days of building, DIY’ing, decorating, and organizing. Then, we’ll bring LaTanya back for the big surprise reveal. I can hardly wait.
I’ll be sharing in real-time on Instagram stories, so be sure to follow along. Thanks for all of your support on this project, friends. I love it and hope to do more feel good makeovers like this in the future.
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.