Basement lounge, before

Credits: Photograph by Michel Arnaud

One thing HLA's basement activity room needed was a design job. As our Good Works Makeover expert Elaine Griffin says, "It was a ‘DDD'—depressing dungeon dugout." The kids loved their room—the place for everything from photography and sign-language classes to that essential teen activity, lounging—but there was no getting around the windowless cinder-block walls, cracked linoleum floor, and cold fluorescent lights.

This time, Good Works came with a twist: Elaine would try to execute the entire project using materials bought on eBay®, the huge Web marketplace. When she approached the company, says John McDonald, director of its home-decor category, eBay was happy to donate her picks. Some vendors, once they found out about HLA, sped up delivery times and donated shipping fees.
Basement lounge, after

Photograph by Michel Arnaud, fashion styling by Mia Morgan

Splashes of color and texture lend energy to the comfy lounge area, but bright, symmetrically arranged furniture keeps the space feeling open and clutter-free. An eBay® vendor came through in record time, reupholstering the yellow couch and chairs in two days. The lithographs on the rear wall are by the Pop artist Robert Indiana.
Basement café, before

Credits: Photograph by Michel Arnaud

Elaine's eBay® shopping wasn't just about the furniture, either. "I had no clue as to the depth of their offerings," Elaine says. The first thing she learned was to look for sellers who had large inventories organized into "stores." "When you're serious about buying, or impatient like I am, you definitely want to start at eBay stores."
Basement café, before

Photograph by Michel Arnaud, fashion styling by Mia Morgan

In the basement's café area, Elaine completely Sheetrocked the windowless space, then painted "a supersize bar code of island-inspired colors." She found basics such as flooring, Sheetrock, and lighting, including globe pendant lamps, and her premier pick, a baby grand piano on eBay®.

Youth-services director Michael Roberts says the makeover provides exactly the environment his young leaders deserve. "I wanted them to have a high-end, beautiful space so when we talk about the future, they can see it in the walls. Elaine has done that," he says.
Basement recreation area, before

Photograph by Michel Arnaud, fashion styling by Mia Morgan

In keeping with her design philosophy, Elaine drew up a plan combining eye-catching form with everyday function, separating the room into three gathering zones, each with a different type of seating (sofas, café-style tables and chairs, simple ottomans).
Basement recreation area, after

Credits: Photograph by Michel Arnaud

"This is exactly what I wanted," Roberts says. "Elaine understood the multipurposeness of the room. We use it for groups, art, and dance, so it all has to move."
Designer Elaine Griffin with three of Hope Leadership Academy's leaders of tomorrow, Shauntrelle Conde, her brother Darrell Conde and Rashida Davis

Photo Michel Arnaud, styling Mia Morgan, hair Tim Johnson

Darrell, one of HLA's leaders of tomorrow, sees the new digs as a refuge from a world that often reacts to his surface rather than his content. "Once you hit 14," he says, "you start to notice the elderly change toward you. I became bad just because I hit that age, but I was still the same kid. Older women who used to say hello wouldn't let me in the door of my building anymore."

For Danny Morris, HLA's director, the teenagers' response to the revamped room is written on their faces, their bodies. "You'll see their body language change as they come in the door," he says of the kids. "Their spines straighten."


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