Teachers' dining area before

Photo credit: Laura Moss

The teachers themselves spend every day—from early in the morning till late in the afternoon—caring for children ages 9 to 14. "We're under fluorescents all day at school," says Courtney McMahon, who teaches math. More fluorescents were the last thing anyone wanted to come home to.

"These men and women do so much for society," says Elaine Griffin, whose mother was also a schoolteacher in Georgia. "Anybody can do pretty," Elaine says. "For me, the goal is warmth." What better place to start than the dining area!
Teachers' dining area after

Photo credit: Laura Moss

Always resourceful, Elaine salvaged a pew from the building's former chapel for the dining area. Matthew Haly of The Furniture Joint covered cushions in Beacon Hill's striped cotton, turning the pew into a banquette. Elaine paired it with Room & Board's zebrawood table and leather chairs, all set beneath globe lamps from Lowe's. She also used a Textile Arts kit to turn Marimekko fabric into the wall hanging behind the Home Decorators Collection console and Lamps Plus table lamps.

The Dell plasma TV mounted on the wall to the right was an instant hit, thanks in large part to free movies from Netflix. So were the new table lamps and lighting globes—all, thank goodness, incandescent.
Teachers' kitchen area before

Photo credit: Laura Moss

The square shape of the room, 28 by 28 feet, made it difficult to handle—it's much easier to carve useful spaces from a rectangle because the long sides are natural anchors for furniture. So Elaine divided the square into smaller zones.
Teachers' kitchen area after

Photo credit: Laura Moss

First came the kitchen, donated and installed by Lowe's. Lowe's installed custom cabinets, KitchenAid and Cuisinart large and small appliances, refinished the floor, plastered the walls and trimmed the clunky island down to size. Wilsonart plastic laminate brings a burst of yellow to the backsplash and the base of the island. Its top doubles as a breakfast bar with the addition of Home Decorators Collection stools. Hunter Douglas contributed the wood blinds. Elaine commissioned the artwork from Two Worlds Arts.
Teachers' recycling nook before

Photo credit: Laura Moss

Next to the kitchen, the recycling nook lost its mismatched bins, boxes and crates...
Teachers' recycling nook after

Photo credit: Laura Moss

...and gained a row of 14 1/2-gallon shiny stainless-steel cans from The Container Store for sorting paper, glass, plastic and metal.

Elaine spruced up the recycling corner with student artwork, made a "rug" out of carpet tiles from InterfaceFLOR and designed this Classic Sofa's Griffin sofa in yellow. Herman Miller's red and wire-base chair, designed by Charles and Ray Eames in 1948, and Knoll's steel chairs, designed by Harry Bertoia, complete the look.
Teachers' sitting area before

Photo credit: Laura Moss

The largest of the zones, the sitting area, had much room for improvement!
Teachers' sassy green lounge after

Photo credit: Laura Moss

In the sitting area, Elaine painted the wall Sassy Green from Valspar American Tradition. Classic Sofa's Griffin sofa in yellow and armchairs, covered in Beacon Hill velvet, and Knoll's steel chairs, designed by Harry Bertoia, gather round a Lagfors table from Ikea. Two lamps from Hwang Bishop sit on side tables from Storehouse.

The nine young teachers who spend their free time in the Cornelia Connelly Center's big shared living room have given the space a new name: Club 220, a reference to the building's address on Fourth Street in New York's East Village. The group of twentysomethings, most of them fresh out of college, can't stop talking about the room's club-cool vibe!

To make their job a little bit easier and to "show them a lot of love," Elaine adds, she rustled up a few extra donations. BJ's Wholesale Club, where the teachers buy their food, wrote out a $7,500 gift certificate. The local Dolphin Fitness Club threw in yearlong memberships. Scholastic came forward with $10,000 in books: some for the Connelly Center's library, others for the students to take home, and still others for the teachers' use. 

More Good Works Makeovers
From lackluster to lush: St. Helena's foster care home for girls 
Shine a light on Project Sunshine, a volunteer-driven program for kids with medical problems
A New York charity serving cancer patients and their families


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