Before-and-After Photos of Oprah's Covenant House Makeover
Thirteen years after The Oprah Winfrey Show
gave Alex Molina the fresh start of a lifetime, the shelter she once called home gets its own makeover
"When a young person walks in, this is the first space they see," says Ami Rowland, Covenant House California
's COO. "Now it says, 'We're gonna love you, show you grace, and give you second and third chances. There's more to life than what the world has shown you so far.'" Since tech is vital for job searching—and staying in touch with friends and family—Jeremiah Brent added the FUYL Tower from LocknCharge
(the thing in the corner that looks like a prop from 2001: A Space Odyssey
). The charging station has compartments that keep phones, tablets, and laptops juiced up and secure. Midcentury-modern-inspired furniture from Living Spaces
creates a look that's friendly but posh.
A New Home
"Before, the lobby was dark and dingy, with old carpeting," says Molina. "Now it feels so inviting. The change is like night and day." A coffee station and a TV cap off the coziness. "Let's just say that carpeting had some stories," says Brent with a laugh. "We put in brand-new flooring, brand-new lighting, and fresh flowers. It shifted the whole vibe."
Let There Be Light
Rooms decked out with bunk beds are for kids in short-term programs, while the single beds are for those in a two-year program, during which they work regular jobs, go to college, or study for a GED. Each snug sleeping nook now has its own bedside lamp—a pretty big deal. "Being in a room with four people with four different schedules and only one overhead light creates a lot of friction," Molina says.
The Young and the Rested
"A lot of our kids have bounced in and out of different foster and group homes," says Molina. "Some have never had a bed of their own." Fresh linens and bunk beds (courtesy of IKEA
), window treatments from Smith & Noble
, and spotless mattresses make things extra serene.
Primo Work Station
"When I lived here, I didn't have a work space, so I did my homework on my nasty bed," says Molina. Now modern angular desks from Pier 1 Imports
and woven chairs will make study breaks more productive. Volunteers from the surrounding community clamored to help Brent realize his vision. "At one point, there were 50 of us unwrapping sheets and making beds and getting things organized," he says. "I was shocked by how many people wanted to be involved."
"This is my favorite space," says Oprah. "When you're surrounded by beautiful things, it feeds the beauty in you. You can really feel the love in this room."
This common room was serving up more gloom than graciousness. Easy, lovely pieces from Living Spaces (and, of course, pristine TVs) bring this refuge into the 21st century.
Something that will never change? One of everybody's favorite activities: movie and popcorn night.
Before, 96 Covenant House residents shared a few washers and dryers that were as temperamental as toddlers. "The residents always complained that they couldn't do their laundry," says Molina. Maytag
put a much-needed spin on that situation.
"A homeless kid needs
to wash her clothes, so these amazing modern washers and dryers are game changers."
A Stroke of Genius
What a difference some color makes. Painters broke out their brushes and covered the interiors in Smokey Taupe from Benjamin Moore
, one of Brent's favorite shades. "I've got the same color in my own home," he says. "It's soft, gender-neutral, and elevated enough without seeming like it's trying too hard. To me, it's like a hug."