Localise youth room at Sophia House – reveal!

Yesterday was the grand opening of the Localise youth room in Sophia House, and to say it was an incredibly exciting day would have been an absolute understatement. 
To give you a bit of background on the project, at the beginning of October Emily approached me about doing a project with Derek O’Cleary, the director of the local charity Localise, for a youth room in Sophia House. Sophia House provide accommodation and opportunities for families who would otherwise be homeless. Sophia House had some unused office space on their premises which they wanted transformed into a safe, positive and warm environment for the residential teens. They currently had facilities for younger kids, so it was important that the teens also had somewhere to call their own at this crucial age, in the hopes of stopping them from turning to the surrounding rough streets.

We met with the teens and took note of what they wanted from the space. They wanted a homework area, somewhere to watch TV and movies, and a space to play games. With a timeline of 6 weeks to get the space from drab to fab {sorry}, it was a bit of a sprint as Derek and I drove around Dublin to get everything done and crossed off the list. Most of the assembly and painting went down on the 9th of October thanks to the incredible student volunteers from Notre Dame University who were here as part of their study abroad program. I would literally still be standing on a ladder painting if it wasn’t for their help {again, HUGE thank you guys if you’re reading this!}.
The teens wanted sports figures and logos to be included in the design but since there were arguments between the likes of Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal etc, we chose prominent Irish athletes Robbie Keane, Katie Taylor and Brian O’Driscoll in stead to keep it a bit closer to home {and thanks dad for helping me choose the athletes! 🙂 I know zero about sports}. I sourced some high res images online, converted them to black and white and had them printed and mounted on canvases which I think it gives it a bit more of a polished feel than posters. 

I personally had the most fun when it came to the paint. There was the drip, the geometric and the street art walls. I bought sports drinks bottles {the ones where you can drink directly from the lid}, filled them with paint, got up on a ladder and dripped away. The geometric wall was simplified down a lot more from the original plan and became just triangles. I cut some templates from cereal boxes and Keri, Holly and I traced them onto the wall and ‘exploded’ them at the perimeter. Random colours were chosen and painted on by the Notre Dame students. 

And of course the graffiti wall. I’ve been a long time fan of Maser, one of Dublin’s Ireland’s top graffiti artists, so I sent him a little e-mail one day {as you do} asking if I could use one of his quotes as part of our project. He loved the project, gave me the go-ahead and 30 minutes later I was drawing it out and applying roughly 10lbs of masking tape to the wall and spraying away. I added some drippy bits to tie in with the drip wall and voila. My first piece of wall art and I’m pretty effing proud of it if I may be so bold. 

Yesterday after the big reveal I kicked everyone out of the room {in the nicest way possible} to take these pictures. While I was snapping away, the teens whose room it now is came in about 100 times asking if I was finished yet. I could hear them in the next room complaining I was taking too long, but I took it as the biggest seal of approval and compliment of the day – they wanted their room and they wanted it 10 minutes ago. A job well done I think. 

You can see the original mood and atmosphere boards I put together if you’d like. I think it turned out quite close to what was planned and we didn’t stray too far. It was very surreal to see those boards come to life. 

At running the risk of sounding incredibly emo and sappy, my heart swelled with pride today every time I looked at these pictures and watched this video by {the painfully talented} Darcie while writing this post. And thank you again Derek for the opportunity to work alongside yourself and Localise. It was an incredible project to work on, and I’m so happy to have been part of it all. xx A

Design details
Vinyl flooring – Des Kelly Interiors 
Main navy paint – Atlantic surf 1 – Dulux
Detail paint – milk white, rich honey, summer pudding, scooter red, pea pod and chance – Crown Paints
Canvases – Reads Design & Print
Chairs, table, cushions, shelves, shelving unit, faux plants, rug and throwIKEA
Couch, cube seating and grey triangle patterned pillow – Harvey Norman
Wooden bench – handmade by Paul 

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  1. November 30, 2013 / 18:06

    Simply amazing! Well done Alex – the room looks absolutely wonderful and I bet the teens couldn't wait to get into it! My favourite thing is the geometric wall with the 'exploded' triangles – I adore it. Also love the choice of IKEA table, chairs and storage – nicely done. The sports photos are an awesome touch. Wonderful. Just wonderful. You should be so proud of yourself missis – you did great and this room is going to make a real difference to those teens.

    • December 2, 2013 / 09:52

      Aw, thank you Holly. It really was an awesome project to be part of. The triangle wall was really fun but took the most time trying to paint in all the detail into the corners. I'm really happy with how the sports canvases turned out – I was bricking it because I didn't think the images I picked would be high res enough but they turned out fab. And good old IKEA – you cannot go wrong. They were perfect for our budget.

  2. December 1, 2013 / 10:17

    It looks incredible! You should be really proud of yourself – such an amazing project. xx

  3. John JJP
    December 3, 2013 / 11:40

    just amazing. you designed an amazing place for those kids.

  4. December 6, 2013 / 07:49

    What an awesome job you did!! I can see why you are so freaking proud!! Epic effort and I can see why the teens were amping for you to get outta there!! Love the zones you created and the colour you added really makes the room pop. Amazing to think that you did this in six short weeks!!

    • December 9, 2013 / 14:26

      Thank you Janine 🙂

      Yep, it's all a distant memory now and I can't believe how much was involved yet it was done in a matter of weeks. I really am proud of that one. A little special place in my heart for that {/sappy comment}

  5. December 11, 2013 / 13:33

    I had thought I had already commented on this.
    It is really fantastic. Not only is the space interesting, but it is worthwhile.

  6. May 21, 2014 / 20:56

    Awww this is SO AMAZING!! Obvs as I am late to the game in discovering your blog, I'm only just catching up but what a fabulous cause and you did some seriously awesome work there – love the exploding triangle wall and the bright colours. It just looks fab, no wonder they were desperate to get in! You should be very proud my dear! xxx

    • May 23, 2014 / 15:14

      Aw, thank you Kimberly! It was such a great project and I am so lucky to have been able to lend a helping hand. Even six months on, I am still silly amounts of proud of it.

  7. October 21, 2014 / 14:16

    Really impressive transformation, love the triangles 🙂 the sports stars and the motivational quote, very cool! I bet the kids loved it. Nice work Alex 🙂

    • October 23, 2014 / 08:45

      Thank you so much, Stephen. Even though almost a year has passed since this project (which is crazy), I still think about the Youth Room a lot 🙂 It holds a lot of lovely memories for me.