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Designing Women

The winning entry in this interior design contest would never be featured in ArchitecturalDigest or included on a tour of fabulously done-up homes. But to Adrienne Finley, the contest in which students from San Diego State University’s American Society of Interior Designers student chapter accepted the challenge to redo 16 bedrooms at the Door of Hope was just as spectacular—“and a whole lot more moving.

“You should see what they’ve done,” says Finley, development director for the Salvation Army, which runs the Haven program at the Door of Hope, a group home for troubled teen mothers and mothers-to-be. “In the room that came in second, student designers Heidi Shadel and Julie Weisgerber made a bamboo canopy bed with muslin fabric draped on the ceiling and a rattan-like area rug to give it a safari theme. It looks like something I’d want for my own home.”

The first-place room, created by student designers Lynette McCarthy and Tilly Whitehead, combines the soothing colors of lavender, mint green and white to transform the resident’s bedroom into a trendy teen retreat.

The Door of Hope has been a San Diego institution for nearly 70 years. Originally a home for unwed mothers in Point Loma, the facility was taken over by the Salvation Army in 1960 and moved to new quarters on Health Center Drive near State Route 163, just south of Sharp Memorial Hospital. Today, the Door of Hope campus offers various programs for women and children.

After more than 40 years, Finley says, the Haven shelter—where teen moms are housed—had become “lovingly worn and torn, so we wanted to spruce it up a little bit.” The result, she says, “is the work of many hands.” More than 150 volunteers from Habitat for Humanity were recruited to patch, prime and paint the rooms, providing the initial palette of color so the student decorators could concentrate on room décor.

An anonymous donation of $7,000 paid for the decorating materials, as the student decorators were allotted $350 for a single room and $700 for a double. “It’s really amazing what they did on such a limited budget,” Finley says. “One team of decorators bought an old iron bed at the Goodwill store in Oceanside; others shopped at Target. SDSU was getting rid of some old dormitory furniture, so some of the rooms have metal desks and nightstands and dressers—all cleaned up and freshly painted, of course.”

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