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  • Dwayne Chen

"Home Away From Home" - Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House - Inspiration

When people hear the name "Ronald McDonald House," the image of healing of children automatically comes to mind. Upon learning that ASID-LA was looking for design help for the Los Angeles Ronald McDonald House (LARMH) – Where Hope Lives project, we jumped at the chance to be able to make a difference in designing a home-away-from-home environment for the families and become a part of that healing process. We are inspired by the thought of contributing to help families with ill children get well. Helping others is our motivation. We are driven to “give back” to the community, and using our design expertise to create a comfortable living environment for families with ill children is one way we can generously give back.

Interior design is all about helping to improve the environments and lives of people, and we want to design an interior that will not only improve the lives of the children and families that visit LARMH, but design rooms that inherently aid in the healing process, and use every possible tool to make that healing possible.

Walking through the spaces at LARMH, we thought that this is a nice place where families can come together in a common healing environment and connect with other families in the same circumstance, but that it needed some major updating. Entering the rooms, the first thing that occurred to us was that although the rooms were decent, they did not feel homey and inviting, and did not offer anything that invited the families to be actively and personally involved in the healing process. There were no areas within the rooms for the children to be creative or play, and there was not enough organized storage space for individual personal storage, and no areas for private contemplation, even though the rooms were spacious enough to provide those aspects.

The psychology workshops inspired us to want to fulfill all of the “evidence-driven design” aspects on what home is and what healing environments should consist of, and to strive to design comfortable and healing environments for the guests, which provide the new spaces with art, color, touch therapy, personal spaces, sound of music, flexibility and other ideas to make the families feel at home and offer a sense of place, connection, calmness and relaxation.

We learned from this project that “home” is defined differently by each individual depending on their culture and/or their circumstances. While it is not an easy thing to satisfy every design need for everyone in a public environment, especially when it comes to private rooms, you should at least try to. The project also confirmed what we’ve always believed, and that is home is “where the heart is” and it should at least be comfortable and safe; a place you can come to every day and never tire of it, a place where you can be yourself, a place where you want to be when you don’t feel well, a place you want to be when you feel happy, and a place where you can share with your family.

We hope the children and families love their new rooms and will be happy and heal expeditiously in them.

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