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Design Choices Can Empower Homeowners

Rebuilding Together’s vision is “to provide a safe and healthy home for every person,” which covers some pretty important ground. The work we do with our Safe at Home program allows seniors and individuals living with disabilities to live independently without fear of injury in their home. Similarly, our Home Repair program addresses safety issues like faulty plumbing, damaged stairs or broken windows, to name a few.

One feature of our work that is often overlooked is that in the process of making these critical repairs, we also end up helping homeowners to make some exciting design decisions. Although flooring, wall colors or window styles aren’t a matter of life and death, they can play a big part in creating a home that is unique and comfortable. Several sponsors, including Lowe’s and Valspar, have made it possible for our homeowners to express themselves and their families through cosmetics.

For many homeowners, the initial sight of an entire flooring or paint swatch book presents them with an almost overwhelming number of options. Where to start? What do I want it to look like? How can my home become more “me”? What begins as a challenge usually becomes an empowering exercise with exciting results as a homeowner decides what look really speaks to their personality and brings comfort to their home.

I recall one homeowner that was going to have nearly the entire interior of her home repainted, since the paint on the walls was over 20 years old. When it came time to choose colors, the site of Valpar’s swatch book with over a thousand colors almost seemed to bring on panic! Realizing that she needed a little bit more time to feel comfortable with her decisions, our Construction Supervisor Dave suggested that we leave the book with her overnight. When we got to the office the next morning, there was an energetic voicemail from her with a list of all the colors she wanted and where they would go. The colors were ordered and a group of volunteers painted them on her walls. At the end of the day, her home was filled with bright colors and a proud homeowner. Instances where choosing new tiles or a new wall color have completely changed the way a homeowner feels in their home are truly countless.

As a source of consistency and comfort, the home and its condition can be very influential on the lives of those within it. The ability to make decisions about how it looks or feels is one of Rebuilding Together’s greatest gifts, its effects reaching far beyond aesthetics. These choices allow homeowners to feel pride in their space and claim ownership through self-expression. One homeowner that we helped who had inherited the home he grew up in said: “When the outside was painted, that wasn’t my parents’ choice. That wasn’t their color. So now it feels like my decision. It feels like my personality. My color…You know, it feels like me now.”


By Lisa Berglund, AmeriCorps Project Coordinator