Date: April 2, 2011 | Story: Diane Carroll | Styling: Diane Carroll |
For families with children in the neonatal intensive care unit at St. Edward Mercy Medical Center in Fort Smith, options for staying near their child overnight were once limited to camping out on a hospital sofa or booking an extended stay at a hotel. That was until Ronald McDonald House Charities became involved, and raised the funds to convert a wing of the hospital used as physician sleeping quarters into a virtual home-away-from-home for families in need.
Geared toward offering meals and a resting place during the day as well as sleeping quarters for overnight, the space needed to incorporate living and dining areas, a kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms and even a laundry room. Fayetteville-based interior design Joshua Jones was commissioned to oversee the makeover, and devised a plan for transforming a series of utilitarian rooms into a space with the comforts of home. “The first step was to create a concept that would drive our design decisions,” says Jones. “The healing power of nature became our solution, with a goal of creating a warm, comfortable, nature-inspired retreat that would soothe the mind and body.”
Working within an open central space, Jones used ceiling and floor treatments to define separate living and dining areas. “The cold tile ceiling that was originally here had to go,” says Jones. “In its place, I designed a new ceiling plan with varying heights and materials to create circulation paths and spaces.” New wood laminate floors and rugs work in tandem with the ceiling design to delineate areas, and organic colors and textures, comfortable furnishings, nature-inspired artwork and ambient lighting create an inviting gathering place.
The original, lackluster kitchen gave way to a serene space that can accommodate a crowd, with a new peninsula counter for food prep and seating and the warm tones of java-colored cabinets, Corian countertops, a mosaic tile backsplash incorporating various earth tones, and porcelain tile floors with a slate pattern.
A soft green wall color ties the various areas together, and carries over to the private bedroom quarters as well. “These rooms were all very small,” says Jones, “but using tall, slender beds and some careful space planning made them seem much larger.” New carpet, ceiling tiles, comfortable bedding and artwork completed the transformation. “Our goal was for guests to feel as if they were transported out of the hospital completely,” says Jones, “and the organic textures, healthy materials and natural elements helped to do that.”
Interior design Joshua Jones Interiors, Fayetteville
Contractor Wear Construction Management, Fort Smith
Appliances Metro Builders Supply, Springdale
Cabinetry Kitchen Distributors, Fayetteville
Countertops/backsplash New Century Countertops & Tile, Springdale; Draperies Fabric Gallery, Springdale
Flooring Turnquist Carpets, Fort Smith
Furniture Abide Furniture, Springdale; Gracious Living Interiors, Lowell; I.O. Metro, Fayetteville; La-Z-Boy Furniture Galleries, Springdale
Lighting Lighting Emporium, Springdale
Welcoming Homes, Warm Hearts
Ronald McDonald House Charities
For more than 35 years, Ronald McDonald House Charities has made a global impact on problems facing children and their families by tailoring programs to address the most urgent needs of each community they serve. In Arkansas, two chapters cover the state, with Ronald McDonald House Charities of Arkansas based in Little Rock and an Arkoma chapter based in Fort Smith, serving Western Arkansas and Eastern Oklahoma.
Last year, the Ronald McDonald house in Little Rock accommodated more than 800 families with children being treated at nearby health care facilities, and helped countless more with free dental care through the Ronald McDonald Care Mobile. The Arkoma chapter, which opened the Ronald McDonald Family Room at St. Edward Mercy Medical Center in Fort Smith in December of 2010, expects to accommodate nearly 1,400 overnight stays per year.
Support the cause through volunteering, donating or attending the annual fundraisers, which include:
Central Arkansas: www.rmhclittlerock.org
Pop Tab Pandemonium: Raise money and go green by collecting pop tabs and turning them in on Earth Day, April 22
18th Annual Ronald McDonald Golf Classic: Pleasant Valley Country Club, Aug. 22
7th Annual Golf Classic: Springdale Country Club, Sept. 19