Private Apartment for Women's Shelter by Mary Mader

Private Apartment for Women's Shelter by Mary Mader

Aaron Able
Jan 10, 2011

Designer: Mary Mader — Moda Interior Design
Client: YWCA Pierce County
Location: Tacoma, Washington

Long a dream of mine to be able to use my design skills to give back to the community, I was thrilled about the opportunity to provide design for a private apartment for the new local YWCA Women's Shelter. Housed in a vintage renovated building the shelter provides a safe place for women and children fleeing domestic abuse and gives them a space so they can start to rebuild their lives. 22 interior designers were selected to each adopt a room. The one requirement was to include a daybed that could be used as a sofa and sleeping space. We were encouraged to push the envelope in the space and it was fun and inspiring to see all the fabulous designs fleshed out.

The project was truly a community effort. If one of the designers had something extra donated it went into the collective pot for any of us to glean from. Also, so many people I met through Craigslist donated subsequent items or volunteered their time for sewing, etc. Beyond that we were individually responsible for all the time, labor, paint, furnishings and accessories for our adopted apartments. And my wonderful friends, sister and a few community members also volunteered their time to get the job done. All the work was hands on — from scrubbing dried on food from the old cabinets, to painting, to fixture installation. We survived a heat wave, no running water, hauling our supplies and furniture up several floors with no elevator, and working around the construction crews.

At the end of the project, the shelter was opened to the public for a 'Designer Showcase'. Hundreds of people came to see and enjoy the new spaces and the event raised money for the shelter.

This project was a true labor of love. The result is a vibrant, modern apartment with a touch of glam and whimsy. My hope is that it becomes a place of rest, relief and joy for the women and children that stay there.


Style: Bright, modern, whimsical with a touch of glam.

Inspiration: Hope for the future tenants. I wanted to create a space that was inspiring, bright and comfortable. And hopefully made the women who stayed there feel like they are worth it.

Design wise, my inspirations are bold graphics, Scandinavian design, and mid-century furniture. Favorite design blogs are YellowTrace, Young House Love, NYT Home Section, Elle Decör, and of course Apartment Therapy.

Favorite Element: The funky brass chandelier. Brass is back! I like to believe it came out of some swanky 70's restaurant or disco.

Biggest Challenge: Designing a 'personal' space for non-specific clients. The budget or lack thereof. Not knowing what would be donated or what I could find on Craigslist was challenging and rewarding.

Biggest Embarrassment: Trying to use a power tool to sand something. The tool would not work, so I thought the power was out again. After consulting with one of the construction crew members it turned out I had not switched the tool on. Oops! I'm blushing.

Proudest DIY: Building the console table from driftwood and the "Gratitude' wardrobe/storage unit from an IKEA Billy bookcase.

Biggest Indulgence: A vintage Swedish lamp. It really busted the budget but I just had to have it.

Best Advice: Stick to your vision and stop while you're ahead.

Dream Sources: I was coveting the West Elm overlapping squares bed. It was way over my budget for this project. Now, I'm glad I couldn't use it because I found the wonderful teak daybed instead.



    • Living Room & Sleeping Alcove: Authentic Home Paint, Glacier
    • Bathroom: Authentic Home Paint, Crystal Blue
    • Kitchen: Authentic Home Paint, Chartreuse


    • Danish Modern daybed, Craigslist
    • Danish Modern Credenza: Habitat for Humanity Restore
    • Console table: Driftwood and pin legs donated by friends.
    • Dining Table: Craigslist
    • Accent Chairs: Craigslist
    • Window Panels & Hardware: Lowe's, Customized by seamstress
    • Chandelier: Designer sale
    • Bedding: IKEA
    • Accent Pillows: Target, Etsy, Moe's Home Collection
    • Rug: Moe's Home Collection
    • Mirror: Bassett Furniture
    • Accessories: Moe's Home Collection, IKEA, Goodwill


    • Partition Hang Kit: Recycled Resin from Lumicor, Inc.
    • Bunkbeds: Custom built by John Korsmo Construction, Inc.
    • Bedding: IKEA
    • Accessories: IKEA

Thanks Mary!

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