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waldrop+nichols studio Helps Homeless to Dwell With Dignity

DALLAS—Imagine you are homeless. It’s a situation not limited to drug addicts or the poverty stricken. There are many circumstances that can lead to becoming homeless such as joblessness, a lack of family support or displacement due to a natural disaster. In 2015, 564,708 people were homeless on any given night in the U.S., and of that number, 206,286 were people in families and 358,422 were individuals, according to findings by the National Alliance to End Homelessness.

Reggi Nichols and Andrea Waldrop of interior design firm waldrop+nichols studio, based here, believe in “designing a space to try to make an impact for all who will experience it.” With that in mind, they were drawn to volunteering and eventually striking up a partnership with Dwell with Dignity, a nonprofit dedicated to creating soothing, inspiring homes for families struggling with homelessness and poverty. The union was an ideal match.

“[Dwell with Dignity’s] cause speaks to the core needs of all of us as human beings—food, shelter, clothing and water. It’s what humans desire and deserve,” said Nichols. “Secondly, their organization and charity really involves interiors and, in our profession as designers, this is what we do all day and every day. We design a space to try to make an impact for all who will experience it. Those factors drew us to wanting to support this charity and this organization.”

Founded by interior designer Lisa Robison, Dwell with Dignity has locations in Atlanta and Dallas. The organization provides complete home interiors—bedding, furniture, art, kitchen supplies and food for their first night’s meal—to help give families a fresh and comfortable start in their new abode.

There are numerous ways to get involved with Dwell, ranging from volunteers who refurbish furniture, create artwork and help to accessorize the spaces, to donating money and furnishings. There is also the Thrift Studio, a 30-day pop-up shop designed to provide financial support for the nonprofit through the sale of donated furniture, housewares, accessories and high-end designer finds to the public. Nichols and Waldrop’s goals for their firm’s connection are well defined and qualitative. 

“The main goal was to make a difference and impact lives. We haven’t set a monetary amount in terms of how much we’d like to raise,” said Waldrop. “The vignette at the Thrift Studio doesn’t take place for another month and the total money raised won’t be known until May. The event funds a third of their operating budget and it’s their biggest event. We’re in it to help spread Dwell’s name, bring other designers and invite them to this event. We want to increase awareness of Dwell in the industry as well. In the past, there have been more residential designers, so I think bringing it into the broader hospitality market and giving it more exposure will continue to spread its good name.”

The firm is generating support for this charitable effort by tapping into its own resources, including vendors and partners they deal with on a regular basis.

“Once we reached out, everyone unanimously donated,” said Nichols. Waldrop agreed and explained further, “When we send out the emails, we say it’s for charity and ask if they could give us a discount. Nine out of 10 have donated their goods.”

Nichols and Waldrop are currently in the process of mobilizing their staff, but the interest is sincere and solid. The firm presented this charitable opportunity to their team during one of its quarterly blueprint meetings and invited Robison, Dwell’s founder, to share the nonprofit’s origin story.

Dwell with Dignity’s Thrift Studio preview party will be held at the International on Turtle Creek Design Center on April 5 and the pop-up store opens on the same day.

“One thing Dwell does well is that they’re very organized and set up different events leading up to the Thrift Studio event. One was a kickoff party and they have an art party that is open to us and a guest. As far as drawing others in, the vendors bring donations and there’s an invitation list of clients and friends,” said Waldrop. “It’s a great opportunity and everybody has just responded so happily and positively. It’s infectious. People like to get behind a good cause.”