Greg Neesham understands the heart inside and out. His oldest son Gage was born with a congenital heart issue secondary to Down Syndrome. The Neesham family was thrown into a whirlwind of doctor’s appointments and early intervention therapies. Amidst the hurricane little sister Grace was born and life took another twist. Dad, Greg, was deployed and was struck with his own heart concerns while abroad. At one point, the family thought they might lose him.
Gage’s parents went through a split, but the family rallied and true heart was revealed when Uncle Kenny (lovingly called Uncle Doo by the kids) came to lend a helping hand to his brother. Uncle Doo recognized now much work was required in caring for his nephew and his growing medical needs while balancing the attention his sweet little niece required, too.
When Cecily’s Closet was asked to honor Greg’s commitment to our country and his family with a room makeover for Gage and Grace, we knew we could make it possible because we had been fortunate enough to have been honored with a grant from Rancho Santa Fe Women’s Club.
Artist Emily Dolton took on the project as muralist and lead. Emily’s sons attend the same school as Gage and Grace, so Emily had an understanding of Gage’s loving and playful spirit. The one enduring love that Gage and Grace share is their love for horses and planets. Despite joking that the horse and planet theme seemed like an “airbrushed, 70’s van idea”, Emily hit upon a theme of Sunny Side Stables (jumper/dressage horses) for Grace and Moonshadow Meadows(vintage cowboy) for Gage. The home was already equipped with wood paneling, so it was easy to enhance the existing design.
CityScapes was brought in for new wall texture, and America’s Finest Carpet Company provided an affordable, sustainable corn-generated carpet with an incredible wear rating. As usual, Jon Ray and the talented team from PaintGreen provided high quality, NO VOC, Dunne Edwards background paint in Emily’s favorite sky color: Oh Boy! Doug Miller, our talented policeman that built Braden’s police car bed created a flower box for Grace’s stable, and his talented wife , Naval Commander Teresa Miller, filled it with flowers and spent the whole reveal day hanging their creation and those of Emily Dolton of Inside Emily Dolton’s Head.
For Grace’s Sunny Side, Emily chose Target bedding and played off the pinks to make the horse barn more feminine. A donated lamp from the Boesel family was covered in coordinating fabrics to top the new, long art desk brought in so Grace and Gage had plenty of space to draw and color. A vintage barn window from Emily’s neighbors Joe and Melinda painted with a cat and mouse was added for additional barn authenticity and canvas panels were painted to look like barn doors to slide along the closet space for easy access.
For Gage’s Moonshadow side, a Home Depot earth/planet-themed lamp fixture provided a focal point for Gage’s planetary ceiling mural - complete with starts that glow in the dark. But what to do about bedding? Emily had an idea to model a handmade quilt after the Target bedding; but where Grace’s bedding was daytime, springtime and darker horses, Gage’s would be night-time, autumn and light-colored horses. Emily freely admits her design skills are far better than her sewing; so quilter Melinda Roth was brought in to finish the job. The result is a lovingly stitched, vibrant sister to the Target bedding whose every stitch tells a story. Emily is grateful to be blessed with such talented friends!
A vintage, 1950’s Craig’s List dresser find with a wagon wheel mirror, a donation of an original watercolor sketch of a Pony Express Rider from Robert Liwanag, and a leather chair and ottoman for Dad for when the kids need to be eased into sleep round out the newly designed room.
This room could not have been made possible without the additional help of Sharla Hank of DS Action, Mr. Dan and Sara Williams from Lindbergh Schweitzer Elementary (Sara spent the whole day with Melinda, Sharla and Teresa pounding out cleaning, ironing, hanging and organizing) additional donations from Alicia Linder, Ryan McDaniel General Contracting, and the expert skill of founder Rachel Ackerly, who helped turn a practical man cave into a sports-themed living space!
Again, a hearty thank you to Rancho Sante Fe Women’s Club for their commitment to children with special needs and our military families!! Your generosity is a blessing!
We are so grateful to all of our donors for making Gage's Sweet Dream Room Makeover come true!