Under the Sea...
"Darling it's better down where it's wetter take it from me..."
And after seeing these pictures you'll agree that this is definitely a fairytale room fit for not one, but two mermaid princesses! Emily Dolton is the mastermind behind this beautiful little seaside getaway for Kirra(9) and her little sister Hailei (6)!
Kirra was nominated by her therapist and riding coach, Ingrid, from PoVa Therapeutic Riding. Kirra’s riding helps work on trunk strength, balance and language which are all areas of focus due to her Cerebral Palsy (CP) and Traumatic Brain Injury (TB).
Kirra’s mom, Amber, baby Kirra and a neighbor were crossing through a marked cross walk when they were struck by a distracted driver. Kirra spent 3 weeks in a coma and 4 months in the NICU. It’s been a long road, but today Kirra is attending her typical school where friends support her in her class. Hailei is also a great support at home.
Kirra is a strong fighter, full of opinions, has a great sense of humor, and is an outstanding artist. Kirra’s room needed to allow for better accessibility for her wheelchair, as well as provide much needed storage for both girls. We all know girls love their clothes and sparkles, and with two girls, there was plenty everywhere! The team built the design around Kirra's desire for more independence. We wanted Kirra to be able to roll her wheelchair easily into her room, and everywhere she needed to go within her new custom space. We also wanted to provide an area for Kirra to create and display her art.
Kirra's Dad provided inspiration for the room design. Due in no small part to Kirra’s sleep apnea, Dad built a unique, double queen bunk bed for co-sleeping that just needed a little love and paint to bring it to life. Missy Johnson of Rhapsody in Bloom Florals helped Emily give the bed a shabby chic coastal look, with help from Cassandra Beceril, a design student referred to us by the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). Raffia skirting and shells were patiently added to finish the piece. The mattresses for this dream bed were supplied from our amazing partner, Mattress Company Direct. We are very grateful for Mark’s continued expertise and support!
Overall, there are close to two thousand shells on pieces in the room, including those on the beautiful shell mermaid created by Commander Teresa Miller (ret). Commander Miller helps families while serving as a lead nurse with Balboa Naval Medical center’s Kearney Mesa Clinic.
California Closets partnered with Cecily's Closet to complete a major transformation for Kirra's room. With storage space in short supply, we needed to maximize the small area and make it easy to use. The team at California Closets was superb! The designer created a simple design for the unique shape and size of the closet, and the Brand Manager helped with all the moving pieces to help pull of this closet makeover! The design doubled the hanging space and allowed the girls to be able to see all their pretty options to wear each day. The closet has no doors so Kirra has the least restrictions to dress herself. Special thanks to SDUSD SEBT Sara Williams for providing the beautiful teal and aqua cubby boxes and to Cityscapes General Contracting for removing the old hardware.
Our beautiful, 3 foot mermaid sisters are the creation of Chase Allen, of Iron Fish Art. Chase is the 2014 Martha Stewart American Made artist of the year. It is no surprise to us that he was the fan voted favorite, as Chase has outstanding customer service and you can see his attention to detail in every piece of art he creates.
What can we say about the custom desk? Steve Bair from Bairworks is our hero! Steve often has a hand in our sensory boards and installing therapy equipment. Emily made a sketch with some rudimentary measurements and Steve created this beautiful art piece! The need was for storage, a place to draw, and also the space to move Kirra’s wheelchair around the edge of her bed. Jeffrey Gavaletz of JMG Woodworking provided the little hand-carved and painted krill, and the talented Steve Cherry of local business Bottles and Wood created the message in a bottle lamp from driftwood, shells, and sea glass. Emily Dolton painted the desk and embellished it with shells. The desk chair is a Goodwill find that was upholstered by design student Mina Rahnema, and embellished with shells, pearls and jewels by Missy Johnson. The small glass mason jars were beaded by Arianne Micahels, who also helped paint the letters above Kirra’s bed. The fabric covered cork board was created by Emily from an old frame.
We were very excited to work with St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center on this project. St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center is a day program for adults with disabilities where they engage in trade building, art and theater. The mermaid mosaic is a piece by SMSC member Francisco Rojas. If you look closely, you’ll see her real shell bra!
Jack and Carly Medved are on a mission to support Good Dog Autism Therapy Animals. Emily asked Jack, an illustrator who specializes in small dogs, to paint a sea creature. His mixed media sea horse is delightful. His sister Carly, not to be outdone, created her merperson after watching a documentary about whale sharks.
Author/Illustrator Salina Yoon has one of the biggest hearts in the business! We enthusiastically passed on her books to the girls, and she created a beautiful inspired seahorse shadow box. You can see her newest work and that of other local authors at a new installation for the California Center for the Arts Escondido
We at Cecily’s Closet are always grateful for talent where we are lacking. For Emily, this is the needle arts! Chantelle Harris crocheted soft and cuddly mermaid tale lapghans for the girls. Tamaris Dolton of Just a duck has been sewing dolls for years; and she used the pattern she had made her oldest daughter’s life sized doll to create two mermaid dolls for Kirra and Hailei. Emily embellished pillows with starfish and ribbon trim and created two simple fish knapsacks with fabric left over from Tamaris’ mermaid dolls.
Kirra needed a spot to sit near the closet to dress. Emily created a clam shell throne from a Craig’s list ottoman complete with storage. Above the shell throne is a beautiful photograph of Amber and her little sister taken by Grandma Dona of Spotted Pony Photography. Some of the smaller woks that have not been attributed to artists here were pieces Grandma acquired through trades at art shows around the country.
And finally, our entry door! Donated by Lori Sorbo and expertly hung by Chuy and Felipe of Cityscapes General Contracting, this glorious piece was painted by 17 year old student Tori Johnson. The back of the piece is an upcycled mirror enhanced by design students Mina Rahmena and Michaela Sanderson. Michaela also painted and embellished the sunset mermaid clock above the door.
We would also like to thank San Diego Family for their commitment to our mission and for providing mermaid toys for the girls!
Emily assembled a dream team of artists, students, local businesses and volunteers to create an out of this world design that not only met the unique needs of Kirra, but also provided inspiration for her whole family! Playing off the family's love of the ocean, Emily went to great lengths to bring the beach to Kirra's doorstep!
The volunteers on this room left no shell unturned! Thank you to our donors, The Rancho Santa Fe Women's Fund, and all of our local business sponsors for combining to help make our 71st room makeover possible!
Kirra and Hailei's Sweet Dream Room Makeover
Thank you to California Closets. Since 1983, California Closets San Diego has been dedicated to remaining the market leader in the home storage and organization industry. The San Diego franchise has spent over 25 years setting the standard in our market with extraordinary product offerings, exceptional quality, and outstanding design expertise.
Thank you to Chase Allen of The Iron Fish, 2014 Martha Stewart American Made winner for helping us with our 71st makeover! Chase generously donated an amazing piece of art to help bring Kirra and Hailei's room to the next level!
Inside Emily Dolton's Head
Thank you to Emily Dolton of Inside Emily Dolton's Head. Emily is an amazing artist and an extraordinary volunteer who goes above and beyond on every Cecily's Closet project. When she is not busy volunteering, she enjoys making dreams a reality for kids and adults. She works with your specific tastes and needs: from modern to traditional, formal to quixotic and crazy! Kids are her favorite clients. Please check out Inside Emily Dolton's Head and call her! You won't regret it!
Thank you to Steve Cherry of Bottles and Wood in Clairemont for donating an amazing lamp for our room makeover. Aside from leading the way in hospitality product design and innovation, Bottles and Wood educates our community about the benefits of upcycling and serve as an exemplary model of a “sustainable” business. Plus, they make amazing art!
Thank you to St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center. This amazing place educates and empowers individuals with developmental disabilities to realize their full potential. St. Madeleine Sophie’s Center serves individuals with developmental disabilities through nationally recognized innovative programs. We combine our culture of care and creativity within quality programs to provide liberal arts education, practical skills development, employment, and dignity for a lifetime.
Thank you to Mark and team at Mattress Company Direct. For over 15 years located in San Diego , Mattress Company Direct has been a major discount dealer of new mattresses and home furnishings. They have dedicated them selves to supplying their customers with the finest quality mattress sets and furniture at affordable prices. They are the first and ONLY furniture store in San Diego to support Cecily's Closet with great rates, great service and free delivery!
Thank you to Salina Yoon. Yoon is an award-winning .author/illustrator of over one hundred novelty books for young children including the dazzling KALEIDOSCOPE and PINWHEEL interactive books published by Little, Brown. Learn more about her wonderful books here.