By Jake Gaines   Photography courtesy of SAFE and Mark Ashby Design

When Mark Ashby Design, the top-drawer Austin-based design firm, partnered with SAFE, the non-profit organization in Austin, magic happened. It was the perfect cause because SAFE shelters and supports survivors of violence, sex trafficking and domestic abuse, to redesign 530 square feet of the facility’s public spaces bringing beautiful design and a fresh outlook to six communal living quarters.

The goal was to reimagine the public spaces at SAFE, so the job ahead was no easy task. For the project that would greatly enhance the current SAFE space, Ashby’s firm raised money throughout 2020 and 2021 (during the heart of the pandemic, mind you) by incentivizing their clients with interior design discounts, donating proceeds from design projects, volunteering to design events for corporate donations, and ended the fundraising with a public GoFundMe campaign. It was a true can-do period for both Ashby and SAFE.

The design team enlisted corporate sponsors McCoy Rockford, Four Hands and many others, all of which were generous with their time and donations. Using the most durable fabrics and sturdy pieces, Simon and design partners Callie DeLuca, Ashleigh Malen, and Annie Bacon delineated best practices to create a timeless, serene design plan that can also withstand everyday wear and tear. That meant calming, neutral tones were used with added pops of energetic color to convey positivity.

The emergency shelter communal living spaces accommodate survivors and often multiple families, so it had to be restful and inviting. The team chose to keep the space light, kid friendly, and well planned by creating zones for living room activities, game playing, family meals, and one-on-one conversations. “Our goal was to support the valuable and important work SAFE provides by creating a warm and welcoming environment for survivors to heal and to process the next brave phase of their lives,” says Christina Simon, Senior Designer, Mark Ashby Design.

“Because of Mark Ashby Design and their corporate sponsors, when families and adults come to SAFE’s shelter looking for safety, they will enter a warm and uplifting environment where they can rest and prioritize their healing and recovery,” says Jacqueline Smith-Francis, Corporate Development Specialist SAFE Austin.  “SAFE is deeply grateful to Mark Ashby Design and its corporate partners for lending their professional expertise and connections to help survivors feel valued and supported during their stay with SAFE.”

We applaud the efforts of both Mark Ashby Design and SAFE, both of whom enrich the community so much.