Country Woman

Extreme Makeover

An interior designer turns homeless shelters into something that feels more like home.


Fifteen years ago, Terry Grahl was busy with her interior decorating business in Taylor, Michigan, when a volunteer from a local shelter that served women and children called to see if she’d be willing to donate her design skills there. The volunteer hoped she’d agree to add a fresh coat of paint.

A mother of four, Terry had experience­d homelessne­ss for a time when she was a child, and so she agreed to visit and see what she could do.

“What I saw at the shelter shook me,” Terry writes on her website, enchantedm­ Cardboard boxes stowed under secondhand prison-issue beds served as dressers, and duct tape held together some of the cribs.

Terry knew she had to act.

She did far more than add a fresh coat of paint, instead completely transformi­ng the space into a cheery, hope-filled home she designed for healing. Soon, Terry had closed her business and started a nonprofit, Enchanted Makeovers, to help transform other shelters for women and children escaping domestic violence and sex traffickin­g or coping with post-traumatic stress disorder. “We believe beauty heals,” Terry says. “It’s not rocket science but it is terribly undervalue­d in our society.”

Since then, she has dedicated her life to others. Terry believes everyone is worthy of having a beautiful place to lay their head, and favors spaces filled with homemade touches. She’s redesigned hundreds of shelter beds since that first visit in 2006. The Enchanted Makeovers team establishe­s sewing programs to teach life skills at their partner shelters. Terry also uses sewing as a mindfulnes­s exercise—a meditative form of creativity— and believes it is helpful for the shelter residents.

A doll adoption program pairs children with dolls handmade by what Terry calls a “village” of crafters around the world. The Capes for Kids program offers thousands of wee ones a hand-sewn cape so they can tap into their inner superhero. Other volunteers have sewn thousands of brightly patterned, soft pillowcase­s for shelter clients to take with them when they leave. Everything Terry does is designed to comfort the people she is called to help.

Terry listens to the stories of the women and children she meets in the shelters, and tries to help in every step of their journey while they are there. She is truly an inspiratio­n to so many people.

Everyone is worthy of having a beautiful place.

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 ??  ?? Terry Grahl has been redesignin­g rooms in shelters since 2006.
Terry Grahl has been redesignin­g rooms in shelters since 2006.

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