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The Collective Bathroom Project with Brenna: A High School Senior Project

Brenna, a senior just graduating from a local private school, will be headed to Iowa State University in Ames IA this fall to study Architecture and Interior Design.  She has always loved art, design, and space improvement, which has become a catalyst for her future career.  Every senior student from her school is required to do a senior project that is self motivated, with the goal of giving back to the community in some way.  This led Brenna to a project involving the bathroom of our future Collective artist space.

As Brenna considered possible project ideas, she knew she wanted to do something that involved architecture and design, with an emphasis in focusing on improving a space in a way that positively affects mental health.  She thought about redoing a space in a school, or even a homeless shelter. As she explored the options in Duluth, she realized there was a great opportunity to improve a small community space at the Bailey Builds Collective.  As the girlfriend to Lincoln Bailey, she was familiar with the Collective’s goal to create a space for artists in the community, and approached us with her project ideas.  With each student being required to fund their own project, and with a limited amount of work time, the bathroom space was also an area that she could fit into her budget and time constraints.

Brenna had a budget of $200, which helped direct her process for the space.  She did a lot of research beforehand about the best design elements in a space that impact mental health.  She learned  that our moods are unconsciously affected by our environment, and that there are simple ways to create a more healthy atmosphere, which in turn helps people be the best that they can be.  Brenna has always had an interest in psychology as well, and has seen friends struggle with mental health issues.  She wanted to do a project that could positively impact this issue, while complimenting her interest in interior design.

The First thing she noticed in the bathroom was the poor lighting.  The original lighting in the space made it feel dark and dusty, and so better lighting was a top priority in her design.  The wall tile and paint color felt super outdated as well, which she also prioritized into her budget.  She knew that these three elements could transform the space and make the biggest impact with the budget she had to work with.

The first step was to give the bathroom a thorough cleaning, to ensure the surfaces would accept the new paint.  She also contacted our good friend Stephanie Goldfarb, interior designer and founder of The Divine Living Space.  Stephanie shared tips to create a soothing space by using neutral colors for the walls, making them a versatile backdrop for switching out art.  She also said that painting the floor tile would not be a good option for a high traffic space.  Taking these ideas, Brenna headed to the hardware store for paint.  She chose a light gray for the walls, and pure white for the wall tile.

The hardest part was transforming the wall tile.  Removal and replacement was out of her budget and skill set, so she chose to paint them.  This required a good sanding job to the surface of the tile before she painted several coats of high quality, gloss paint in white, to freshen and lighten up the tile.  To add contrast to the floor, she purchased a dark gray floor rug.  After painting the walls and wall tile, she replaced the light fixture with a dark base and a clear globe, creating clean lines and ample lighting.  She also added decorative elements to the room.  To add texture and life to the space, she chose the nurturing elements of a plant with the grounding yet natural element of a marble planter.  She tied this design element in again with a marble soap dispenser.  To tie it all together, she chose some patterned hand towels.

Brenna put her heart into this project and we are so proud of her!  This was the first big design project she has tackled completely on her own.  Even though she feels she may have done some of the process differently, she can look at the finished product and feel satisfied with her accomplishments, with the rewarding feeling of making a difference to a space that others will get to use.  She has a couple tips for others who want to freshen up a space that also lightens the mood.  Her biggest advice is to declutter and get rid of all of the things that make you feel bogged down, which will open up your space.  Color choice is also an important consideration, choosing light colors that make you feel happy and calm.

Thank you, Brenna, for using your talent, time, and resources to bring light and energy to our Bailey Builds Collective!  We can’t wait to see your talent grow in the coming years!