Behind the Design: A Refresh for a House of Fresh Starts

Earlier this summer, Ivy Lane Living was honored to assist an organization that plays a vital role in our community, Friends of Guest House. Friends of Guest House helps women successfully reenter the community from incarceration, and one of the ways they do this is by providing a place for women to live temporarily upon release.

Friends of Guest House’s guiding principle is, “We believe your past does not define your future.” At Ivy Lane Living, our guiding principle is that your home is your sanctuary, a place that nourishes your soul and contributes to your well-being. We believe that this applies to even a temporary home, in fact, maybe even more so.

We toured Guest House and found it to be a charming bungalow, as is common in its Del Ray neighborhood, but agreed that the space could use a refresh. Overall, our goal was to make the space feel lighter and brighter, almost like a breath of fresh air. Using our “House in a Hurry” approach, we created floor and furniture plans to maximize the flow and make the living spaces feel cohesive and intentional.

Next, we settled upon a palette of warm neutrals paired with pops of spring-y greens and golden accents for additional warmth and shine. Serene paint colors were selected, remnant fabrics and wallcoverings identified and secured, and an army of fellow volunteers mobilized.

Furniture that Guest House had acquired over the years was assessed then recovered and/or re-purposed when possible, and augmented with new pieces and accessories, some purchased by us, some donated by dear clients. One client, in fact, went above and beyond: Amelia hung the wallpaper!

A few before images…

…and the big reveal.


Said one resident:

“This may be the nicest house I ever get to live in.”


While we very much appreciate her comment, it is our hope that this is only the beginning for her, and that her next home will exceed her wildest dreams.

Thank you, Friends of Guest House, for letting us share our time and talent to support your programs. When women help women, we change the world…even if it’s just one house at a time.


Since its founding in 1974, Guest House has helped more than 3,000 women break the vicious cycle of incarceration, reunite with their families, and reintegrate into their communities. To learn more about Friends of Guest House and how to support their work, please visit their website.


  • The latest from Alex

Alex Deringer and Courtney Cox combine their formal training in design and fashion with their renowned sense of style in Ivy Lane, a full-service interior design firm that curates casually elegant family dwellings that are elevated by a unique spark. Whether an entire house renovation or a one-room makeover, Alex and Courtney’s extensive experience and collaborative dynamic inform a successful design philosophy: thoroughly understand the client’s lifestyle, bring a thoughtful spatial perspective, and enliven the space with the freshest aesthetic interest.

309C Cameron Street
Alexandria, Virginia 22314


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