Leaving A Legacy With Design

YWCA Shelter | Patty Bruce, Interior Designer

Several months ago, over coffee at Tully’s in Tacoma, I got to know Patty Bruce, a philanthropic interior designer. Patty was responsible for leading the team of volunteer interior designers at the newly renovated YWCA women’s shelter. The project included 22 units for women and children who find the shelter as their temporary home during transition. I was most fascinated by the fact that her team of 28 designers successfully pulled together rooms (all with different themes) through donations from the community and sweat equity. For ShowCase Magazine’s Design issue, I had to share our conversation.

Patty, I have to ask how you became involved with this project?
A good friend and client, Phillis Izant, was talking about the YWCA project. As I listened, I had some ideas to help. We pulled out the AID (designer book) and started brainstorming options for design. Before long I was entrenched in the creative process of designing rooms for the project. As the team of designers grew to 28 professional volunteer designers, I was asked to manage the team for the project.

Tell me about your style?
I love design and tend to think practically about the way things are placed together. In a client’s home I use the stuff that people have. I think spaces in homes should be comfortable and soft not stuffy. I want things that make my clients happy to live there.

Of course this translated well into the current work to be accomplished at YWCA in Tacoma.

How was this project unique?
There were some obvious limitations to designing rooms in a women’s shelter. The rooms needed to be “really livable” says Patty. Due to the high turn-over rate of the program’s participants, all pieces used in the project needed to be durable, comfortable, accommodating to all ages of children and have no sharp corners. Each designer took a room from studio apartments to 1 and 2 bedroom units.

The designers worked around existing layouts and previous built-in furnishings in the old building.

What was your biggest challenge?
Getting all of the stuff for the unit! We gathered everything needed for the units. The largest unit needed everything from 10 beds to 10 gallons of paint. Sherman Williams, Cresent Lighting and Contract Furnishings all made significant donations, making the design project possible.

How do you hope that your team’s work will impact the women?
We want the women and children to feel safe, loved, comfortable and secure… temporarily happy!

After our coffee Patty and I walked to the site. During our tour of the property I noticed that this regal woman and her team seem to be able to pull things together effortlessly.

The shelter had its long anticipated grand opening in October and is currently housing families in newly designed units. Each of the interior designers has left behind a design legacy that will touch so many lives in the coming years. For more information on donating to the YWCA go to ywcapiercecounty.org