It is the end of November and we have officially entered the giving season, when our minds turn to all things meaningful that our friends and family may want (or need) to receive. For the YWCA, however, this mindset is not a season — it is a year-round mission.
Many may not realize the amount of services the YWCA delivers to our communities. As the largest women’s organization in Atlantic Canada, the YWCA provides housing support for homeless women and young mothers (they currently have upwards of 34 homes serving this need), as well as gender-based employment programs and educative supports.
“We are a multi-service agency that works with women and girls in all aspects of their lives,” explains Miia Suokonautio, executive director of the YWCA. Our mission is to assist with the challenges that arise when gender plays a role in disadvantages pertaining to employment, housing, health and safety.”
It’s obvious that the YWCA gives a lot to our communities. But this year the tables have turned, as they have received a gift.
The Hali-famous Homes for the Holidays event has been run by the Junior League of Halifax for 30 years. This year they have handed this holiday-themed torch over to the YWCA who will now run the event and benefit from the proceeds.
“What an amazing gift to receive,” says Suokonautio. “This has become a signature holiday event that kicks off the season for so many people. The Junior League felt it was time for them to let it go and they saw in us an extension of their own mission to support women and gender equity.
“We are so grateful, as Homes for the Holidays comes with a familiarity and a following. Its history is a happy one. And the Junior League continues to volunteer at the homes, so we are all working together. It’s going to be a fantastic, festive three days.”
This spectacular home tour began on Friday and continues today, Nov. 24, and Sunday, Nov 25. The public is invited to tour three distinctive homes, each decorated by local designers and suppliers, in the full regalia of the season.
This year the homes are 589 Tower Road, decorated by Fine Interiors and Bellissimo; 8 Alderwood Drive, a project by Rebekah Higgs of DIYMOM; and 6229 Oakland Road, presented by DWD Interiors.
Rebekah Higgs (check out her amazing blog site at DIYMOM, as well has her TV show), has embarked on an adventure — renovating her Alderwood Dr. home. This is the first time the Homes for the Holidays event has offered a home decorated by its owner.
“It’s a big project to take on, but as a single mom I am so happy to be able to use my decorating skills to raise funds for an organization that provides affordable houses, childcare and programs for women in need,” says Higgs. By day I have been renovating and by night I have been decorating. It has been non-stop!”
The theme of Higgs’ home is Wood, Fire & Roses, inspired by the unique blush-pink door of her home. The house also features lots of exposed beams and a working fire place, so the holiday decor blossomed from what is already happening, design-wise, in the home.
“I wanted to use the colour pallet that is already incorporated in my everyday home decor, like blush pink, white and gold. In my Christmas decorations you will see lots of real and fake flowers, locally made pink candies, custom-decorated cookies and cupcakes and warm metal accents, like gold, rose gold and copper.”
The result is a holiday home that feels cosy, attainable and inspiring. Higgs explains that in both her renovations and her decorating she must be resourceful because she doesn’t have a big budget — which is relatable to a lot of people.
The 6229 Oakland Rd. home has been decked out by Bea Doucet and Jim Davis of DWD Interiors.
“We are delighted that the YWCA has picked up the torch for the Homes for the Holidays event, says Doucet. “The YWCA is a wonderful cause that we have been pleased to support in the past.”
The theme of this home developed, as it so often does, toward the end of the project. From the beginning the designers knew they wanted to make their chosen home full of the Christmas “feels” but and the end of the day, as they were still in the throws of putting it all together, the homeowner said, “I know what the theme is — it’s “Everyone’s Christmas!”
DWD Interiors did all the original interior design and decoration for the Oakland home, working with its large spaces to make it feel sophisticated yet homey.
“Because the home is so large, to just have one theme might have become boring. This house truly reflects what we do on a day to day basis — create beautiful spaces for all different tastes,” explains Doucet.
The Oakland house Christmas decor is different in every room. Classic, sophisticated, glamorous, simple, over-the-top and whimsical and fun — the full gamut.
“We have classic red and green in the kitchen, purple/blue and green with red in the sunroom, blush/pink with white, silver and gold in living room and so on.
“We are hoping that everyone attending the event will find a room that is perfect for them.”
At 589 Tower Road visitors will be greeted with holiday magic from Bellissimo and Fine Interiors. Bellissimo is the North End shop that is a go-to in Nova Scotia for all things European, from furniture to designer fabrics, rugs and lighting inspired by the decadent interiors of Italy and France.
Nancy Dibblee, from Fine Interiors, was inspired to “bring the outside in” at the Tower Road home.
“The foundation of this holiday home is filled with glimpses of the Secret Garden,” explains Dibblee. “We brought the beauty of Mother Nature to a whole new level, homing in on rich, earthy tones and seasonal splashes of evergreen.
“We harnessed the power of a natural, vibrant vignette where flora and fauna unite to create a palette of botanical sophistication and natural beauty.”
It takes a lot to make an event like this happen, from the homeowners who are put up for the few days at Atlantica Hotel to the many suppliers, decorators and designers — all of whom donate their efforts to this important fundraiser. Tickets to Homes for the Holidays are available at the door of each home — what a great way to kick off the giving season!