Paintzen, Inc.
Paintzen, Inc.
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The Ali Forney Center with Design Exchange

For many, professional interior design is a luxury. Whether your home’s design project is large or small, having the ability to transform your house, apartment or condo into a beautiful, unique space is a wonderful opportunity for self-expression. Even if it is a just simple accent wall painted in a color that speaks to you, or a complete renovation of your cabinets to achieve the kitchen of your dreams, interior design allows you to create an environment that is both personal and comfortable. That is exactly how interior designer and founder of Design Exchange Sean Carlson Perry feels about what he does for a living. “The reason that I love designing spaces, and value the impact of space design on people, is the way the spaces make us feel, the visceral appeal of good design. Good design should stimulate the senses and generate an emotionally engaging experience. As a designer, I get to massage and sculpt people’s experience of space!” Perry shared with us. In late 2017, the Paintzen team connected with Perry regarding a very special design project he was working on. Design Exchange was renovating, redesigning and re-furnishing The Ali Forney Center. The Ali Forney Center, based in New York City, is the largest and most comprehensive organization dedicated to housing homeless LGBTQ youth. Nearly 40% of the homeless youth population is LGBTQ. Homeless LGBTQ youth are eight times more likely to experience violence, discrimination, and suicide. AFC houses 124 youths each night and provides services to over 1,400 homeless young people per year. Although the organization does an incredible job to provide safety and shelter to homeless youth, Perry and his team felt the space itself could use some updating and could feel more welcoming. Rooms were dark, cold, and lacked proper storage. Furniture was in poor shape and didn’t work. The rooms were being under-utilized; overall, there was so much more that could be done within the walls of the AFC that could be improved using interior design & paint! We at Paintzen were excited to partner with Design Exchange to do our part in this transformation. The dark, paneled walls were re-painted white. This entirely opened up the space, making it brighter, warmer and more welcoming. The white walls also served as a much better backdrop for smart lighting, as well as for the furniture, wall decor, and new flooring. Beyond painting, Perry and his team used FLOR carpet tiles for durability in a bright Fuchsia shade for a pop of color. They created a more functional layout to maximize the space and make better use of its architectural details and added new furniture including lamps, tables, throws, a sofa, a TV and a Roku to make the space beautiful, and even fun. “Design increases connection and community,” Perry told us. “When we revamp a shelter space, history tells us that the residents spend more time in the space, more time with their peers, building connections and community; a greater sense of home.” Perry’s goal was to create an environment that set its residents up for success by improving their quality of life, outlook and self-esteem. “This isn’t extreme home makeover (although I wish I had that budget!). It’s about improving the aesthetics of the space to create a better environment and experience for people who are going through challenging times. I’ve been lucky enough to have an amount of work that allows me to donate a portion of profits to Design Exchange Projects.” Sean Carlson Perry founded Design Exchange as a way to use his talent, passion, and skills to help those who are struggling, or in a place of immediate need. He was searching to bring deeper meaning and a humanitarian component to his work. Perry has worked with clients in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. “Good design—functionally, aesthetically and ergonomically—promotes a better quality of life.” This is a mantra that describes why Perry does what he does through Design Exchange, working to help the underserved of New York City and other cities across the country. “I grew up gay in Nebraska, and have gone through some hard times when I was younger, but I can’t imagine going through what these kids go through – rejection from family, being kicked out of the house for being who they are, homeless and having nowhere else to turn,” said Perry. “Luckily, there is The Ali Forney Center. Doing these projects for AFC strikes close to home for me, so they are extra special and close to my heart.”
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