In 2012, Extreme Home Makeover: Home Edition headed out to Knoxville, Tenn., to take on a heart-warming project for Daniel and Mandy Watson and their three adopted children, Atley, Ava and Silas. Six years ago the Watsons created a nonprofit organization called The Restoration House of East Tennessee, which provides single mothers with transitional housing and other assistance such as mentoring and advocacy.
Years of medical and adoption costs had created a serious financial burden on the generous family. Not only did it create hardships for the charity, but the house had also fallen into disrepair. The foundation of their home was crumbling, leaving warped floors, cracking walls and falling ceilings. Little insulation and several holes leading outside from the cellar and bedrooms proved that this family could use some help.
Armstrong Wallcovering was approached months in advance to see if we could put together a team to assist with the installation of various wallcoverings. The project included the children’s rooms, playroom and what is called “The Village,” two apartments on the property that house the single mothers and their children. We immediately began making phone calls to find qualified installers. Networking within the National Guild of Paperhangers and the PDCA allowed us to collaborate with a team of leaders including myself, Chris Klock and Lillian Weist.
As the weeks passed and we met with the design team – Johnny Littlefield, Tracy Houston and Jillian Harris, along with their assistant Travis Lewis, nicknamed “Yogi” – we quickly found that, due to the detail, the scope of work was greater than expected. In addition to that, we found that the installation needed to be executed and completed within a 48-hour time frame.
As construction began, the weather decided not to cooperate and heavy rain moved in. The site was an absolute mud hole, making everything very difficult. To make matters worse, sleet, hail and snow were to follow over the next few days. Even with some delay, everyone proceeded with work to meet the deadline for those famous words by Tye Pennington, “Move that bus.”
Each of the rooms had a different theme. Seven-year-old Atley had the “Adventure Room,” which was inspired by the great outdoors. Walls in the adventure room give a home to whimsical cartoon characters from the forest, the sea and the sky. The area itself was very complex because the room had an odd shape in addition to arched windows and a built-in loft. 3M PhotoTex Peel and Stick Graphics were coordinated with the printer and installed by me. The most challenging part of the installation was the doors. The room took two installers 30 hours to complete.
Six-year-old Ava had the schoolhouse-themed room inspired by Little House on the Prarie. Reminiscent of western life on the grassland, the room came complete with the framework of a schoolhouse and dolls at desks. Lillian Weis worked in this room using various wallpapers and hand-painted murals.
Little 2-year-old Silas did not have an easy start in life. Originally from Ethiopia, Silas was found abandoned in the bushes at only two days old. He was suffering from neonatal tetanus and on the verge of death. Once handed over to the authorities, he was nursed to health and found a wonderful home with this loving family. Silas’s room was themed after the show Wipeout on ABC. Chris Klock executed the vision using digitally printed self-stick graphics from Murals Your Way.
All of the wallcovering installations in the kids’ rooms began about 10 p.m. Lillian Weist and I worked 36 straight hours to meet the deadline for our areas. Chris Klock had a delay in the Wipeout room and moved on to the playroom with its safari theme and the bedrooms in The Village. It took a great deal of patience on the part of everyone because the site was like a busy beehive with every trade imaginable performing his or her work. After two sleepless nights our wallcovering installations were a success!
This was an incredible experience to see how wallcoverings can light up the eyes of both a family and children. It was just one more project where the National Guild of Professional Paperhangers gives back to its community.
Since the airing of the show as a Thanksgiving special, The Restoration House of East Tennessee has seen an out-pouring of support. In March of this year they began an expansion to The Village. The community is growing so that it can offer support and services to more single-mother families in the area. To learn more or to donate to The Restoration House, visit therestorationhouse.net. APC
Bill Armstrong is owner of Armstrong Wall-covering, established in 1976. Focus of work is high-end residential and specialty wall-covering installations. Armstrong has been a member of the NGPP for 25 years.