When a local furniture company called, the interior designer decided to collaborate with a local nonprofit to refresh its apartment complex.

While working with Abercrombie & Fitch as a merchandise planner, Bexley resident Veronica Bradley launched her own interior design firm in 2015.

“Design has always been a personal interest,” she explains. “And my business started as a passion project.” After encouragement from family and friends, Bradley decided to seriously pursue her side business, leaving her full-time job at Abercrombie & Fitch in 2017 after 14 years with the company.

A designer who understands the temptation of online purchasing, Bradley often advises clients about efficient design and project affordability. Last spring she received a call from Value City Furniture about a collaboration with Homeport, a Columbus-based nonprofit working to provide affordable housing in Central Ohio. Homeport develops communities for lower- and middle-class families. (According to the nonprofit, 54,000 households in Central Ohio are paying more than half of their income for housing.)

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“Giving back to the community has always been important to me,” she says. “I spend a lot of free time volunteering and fundraising with nonprofit organizations but had never been able to contribute professionally until this project.”

Value City Furniture executives had decided to donate $20,000 in new furniture to improve the community center at Homeport’s Marsh Run, an apartment complex in the southeastern quadrant of the city where about 500 residents live in two-, three-, and four-bedroom apartments that have rents of $655 to $800 per month. The company needed a local designer to help them rework the space at Marsh Run, and Bradley was interested. The community center is a haven for children during after school hours and summertime.

“They wanted it to feel welcoming and to be a place where residents would feel at home and can have community,” explains Bradley regarding the collaboration. She first created a floor plan showcasing the donated furniture and décor. The Easton location of Value City set up a temporary “showroom” of the Marsh Run plan so the Homeport team could see the space come to life before installation day. Homeport’s staff helped install new floors and repaint the space, while Bradley provided design direction.

The reinvented community center features a modernized lounge, a reading nook, reconfigured computer workstations and a place for children to display their artwork.

“The reveal party was really fun and memorable,” says Bradley. The space was closed off to residents during the renovation so the final result would be a surprise. Bradley was joined by leadership from Value City Furniture, Homeport and Columbus City Council, as well as many Marsh Run residents, for the big reveal. She has fond memories of this experience.

“Everyone can use help at some point,” she says. “If you can help, why wouldn’t you?” A lot of the designer’s volunteer work focuses on children. “If you can help set them on the right path, that is amazing,” she says. 

Reprinted from Columbus Monthly Home & Garden Spring/Summer 2020.