Veronica Bradley Recreates Homeport Community Center

Taylor Swope
Bexley interior designer Veronica Bradley volunteered to work with Value City Furniture when the company donated furnishings to spruce up a community center for an 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.

Interior designer Veronica Bradley offers several tips and tricks for those working with a small space or budget.

  • Buy furniture that is the right scale for your space to create an overall flow. Bradley says it is not unusual to see a huge sofa and large coffee table in a small space, which is often not proportional to the rest of the room.
  • Choose furniture that can serve dual purposes. For example, try to find a coffee table that also provides storage. This is a good investment and helps save space, too.
  • Choose wisely on where and how you cut your budget. If you cut corners on more expensive items such as a rug or a sofa, you may have to replace them sooner. It may be painful to spend more money upfront, but Bradley says a good sofa should last at least seven years.
  • Do not focus on finishing an entire space at one time. Prioritize the pieces you need to have for everyday living first, then make a wish list and timeline for everything else. It is important to identify “needs” versus “wants” at the beginning of a project to help stay on budget, she says.
  • Bradley also says the online furniture trend continues to grow but cautions clients. “I encourage people to buy color and fabric swatches first so they can actually see and feel the material of what they are buying,” she explains. She also recommends investing in high quality, stain-resistant fabric if you have children or pets.It is a good idea to read reviews, especially about comfort, since you cannot test the items in store before making a purchase.
  • While buying online tends to be more budget conscious, it comes with an understandable risk because the touch-and-feel element is missing from the selection experience. Bradley recommends purchasing from online companies that offer a free return policy in case you change your mind after delivery.

Designing Small Spaces