Chattanooga designer donates time, talent to give nonprofit a makeover

Most people like the idea of a fresh start but for moms and children facing homelessness it is an urgent need.

When Chattanooga interior designer Alysa Butterfield realized a shelter that houses those individuals could use a makeover she offered to help.

Turns out, it’s just what the shelter needed.

As they say, you never get a second chance to make a first impression.

“Walking into the space I realized it could be so much better. We could do a better job,” said Butterfield.

Butterfield has cooked meals for women and children staying at Chattanooga Room in the Inn for a few years and thought the lobby could use a facelift.

After all, for many women seeking shelter it is the first step toward healing.

"Space is a powerful tool that we can utilize. It can bring people down, it can bring up, it can make you feel refreshed and energetic and make you want to be engaged. It can lower your blood pressure or raise your blood pressure. It can make people feel calm. What I wanted this space to do is be the first step for people in their healing process,” Butterfield told Channel 3.

She came up with a concept and went to work to improve the lobby. She donated her time and talent to do so. The company she works for, Within Interior Design based in Virginia, was part of the project along with several regional businesses which donated supplies and materials.

Even a local sewing club heard about the project and embroidered messages of inspiration and hope that are mounted on the wall.

“It's just this beautiful piece of artwork that really means something to the people who walk in these doors,” said Butterfield.

Together volunteers created an environment that is functional and calming for women seeking a fresh start.

Butterfield showed Channel 3 the finished project which staff members say they are thrilled with.

"We love this space. It made the room look twice as big and it's really like a tranquil environment which is really good for people just coming in,” said Executive Director Erin Creal.

The hope is that residents' first impression will be a lasting one.

“I hope they feel a renewed self confidence in who they are and that they are important and special and loved and that they are supported by people around them,” said Butterfield.

Butterfield wants to work on the shelter in phases and hopes to improve the sleeping rooms next.

Below are some of the services they are in need of for the project:

List of Services for Sleeping Room Project


Mural Painters

Handyman Services

Carpenter Services

Flooring Installers

Local Artists (for artwork to hang on walls)

Butterfield would like to thank the companies and individuals who donated to the lobby project.

People who Donated to Lobby Renovation

Within Interior Design – design services

Shaw Contract – LVT Flooring

Bentley – Walk Off Matt

Office Images – donated furniture at cost

Arwilda Keef – donated embroidery artwork

Frasch – acoustical ceiling blades

Peter Johnson – slat divider wall

Many others who donated financially to the project