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Reflections

Dream Come True

Andrea Carini makes dreams come true by creating living spaces to fill the needs and desires of special people

By Deborah Smith

Photos by Jeanne-Marie Tatz

November, 1999

Although her business card for Your Sacred Space Interiors indicates she's an interior designer, it would be more accurate to say that Andrea Carini's career is making dreams come true.

It's one of those stories of blessings emerging from adversity.

"We had a very unfortunate situation that was a near tragedy for our son," she says.

Although she wants the details to remain private, she admits it taught her what is most important in life.

 
Colour charts, rulers and scissors are the tools of the trade for this decorator.
"Unconditional love - we really know what that is - and healing," she says of her family.

She could have railed at the world in unending anger or burrowed into a hole and ignored life. But instead, she decided to "transform it."

She had worked as a fashion and set designer in the entertainment business in both New York and Toronto.

While working with celebrities and large design houses was enjoyable and challenging, she didn't feel the work was real. She wasn't contributing anything of substance to the world.

"The most important 'religion', if you will, is one of human kindness.

The need to bestow respect, generosity, and sympathy on others is not just a moral statement she makes, but a reality she lives.

"If you've got that down, you can do a lot," she states with a knowing smile.

With her professional and personal experiences, two design businesses under her belt, and a family to ground her, the decision to take a different tack came fairly smoothly.

"I had to create something positive," she explains.

The result is a business where she uses her expertise in colour and design to create living spaces for people with special needs. The seed was planted several years ago when she designed a room for a friend who was dying of AIDS. She succeeded in turning the space into a comfortable, warm place for her friend's final days.

"The medical community is there to save lives, but when that can't happen, there should be some beauty and comfort," she contends.

"I wanted to focus in with a healing aspect - turning a living environment into a loving environment."

Her son's room - still a work in progress - boasts a ceiling painted to look like a night sky. When she's finished, grand columns will frame the window and the furniture will be transformed to fit the theme.

Now she's expanding her vision to work with people who have suffered childhood trauma, Attention Deficit Disorder and Multiple Sclerosis.

Her first professional client was a child. In preparation for doing his bedroom, she did some research and an interview with the boy to find out his likes and dislikes, his fantasies and fears. "She asked him some interesting questions," remembers Judy Wolever, Eric's mother. "She had a whole way of finding out what he feels inside - getting to know what makes this child tick."

Using the psychology of colour, she determines what hues and shades will achieve the desired results for each person. She even uses a bit of such philosophies as Feng Shui, the Asian art of home structuring to provide the maximum amount of positive energy in the home.

Then she works up colour and design boards, taking meticulous care to make sure every detail is just right. She even sketches her concept of the space if she needs that added reassurance that she is on the right track.

"She transformed my middle son's bedroom from what used to be a very messy office into a magical bedroom," says Wolever.

 




Using children's artwork to decorate their walls helps them take ownership of their new personal space.
The nine-year-old was never happy about being alone at night, she admits, but now he has a wonderful sky scene to look up at which brings the stars, the sun and the moon into his bedroom.

"He's a very active child and this has a very calming effect on him," says Wolever.

Gold stars, suns and moons pop off his dark blue comforter, while a similar sun beams down from the navy wall. A star burst pattern adorns the drapery treatment. Carini even thought to prominently place a practical globe to keep the theme going. Walls are covered with Eric's own framed art.

Wolever can't find enough words to praise Carini's work or the way she went about it. "She spent hours and hours of thought and planning and writing everything down and drawing plans," says Wolever.

As well, Carini was respectful of their tight budget, working out ways Wolever and her husband could help with the project and save themselves some money.

"She was very patient with our learning curve."

"The most important aspect of all this is the individual," says Carini.

The colours, accents and furniture must be something that will bring the person joy and peace.

"I can create a wonderful place, but if the person's not going to live in it, it's useless."

Wolever clearly recognizes Carini's soft sport for children. "She's such a caring person and she wants her work to reflect that special feeling for children."

Her generosity and skill transcends the four walls of a room she is working on.

To thank the school community where her son was so graciously and warmly welcomed at the time of their tragedy, Carini organized a drea auction. The first year the event raised $10,000; the second year, that number rose to $12,000.

 
Before her metamorphosis to room designer, she was a fashion, costume and set designer. The mask below was one of her creations, as is the dream room she created for nine-year-old Eric Wolever.

When a friend of her son needed help, Carini was one of the first to listen and devise a plan to help. She discovered the young boy's sister was suffering from a slowly debilitating and fatal disease. She organized an art show in the Junction area which raised thousands of dollars to research Batten disease.

She's currently trying to secure the contract to decorate a soon-to-be-built home for children with cancer.

But Carini is quick to point out that only about half of her clients have special needs. Everyone's needs are special when it comes to creating their personal sanctuary. "This is not just for someone in a wheelchair or with a disease. It's for everyone."

It all comes full circle. It if hadn't been for the difficult time she had with her son, it's possible she wouldn't have had the heart and soul to follow her dream. The courage she saw in her son and the strength she felt from her husband as he struggled to keep the family together taught her a lot. "I bless the experience because I learned a lot about people and strength and courage." Even her own.

Those are lessons she hasn't forgotten.

"I still have time to hug my kids."