Alma Update: Entry Upgrades

By Kate Riley April 4, 2011

Hey there!  Hope you all had a fine weekend!  I spent the weekend working on a few projects, like building an upholstered ottoman, and also taking a very cool class.  I hope to share both with you later this week. 

The best part of our weekend was spent working on our Alma Project, transforming the bare walls of the entryway to not only provide more storage, but also make this hallway a much more functional space to help the families living within these walls stay organized. 

Take a peek at what we started with in the morning:

hall before

And ended up with in the afternoon!

alma hallway after

So much better!

I started by painting the hallway in Kelly Moore’s ‘Graystone’, a nice neutral tan color.  Usually I opt for Ben Moore paints, but KM was right down the street, and I was color matching the new paint in the great room (more on that to come!)  I chose these wide plank grooved panels from Lowe’s because the adjacent kitchen has the same style paneling on the lower half of the walls, but in that icky 1970’s brown.  I had all of the new panels cut in the lumber department.   I intend to prime and paint those brown panels in the kitchen and eating area to pull all three spaces together and make it more fresh and modern.     

For installing the paneling, we followed the same techniques I used on the basic board and batten wall in a loft earlier this year, first using adhesive and a brad nailer to secure the panels to the walls, then securing a top rail and hooks above.  The contract requires the families living here move out within two years, so as much as I wanted to add a gallery wall of personal photographs, I had to refrain from over personalizing the space.  It’s amazing how much more functional this hallway is now with hooks and new bulletin boards!  The moms really love it.    

I have other plans to help the kids feel like this truly is their home while they are living here.  We talked about it, and all of the kids agreed they want wood signs with their names on them (painted or in vinyl) for the bedrooms.  These personalized signs they can take with them when they move to their more permanent home.  I had all six kids pick a color today, and I’m going to make big signs for them soon.  Can anyone out there help me make them? 

If you want to see how we got from the ‘before’ to the ‘after’ seen above, and see more photos of all of the changes, here is a 3 minute video which shows our step by step and all the upgrades from the work over the weekend.  


Total cost for today’s upgrades:

Paint: $12

Hooks: $19

Panels & Rail: $52

Window shade: $12

Entry Mat $24

Spray Painted Cork Boards: donated

Total = $119


A HUGE thank you to Melissa at 320 Sycamore for the auction she held this weekend to raise money for our Alma Project!  We’ve had so many people come forward to donate their talents, services and funds, we are overwhelmed with the support. 

I had a meeting with the director of COTS at the house today, and I was told their budget on this home is virtually gone, so how timely is it that so many of you have stepped forward to assist !!  THANK YOU so much, words cannot express our gratitude to all of you who have shown us support. 

I also bought them a new front door mat, but clearly there is some exterior painting that needs to be done. 

exterior paint front door mat


Last week we delivered two toddler beds and mattresses to two of the three families living here, so the youngest children have a place to sleep.  I bought them some very sweet bedding at Target too.

toddler beds


Next up?  I’m planning to repurpose this TV stand:

tv stand 2


I tracked down some bookcases and melamine shelves that I think will work for what I have in mind.  In the next few weeks, I’m going to build an entire storage and entertainment center for this wall, then prime and paint it.  I understand a plasma TV will be donated too, which is great news, because that big bulky TV worries me with little children in the house. 

entertainment center

This wall is going to look great when I’m done!  

If you’d like to read more about our plans for our adopted Alma house or donate to this project, every dollar helps!


the alma project button


Thanks to everyone who has offered their support or donated funds, we truly appreciate you.  





  1. Morning Kate,
    We don’t often get to see exactly where the money goes when we make a charitable donation. This is wonderful….love seeing all the functional and beautiful changes you and your husband are making. Keep up the good work, you are a blessing indeed!

    Have a lovely week

    Janet xox

  2. Fantastic and I loved the Sting music!! Just gorgeous…inspiration for my mudroom. God is smiling on you and everyone for the work that they do at Alma House. Wish there was something like this I could do in my part of the world.

    Thanks! :)

  3. These changes are great! I would love to help out as …(drumroll please)… I’m moving back next month! I’ll be living in Santa Rosa for the short term and then looking for a permanent place. Yay! Although in the short term everything is being boxed up and that part’s a drag. :)
    Please feel free to contact me to help,

  4. Great job! Making their surroundings “home like” makes such a difference…..High 5 to you for getting involved like this!!!!

  5. Hi! What a great job you did on that entry! It looks 100 times better, which I’m sure makes the families living there feel better too.

    I don’t know if you’ve heard of Freecycle. It’s a site where you can list items you want to give away for free or post for items you are looking for. Everything that is offered is free. The people who list there cannot ask for money or for something in exchange, so it’s not a barter site. If you’re looking for something you can request it in the “wanted” section, and if someone has it, they contact you and you get it for free. You select a group in your own community, so it’s all local too. You can even have updates to what’s being offered and searched for sent to your email. I just thought this might be a great opportunity to find things that are needed for Alma House. Here’s the website.

    Great job!


  6. Hurray!! It is really shaping up, Kate. I love the new front door, and you all really rocked that front entry. Two thumbs up!!!

    I can’t get a good enough view of the TV, but I was wondering if they have access to a VCR? We have some duplicate Disney VHS movies (the cartoon kind) and I’d like to send them out along with the children’s books we round up. Just wondering if that would be something you think the kids might like to have around.

    I think this is a wonderful project to get involved in. My younger sister just started making her own headbands to sell to raise money for the military version of the Ronald McDonald House. Makes me realize I need to get more involved!

  7. I’m so touched by what you are doing for these families. Your projects are changing what could be a drab, temporary environment to something that feels like home. Iwould be happy to donate my time, resources, cost of material to help with the signs. I just posted a project that I did this weekend for my kids to personalize their rooms if you want to see an example:

  8. Kate, I am a professional photographer and would love to donate some prints to pretty up the spaces. Let me know if you are interested!


  9. You ROCK for doing this Kate. It looks gorgeous and I’m sure what you are doing is well appreciated. The world would be a much better place if we all just gave a little of whatever it is that we have (our money, time, energy, creative skills etc.) to help those in need. We are all so caugh up in me, me, me that most of us never take the time to lend a hand.

    You are not only the Centsational Girl, you are the Inspirational Girl!

  10. This has really inspired me to get more active in my own community. I am volunteering with my local Harvesters group, and hosting diaper parties to help single parents in our area. I took some college classes in Greenhouse management and landscaping, so I am looking into creating a community garden as well, with volunteers from local high/middle schools to help and create awareness in volunteering at an early age.

  11. Looks beautiful ! Please get the tv out of there asap. Our little neighbor, age 5, died when the TV fell off of the armoire as she was trying to change the channel. Heartbreaking!

  12. Wonderful job! An idea: Are those hooks assigned? I was think small chalkboard labels above each hook would be nice a personal touch. Michaels has some small wooden shapes (round, oval, rectangle, flower and star) that could be painted with chalkboard paint (in several different colors or all one color) and mounted above each hook.
    I live in Southern California but would be glad to help make signs (and those labels I just mentioned) and ship to you.
    Thank you for caring and making a difference.

  13. Kate~ What an inspiration! There truly are some angels among us. I run a vinyl business from home and I would love to design the kids’ names and donate them in the vinyl color of choice. See my blog or contact me via email at [email protected], Up Words & On Words on FB or Redefining C on FB. ;) Let’s get those kids’ some personalization, a space, a little something of their own. =)

  14. Kate! I LOVE what you are doing to help these kids out. I can’t wait to see the finished product and how you turn it into their home. I am adding the paint color you used to my site today. Hope you have a wonderful day!

  15. Great job on a shoestring. Organization such a key to keep the chaos at bay!!

  16. Nice video Kate I was curious the name of that song you used it is catchy.
    Also I have a quick fix for using the older TV’s & stands. If you don’t have the option of a new TV and would like a simple fix just go out and get some heavy duty velcro tape strips or double sided carpet tape which can be purchased at any home improvement store and stick a pieces under the TV base & stand so you don’t have to worry about the TV ever slipping off the stand. It is a quick cheap easy fix when you don’t have the luxury of a new TV or would like to make it safe using any older large TV’s in any room. Best to Ya!

  17. Hey Kate! Great job with the panels. I have a question regarding panelling or board & batten – what would you do with a bullnose corner? We have one in our master that we are going to board and batten over Spring Break. Thanks!

  18. Hi Kate,
    I am not very crafty, but my friend Tabitha is a woodworker as a hobby and recently made a bunch of name plaques for all the kids in our playgroup. Here’s some examples of her work:
    I’m sure she would be more than happy to donate some signs for you! Let me know if you’re interested. :)

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