Design Dilemma with a Heart: New & Nautical

Shimmery blue fabric dances on the ceiling to create an ocean wave. Before A clever ship serves as a fun sitting area for the children. A customized coral reef frames the entertainment center. Special Thanks To: Scott Patch, Wayne and Roberta Patch, JRod Stucco, Lighting Unlimited A whimsical toy aquarium in the entertainment center entrances children and adults alike. A bamboo skirt is a playful window treatment for the tropical-inspired eating area. Elaine Patch (decorator), Owner, Simply Sewn

Sheltering Arms’ living and dining room was declared a design shipwreck until the white flag was raised and surrendered to Elaine Patch, who salvaged this space to create a nautical wonderland.

Sheltering Arms provides care for children who need a home and love. And, as with any home — except this one averages 12 children to the mix — the Ocala orphanage was showing some wear and tear, especially in the most-used space, the living and dining area. This room was screaming “S.O.S.!” and Elaine Patch, owner of Simply Sewn, came to the rescue with a splash of color and waves of fun.

“If your space has high ceilings,” says Elaine, “use different colors of paint on the walls and ceilings, along with soft fabrics to bring warmth to the room.”

Armed with a treasure chest of colorful fabrics, paints, and great ideas, Elaine said “Bon voyage” to the old, dull room and “Ahoy!” to under-the-sea fun.

Elaine dropped anchor and tackled the overpowering ceiling by painting whimsical waves in a turquoise blue along the adjoining wall. She also added a splash of whimsy by stringing pieces of colored fabric and friendly jellyfish from the ceiling.

The room’s focal point was once a dilapidated oak entertainment center.

Elaine worked her magic and created a cozy coral cove. With the help of a little plaster and paint, a beautiful mural soon covered the once-empty shelves. A giant fishing net, complete with charming sea critters, hangs over the new entertainment center to balance out the space. The walls on either side are now painted with multi-colored seaweed and various tropical fish completing the fanciful centerpiece.

Minimal seating for the children in the living room gave Elaine additional inspiration for a sea-inspired creation.

“It was important in this area to use child-friendly furniture that’s slightly lower to the ground and easy to clean up,” says Elaine. “I also wanted to give them ample seating that also served as a resting place.”

From bow to stern, Sheltering Arms’ new seating now incorporates a full-fledged pirate ship. With canvas sails and a vibrantly striped, cushioned deck, this ship is ready to set sail. Giant pillows with a nautical theme and a life-sized fish pillow and buoy complete this sea worthy vessel. With the help of Kane’s Furniture, Elaine provided Sheltering Arms with two more seating options as well as much-needed sleeping space for nap time. Two microfiber light-blue futon couches hold command on the “ocean floor.”

Next on Elaine’s design list was the adjoining dining area. After refinishing the existing dining chairs, Elaine coupled them with a new table. A clever shell curtain hangs behind the eating space. Even a beach towel was converted into a door valance.

“When on a budget,” says Elaine, “look for items around the home like a towel or tablecloth that, with just a little decorative trim, can be turned into a new window treatment.”

Sheltering Arms’ Executive Director Loretta Jackson says she is sure the little ones will never want to leave their new space.

“I’m so excited,” says Loretta. “This will really make a difference.” 

Straight from the Decorator
“My whole goal behind this special project was to create an environment that when the children walked in, if for just one moment they will forget about where they are and what they have been through, and feel like they are in a whole other world!”
Elaine Patch
Owner, Simply Sewn

Decorating Tips for A Child’s Space
Elaine Patch
Owner, Simply Sewn

1. Bring down the level of a high ceiling with fabric and paint color that also makes the space cozier.

2. Don’t be afraid to combine different textures.

3. Design something that will grow with your child.

4. Search online for unique decór items at very reasonable prices.

Want To Help?

Donate your decorating or design services to a homeowner in need.

Donate your products — lumber, furniture, carpet, cabinetry, landscaping, accessories, fabric, etc. — to the project.

Donate your time or resources to the charity.

E-mail Home & Garden Editor Amy Mangan at for more information.

FYI: Sheltering Arms

What if you were living in a family where you were either abused, not wanted, or both? What if you were estranged from your siblings and positioned in a foster home where you were denied love and proper care because there was no other place for you to go? What if there was hope? Sheltering Arms, Inc. provides such hope for children regardless of their ages in a loving, nurturing environment.

Sheltering Arms, Inc. is a non-profit, 501-C3 child placing agency begun in June of 2000 by the Social Ministry Committee of Joy Lutheran Church. It is run by a group of volunteers who form the board of directors who strive to fulfill Sheltering Arms’ mission: “To reduce the effects of neglect, abuse and abandonment of children and youth by supporting, expanding, improving, and developing model programs and services.”

Sheltering Arms believes that children “are treasures to be cherished.”

“One of our goals here at Sheltering Arms is to give the children an unforgettable experience,” said Loretta Jackson, Sheltering Arms’ executive director.

Each child is provided with nutritional meals, beds, clothes, shoes, books, toys, and games. Medical and dental screenings are provided and transportation is readily available. There are opportunities for each child to participate in music, arts, crafts, fitness, and sports. Each child is given the option of leisure time activities, special events, and enriching experiences such as trips to the park, the Ocala Civic Theatre, the Boys & Girls Club, and the movies. There are also allowances and motivational programs, individual service plans, and individual and group discussions.

Sheltering Arms is able to care for 12 children at a time and is currently at capacity. Sheltering Arms provides care for children up to 11 as individuals, and up to 17 if in a sibling group.

“But,” said Loretta, “there is always room for leeway.”

Sheltering Arms, Inc.

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