By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great local journalism.
Designing Dreams come true
Makeover planned for Jesse’s House
AHT Room Makeover 3 es
Allison Todd with AHT Interiors looks for examples of colors she hopes to use in redesigning the family room at Jesse’s House. - photo by Emily Furtsch
At a glance

To kick off this year’s Designing Dreams project, there will be a cocktail party from 6 to 7:30 p.m. Aug. 26 at Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails, 780 Mayfield Road in Milton. The restaurant will provide hors d’oevres and a cash bar. In addition, there will be raffle tickets for a two-day getaway to a home in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Money raised will go to the Jesse’s House makeover project and is tax deductible. People do not have to be present to win, and tickets will be sold through Oct. 1. Tickets available at or (770) 887-7612.
For many business owners, the current economic conditions have caused frustration and negativity. But others are looking for ways to use their time and talents to help others.

One such person is Allison Havill Todd, president and director of design at Allison Havill Todd Interiors, a design firm with more than 15 years experience working in homes and offices.

Last year, Todd established Designing Dreams, a philanthropic community initiative dedicated to providing for those in need. It awards a $20,000 one-room makeover to an individual or nonprofit organization in need. The recipient must be nominated and complete an extensive application process.

“I have nothing to do with who is chosen,” Todd said. “There is a separate panel which is not part of AHT Interiors who reviews the applications and then makes their decision. Then, I take it from there and complete the makeover.”

For its first project, Designing Dreams renovated the living room of a family with a young daughter who has special needs stemming from a premature birth and other heath problems such as a brain tumor.

This year’s recipient will be Jesse’s House, a local emergency and long-term shelter for adolescent girls ages 7 to 17.

“The [selection] panel was very moved by the mission of Jesse’s House and how much the organization has impacted the lives of so many young women,” Todd said. “They voted unanimously to help the shelter.

“We are thrilled to make over their family room and turn it into a fun, inspiring space for these young ladies.”

The mission of Jesse’s House is to provide emergency and long-term care in a safe, nurturing and therapeutic environment to adolescent girls who have been removed from their home due to abuse, abandonment, neglect or delinquency.

Since its inception in 1998, Jesse’s House has served more than 600 girls in 21 counties.

Lindsay Rust, executive director of the organization, said she and her staff are “so excited” to be chosen for the project.

“While the residents are in our care, we strive to provide them with a safe, home-like environment,” she said. “To have this makeover transform the family room to a fun, inspiring area is going to be truly fantastic.”

Rust added that while making over a room may seem like a “want” versus a “need,” sprucing up the shelter can have a positive impact on the residents.

“We had a group of volunteers that made over the computer lab/library a few years ago, and our tutors told us they could tell immediately that the girls were more upbeat and attentive,” she said.

It’s that kind of impact that Todd was aiming for when she launched Designing Dreams.

“Times were really tough last year and everybody was so negative about the economy and wondering when things would turn around,” she said. “I woke up in the middle of the night and I had the idea.

“I thought, well I know right now I don’t have the resources to do an entire extreme makeover, but I can do one room for someone.”

Because of her experience in the business, she’s been able to involve numerous vendors who have been willing to pitch in.

“So many people stepped up to the plate to make [Designing Dreams] possible, I am confident that this year my vendors will again help with the room makeover,” she said.

A kick-off event to support the project at Jesse’s House will be held Aug. 26 at Milton’s Cuisine & Cocktails in Milton.

Todd hopes to have the room complete by Thanksgiving.