2019 marks the fifth year Bella Domicile has been involved with the Madison chapter of Design for a Difference. The International Design Guild founded the Design for a Difference program to create a partnership between socially-conscious showrooms and their communities, through embracing and supporting local nonprofit organizations. Evidence-based interior design has continually been proven to improve people’s quality of life. The focus of Design for a Difference is to bring these interior design principles to often overlooked spaces in the community to help them prosper and serve their neighborhoods more effectively. We partner with the head of our local Madison chapter, Floor 360, to tackle these projects each year.
This year’s recipient was the Wil Mar Neighborhood Center located in the Williamson-Marquette neighborhood. The center describes itself as “a place for all people to learn, grow, and celebrate”. Wil Mar was established in 1968 and serves more than 15,000 individuals through its programming each year. They provide a variety of services to East Isthmus residents, including a variety of fitness classes for all ages, after school and summer care for children aged 5-12, weekly food pantries, community meals, and a variety of summer festivals.
The Wil Mar Neighborhood Center exists in a space that was a church for over 50 years before being donated to the community for its current purpose. This 8500 square foot, over 100 year old building was in need of updates, more functional space, and cohesive aesthetics. Wil Mar’s existing spaces were a hodge-podge of colors, furniture, and artwork. Some spaces were colorful but cluttered, others were bland and sterile. Eleven rooms in total were redesigned this year, including the kitchen, the youth room, and the Yahara room, the biggest space in the center which can be rented for events.
Our team at Bella Domicile was in charge of tackling the Yahara Kitchen space. The commercial kitchen was small and about to get smaller during the remodel process. Our goal was to make the entire space appear larger than it actually is, while also improving its functionality. The existing kitchen was one that was heavy on the sterile, industrial side. The bland colors did nothing to reflect the vibrancy of the center itself.
The kitchen itself is vital to many of Wil Mar’s outreach programs such as putting out the weekly community meal; we saw just how important it was to the Wil Mar Neighborhood Center to bring people together over food.
Over the course of several weeks, our team worked to upgrade the cabinets and countertops, add backsplash tile to the space, painted the walls, added new shelving to the pantry, and gave the existing appliances a good cleaning. While we were unable to move any of the appliances, the space got a good cleaning, brightening, and overall update it desperately needed. We’re grateful to our vendor Bellmont Cabinet Co., who donated all of the cabinetry, our local partner The Granite Shop of Madison who donated all of the countertops, and to our own Lori Leistico who designed the funky backsplash tile along with Terra Domus Tile.
Music became our inspiration for the kitchen design. They put on several music festivals each summer which brings the entire community together — music runs through Wil Mar Neighborhood Center’s veins. Our entire color palette was inspired by vinyl records, and we even used actual records as decorations on the wall. One volunteer said the records were her favorite part since they listen to music while cooking!
On a chilly October 12th, the leadership team, board members, and guests were invited to see the unveiling of the center’s new spaces. Everyone was thrilled to see the transformation and excited by the new aesthetic. Bella Domicile is proud to continue our partnership with Floor360 and Design for a Difference. These projects and the reactions from the surrounding community are always a high point of our year.
More vendors that we would like to thank for helping us complete this amazing makeover are:
Joshia Stankovsky with Adamas LLC
Michael & Carissa Kroening
LA Rossing, LLC
For more information about the Wil Mar Neighborhood Center visit wil-mar.org or call (608) 257-4576.
For more information on the Design for a Difference movement visit