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Grandma gets a surprise makeover

This is my Nona Haydée. I am her eldest grandchild.

My grandma has lived in this house for over 60 years. Needless to say, it had fallen into complete disrepair: the wall paint was crumbling, the hand-me-down curtains were nothing but unwelcoming emergency window coverings, the chimney didn't work, her sitting options were uncomfortable, her beloved floor lamp was broken...

This was, however, the only way she knew her living/dining room. And in spite of all the difficulties, she still loved to entertain, cook for her grandchildren, celebrate birthdays and gather the family around the table for a home-made meal.

Something had to be done. Even if I was living in Australia, and she, in Argentina. The photo you see directly above marks the exact moment I decided to transform this outdated, run-down space into a warm, comfortable room where Nona could not only enjoy spending time with friends and family, but also feel safe and surrounded by items that reminded her of the best times in her life.

So, on our next trip to Argentina, I went to work. To complete the project, I managed to enlist the help of one of my cousins, and of course, of my husband.

And away we were. We had a total of two days to complete the entire project.

Our progress was met with a bit of skepticism on the part of our relatives, who had never seen a makeover in their lives and were not used to the fast pace of our work.

But Nona surely loved the finished space!

The furniture has been repositioned to create a practical arrangement for Nona's needs: she now has a comfortable spot where she can have long phone conversations sitting down; her rocking chair has extra support for her back; and her sheer curtains provide her with all the privacy and elegance she wants while keeping the room bright.

Going through her mementos, we found a gorgeous angular mirror, that we placed at a height where she can check her make up one last time before walking out the door.

Knowing how much she loves making doillies, I had to make sure there were plenty of them on display.

Family gathering before the makeover.

And after. Thanks to my father for fixing the floor lamp that had been broken for years. Thanks to my mum for helping stain the wooden curtain bars.

The picture has been lowered, this section of the room has been painted a creamy white, and the fresh bird of paradise leafs are from Grandma's own garden. She still keeps all of her knick-knacks, but from now on they are neatly sorted in the one place: on a shelf in her sideboard.

Having given my grandma such a serene room where she can be warm and comfortable has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. No-one is ever too old to receive the gift of a freshly reorganised space. And no time is ever too short to update a room.


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