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Turning the One Tail Adoption Center Into a Home


We first sat down with Heather, the Director and head honcho behind One Tail at a Time, in April. After running this Chicago nonprofit as a foster based rescue for years, they took a leap and signed the lease of an adorable house in the Bucktown neighborhood. This house would be their soon-to-be Adoption Center, a meeting ground where families would embrace the pup into a forever family. It would be a place that shelter dogs could call a temporary home, a place where they would await the love of their life to whisk them away! There would be events and volunteer gatherings, and it would be where all the happy lives.

The bones of this house were good, but it needed a spit shining and a good dose of love. Our time with OTAT began the day that Heather asked us if we’d be able or willing to volunteer a hand towards a design plan; we couldn’t say yes! fast enough. Over the next few months, the One Tail Adoption Center turned into so much more than we imagined, in regards to good old dedication and no shortage of sweat. When simply asked by us and without a second thought, furniture, decor, lighting and services were overwhelmingly provided as donations from some of our favorite places to hang on the web. It was worth every email sent, every text typed and every day spent brainstorming, building and making.

This post could easily be broken into two or three parts, but what would be the fun in that? Settle in with a coffee or cocktail – you know, depending on the time of day – and let’s dive in head first! (If you’re catching up, you can see where we started, the bare bones before right here, and a progress report here.)

THE ENTRY/RETAIL ROOM. We wanted families to drive up the OTAT House, see the One Tail blue door and – without a moment of hesitation – say, we’re going to adopt a dog today. The exterior received nothing more than paint, flowers, doggie door knocker and a sweet new sign, but it made all the difference! When you step inside, you’re walking into the Retail Room, which pulls double duty as the main foyer. There’s a place for coats and leashes, and overflow merchandise can be tucked away in a handsome dresser. A 9′ DIY gate separates the entry from the main room, keeping dogs at bay when new faces arrive.


ENTRY SOURCES. Door color: Valspar Optimus Spring Gentian donated by Ace Hardware // Wallpaper: Best In Show donated by Osborne & Little // Planters: donated by Modernica // Dresser: donated by MegMade // Large print: designed by Ryan Duggan and donated by Framebridge // Welcome mat: Cintas // Small brass frame: West Elm // Small bulldog statue: donated by Wayfair // Dachshund lamp: donated by Wayfair // Shelving unit: IKEA // All hooks: IKEA // Dog gate: DIY

THE ADOPTION ROOM. Do you remember the Garbage Sofa? She looks a little different now! A matte black finish against blue upholstery makes the room, and it’ll be the backdrop of every new family photo – starting now! The Adoption Room is the space where moms and dads will meet, kiss and love upon adoptable dogs. Our goal was to simply make this space nothing short of smile inducing, focusing on details large and small – from accessible puppy treats to vintage books to a 300 pound concrete statue, naturally.


ADOPTION ROOM SOURCES. Wall color: Benjamin Moore’s Classic Gray // Sofa: Found and reupholstered by Covers Unlimited in Richloom outdoor fabric // Zerah rug: donated by Lulu & Georgia // Lisette chairs: donated by Lulu & Georgia // Large Dog artwork: donated and framed by Minted // Coffee and end tables: donated by Wayfair // Possini Euro pendant: donated by Lamps Plus // Window treatments: roller shades donated by Bali Blinds // Pink pillow: donated by Lamps Plus // Navy and yellow pillow: IKEA // Dog breed pillows: donated by Perpetually Yours // Dog statue: Thrifted and painted gold // Books: Tiny Confessions and Vintage // Gold planter: CB2 // Toy basket: Lowes // Treat jars: Container Store

THE MEETING ROOM. Throughout our time spent at the House, this room was heavily used as a gathering for volunteers to write thank you notes, take on administrative tasks and all-around knock out the hefty to-dos that accumulate with a nonprofit. (Heroes, we tell you.) This table will serve the same in the future, but it will also be where families will sign adoption papers before taking their newest family member on his or her Freedom Ride. We kept it open and clutter free, with tiny clusters of framed art, more biscuits (of course!) and a wall of sponsor plaques.


MEETING ROOM SOURCES. Table: donated by Crooked Nail // Rug: donated by FLOR // Clock: donated by Lamps Plus // Heart light: IKEA // Pink planter: IKEA // Bennie planter: CB2 

On a quick aside, right off of the Meeting Room is the main floor bathroom. We had a little fun with this, and in addition to a handheld shower head – for bathing puppies! – a freshly potted jade, new shower curtain and a good scrub down, we couldn’t help but include this silly photo, too (pulled from the pages of an old OTAT calendar):


THE KENNEL/VOLUNTEER ROOM. Enough custom kennels were brought into the basement to create a halfway house for up to ten adoptable dogs! These kennels are raised to allow for easy cleaning and drainage, and they’re roomy enough to ensure puppy comfort. A small seating area is set up for volunteers, all in a wipeable finish. A dry erase wall was created for anyone to write notes and updates about the resident dogs, or anything else they may want to share! Not shown is a corner nook for coats, purses and any paperwork (i.e., additional adoption forms or incident reports) and a shelving unit for towels and cleaning supplies.


KENNEL SOURCES. Wall color: Valspar Optimus Warm Breezes donated by Ace Hardware // Dry erase paint: Rustoleum // Pillow: donated by Lamps Plus // Kennels: Mason Company // Chairs: IKEA // End table: IKEA // Ribba marker ledge: IKEA

THE YARD. We’re kicking ourselves that we don’t have proper photos of the yard before. Imagine this: dirt, gravel and less a cedar fence. Turf was brought in for ease of maintenance, and large scale art and planters in varying heights bring in color! Have you seen happier noodles? The outdoor area is very, very large (especially by city standards), giving all the adopt-ables (plus Jack and CC!) an area to romp, burn off energy and bake in the sun.


YARD SOURCES. Astro turf: Installed by RugZoom // Flower boxes: Home Depot // All plants: Christy Webber // White outdoor furniture: IKEA // Picnic table: DIY by Mike Guajardo (rock star!)

The morning I took these photos, our good friend Daniel came by afterwards to take some outtakes of our own little family (Maddie and Libby, you were missed!). We loved so many of them, but the combination of Chunk’s chilled out expression and Jack’s laid back attitude – for once! – has our hearts. (This one is a close contender.) We are so happy to have had this memory captured, and big hugs to Daniel for being so patient with our energetic meatballs!


Last, but certainly not least (not even close), a very, very special thank you! to those we personally worked with to provide product and flair to the Adoption Center: Ace Hardware, Lulu & Georgia, Lamps Plus, Bali Blinds, Osborne & Little, Framebridge, Modernica, WayfairMinted, MegMade, Crooked Nail, Covers Unlimited, FLOR, Perpetually Yours, Tiny Confessions and all of the makers that donated art prints. There are so many that volunteered time towards helping us reaching the finish line – Angela, Mike, Pete, Marti, Kathryn, Mark, Adrienne! There is a good chance we’re forgetting some; if it’s you, please chime in and tell us so. You all are so appreciated.

BONUS + THANK YOU. Those amazing sponsors up there? They want to share the love with you, too. We hope you’ll take advantage of these special offers, whipped up just for you! Thank you for the encouragement along the way. XO.

 Lulu & Georgia: Use code OTAT20 // 20% off through August 6
 Framebridge: Use code ONETAIL10 // 10% off through October 31 // New customers only
 Minted: Use code YBH10 // 10% off through August 12
 Modernica: Use code ONETAIL // 10% off CERAMICS through August 12

PS! If you’re like us, you’ll never tire of seeing adoptable pups finding their happy fur-ever homes. You can follow One Tail at a Time on Facebook for your daily dose, and we promise you won’t be disappointed.

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  • Jodi8.5.15 - 8:18 AM

    you guys!!! it looks AMAAAAAAZING!!


  • Allison8.5.15 - 9:01 AM

    Amazing job, guys! Such a great cause to help out, and I am so excited to see all the “new family” photos the garbage sofa has in its future. One question- where did the meeting room chairs come from? I’m kicking around the idea of getting rid of our dining room chairs and trading them for something like this!ReplyCancel

  • Debra8.5.15 - 9:07 AM

    I love every single inch of that space, but the sponsor wall had me swooning.ReplyCancel

  • Kelli S8.5.15 - 9:21 AM

    I love, love, LOVE everything about this makeover. You’ve all done a fantastic job at making the adoption center a happy, positive place that no doubt will be the beginning of so many happy endings. Well done!ReplyCancel

  • Rachel8.5.15 - 9:26 AM

    Ahhh that last photo of your pack is just the cutest!! And the house turned out AMAZINGLY! I can just feel the love in every picture. So many great things are going to happen here.ReplyCancel

  • Sara8.5.15 - 9:35 AM

    Aaarrrggghhhhh! SO BEAUTIFUL!! And you are KILLING me with all of those Jack and CC pics. Well done!ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.5.15 - 10:05 AM

      We’re biased, but yeah, they’re the cutest. Ha!ReplyCancel

  • Kelsey8.5.15 - 9:50 AM

    Love this and your blog so much. Where did you get the kale chips print thing? It’s adorableReplyCancel

    • Kim8.5.15 - 10:05 AM

      Hi Kelsey, I think a OTAT volunteer cross stitched it as a gift!ReplyCancel

  • jenn aka the picky girl8.5.15 - 10:24 AM

    You guys. This is PHENOMENAL! And that sponsor wall. So perfect.

    What a beautiful space and a worthy endeavor. Congrats to all of you.ReplyCancel

  • Priscilla8.5.15 - 10:44 AM

    THIS.IS.FUCKING.AMAZING!! YOU GUYSS!! OMG! You guys are AMAZING!!!!! <3ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.5.15 - 10:53 AM

      Haha, thank you! We need a long nap now though! :DReplyCancel

  • Liz8.5.15 - 11:29 AM

    Wow, you guys, your sponsors, and the folks at otat are rock stars. This place looks like heaven for homeless pups. I wish they all had a place like this to wait for their furever homes.ReplyCancel

  • Allie Middleton8.5.15 - 11:39 AM

    This is so admirable and incredible! So excited for all of the dogs that will find new homes because of this place :)

    Do you by chance know where the front porch light came from? Random I know, but I love it :)ReplyCancel

  • katie8.5.15 - 11:43 AM

    Wow! This looks amazing and so inviting. I too love the sponsor wall, and the dog wallpaper in the entry. What a perfect place for the dogs, volunteers, and hopefully new-pet parents!ReplyCancel

  • Josh | The Kentucky Gent8.5.15 - 12:01 PM

    You guys did SUCH a great job turning this place into a home, definitely doesn’t feel like a shelter at all.

    Josh | The Kentucky Gent

  • Stacy8.5.15 - 12:03 PM

    It is wonderful! Great job.ReplyCancel

  • Eugenia8.5.15 - 12:45 PM

    My heart just exploded with love! I have never commented on a blog before but I just had to say how amazing and beautiful this is. I love everything about it! The heart lamp is such a sweet touch :)ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.5.15 - 1:16 PM

      The heart light is one of my favorite touches as well! There was a bit of a debate when we were at Ikea if we should get it, but I’m glad I won that argument.ReplyCancel

  • Monika & Sam8.5.15 - 1:14 PM

    Holy barks! That place turned out beyond pawsome. You guys did a truly amazing design for a terrific non-profit. Loved everything. Here’s hoping many fur-kids find their furever homes from there.

    Super well done. <3ReplyCancel

  • You guys rocked it! Seriously, I love the entryway and all the thoughtful, fun touches throughout the reno. So inspiring!ReplyCancel

  • Alyssa8.5.15 - 2:10 PM

    I LOVE what you did with the space!ReplyCancel

  • Brynne@TheGatheredHome8.5.15 - 7:40 PM

    WOW! You guys did such an incredible job! It’s just the happiest, most awesome place now – so neat to see the way you were able to work in your community and use your talents to bring joy to others!ReplyCancel

  • Paper and Ash8.5.15 - 9:04 PM

    You guys!!!! This is beyond amazing. If only all pups had such a wonderful place to wait out their time till they find their forever homes. You should be unbelievably proud of all you achieved. Love every inch and all the clever doggy touches! Cutest family pic too xxReplyCancel

  • Kim8.5.15 - 9:28 PM

    Thank you so much, everyone!ReplyCancel

  • Kelly8.6.15 - 12:54 PM

    Wowzers! Sheer perfection! Here’s to the happy doggy families.ReplyCancel

  • Trude8.7.15 - 12:45 PM

    It turned out amaaaaazing. All those finishing details are perfect and so well thought out. If only every adoption center could be like this! Congrats on everyone’s hard work!ReplyCancel

  • Lynne8.9.15 - 7:39 AM

    Fantastic work. My favourite bit is the mat in the entryway – if I stepped onto that after coming through that gorgeous blue door there is no way I’d be leaving without a new buddy. To me that mat encapsulates what the whole thing is about :-)ReplyCancel

    • Kim8.10.15 - 9:14 AM

      We love the mat so much too! It was our little surprise gift for Heather and the OTAT Team.ReplyCancel

  • […] might be my favorite project of all […]ReplyCancel

  • kribss8.10.15 - 8:36 AM

    Lucky dogs! I want ya’ ll to come and design +decorate my new house- its not too far from Chicago! ; )ReplyCancel

  • […] there was one challenge that topped the list in the One Tail House (that is, besides time), it was the 9′ expanse that separated the entryway from the Adoption […]ReplyCancel

  • […] I.Love. Animals. And I love hearing about great rescue stories, so this makes me even gigglier than a normal redeco story. Read all of the good deets on this DIY adoption center remodel. […]ReplyCancel

  • […] Bright Fence with Hanging Pots from yellowbrickhome […]ReplyCancel

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