An interior designer uses her creative connections to bring comfort to families of sick children.

As soon as Sarah McBride walked into the new Jeff and Vicky Hostetler Family Resource Center at Ruby Memorial Hospital, she knew she had her work cut out for her.

The Hostetler family donated money in August 2017 to create a space where the families of sick children could find refuge from the stresses of hospital life. But the room the hospital set aside had none of the homey vibe the Hostetlers hoped to provide, so they recruited McBride’s Reclaim Design Co. to spruce things up. “It looked like a waiting room,” she says. “When you walked in there you knew you were in a hospital.”

McBride wanted to combine the feel of home and a cozy coffee shop, two places where people are best able to relax and recharge. But she would have to bring that vision to life while also meeting the stringent requirements for hospital furnishings.

Patients frequently visit the resource center with their families, and many of those parents have weakened immune systems. McBride couldn’t pick any furniture for the space that would harbor pathogens. But sterilizable furniture often looks—well, it looks sterile.

So McBride worked with the folks at Star Furniture to find a fabric that looks great, repels moisture, and can be cleaned with straight bleach while still maintaining its color. That’s what she used to upholster seating in the living room and video game areas. “It’s safe, it’s extremely comfortable, it’s pleasing to look at,” she says. “It just looks like a piece of furniture you’d see in anybody’s home.”

One of the most popular parts of the resource center is its coffee bar, where families can get a cup of coffee from a Keurig machine, make a cup of tea, or warm up a packet of oatmeal. “It looks like you’re sitting in a Starbucks or a coffee shop in the middle of a city,” McBride says. The centerpiece of the space—besides its view of Milan Puskar Stadium—is a long cafe table and four custom bar stools made by Josh Perry of Artfully Industrial. The table is constructed of wood and steel and it’s sealed for easy cleaning. “It’s rustic, it’s industrial, but the lines on it are very clean,” McBride says.

She painted the walls in neutral colors and used faux greenery to bring some life to the space, since real plants aren’t allowed. She contacted Emily Kurth of Coco & June to create custom artwork set in sealed barnwood frames. McBride is especially proud of the hanging that reads “Together is a Great Place to Be.” “Nobody wants to be in a hospital. But I wanted them to be able to focus on the fact that they’re together,” she says.

McBride is no stranger to hospitals. She attended WVU for her nursing degree, then worked for WVU Hospitals for several years before becoming a stay-at-home mom. Then she started helping friends— and eventually friends of friends—decorate their homes. “I had people calling me and saying, ‘Hey, this might sound strange, but would you mind coming over and helping me look at colors?’”

She launched Reclaim Design Co. in October 2016 to connect her design clients with Morgantown creatives. McBride says she was proud to see those creatives—Perry, Kurth, and the folks at Star Furniture—rally behind the resource center. “People who are part of a small business are so generous and apt to give back,” she says. “We’re stronger together than anybody is apart.”

written by ZACK HAROLD

photographed by AMBERLEE CHRISTEY