Bedrooms should represent safety and security; they should be places to unwind and relax. But for kids who’ve experienced abuse — which in many cases takes place in their own rooms — they can instead become associated with feelings of fear and pain. The nonprofit Room Redux is dedicated to changing that. 

Founded by Susie Vybiral in 2017, the organization provides total room transformations for children who have been victimized — turning spaces that were once the sites of traumatic experiences into sanctuaries.

Vybiral was inspired to launch the nonprofit after interning at a children’s advocacy center in Comal County, Texas, while working toward her master’s degree in psychology. Speaking to caregivers and parents, she heard stories about kids who had been abused and subsequently stopped sleeping in their rooms or inviting friends over.

“Environment plays a huge role in how we feel and function on a day-to-day basis,” she explained in an October 2023 story for local magazine New Braunfels Monthly, adding: “In order to facilitate healing, a child’s bedroom must be transformed into a safe haven.” 

Married couple Ryan and Cieara Hallett are co-executive directors of the northern Michigan chapter of Room Redux, one of 18 sprinkled throughout the United States. The pair got involved with the nonprofit in 2021 after watching a video about it on Instagram. As someone who had seen people she loved go through abuse and trauma, Cieara personally connected with the mission. 

“She always knew [being witness to those experiences] was for a reason, and finding Room Redux made everything click and make sense,” Ryan told Nice News of his wife.

The transformation process is simple: Once a candidate is referred to Room Redux, the organization works with professionals like counselors and psychologists as well as the child’s parent or caregivers to best address their needs. Things like their favorite colors, activities, and animals are all taken into account, as well as any therapeutic tools they’ve been utilizing in therapy. 

“You never know what in a room a child focuses on that we can change for them that they associate with their trauma,” Ryan explained. “A room transformation can give the room a new look and a new feel which can provide the child with their own safe space to heal. We say ‘a new room equals a new start.’” 

The nonprofit is entirely volunteer-led, and those individuals — all of whom have undergone background checks — are “the backbone of everything Room Redux does,” said Ryan. “We have some of the best volunteers out there because they do it all with no special skills or certifications, just big hearts.”

Together, they empty the room and get to work painting walls, building furniture, decorating, and more. “In a perfect world, we would have a licensed electrician for anything electrical-related,” Ryan explained, “but we have all learned that we have many talents we didn’t know we possessed.” Everything is completed in just one day, so the recipient’s life is disrupted as little as possible in the process.

All the transformations are done anonymously, meaning the nonprofit never shares any photos of the children, and the children never sees any of the individuals who take part in the renovations.

To date, the northern Michigan chapter has completed 32 room transformations in nine counties across the state, from the Upper Peninsula to Grand Rapids. And Room Redux has completed 262 in total. In addition to its U.S. locations, the organization is in the process of expanding globally — working on filing in the United Kingdom, Australia, New Zealand, the Philippines, and Israel. 

“It is an absolute blessing for us to have the opportunity to help make a positive impact on the lives of these children,” said Ryan. “They need to know that there are people who love and care about them without expectations.”

Learn how to donate, get involved, or refer a child for a room transformation