When Fabiola Hidalgo, lead through her front door by Columbia Home Interior Design Editor, Sherry Hockman, was allowed to open her eyes and see her new living area, the only words she had were, “Muy bonito,” very pretty. Hockman, who donated her services and products from Hockman Interiors, was in charge of giving the bland living space a second chance, much like Hidalgo, who is a survivor of cervical cancer.
After a very difficult year, when Hidalgo was approached to participate in the renovation, she didn’t know what to expect. But as she took in the new look of her home, she was surprised by the extent of the redesign. Hockman had not only painted and added window treatments, put in a new kitchen countertop (thanks to Woodstone) and painted the cabinets, but she also brought in a new couch and chairs for the living room, a mobile island for the kitchen and even installed bench seating with storage (thanks to Jacob Rose Construction) around the new dining table. The new ceiling fan whirred as Hidalgo took in all the changes. When asked what she likes best, she says, “Everything.”
Hockman centered the redesign on a soft turquoise, Hidalgo’s favorite color and the fabric for the window treatments. She wanted to make the space — small for a family of four — more “functional and beautiful at the same time.” She immediately saw that Hidalgo was “in desperate need of storage,” so many of the pieces she brought in added storage capacity: hooks for jackets and backpacks near the door, a small cabinet in the entryway, a shelving unit in the kitchen to house the microwave, a kitchen island that can be wheeled out of the way when not in use, built-in drawers underneath the new bench seating in the dining area and a coffee table with a shelf underneath. Hockman mounted the television to the wall to open up floor space in the living room and used the big pieces and an area rug in the living room to establish different areas within the open floor plan. And she brought the whole project together in one week with the help of several other volunteers.
The past year has been a difficult one for Hidalgo. She went to the doctor to check on her pregnancy and was diagnosed with cervical cancer. She eventually lost the child and endured radiation and chemotherapy treatments. She calls her experiences with the illness “a horrible nightmare.” She credits her faith and her family and friends as being the only things that got her through.
She didn’t immediately tell her children, Kevin, now almost 6, and Brian, now 4, what was happening, but when they saw their mother in bed and were sent to the babysitter repeatedly, they knew something was wrong. Hidalgo is thankful for her friends and family who gathered around her and gave her encouragement; her mother came from Mexico to help. At one point, her husband, Mauricio, learned to give her injections in her stomach and did so every day for a month; she credits him with giving her strength.
“You are not alone,” Hidalgo says to those facing a similar health crisis. She hopes that others are as fortunate as she has been to have a positive outcome.
Hidalgo’s struggles this past year weren’t limited to her health. She and her mother were held up at gunpoint while cleaning a house during a time when Hidalgo was very ill. She says she still feels afraid when someone knocks on the door and vividly remembers the smell of the pistol they were threatened with.
A fan of television remodeling programs, Hildago never thought she’d be a participant in a similar project. She admires Hockman’s work and couldn’t stop thanking her during the reveal. When asked how she felt seeing Hidalgo react to her new room for the first time, Hockman broke into tears. She feels that the project was as much a gift to her as it was to recipient. Knowing how hard Hidalgo works and what she’s been through in the past year, Hockman says she feels blessed to be a vessel for good work in the community.
The star piece of the remodel is a quartet of family photos that hang over the dining table. Angelique Hunter photographed Hidalgo, her husband and her two boys at Rock Bridge State Park. Hidalgo says her children are the most important part of her life, and no one who looks at the photos can doubt the love the family shares and the happiness they feel when they are together.
A very special thank you to:
>>Interior Decorator Editor and owner of Hockman Interiors, Sherry Hockman, donated her products and services for the redesign.
>>Photographer Angelique Hunter describes the Hidalgos as “a very sweet family, very happy.”
>>Hampton Inn for giving Fabiola a place to stay during her home renovation
>>Dietlinde Stitzer shopped for accessories but says that the best accessories of the room makeover are the family photos.
>>Bed, Bath and Beyond provided a 20 percent discount on items for the redesign.
>>Leslie Davis bought and refinished the dining table to match the kitchen island. She says she was “really grateful to provide the table because that’s where a family gathers.”
>>Volunteers Eva Hockman and Gary Schaller, who were not able to attend the reveal, assisted Sherry Hockman in her efforts.
>>CiAnne Pinzon, the Hidalgos’ landlord, translated for Fabiola Hidalgo, whose first language is Spanish.
>>Woodstone donated the new kitchen countertop.
>>Jacob Rose Construction donated its services for the bench seating and storage.