Designers pitch in for Ronald McDonald House at Stanford

A rendering of the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford by architects Kenneth Rodrigues & Partners.

Hope has a new home in Palo Alto, California.

A $50 million expansion of the Ronald McDonald House at Stanford is complete and ready to begin providing accommodations to families of seriously ill children. When it opens its doors, some 70 more families per night will be able to stay when seeking treatment for sick kids.

Until then, the expansion, featuring 67 new guest rooms is open for a fundraising design tour, offering a close-up look at the work of top interior designers in the San Francisco area.

Through “Where Hope has a Home,” a yearlong project spearheaded by the San Francisco Design Center, 48 Bay Area design firms where given the challenge to decorate and furnish guest rooms and common areas – such as laundries and kitchens – on a pro bono basis, for an estimated value of $2 million. They provided everything from paint and flooring to fixtures and furniture for a total of 52,000 square feet of space.

“When a child is diagnosed with a serious illness, the entire family’s life is immediately turned upside down,” says Annette Eros, chief executive officer at the house. “Having access to advanced medical care becomes critical, but often medical facilities are extremely far away from their homes. It is important to ensure that more families in need will have a place near the hospital be together to rest, recuperate, and heal.”

The expansion, in a separate building, more than doubles the capacity of the Palo Alto house and brings the total number of rooms to 123, making it the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world.

The first Ronald McDonald House opened in 1974 in Philadelphia, and since then, more than 300 have opened in more than 50 countries around the world. The one in Palo Alto house was the fifth to open, in 1979, with just 13 rooms. The house is near the Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital on the campus of Stanford University. It attracts patients from around the world.

The Palo Alto house has gone through several previous expansions, first to 24 and then to 47 rooms, but the demand, sadly, always outstripped supply. Before now, 40 to 50 families per night had to be turned away.

A plan for the design of Room 307 from Alden Miller Interiors.
Room 307 completed. Photo by Joseph Schell.

One participating firm was Alden Miller Interiors of Pacifica, which decorated a laundry room and guest room, including an adjoining bath. Guest rooms ranged in size from 250 to 350 square feet.

“I believe that interior design has the ability to directly affect our mood, energy, and even health,” says company namesake Miller. “For the Ronald McDonald House, good design isn’t just important, it’s crucial.”

(DWR was honored to participate in the project, providing two chairs, a side table and accessories for Miller’s guest room. About 20 other sponsors contributed to her rooms.)

Where Hope Has A Home: Design Tour runs 10am–3pm, Thursday–Monday, through Feb. 28. Tickets are $35 for adults, $10 for children under 12. The Ronald McDonald House at Stanford is at 510 Sand Hill Road, Palo Alto, CA 94304.