Shiny and New
By Meda Kessler
Photos courtesy of House of Shine
House of Shine gets a colorful new home, as founder Claudia Beeny continues to help adults and children find their own bright spot in the world.
“You’ve always had the power, dear. You just had to learn it for yourself.”
It’s one of the more memorable quotes from The Wizard of Oz as Glinda, the Good Witch of the North, helps Dorothy return to Kansas.
Claudia Beeny doesn’t wear a tiara or a sparkling dress or carry a magic wand, but she does believe we all carry that “power” within us to live a fulfilling life and make the world a better place. As founder and executive director of the nonprofit House of Shine, she wants to help you find it.
Beeny’s background is in higher education, and her resume ranges from a bachelor’s degree in history to a Ph.D. in higher education administration. For the past 25 years, she has held several positions, including dean of students, but her focus has been on developing student leaders. Beeny says she found her own power through a blog she started in 2007 — with encouragement from her students — back when blogging was one of the primary ways for people to communicate online. She called it Highlowaha. (Say each syllable slowly, and you’ll understand its meaning.) Through Highlowaha, she began to zero in on developing people.
“My goal was to blog about one creative idea a day, six days a week, without repeating ideas,” says Beeny, who used the family dinner hour with her husband and kids to talk about their highs, lows and something they learned each day. “My first one was Feb. 18, 2007. It was challenging sometimes. I had to travel with a laptop; long days became longer because the blog post sometimes took me two hours to write.”
Before long, Beeny had built up quite a following. “It didn’t matter to me whether one person was reading it or thousands. I was completely living in a state of flow. Of course, I also thought Oprah would discover me, and I’d be off to the races,” she says with a smile.
The blog eventually grew into a full-blown House of Shine website. In addition to developing curriculum for the students, kindergarten through high school, Beeny also created workshops and programs for women and organizations to help them find their “shine,” which has a double meaning. It’s an acronym for “strengths, hobbies, interests (and irritants), needs and experiences.” And, of course, it’s a word that by definition means “bright light.”
Beeny believes we all are born with certain gifts, talents and abilities to make not only ourselves happy but to make the world a better place. House of Shine aims to help people find what it calls their “point of intersection,” the place where they can use their talents and interests to contribute and make their community a better place, be it in a small or a big way. With kids, it’s about discovery and unearthing who they are. With adults (there’s no age limit at House of Shine), the focus is on rediscovery and exploration of one’s self.
“The world can be a very noisy place. We want to help cut through the clutter and unearth who you are and shine a little brighter.”
Eventually, Beeny realized that the House of Shine needed a home. “With 13 years of content, we wanted a place where we could hold our own classes and create experiences.” In October 2019, she found a building on a block off downtown Grapevine’s bustling Main Street that was a former women’s boutique. “It needed work, but I loved the light and the space, inside and out.” They signed a lease in November, and the makeover began.
It should come as no surprise that House of Shine’s palette is bright and bold. For help, they called in Fort Worth designer Shauna Glenn, who’s known for her imaginative use of color in her interior projects. Glenn was honored by the nonprofit at a Galentine’s Day event last February and was the immediate choice for the project.
“I love that they were pretty fearless when it came to color,” says Glenn, who also helped select furniture and lighting for the project. “It was just a matter of bringing it all together. This was such a fun project, and I love the results. It’s really a happy place.”
While the corrugated tin exterior remains, yellow doors and black trim add punch and set the stage for what’s to come inside.
After your eyes adjust to all the color, check out the unique custom retail space that resembles a globe with built-in shelves. There’s also a heavily decorated wall covered with three-dimensional objects (all yellow) with a swing in front of it and, of course, the Shine wall.
Massive high-density foam letters painted yellow spell out the word “SHINE” and are backlit. All the custom pieces come from Dream Maker Builds, “gonzo” artists and craftsmen based in Dallas who definitely captured the playful side of House of Shine.
Every space gets special treatment — even the restroom, which has been wallpapered with pages from the Colorstrology birthday book. Round ceramic tiles created in the in-house kiln have been painted by volunteers and were used to create a colorful mosaic wall.
Ray Wattson, House of Shine’s mascot, gets special treatment, too. The character with a lightbulb for a body wears cowboy boots as a nod to his Texas heritage and big glasses for clear vision.
A small room with a sliding-glass door features a brightly painted round table and themed chairs representing inspiring leaders such as Nelson Mandela (each one has been painted and decorated by a local artist). Its purpose is to promote discussion and dialogue. House of Shine dedicated the space to Westlake resident Kelly Bradley, the founder of Metroport Meals on Wheels and a Shine supporter.
The main space includes a coffee lounge, along with seating for lectures and demonstrations. The craft room includes a custom-built table and lots of storage. The expansive outdoor space behind the building promises to be a popular spot for events.
When we met in August, Beeny was cool and calm despite all the last-minute work being done to finish the building for the early September grand opening. Staff and volunteers were a blur in motion, checking on the many details left to finish. She admits finding quiet time is an important part of everyone’s journey.
“I’m basically an introvert. My simple pleasure would be to read a book outside in a place near a creek so I could hear the sounds of water and nature. The discovery of who you are can be contemplative. We have to learn to pace ourselves.”