To start off the Extreme Sorority House segment, we are starting with the beautiful, Alpha Omicron Pi at Missouri State University located in Springfield! It is utterly gorgeous, thanks to the very talented interior designer, Abbe Fenimore, Founder & Principal Designer of Studio Ten 25. As you will see in the photos, Abbe really went all out with the florals and pink aesthetic; it looks like the best hang out spot for spilling tea after class. These girls are so lucky to have the ability to live in a house like this! We interviewed the designer, Abbe, to get the scoop about the house.
Her Campus (HC): What is your favorite part of designing a sorority house as opposed to a normal residential home?
AF: My favorite part of designing for a sorority house as opposed to a residential project is working with the women. They bring a different vibe to each design and allow us to push the rules of design with unique pieces that have special meaning to them. These projects happen quickly, and I love how they keep me on my toes while allowing me to blend my perspective with their ideas.
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Sorority houses are the perfect mix of residential and commercial design, and once you have a system in place, the best both of both come together easily. We design and specify furniture with higher durability and performance fabrics, those typically used in commercial projects. We are fortunate that commercially rated products have options that reflect what we would typically use in a residential project. It really is the best of both worlds, and being able to provide the durability along with the cozy feel these women want in their houses makes us very happy!
HC: Is there a design tip in here that readers can apply to their own dorms or apartments?
AF: Splurge on the pieces that you need to last the longest, like seating. The piece that will be used the most needs to be durable, but can be paired well with lower budget items like side tables, pillows and accessories. Don’t forget to incorporate art, pretty lighting and personal touches to make your space feel finished.
HC: Where did most of this furniture come from?
AF: The majority of the seating and accent pieces were specified from trade-only vendors that allow us to be specific when selecting durable frames and fabrics for the lounge areas. Local artist are one of our favorite ways to incorporate art, making it unique to the home, and trade-only art vendors also allow us to change the color, size and frame detail of the pieces.
HC: Did the school colors or anything from the school inspire you at all?
AF: This chapter asked for a mix of pink with bright florals and fun patterns while still keeping a formal feel to the main spaces. This is a brand new house for the Delta Gamma chapter of Alpha Omicron Pi at Missouri State University, and the women wanted to make a bold statement with their house. Although AOII and Missouri State have their own color palette, the women really wanted to stay true to the AOII brand throughout their home.
HC: What’s your favorite room in the space and why?
AF: The formal living room in the front of the house is my favorite space. I love the custom built-in bookshelves that we painted pink! They were the jumping off point for the overall color palette and the entire house. The raspberry velvet sofa work perfectly with the bold indoor/outdoor rug, setting the tone for the soft graphic patterns in the accent chairs, wallpaper and drapery trim in the room.
HC: How long does it take to work on a project like this from start to finish?
AF: Each chapter house varies in size and budget, and will have their own limitations based on the configuration of the house. The Missouri State house was a brand new construction project and we were involved in the interior and exterior construction details. We worked on this project for about seven months and it was a wonderful experience. The contractor was well organized and easy to communicate with, so that kept us on schedule and allowed us to make the changes needed to create our design.
HC: If you’re comfortable saying, you don’t need to give an exact number, but what is the range for a redesign like this?
AF: While I’m not able to share the cost, I can say that the sorority has a board that dictates the budget for each chapter house, as well as a system that’s in place for determining each chapter’s budget. The overall budget for each house isn’t always for interior design, since construction elements like paint, repairs and electrical contractors will be included in the updates. Brand new construction is a different process than simply remodeling a few rooms in a chapter house. The sorority headquarters gave me a budget to work with and was very detailed on what needed to come out of that “interior design” budget. I was able to work closely with the sorority and the contractor during the entire process and share working budget spreadsheets to make sure we were on track through the length of the process.
HC: The spaces that you create are incredibly beautiful. How do you create a happy medium between aesthetic and functionality?
AF: Function always comes first. We start by creating a plan that works for each chapter house, which includes a layout based on an understanding of the needs of each chapter. After gaining approval, we incorporate the design elements. Each chapter uses their house differently, so it is very important that we take the time to work with them on these details in order to create a space that works for them going forward. The color, pattern and fun design elements are the next step in the design process. We take the chapter’s wish list, budget and regional location into account when selecting the furniture and fabrics.