Welcome to Extreme Sorority Houses, your look inside of the most stunning, over-the-top sorority homes in the country. This week, we’re taking a tour inside Alpha Omicron Pi at Illinois State University. Designed by Abbe Fenimore, Founder & Principal Designer of Studio Ten 25, this house is filled with signature florals, colorful art and fun bursts of pink. Read on for what goes into designing a sorority house of this caliber (and, fair warning, you might actually gasp while scrolling through the images).
What’s the first thing you notice about a space you’re planning to work on? Was there anything in particular in this house that excited you before you started working on it?
“One of the first details I look for when beginning the design for a new space is the architectural details. It’s also important to take a good look at the floor plan to see how each space will need to function in order to make the best decisions for furniture placement. For the Illinois State house, I was really looking forward to working with the large open spaces and creating chic and cozy spaces that the chapter would love to spend time in on a daily basis. Open floor plans can be challenging to design for, so it was important to make each space feel cozy while creating a cohesive feel throughout all of the open spaces.”
What step or part of the design process do you look forward to the most?
“My favorite part of the design process is working with each chapter to determine the look, design, and details they want for their chapter house. Each chapter functions differently based on the number of members living in the house and how they plan to use each space on a daily basis. We look through Pinterest boards and narrow down inspiration images to determine the top items on their wish list.”
What are your favorite design elements such as color, pattern, shape, etc., to work and experiment with, and draw inspiration from? How did you work these into your design for this house?
“I love the embroidered pillows with the Infinity Rose and Greek Letters, because they personalize the house and tie in with the other design elements throughout the home. The custom Infinity Rose dining chairs have to be my absolute favorite design element. We worked with Worlds Away to create the branded chairs and the process was surprisingly easy. When we presented them to each chapter, they unanimously said ‘YES’ to incorporating them into their new chapter houses. We didn’t want the branding to look like an afterthought, so the chairs were the perfect way to bring in something personalized that was stylish and worked with the rest of the design details.”
How has the pandemic impacted your work and design process?
“The pandemic created a few challenges this past year, especially when it came to the final budget. We were already communicating with each chapter through conference calls during each step of the design process and were sharing our design booklets digitally, so that kept each project on track. Installations were also a little challenging, but we were able to work closely with the AOII headquarters, construction teams, and installers to make things run smoothly. Technology has been a blessing the past year and allowed us to work easily through each stage of the project.”
How do you preserve the feel and character of the house and its chapter while designing and remodeling the space?
“When remodeling a chapter house, we always start with options for updating and making the most of the existing architectural details throughout the house. Sometimes all you need is a fresh coat of paint and updated lighting to make a house feel updated and bright. Other times, you have to be open to major changes in order to give each chapter house the function it may be missing.”