Restored, Refurbished and Renewed

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Interior Design Students Volunteering in the Community

 For an interior designer, not only do you need a lot of creative talent, you need project management, leadership and teamwork skills, along with a lot of patience and persistence. That’s exactly what Forsyth Tech interior design students experienced in April working on projects for Habitat ReStore of Forsyth County.

Under the direction of instructor Karen Reilly, first year interior design students used small items from the Habitat ReStores refurbishing, transforming, and repurposing them into improved pieces. Second year interior design students, led by Gisele Taylor Wells, department chair, Design Technologies, spent two weeks in the Habitat ReStore on Coliseum Drive using furniture and accessories from the three area Habitat ReStores to design a studio apartment space from the refurbished or repurposed items.

Students sanding a piece of furnitureIn fourteen days, they planned the design, reconstructed, refinished and re-upholstered furniture in a space. This was in addition to completing their capstone final project and wrapping up classes for the semester.  They were also joined by four Salem College interior design students, who were also completing individual projects but wanted to help out with the larger room renovation.

“For several years, we collaborated with Habitat ReStore and Winston Salem Realtors Association for the ReStore Spaces Event, a design competition and fund raiser for Habitat.   That event included area design students and design professionals, typically 8-10 rooms would be designed with “found” objects.”  The yearly event ended in 2014 when ReStore moved offices and built the new flagship store on Coliseum.  “The program is excited to see this collaboration rekindled as the students really benefit from this type of fast paced design project and it is a great community service experience.”

Leading up to the date, students worked diligently behind curtains in the Re-store. They chose what they wanted to focus on and helped each other. Two students, Anna Stowman and Cassidy Carter,  volunteered to work with Karyn Reilly to design a “bar” from repurposed kitchen cabinets with the goal of creating a piece that Habitat could use that their volunteer and community events.  This team collaborated with the group of volunteers at Habitat’s main workshop just down the street from the ReStore.

Students working on a piece of furniture for their projectSome of the students had previous design backgrounds and experience in construction and refinishing. Others were learning as they worked, saying they didn’t know if they could do it, but once they started, they enjoyed it.

“I found a chair here and took it home, my family helped me reconstruct the ties underneath the seat and I am going to reupholster it,” student Niki Gammons said. “This is my baby!”

The students said their work sparked curiosity from customers and staff in the store, wanting to know what was happening behind the curtain. Once the studio apartment was completed Habitat kept in on display for several days.

“This is a more realistic design experience,” said student David Sink. “We have to collaborate and learn to work with each other, knowing we all have different creative expressions.”

In addition to working on the project, the students completed story boards reflecting their experience and what they learned. While this project may have been challenging, these are the experiences students will long remember. They didn’t think they could do it and they did.

the completed design project

The finished space and individually designed pieces were unveiled at the Habitat Volunteer recognition party on April 15th where the work was prominently displayed and the students were acknowledged during the event.  After the party, all pieces were available for purchase.

First year interior design students included: Abigail Bragg, Karen Celik, Monroe Craver, Sydnee Epstein, Deaveon France, Sarah Goldberg, Marla Griffith, Tori Gross, Amber Leazer, Andrea Lopez Gomez, Emily Razo, Nichola Reilly, Devyn Siqueiros, Elizabeth Tarnowski, McClarghty Thomas, and Emily Tyson.

Second year interior design students included: Cassidy Carter, Niki Gammons, Alyson Jordan, Courtney Mullins, Ashley Simpson, David Sink, Anna Stowman, Brianna Sullivan and Katelyn Wagoner.