Students present interior design plans for historic house

December 20 2007

TERRE HAUTE â€" Chairs, soon to be filled with nervous Indiana State University students, stood on a hardwood floor signed with white paint by previous tenants of the historic Nellie Tally House.

Colleen Chestnut and Jim Silver bought the former home of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity on South Sixth Street and have been working to renovate it. Upon the suggestion of Tommy Kleckner, director of the western office of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Chestnut and Silver decided to open their house to ISU interior design students as part of their sophomore-level materials and finishes class.

“It’s the ideal scope and scale for students to take on,” said Mary Sterling, ISU associate professor and coordinator of the interior design program. “It’s their first time to flex their muscles a little bit, to have a client.”

The 12 students, divided into six teams of two, developed color schemes and covering suggestions for walls, floors and ceilings for the first two floors of the three-story house. Then the teams presented their plans to a panel of judges, including Chestnut.

“The class focused on materials and finishes, but all of the teams tackled circulation and function of the kitchen and bathroom while maintaining the historic architectural elements of the house,” Sterling said.

Students presented plans with improvements ranging from cork floors and concrete countertops in the kitchen to creating a hallway between the kitchen and sunroom to improve circulation. Plans also called for converting a second-floor room into an entertainment room. Other students suggested keeping the red oak wooden floors throughout the downstairs and adding an island in the kitchen. Paint schemes were generally muted earth tones in light tans and shades of white or green with occasional flashes of dark red.

Drew Randle, a sophomore from Hutsonville, Ill., posed the question of what makes an older home attractive to so many people during his presentation. He answered by saying the craftsmanship and the attention to detail.

“We really wanted to go back to its roots and celebrate the natural materials from which it was made,” he said.

Afterward, Randle said he and his partner worked steadily on the project for two months.

“It was a challenge to organize and to put together the historic detail,” he said.

While it was nerve-wracking to make the presentation, he said the experience was beneficial to his future.

Megann Hess, a sophomore from Fishers, and Kelsey Hadler, a sophomore from Greensburg, agreed.

“It puts us a step ahead of everyone else because we get hands-on training,” Hess said.

“It’s a very good learning experience for our major,” Hadler said. “We have to learn from hands-on experience. We can’t just learn from a book.”

Some of the students visited the house multiple times and took the opportunity to discuss with Chestnut what she wanted in the house’s remodel and design.

“Their questions were very thoughtful,” she said. “I guess I’m surprised at how professional and knowledgeable they are. It is every bit as good as what any architect in town would do.”

Chestnut said she enjoyed the students’ presentations.

“They were professional. I would hire any one of them,” she said.

Kleckner, who served as a judge, also praised the students’ work.

“I was really pleased and impressed with the presentations â€" a great amount of work and research has gone into them,” he said. “They had an interesting mix of history and contemporary. I hope this assignment or project opens them up to a future in historic preservation as a career focus.”

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Contact: Mary Sterling, associate professor and coordinator of the interior design program, Indiana State University, at 812-237-3311 or at m-sterling@indstate.edu

Writer: Jennifer Sicking, assistant director of media relations, Indiana State University, at 812-237-7972 or jsicking@isugw.indstate.edu

Photo: http://ISUphoto.smugmug.com/photos/234367993-D.jpg

Cutline: Megann Hess, from Fishers, gives her team’s plans for a historic home’s renovation.

Photo: http://ISUphoto.smugmug.com/photos/234367972-D.jpg

Cutline: Drew Randle, of Hutsonville, Ill., and Mallory Lemieux, of Monroe, Conn., give a presentation on their plans for renovating the historic Nellie Tally house.

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Story Highlights

Colleen Chestnut and Jim Silver bought the former home of the Alpha Tau Omega fraternity on South Sixth Street and have been working to renovate it. Upon the suggestion of Tommy Kleckner, director of the western office of Historic Landmarks Foundation of Indiana, Chestnut and Silver decided to open their house to ISU interior design students as part of their sophomore-level materials and finishes class.

Bookmark and Share