Day within the Lifetime of a Sorority Home Inside Designer

Liz Toombs owns PDR Interiors from her house in Lexington, Kentucky.
Kristin Tatem

  • Liz Toombs is a Lexington, Kentucky-based inside designer who largely works with sororities.
  • Her work varies from designing a newly constructed sorority home to styling one room in a facility.
  • Toombs walked Insider by a day in her life and shared her favourite components of the job.

Inside designer Liz Toombs stated she discovered her manner into designing sorority homes “accidentally.” 

“Somebody approached my husband and stated, ‘We all know what your spouse does, would she be keen to assist us with this fraternity home?'” Toombs, who owns inside design agency, PDR Interiors, instructed Insider. 

After refreshing some rooms in the home, Toombs was approached by a sorority who wanted work on their home, too. From there, she received related to the sorority’s nationwide housing officer and property administration crew, and began constructing relationships.

“They have been the primary ones who requested me to journey out of state, so I went to Maryland to do a challenge, then the remainder is historical past,” Toombs stated.

Now, Toombs, who runs PDR Interiors out of her home in Lexington, Kentucky, largely focuses on designing sorority homes and services. As a former Alpha Gamma Delta member on the College of Kentucky, Toombs stated she understands from private expertise what her shoppers need and want, though it adjustments over time.

Toombs walked Insider by a day in her life, from designing interiors on her laptop, to being on-site for installations.

5:30 a.m. — Get up and exercise

Toombs wakes up round 5:30 a.m., and for 3 days of the week, prepares for a 6 a.m. exercise with a coach who involves her house.

“That basically helps me as a result of it will get me going for the day with out leaping instantly into work and feeling like I’ve no time for myself,” Toombs stated.

The exercise finishes round 7 a.m., and Toombs attends to private chores, like feeding her canine and cleansing dishes.

“I work in my house — if there’s lots of mess and chaos, I do not actually focus nicely,” Toombs stated. “I must know that life is dealt with within the kitchen.”

She has tea and reads a devotional earlier than showering and dressing to start out work between 8 and 9 a.m.

9 a.m. — Beginning the workday 

Her workday has “three personalities,” she stated.

Someday might be engaged on design plans on her laptop for hours, which largely occurs within the winter. Different days, she meets residential shoppers and native distributors round Lexington.

The “third persona” is touring to a web site, both to scope out a present challenge, or collect preliminary data and test on building.

PDR Interiors relies out of Toombs’ house.
Courtesy of Liz Toombs

Toombs stated designing a sorority facility may be very totally different from engaged on a residential home.

“As householders, we do not essentially go in and do our whole home in a single fell swoop,” Toombs stated. “Once we’re constructing a brand new sorority home, we’re doing every part. We’re placing in bed room furnishings, all of the widespread areas, drapes, every part. So then that naturally interprets to a unique finances as nicely.”

Toombs largely works with the nationwide headquarters of the sororities she works with, however the housing division communicates with the native stage as nicely, which incorporates alumnae and present college students.

The design additionally has to help a examine setting, and Toombs consists of lots of shops in her designs as a result of she is aware of college students need to cost lots of units.

“That does not at all times imply go sit in a cubby desk in opposition to the wall or sit at a desk,” Toombs stated. “Generally it means they want upholstered items the place they’ll sit cross-legged and put their laptop computer of their lap, or use slightly C-shaped aspect desk and work on their laptop.”

Toombs, proper, and her coworker, Erika Wilhelmi, on a building web site.
Courtesy of Liz Toombs

A whole lot of sororities additionally request make-up mirrors, particular lighting, and a bar-style house the place they’ll prepare collectively.

In recent times, Toombs stated she began receiving requests for psychological wellness areas supposed to permit a resident to comfortably and privately take a remedy appointment, telehealth assembly, or job interview.  Toombs has been changing closets, and in older homes, phone cubicles, into small rooms for this goal.

“I am simply pleased with them for asking for that, and likewise using these areas,” Toombs stated.

Relying on the scope, Toombs can work on between 10 to twenty tasks a 12 months. To date, she’s labored on over 90 campuses throughout 25 states, she stated.

For a brand new sorority home, Toombs stated no matter furnishings goes in a single bed room goes in all of them.

“We make certain there’s fairness throughout the board, so you probably have an extra-long twin mattress and 4 drawers, so does your roommate,” Toombs stated.

Toombs prepares to put in artwork on a wall.
Courtesy of Liz Toombs

Toombs stated colours and symbols are tailor-made to regardless of the group desires to match their sorority’s aesthetic. The design aesthetic additionally adjustments between the colleges, relying on the place within the nation it’s.

“Sometimes, the South is what you’d think about, they need the trims on the draperies, tons of pillows, all of the equipment, simply actually lovely, sort of excessive of their manner,” Toombs stated.

Sororities at Northeastern and Midwestern faculties can go both manner, Toombs stated, however largely take a extra sensible method to the design. On the West Coast, Toombs stated sororities need a extra “chill vibe” on the whole, and a sleeker, no-frills design.

“It has been enjoyable to work in all these totally different areas and simply see what folks need,” Toombs stated.

In the case of a finances, Toombs stated for some sororities, the sky is the restrict.

One current renovation Toombs labored on price $6 million, together with $400,000 for furnishings, fixtures, and gear, which is beneath her purview.

Along with prices for issues like rugs and window therapies, there are set up and supply charges, and the inventive charges Toombs expenses.

“I like making a lounge, an area the place they’ll go sit and hang around,” Toombs stated about her favourite room to work on. Then again, the eating room is probably the most difficult room to design, she stated, as a result of she has to verify all the members in the home can match within the house.

3 p.m. — Taking the canine for a stroll

Within the winter, Toombs can generally take the canine for a stroll or learn a ebook through the workday since she’s largely working at house. She stated she feels extra management over her life, as a result of she guards her nights and weekends for private time.

In the summertime, Toombs stated she has much less management over her life, as a result of she’s touring to watch installations or put rooms collectively for shoppers forward of the beginning of the varsity 12 months. 

5 p.m. — Making private time

Toombs tries to not work after 5 p.m., and weekends are for private time.

Each Friday, Toombs takes time to replicate on the week and be aware what she’d wish to get higher at. 

One in every of her favourite components of being a enterprise proprietor is mentoring girls that come to work along with her after school, and seeing how they develop professionally and personally. Her coworker, Erika Wilhelmi, works remotely in Louisville, and joined PDR Interiors out of faculty.

Finally, as a designer, the work itself makes her comfortable, Toombs stated.

“It is all in regards to the seems on folks’s faces once they see that completed product, when these college students stroll within the door, they usually see their new chapter home and simply gentle up,” Toombs stated. “That could be a cup filler for me, and it makes me very excited.”

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