Nov 062005
Authors: Skylar Rick

In the final moments before the room reveal, the Trading Places participants waited in the hallway as their friends ran from room to room. After eight hours of tearing down and building up, the students were only minutes away from seeing their new rooms.

Finally, with photographers in place, the first group, Shon Reckard, freshman civil engineering major , and Scott Ulen, freshman engineering open option major , walked in. The outside of their room, lined with designers and their curious peers, heard only the sound of fascinated boys as they explored their new room.

Being filmed for a campus television show and photographed by local newspapers, Reckard and Ulen sat in their new chairs, amazed by the change.

"The room is so easy and simple. I was afraid it was going to be more 'poofy,'" Reckard said. "I like it this way because most of the time I just drop off my books and then run to the next class."

It was this new level of organization that the boys wanted the most with their new room.

"The boys wanted a study space because they're both engineers," said Jessica Johnson, junior interior design major and their room designer. "They also wanted a space for entertaining because no one would go into their room."

Johnson, with her co-designer junior interior design Lina Baker, used those ideas, along with a theme, to make the room more inviting and organized, with help from the other set of roommates.

"The beds weren't lofted, the desks faced the walls, and we had to completely reorganize one closet – it was a mess," Johnson said. "But I saw the red brick [in the room] and thought 'New York Loft' theme."

The beds were lofted on opposite sides of the room, new Nintendo-styled chairs were placed under one and television and video equipment was placed under the other. Then a bookshelf was built and organized with their books and papers, leaving the room ready for lighting and artwork.

"We designed three panels in our three primary colors for the room, black, beige, which was accented with green," Baker said. "We also took the guys' long board and displayed it as artwork. Then we took rope lights and strung them up and put spotlights under one of the beds."

With one bedroom revealed, it was time for the two girls to see their new room. After the same process of running in with cameras, the girls, Beth Santerre, freshman math major , and Caitlin Wyman , freshman electrical engineering major, were just as excited to see their renovated rooms.

The girls had similar requests of their designers for more organization and entertainment space.

"We're most proud of how we were able to address every issue they needed to make their lives function better," said Amy Johnston, senior interior design major and American Society of Interior Design (ASID) professional liaison . "So not only does everything in the room look good, it also works."

The designers, along with help from Reckard and Ulen, tried to make everything dual use to incorporate the theme of function and fashion.

"We put in step stools where the girls used to not be able to reach (the storage space above the closets) but they also have a cushion on it," said co-designer senior interior major and ASID student representative Shannon Griess . "We also have divided the room into spaces for sleep, kitchen, public and getting ready."

The space had one bed lofted over the other in an "L" shape, and each corner divided into one of the new spaces, which was well-liked by Wyman.

"I really like our bed arrangement, because the way we had it before, mine used to be a fire hazard," Wyman said. "It used to be lofted over the window, and we didn't know where to move it."

Johnston and Griess were also proud of staying under budget.

"We were able to stay in budget with lots of manual labor, for example, there was lots of sewing," Johnston said. "And we don't sew, so we did really simple designs that look modern because modern is simple."

Santerre said she thinks this functional design may lead to changes in study habits.

"It will be more comfortable, so I might be able to study in my room more because I can just chill in my bed," Santerre said.

Despite claims from their hall mates and even their resident assistant that the clean rooms will be short-lived, the four participants feel this change can be permanent.

"Before we just had no place to put our things and now we just have to put it where it goes," Wyman said.

The boys agree their room should stay close to the way it was presented to them as well.

"I will be more motivated to keep it clean because I'm going to be showing it to people all the time," Ulen said.

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