Happiness, energy and motivation can be attributed to our home environment – whether we are in our forever house or just passing through – like at college. These elements of lifestyle were addressed a year ago at the Chi Omega sorority house at Virginia Tech.
The building on Oak Lane in the university’s Special Purpose Housing belongs to Virginia Tech. “We pay a fee to use the structure and provide 30 room and board fees for students who live there. The university hires a residential advisor who also lives in the building,” explains Cynthia Sterrett, president of the House Corporation Board and the original advisor. “We are responsible for decorating and anything else we want like air conditioning, landscaping, upgraded interior features or a gazebo.”
When the local chapter was chartered in 1987, it rented space for a couple years before buying a house on N. Main St. “We gutted and renovated it for 21 women and sold it nine years later,” Sterrett says. “All the women’s groups were moving to the Special Purpose Housing, so we came into phase 3 of the project in 2001. More than 10 years later, the inside was decidedly showing the wear and tear.”
Interior designer Edith-Anne Duncan was hired to renovate the inside for a stylish look, functional appeal and attractive furnishings. “The space is used for a variety of events.” says Duncan. “I developed a survey with three proposed schemes which was handed out to the chapter membership – more than 130 women. Each one voted for her favorite, so I went with the scheme that was most popular, then incorporated some choices from the other two designs.”
From the input, Duncan studied the functions and flow, factored in the organization’s colors – cardinal and straw – and considered the residents – young, contemporary women of strong character. “The space was beautiful, even dramatic, if a bit dreary from the years,” she recalls. “The furniture had to be comfortable and easy to move for events or meetings. The sorority colors lend themselves to warmth, and new side panel drapes soften and frame the natural light.”
Stepping into the Chi Omega house today is akin to entering a 5-diamond hotel lobby. A soaring ceiling height dictated that the drapes and plantation blinds be an impressive 35 feet tall. The floral arrangement was created by a Giles County woman, and a couple of soft chairs make this a nice resting spot of its own. Above a hall table is the current membership photo composite which moves down the hall each year for a new one.
The final result in the Cynthia Sterrett Chapter Room is stunning. Three red couches with ¾-inch, pewter rivets provide a central style statement, supported with cozy, easy chairs and a generous amount of accent pillows in complementary colors and textures. The trophy cases along the back wall, which is a red accent wall anchored with gold walls on either side and at the front, showcase the recognition Chi Omega receives in academics, philanthropy and athletics.
The Lounge Room is a bright, whimsical, happy combination of lime green, turquoise, bright pink (like fuchsia) and pale yellow. One wall is painted in wide stripes of these four colors, and the furnishings incorporate all four colors in different places. Lime green soft chairs. Turquoise end tables. Fuchsia color couches. Pale yellow walls. It is all inspired by Lilly Pulitzer, a favorite of Duncan’s. It is certainly a cheerful spot to do homework, write papers and read assignments.
The Chi Omega house is a delightful place that exudes happiness, energy and motivation where these young women can fulfill the purposes for which Chi Omega exists:
~ commitment to personal integrity;
~ excellence in academics;
~ intergenerational participation;
~ community service;
~ leadership opportunities;
~ social enrichment.
By Joanne M. Anderson
Photos by Laura’s Focus Photography