HGTV, here we come!

Over the past few months, a handful of my coworkers and I have tackled a special project on our little campus.  It was an adventure fit for HGTV.

Our task?  Take a small one-room building and create a student hangout.  Our medium was a room chock full of charm whose potential was far from realized.  For the last three years, I was salivating over its potential.  The white walls, large tables, and uncomfortable plastic chairs didn’t call out, “Come study here!  Come hang out!”  but “This is an institutional place you want to run far away from!  Go away!  This place isn’t cozy!”

A few months ago, I mentioned my visions of cozy coffeehouse-ness to our new president.  A week later, I found myself on a committee with five other young women.  Led by our Vice President for Adminstrative Affairs, Sr. Mary Cecilia, we had ourselves a mission, a small budget, and a relatively blank canvas.

After two months (a short amount of time, when you figure we did everything after work or on weekends, when our schedules allowed… but a long amount of time when you figure we were doing this as a fun little project on the side to humor ourselves…) we had a soft opening last week to show off our hard work to the faculty and staff.

I wish I had “before” pictures to show you — but perhaps it’s better not to dwell on what we’ve now left behind.

 Here is our cute little building — home to late nights of painting, secret meetings, lots of laughs and maybe a few bitten tongues (Hey, when six women are working on something like this for two months, you’re bound to have a few incidents, right?)  and now… home to our humble little coffehouse-that-isn’t-a-restaurant-because-we-won’t-be-cooking-there-so-be-careful-what-you-call-it.

The outside was painted by our awesome facilities guys — it was always white, but we added the flair of the red door.  There are now several tables on the porch, making use of such a great space.  (The wall of the porch, which you can’t see because of the bushes, is wide enough to sit on too, so I hope to see students studying there soon.)  I really wanted to hang a porch swing, but alas, the historic roof of the porch couldn’t sustain the weight.

Here’s one side of the room.  (The front door is just off the left side of the picture.)  New furniture, new paint, the TV mounted in a better place, a new little counter, and little stages built (again, by our awesome facilities guy, Kevin).  I love the new high-top tables.  Some furniture was purchased, some was found around campus (the two big tables (refinished by Kevin) and the wooden chairs) and some was redeemed (the old sofas and chairs were dirty and I was scared to even sit on them.  New red slipcovers!  Wahla!)

And here’s the other side of the door.  Aren’t the windows fantastic?  (Not to paint.  But to look at.)  There’s so much character in this place.  You can’t see that there’s another comfy chair (covered in a red slipcover) in that corner.

The outdated photos of students and professors (including one of a beloved professor dissecting a fetal pig… not what I want to look at during lunch) were replaced by quotes from saints and other awesome people, typeset in fun and artsy manners.

The fun decorating touches are courtesy of my friend Liza.  We helped create, but she thought of them all– not just the framed quotes, but also the fun planters (I wish I would have gotten pictures of all of them, and all sides of them — they’re so cute!):

But my favorite thing are the tables.  We had purchased six little tables from a restaurant supply store (they were formally Chick-fil-A tables, haha) and Liza suggested giving each table a theme and covering them with collages.   After gathering things, a coat of Modge Podge, a coat of glaze and a sheet of glass… I think they’re masterpieces. : )  (You can click on them for a better view.)

Local churches & church music:



Maps (one of my favorites because of the variety — the London metro, the battle of Nashville, Middle Earth and Narnia, the crypt of St. Peters, Turkey…)

But these two are my top two, I think because they’re the first ones we did.

Aquinas College:

And Nashville:

It was a fun project.  I’m glad we’re in the home stretch — we have a manager for our little coffeehouse-that’s-not-a-restaurant, and there are only a few final touches that still need to happen.  And the place was ready just in time, because on Sunday we were able to christen the place again– with it’s first official party, to celebrate the Confirmation and Profession of Faith of my friends, Paul and Liza (Liza, decorator extraordinaire.  You’ll also remember that she’s helping me pick out my flowers for my wedding someday).

 Liza and I, perched at my new favorite place on campus

The team, minus two

Can you tell we like the high-top tables?


5 thoughts on “HGTV, here we come!

  1. Jill says:

    wow, you guys did a great job! i wish i could have seen it before…
    I think I would have done some things differently – like painted the chairs – and it’s too bad you couldn’t have done something with the ceiling – and the lights….

    but i love the tables – especially the game table – and everything else you guys did.

    what a fun project!

  2. Amy says:

    Love, love, love this! I can see why the tables are your favorites. Anytime you’d like to come here & wave your magic decorating wand, we’d love to have you!

  3. Jeannie says:

    Very quaint! Congratulations! I’m sure you would get the Nate Berkus decorator’s stamp of approval too. I would certainly study there. Maybe you’re real “After” picture should be the coffeehouse-study-hangout full of studious college students.

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