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K-State Today

December 5, 2011

Decking the halls at 100 Wilson Court

Submitted by Jane Marshall

President and first lady's house

When K-State’s president and first lady decided to open their house for the annual Friends of McCain Holiday Home Tour, they wanted to evoke the holiday spirit and the talents of K-State interior design students.

“Kirk and I are always looking at ways to involve students in activities we are doing related to the house or our other events,” said Noel Schulz. A year ago she contacted Barbara Anderson, head of the department of apparel, textiles and interior design. Would students be interested in the project?


“While it is not a typical interior design project it was beneficial for the students to deal with a high-level client on a project with lots of exposure,” said Michael Dudek, associate professor.

“Since opportunities with real projects, real clients, real schedules and real budgets are rare we decided to make it a studio project,” he said.

ID Studio 5, the third year design studio, is taught by Dudek and Hyung-Chan Kim. Students were divided into teams of three or four and given two weeks to develop concepts, budgets and presentations.

Their assignment was to design holiday decorations — elegant and classy without being too overstated — for the first and second levels of the home. Schulz encouraged students to use existing decorations and to think in terms of sustainably because she wanted to use them annually. She gave them carte blanche to move art and furniture.

The only overt suggestion: purple.

“They asked me about our family traditions, such as our family tree that has personal ornaments,” Schulz said.

The faculty enlisted the help of 2010 apparel, textiles and interior design alumna Kristen Henricksen who works for American Christmas, the firm that decorates major retail and corporate facilities such as Radio City Music Hall and Macys in New York. “We Skyped Kristen and she provided invaluable inspiration for the students,” Dudek said.

Each team then presented its ideas to Schulz, Marla Day and president’s office staff. Day is curator of the Historic Costume and Textile Museum, part of the department of apparel, textiles and interior design. She became instrumental in procuring the items for the decoration project — from flea markets to wholesalers — and helping student execute their designs.

The clients selected “Holiday Past & Present” from Andrea Pace, Emily Galliart, Krystal Gantz and Elyse Johnson. Some of the best ideas from the other teams were merged to create one all-inclusive solution, Dudek said.

The winning design incorporated a record player with vintage vinyl Christmas records — although the record player has a USB connection — and an old fashioned sled, a vintage kid’s pedal car and other old-school holiday touches.

The students had to stick to the $4,000 budget from private funds from the president’s office and to prepare and install the decorations.

"The students did an outstanding job of developing holiday decorations. I continue to be amazed at all the talents of our faculty and staff.  We would like to thank the ID faculty and students for all their efforts," K-State President Kirk Schulz said, adding that Nora Downie, house director, and K-State facilities helped with the installation.

The students’ work will have a broad and constant audience.

“It is great to have so many people get to see our students' handiwork,” Noel Schulz said. “On average we have two events a week at the president's home during the school year. We have already hosted one dinner with the decorations up. We'll host several other receptions, dinners and other events over the next several weeks.”

The Schulzes will spend most of the holidays together. Their older son arrives from Mississippi State University around Dec. 12.

“We'll have some nice family time with all four of us here. We will be around some during the holidays depending on our football team bowl schedule," Noel Schulz said, adding that her parents were in town to see the house for the McCain home tour.

 “Our students rarely have the opportunity to be involved in this kind of project — from concept through the installation process — in their class work,” Anderson said. “In addition, they were able to serve the university — especially McCain Auditorium because the home tour benefits programs there — and the president's family while they learned important lessons for their professional life.”

"Our students and faculty outdid themselves and put lots of heart and soul into this project. Having this team effort makes it exciting as it truly is K-State's home,” Noel Schulz said. “It will be exciting each year around the holidays to continue to enjoy their designs."

The home was one of five on the Friends of McCain Holiday Home Tour, which took place Dec. 4.