Stephen F. Austin State University

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SFA interior design students create room for Nest Fest fundraiser

August 11, 2016 - University Marketing Communications
Stephen F. Austin State University senior interior design majors (seated) Cody Johnson and Jennifer Gregory created a room with repurposed furniture for the seventh annual Nest Fest fundraiser in Bossier City, Louisiana. The fundraiser benefited the Renesting Project, a non-profit organization that provides gently used furniture and household items to clients of registered social service agencies as they transition from homelessness. Sally Ann Swearingen (standing), associate professor of interior design at SFA, attended Nest Fest and assisted the students with the project.
NACOGDOCHES, Texas - A soda craving, an eye for creativity and a heart ready to give back started the design process for Stephen F. Austin State University senior interior design major Jennifer Gregory. During the summer, Gregory, a Willis native, and her classmate, Cody Johnson, a senior interior design major from Hallsville, created a room with repurposed furniture for the seventh annual Nest Fest fundraiser, an event benefiting the Renesting Project in Bossier City, Louisiana.

The Renesting Project is a non-profit organization that provides gently used furniture and household items to clients of registered social service agencies as they transition from homelessness, according to renestingprojectinc.org.

This is the second year SFA students have participated in the fundraiser. The event's theme was "New Orleans" and featured street performers, live jazz music and New Orleans-inspired cuisine. Design enthusiasts, professionals and students created rooms or vignettes with repurposed furniture. The rooms were auctioned to raise funds for the Renesting Project. Gregory and Johnson's room sold for almost $600.

"Since we are interior designers, we are expected to protect the health, safety and welfare of the community," Johnson said. "This project is one way we can help preserve and bring the community together."

To complement Nest Fest's theme, the SFA students designed their living room to reflect a Mardi Gras mood by including greens, yellows, purples and grays into the décor. According to Nest Fest regulations, 50 percent of the room must be designed using repurposed pieces, and the students were required to include specific surfaces.

Gregory and Johnson found a discarded gray couch and used the piece as their inspiration for creating a living room. The students also collected items for the living room through "junking" and asking friends and family members to donate items.

While satisfying a soda craving, Gregory discovered a storage crate outside a shop in Nacogdoches, which the two repurposed into a coffee table with storage capabilities.

"It was a learning experience. I've repurposed small items, but not a whole room," Gregory said. "You see a piece, and you get this grand idea and vision of how you want to repurpose it, but then you have to execute it. You don't realize how much time it takes to fix a piece, especially when it is damaged."

Sally Ann Swearingen, associate professor of interior design at SFA, explained human sciences students are required to complete six hours of community service per semester.

"There are a lot of opportunities to get SFA students plugged in to the community. Being involved, no matter what community you live in, is important," Swearingen said. "That's one of the things we try to work on in SFA's School of Human Sciences and the interior design program."

Johnson said working on this project allowed him to practice many of the skills and concepts he learned in class such as space planning and the elements and principles of design.

"When working on an eclectic space, you have to get all the fabrics to tie in together and find a balance between the colors and textures," Johnson said. "Also, it's all about presentation. We learned how to display items so that the room looked good."