Not all fun and games: interior design major includes hard work

Houston junior Elizabeth Harvey and Aledo junior Lauren Reilly work on interior design projects using computer programs like SketchUp on Wednesday at Martin House. Ambika Kashi Singh | Lariat Photographer
Houston junior Elizabeth Harvey and Aledo junior Lauren Reilly work on interior design projects using computer programs like SketchUp on Wednesday at Martin House. Ambika Kashi Singh | Lariat Photographer

By Robyn Sanders

Nestled between the Collins and Dawson residential halls is a two-story red brick building called Martin House. Inside, interior design students work diligently on design projects, often late. To three senior interior design majors, Martin House has been their base of operations for the last three years.

Martin House contains computer-aided design programs on the ground floor and a resource area and drafting tables on the second floor.

At the senior level, projects are done almost completely by computer. Although this saves students’ time, the seniors can still expect their current projects to take about 400 hours of work over the course of eight weeks. Within the octagonal-shaped floor plan on their computer screens, the offices of a law firm are slowly taking shape.

The seniors are seasoned veterans of extreme projects and the long hours that accompany their major.

With their current project deadline only a few weeks away, Waxhaw, N.C., senior Kathryn Mullinax said the seniors are working hard to allow themselves time to enjoy their final homecoming as Baylor students.

“We’re trying to get like 12 to 15 hours in a day so that we can go to homecoming,” Mullinax said. “I’m going to enjoy my last homecoming as a student. I can’t wait.”

Fort Worth senior Bailey Sullivan was a Sing chair for Alpha Chi Omega last spring, so now she balances Pigskin practice with working on her interior design project and studying for her other classes. Time management has been one of her biggest challenges as well as the crucial element in surviving an interior design major, she said.

“You have to make [time management] your priority or you drown,” Sullivan said. “I think for me, staying busy helps me manage my time better. If I have a lot of free time, I’m going to find more time to be lazy.”

In her first year as an interior design major, Mullinax said there were times she wouldn’t sleep because of work. Since then, Mullinax says she’s become more accustomed to managing her time to handle the long hours of work.

“You find your new limit every day in this major,” Mullinax said. “We are more productive when we’re more pressed. These projects can last as long as you want them to. You can stop whenever you want and accept the grade you have, but the problem is none of us will do that. We will work to the end. We love it. We can’t help but love it.”

Sullivan agreed.

“You have to love it to have gotten this far,” Sullivan said.

For large-scale commercial projects, like the one they’re working on now, Mullinax said the enormous number of hours of study interior design majors will complete comes of trying to meet all of the building codes and regulations they must comply with. Once they receive their assignments, they start conducting research that by the end of their projects, will fill a 2-inch binder. Sullivan said the research can go on for as long as they let it, and it covers everything from the culture of the area they’re designing in to the building code restrictions of a particular location, which change with every project.

For assignments, the students are given the exterior walls of a building, and the designers must plan and design the interior walls, choose furnishings according to their client’s requirements and produce their design in a computer-generated 3-D model and a 2-D drafting program.

“It’s a really big challenge,” San Antonio senior Laura Judson said. “It’s been really fun to make the pieces of the puzzle fit.”

Judson said most people don’t realize how many hours are required for each of their projects.

“I think people just don’t realize how in-depth it is,” Judson said. “We know construction, we know architecture, we know plumbing. We know everything that an architect and an engineer would know.”

Mullinax said despite the vast amount of time and work required for her major, she still loves to do the projects and would willingly do them again.

“The whole thing I’m in love with. I love concept development, research, [and] programming. I could see myself having a lot of fun in a career in interior design. I’m excited for that,” Mullinax said, “But I could also see myself doing the last two years over again and having just as much fun.”