Southeast Interior Design Students Designing Kitchen for New Cape Girardeau Transition House


Fourteen interior design students at Southeast Missouri State University are creating practical kitchen designs for a new men’s transition house operated by St. James A.M.E. Church in Cape Girardeau.

The students are learning to apply their classroom knowledge and skills to a real design as part of their basic kitchen and bath course, said Carol Nesler, Southeast instructor of interior design.

This practical, real world opportunity to design a physical space was brought to Nesler by Jessica Livingston, project manager for the men’s transition house and 2008 Southeast graduate with a major in interior design, who wanted to provide a unique opportunity for current Southeast students.

The students have visited the unfinished men’s transition house several times to take measurements and have met with church officials to develop designs that meet the needs of the transition house’s future residents.

Junior Megan Thompson working on a model with instructor Carol Nesler.

“As well as doing drafting, we are working on our presentation skills while learning how to present our ideas and sketches to a client. We are taking feedback that they’ve given us and applying it to our plans to meet our client’s needs,” said Megan Thompson, a junior interior design major from Red Bud, Illinois.

The students presented their preliminary designs to the Rev. Renita Green at St. James A.M.E., and Livingston. After receiving feedback, the students are building models of the kitchen they designed and are applying skills that they will one day need as interior designers.

“We’ve had to follow the National Kitchen and Bath Association guidelines,” said Rachel Wichern, a sophomore interior design major from Jackson, Missouri. “We’ve gone over how to use the principles and elements of design in our kitchen and how to cater our designs to the basic needs of the client.”

McKenna Medlin, a senior interior design major from Glen Carbon, Illinois, says that through the project she’s gained practical experience in a way that benefits the community.

“The transition house is going to be used to help the homeless or people just out of prison to get back on their feet,” she said.

Later this semester, the students will present their models and final design plans to Livingston and church officials, who may select one design or combine features from multiple designs, said Nesler. Plans are underway to have the students help install the kitchen next spring.

“I think it’s really cool to take part in experiential learning,” Medlin said. “We’ve had to think about this as a real kitchen. We’ve had to think about how they’ll use the space. I love how we’re getting experience in a class that some don’t get until an internship or first job.”

Top Photo Caption: In the top row, from left, are Instructor Carol Nesler and students McKenna Medlin, Megan Thompson, Amber Elbe, Emily Zerbonia and Jill Olson. In the front row, from left, are students Kelvin Johnson, Ashley White, Tabitha Tanner, Leah Schnurbusch, Jordan Gentry, Rachel Wichern, Emmy Bolen, Shayna Walker and Sam Snyder.