When Callie Harkness was a child, her parents would take her shopping for furniture every Saturday. “I hated it,” explained the Georgia Southern University senior. “It was the worst experience of my life.”
Fifteen years later however, her Richmond Hill parents are all smiles about those excursions. Her hatred of furniture gone, Harkness now has a passion for expression and is on her way to becoming a professional furniture shopper and designer consumed with creativity, colors and construction. The Interior Design student was recently honored by the National Kitchen and Bath Association (NKBA) during its spring conference in New Orleans. She received an honorable mention in the student design competition for creating a living space for someone with mobility issues.
“It was very exciting because when I entered the competition, I wasn’t expecting to win or place,” said Harkness. “Being picked was like the interior design judges saying ‘Hey, you are really good, and we like your work.’ This was a really good experience where I met a lot of professional designers and being able to talk with them was a rewarding opportunity.”
Harkness’ assignment started a year ago in her residential design studio class. Her task was to turn a man’s basement into a living space for his mother who has arthritis, uses a walker and might require a wheelchair.
“In my design, I added many windows to bring in natural light and created lots of places where she could grab as she moved around like the back of a couch or countertop,” she explai
ned. “This layout would help take some of the pressure off her knees. There is also space under the sink and stove for a stool or a wheelchair.”
Harkness credits the Interior Design program at Georgia Southern for developing the skills needed to win the award. “I think the way our professors begin by introducing the basics of residential design and build on those concepts before getting into the more complex and technical issues and codes of hospitality, corporate and health care designs is a good way to do it.”
“Callie is just a dream student who is dedicated, inquisitive, focused and creative,” said Patricia Walton, assistant professor of interior design. “Callie’s design work and critical thinking skills reflect her experience and maturity. She is meticulous in her detailing which the judges recognized, but her artistic abilities sold them on her design through skillful renderings. Callie combines the right and left brain which makes the best designer.”
This summer, Harkness is interning with a residential interior designer, Anne Hagerty Interiors in Savannah. It’s another step toward her dream job of working with high end residential properties like historic homes in Savannah or shopping for the rich and famous in Atlanta. — Casey Jones
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