Around fifty years ago when the then-new sorority houses were built on the University of Alabama campus, each pledge class had about 20 to 30 new members. As those numbers grew to about 150 to 200, the once-perfect-size sorority houses were bursting at the seams. It became difficult for the chapters to eat together, for pledge classes to live together in the houses––not to mention the lack of closet space.
Around 2013 sorority row underwent a major makeover with the sororities tearing down their outdated houses to build new bigger ones in order to accommodate their larger memberships. The outdoor spaces on many of the older sorority houses had been confined to small patios with a few wrought iron tables and concrete benches. With the redesigned houses, great outdoor spaces that reflect the way the sororities functioned today were included with the new plans. With Alabama’s climate that permits a longer outdoor season, it was critical that these spaces accommodate the members and alumni, and house various functions.
Kappa Delta House
“The girls love the outdoor area,” says Lisa Flake of Caldwell-Flake Interiors in Birmingham, Alabama, who designed the new Kappa Delta house with her mother, Mary Ruth Caldwell. “They use it for laying out, eating all their meals, watching football games and meetings. They even had a band party back there for parent’s weekend.”
When it came to selecting furniture for the space, Lisa and Mary Ruth wanted to go with a transitional look that everyone from 18 to 80 would like. “We went with Summer Classics because it’s not too modern nor too traditional,” says Lisa. “We’ve had the furniture for a year and a few months and it’s held up wonderfully. It was one of the easiest things we selected for the whole house because everyone agreed on it so quickly.”
Kappa Delta Alumni, Amy Hudson of Birmingham, Alabama, loves the way the new construction turned out and how the outdoor space is a gathering point for both undergraduates and graduates. “The Summer Classics furniture fits nicely with the styling and is so comfortable,” she says. “I also like how the designer made several conversational groups that allow many different places to gather and socialize. The furniture is well-built and can withstand the rigors of the daily undergraduate lifestyle.”
Her daughter, Emma Hudson, who recently pledged KD loves sitting outside to watch football games on Saturdays. “The furniture looks great,” she says. “And we’ve received so many compliments on it from our visitors.”
Alpha Gamma Delta House
The Alpha Gams selected Summer Classics furniture for their outdoor space because of its elegant look and its heavy weight to accommodate a lot of daily use. And they love its versatility.
Member Jordan Nelson of Castle Pines, Colorado goes outside to sit every afternoon. “It’s a great place to do homework” she says.
“The girls will eat dinner outside when the weather is nice,” says House Mother Jeanette Hopkins. “They sit at the tables and study or sunbathe.”
Chi Omega House
The outdoor area of the Chi O house was planned for multi-purpose events like the pancake breakfast, parent’s weekend and for socializing in the backyard. “They needed to have a lot of seating,” says designer Jeanette Remaley, who designed the outdoor space. “We included everything from sofas and chairs to chaise lounges to high bar-height tables with bar stools around them to dining tables and chairs.”
Every time that Jeanette goes over to the house, the courtyard is full of girls. “The house mother said that they were using it morning, noon and night,” says Jeanette. “We even changed the lighting so they could enjoy it more out there at night.”
When it came to designing the space, Jeanette mixed teak and woven together. “We selected Summer Classics because we were trying to make the alumni and girls happy, and Summer Classics has a classic look with a more modern style.”
The Chi O house was renovated three years ago with the courtyard, but the original furniture was torn up, so they wanted to start with something that would last. Jeanette had used Summer Classics furniture on previous jobs so she knew it would hold up well.
Many people would agree that college days are some of life’s best moments. Between the stress of a heavy class loads and planning lifelong futures, it’s nice to have a cozy outdoor retreat where busy college students can relax with friends and visiting families.