Campus & Community

Interior design students design Habitat homes with heart

Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County Design Competition
At the awards ceremony, from left: Jeff Fengler, HFHSPBC director of construction, Kari Oeltjen, HFHSPBC chief development officer, winner Julissa Ehrnst and Professor Zenaida Espinosa, director of PBSC’s Interior Design Technology program

Last spring, 39 first-year Interior Design Technology students accepted a new challenge to put their skills to the test. Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County invited the students to participate in the first Habitat Home Design Competition.

Students Julissa Ehrnst and Pui Man Eva Lee-Zabatta shared the $250 prize, which was awarded August 9 in a ceremony on the Lake Worth campus. Their designs will be available for selection by future Habitat homeowners.

Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County Design Competition
From left: Jeff Fengler, Kari Oeltjen, winner Pui Man Eva Lee-Zabatta, adjunct instructor Karen Rossin, and Zenaida Espinosa

The students were challenged to create an interior design that a future Habitat homeowner could afford and maintain for generations. The competition incorporated Habitat for Humanity’s guiding principles, such as designing with a limited square footage, a strict budget, and addressing regional and cultural conditions relating to the choice of materials, historic precedents, and community connections in developing a sense of place for the project. The sustainable design practices used included low or zero VOC products and strategies such as maximizing daylight, energy and water efficiency, and native landscaping.

Ehrnst shared that her inspiration came from Florida’s natural beauty and the colors she saw while attending a sunrise mass on the Atlantic Ocean. The warm tangerine color of the door represents the color of the sunrise and becomes the home’s welcoming point. The ocean-inspired colors are meant to create a calm, relaxed atmosphere where the family can live, work and play.

Lee-Zabatta chose the colors of warm crocheted blankets as her inspiration to create an inviting home for a future Habitat homeowner. With elements of Feng Shui and being mindful of the circulation of energy within the home, her design is simple and comfortable with pops of color throughout. A former importer/exporter from Hong Kong, Lee-Zabatta shared that she has found her true passion in designing homes.

The winners were selected by Jeff Fengler, HFHSPBC director of construction, Professor Zenaida Espinosa, director of PBSC’s Interior Design Technology program, and Karen Rossin, adjunct instructor. Kari Oeltjen, HFHSPBC chief development officer, awarded the competition prize checks.

“This competition was really about students finding and creating the heart of a home,” Rossin said.

Find out more information about the Interior Design Technology program and Habitat for Humanity of South Palm Beach County.

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