Find Your Passion: Bringing Spaces to Life

Beth Eubanks
As an intern with UA’s furnishings and design department, Eubanks takes an innovative approach to designing residential communities. (Photo by Samantha Hernandez)

By Sarah Caroline Willcox

The sheer mention of a stereotypical college dorm room is enough to make any student homesick. Bare, concrete walls obstruct picture hanging, and cold, tile floors, reminiscent of a hospital, are not exactly comforting.

Beth Eubanks, senior interior design student at The University of Alabama, says she’s helping ensure this stereotype will not exist at UA.

The 29-year-old Birmingham native has been an interior design intern with the UA furnishings and design department for the past three years. In this role, Eubanks has worked for the Housing and Residential Communities for about 18 months to design and decorate Ridgecrest South dorm, among other projects. Eubanks, under the supervision of a certified designer, selected, and budgeted for, the furniture, fixtures and equipment for the facility.

“As a designer, I am not limited to decorating, rather I can use my abilities and talents to solve technical solutions and enhance environments,” Eubanks says. “I love that I can take an empty shell and bring life to a space.”

According to Susanna Johnson, associate director for furnishings and design, Eubanks’ approach to the finishes and furnishings of new and existing residential communities was innovative for student living. Eubanks chose fabrics that were functional and attractive, worked with the architectural firm to pick energetic finishes, selected exterior furniture for the courtyards and planned the furnishings for the student units and common spaces.

Courtney Thompson
Furniture, fixtures and carpet samples are a daily part of Eubanks’ goal of bringing “life to a space.” (Samantha Hernandez)

“Because of Beth’s keen eye to design with our students in mind, she was successful in developing one of the most aesthetically pleasing residential communities we have on campus,” Johnson says. “Beth has a work ethic that cannot be matched by other students.”

Eubanks’ focus on interior design has clearly set her apart, but she has also found a way to balance her other passion—5-year-old son, Jeremiah. After moving to Hawaii shortly after graduating high school, Eubanks says she intended to further her education when she moved back to Alabama. In 2003, Eubanks returned to Birmingham where she enrolled at Jefferson State Community College. Two years after Jeremiah was born, Eubanks transferred to UA.

One thing Eubanks says was the most helpful in her transition was the University’s attention to her personal needs, such as childcare for her son, enrollment and financial aid.

Courtney Thompson
Eubanks says she’s learned – from both inside and outside the classroom -- how strongly many feel about interior furnishings.
(Samantha Hernandez)    

“The UA staff [in Human Environmental Sciences] was so personable and helpful in guiding me through [the transfer],” Eubanks says. “Along with that, I was naturally drawn to Doster Hall’s beautiful architecture.”

Eubanks says she has learned valuable lessons about interior design both in the HRC department and outside of the classroom; for example, an epiphany she had after carrying a carpet sample to her car one day.

“Someone literally chased me down to tell me what a hideous piece of carpet they thought it was,” Eubanks says. “At that moment, I realized a valuable lesson—people are passionate about their environment. My job as an interior designer is to direct that passion in creating the best space possible.”

She says her belief in designing for people and their lifestyles has been instilled in her by her UA mentors and work experience for HRC. Upon graduation, Eubanks says she hopes to continue her education in UA’s graduate school for management. She has also been granted graduate assistantship through HRC beginning in the fall of 2010, which will allow her to continue working as their interior design intern while working on a master’s degree.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Sarah Caroline Willcox is a senior at The University of Alabama, majoring in public relations, with a minor in English. She is from Birmingham.

This story is part of the Find Your Passion feature section of the UA home page. For more stories, please visit Find Your Passion or Crimson Spotlight. To learn more about how you can find your passion at The University of Alabama, please visit UA Undergraduate Admissions.