A former practicing attorney studying for a new career has been awarded a prestigious and valuable scholarship to cover all expenses of her senior year at The University of Tennessee at Chattanooga.

Dalton, Georgia, resident Cindy Tidwell is one of 12 interior design students from across the US to be selected for the Angelo Donghia Foundation, Inc. Senior Student Scholarship 2010 Award.  Her selection was based on a juried competition of portfolio submissions.

Tidwell, who celebrates her 40th birthday as fall semester begins, said the project she entered was a combination of commercial and residential—a hypothetical art gallery with a residence for the owners (both artists) on two floors above the business.  Green design was an important element in her project.

“I interviewed Chattanooga artists Patricia and Rey D’Alfonso in Chattanooga for my ‘hypothetical’ artists so that I could get a sense of what a client would want,” Tidwell said.  “They had a lot of input about the style of furniture they like and their needs for a residence and gallery space.  They even made requests to accommodate their two bull mastiffs which I was able to incorporate into the design.  Knowing their cultural backgrounds and their tastes made it easy to choose colors and select furnishings for the project.  I used vibrant colors to reflect their rich cultural heritage (Patricia is from Venezuela and Rey defected from Cuba) and selected additional furnishings to compliment the classic pieces they already own.”

Planning, programming, sketches, AutoCad (computer-aided design) drawings, floor plans and perspectives were included in Tidwell’s project.  She spent a lot of time in summer semester   learning and creating a three-dimensional model.

“After taking the AutoCAD courses as juniors most students do not want to go back to hand drafting projects.  It saves so much time and gives you a lot of flexibility make changes to projects that hand-drafting prohibits,” Tidwell said.  “I think that it is a common misconception that only architects can draft and draw in AutoCAD.  As design students we get a lot of training related to space planning, architectural drafting, codes compliance, materials, etc.  There is much more to the program than just learning to select paint colors and the right fabrics.”

As a big fan of Home and Garden TV (HGTV), Tidwell quickly began to understand there is a difference between a thirty-minute redesign show and the reality of the planning and execution of a remodel or new construction project.  Some projects take a month and students may spend 100-150 hours on that one project.  Tidwell’s materials class participated in the redesign of the UTC Media Center; her class did a remodel of a bathroom and presented their designs to the homeowner and in another class, she helped draft a complete set of plans for a remodel of a home in North Georgia

“Ideally, we would like to get a client when they are just thinking about building or remodeling and help them to think about how they want to use the space.  We take a survey of their needs and then plan the area to that works efficiently and is aesthetically pleasing.  In the planning stage we make sure that we have complied with applicable codes and general guidelines set forth for kitchens and baths.  We then help them select materials and finishes.  When choosing materials we consider life cost, not just what is least expensive. So even though some items may be more expensive up front they will save the client time and money in the future.

“Another consideration is using the most appropriate finishes for a particular area.  Then we get to choosing colors and fabrics and the finishing touches.  Unfortunately, we sometimes get called in at the end of the process to select colors, design draperies and perhaps select furniture.  The layouts may be awkward or not functional or there might not be enough lighting or properly placed receptacles for lamps.  All these things are part of the planning process that are important and may not be easily fixed,” Tidwell said.

Tidwell is the third consecutive UTC student to be awarded the Angelo Donghia Foundation, Inc. Senior Student Scholarship.

The jury for the 2010 awards included Laura Bohn of Laura Bohn Design Associates, Inc., Margaret S. Kennedy, Freelance Editor and Artist, Doris Athenios, Art & Antiques Editor of Traditional Home, Doretta Sperduto, Decorating Director of House Beautiful, and Scott Sanders of Scott Sanders LLC.

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