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The Making of a Residential Fellow Apartment

Posted by | September 21, 2012 | Uncategorized | 15 Comments


The Residential Fellows Program is new for Lehigh. Some other colleges and universities have these programs well established, but Lehigh is just starting out. Once Braydon and I had made the decision that we would become Lehigh’s first “Faculty Family in Residence,” the big question became where would we live? We worked in close collaboration with Residence Life staff at Lehigh to determine that the area of campus known as ‘Sayre Park Village’ would be the ideal place for our family. We chose Sayre because of its open green spaces that would allow for our kids to play outside in a relatively safe, quiet, set-to-the-side-of-campus environment.


Sayre includes a community center (called “The Lodge”), and three ‘dorms’ /buildings, each of which houses four floors worth of student apartments. We decided on a 3-bedroom apartment on the second (but ground-floor) floor of the middle building. There were many factors that went into our focusing on this particular apartment (it was slightly larger than many others; it was right next door to the building’s main lounge; it has a beautiful view from the back windows; etc.), but the biggest reason we chose it was because just downstairs from this apartment is a large storage facility that could become ours. Having the storage space in the basement was key! So we went with Sayre House B, Apartment 230.

We spent several months working with an incredible team of Lehigh architects, project planners, Residence Life staff, Residential Services staff, Auxiliary Services, etc. planning to maximize upon the 800-square-foot apartment to become “home” for a faculty family of five. These folks were AMAZING!

As soon as the students moved out in May, the construction crew got right to work. For Braydon and I, it was an incredible experience to be involved in, and then witness, the transformation from an apartment in a student dorm to a beautiful campus home for our family. We were truly blown away by Lehigh’s commitment to this project and the attention-to-detail with which they carried out the renovation.

Here are some ‘Before’ Pictures:
a f e

And here is a bit of the progression from demolition to renovation:

in progress 4

in progress 1 in progress 3in progress 5

6 5

4 1

3 2in progress 8

in progress 6 in progress 7 in progress 9

in progress 10 in progress 11

And now it is our Residential Fellow home sweet home for the J-M Family. Here are some ‘After’ Photos:family room 1family room 2kitchen 1kitchen 2bedroom 1boys room 1boys room 2M room 1M room 2

I have to say: it has been such an amazing experience to be a part of! Now that we have been living here a month, I so appreciate every detail and carefully-thought-through plan. It truly feels spacious to us! We are so thankful for this opportunity. And we are loving living here!


  • Lori says:

    OMG! I absolutely love it. I’m so happy for you guys. I love you ALL!

  • Ashley says:

    I bet you are loving your new “commute ” most of all! :)

  • Rebecca says:

    Looking at the before pictures, I can only imagine the faith required to commit to living in a dorm before the remodel (and some fabulous interior designing) turned it into a real home. I also have to say I love how organized everything is too. I bet the boys are having fun with the bunk beds : )

  • Joy says:

    It looks very cozy. How nice to be part of the renovation process — and get that new kitchen! Happy settling in.

  • Sharon says:

    I really like the changes. Like you, I’ve down-sized recently. And, I’ve had to put many things in storage. However, I’ve found that the smaller square footage is roomier than the house I used to live in. Lovely pictures and great renovations. BTW, I grew up on college campuses. My dad taught and coached at small black colleges in the south. Some of the best memories I have of growing up is being a part of the college life, as a little kid.

  • Candis says:

    Your move has been transformative for me. Our American footprint is based on collecting soooo much STUFF; this home to apartment life is a wonderful model of what is possible. My husband and I have been trying to figure out how to reorganize/ remodel our bathroom and closet area. To hell with it. We are just simplifying. Thank you. And thanks for sharing your journey. We look forward to more.

  • Candis says:

    I forgot to add that now that the kids are in bunks/wall beds you should look into bed caps. I HATED to change the linens on Colin’s bed because I couldn’t tuck the sheets in.
    Here is a link to one (of dozens) of linens websites that make bed caps/bunky sheets.

  • Diane says:

    Wow, what a great space and you all did a great job with making good use of the small space you have. When I read 800 sq. ft., I couldn’t even imagine. However, as a professor, I wish this were an option for me. I would love to be living on campus around students.

  • Kate says:

    Wow so fantastic! Your old house looked amazing but also your new home and all the benefits are so fabulous! Thanks for sharing this – it must have been a real journey from start to finish. I recently moved office (a small NGO) and my Dad (an architect) worked probono to help us view various premises – drawing up various plans to help us maximize the space and do all the costing and eventually the office we are in now he helped us design it (and re-design) and work with his connections with Contractors to get materials and labour for free…the whole process was a very interesting experience!
    Hope you all have a wonderful time (as I can see you are!) in your new home!
    – Kate

  • Hope Stevens says:

    So great! How amazing! Love your new place-looks like you’re settled in! We live in a small house and just recently I realized that with just some organization we’ve got lots of space! Luckily we have a large outdoor space and neighborhood to be in during warm months. I’ve also come to realize that if we had a bigger home we would just fill it with STUFF! So not what we want!!
    Hope you all are happy in your new home! Looks great! I’m jealous of your adventure! :)

  • heather says:

    Congrats on the new space J-M’s! I’m in awe of the organization in effect. One question though – do you have laundry in your apartment?

  • Georgiann says:


  • NJTed says:

    Looks great!!! I love that pic of the boys checking out the fridge LOL
    I think we had the same microwave AND stove at our Livingston apartment. :)

  • Maggie says:

    Okay, I’m finally catching up on the blog, and I am just sitting here in complete awe at the transformation of the space! Given that I lived in Sayre B for 2 years as an undergrad at Lehigh, (minus one semester where I went off to London and met some guy…), I remember the space really, really well. It was my *first* apartment, I felt so grown up and I was so excited to live there–mainly because I had my OWN ROOM! It is so fun to think of the JMs living in that space, and I am just truly amazed at the creativity and thoughtfulness that clearly went into designing this family apartment! It is beautiful and organized and fun and bright, and I am so excited to come see it in person! Congratulations on this new chapter!!! Much love! <3

  • Anon says:

    Congratulations ! The new place looks minimal and great :) !

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