School Sanctuary

Local designer refreshes the Ballantyne Elementary teachers’ lounge

By Jodi Werner Greenwald | Photo by Carolina Flow Photography

Kelly Hickman is the mom of twin second graders at Ballantyne Elementary School. Last winter, Principal Summer Rogers posted on Facebook asking for furniture donations to the teachers’ lounge. The tables at the time were wobbly, with tennis balls on their legs. Hickman, interior designer and owner of ES Design Studio, was perfectly equipped to help. She donated all‑new furniture and added a cohesive design theme throughout. Here she shares with us her creative process.

What were the design challenges and opportunities?

There was a blue accent wall and countertops that could not be changed, so we knew our selected color palette would need to work with the existing blue. We also had a short installation window. We began at 9 a.m., after carpool, and had to complete before first lunch at 11 a.m. Luckily, I have an amazing design partner, David, and a hardworking installer who helped make it happen.

What about the space most excites or inspires you?

I love that the space is used daily and enjoyed. We added two conversation spots with six chairs and side tables so the teachers could socialize together. Originally it was just tables and old furniture that weren’t comfortable.

Any tips for others to use at their schools or home lounge spaces?

Don’t be scared to mix colors, textures and metal finishes, and stick with one accent color to bring everything together. And make sure everything is comfortable so you can relax and enjoy!

Tell us about your background as a designer.

I attended Winthrop University in Rock Hill and received my BFA in interior design. I have worked in California, Nevada and the Carolinas as a junior designer learning from top designers. However, I love being a principal designer and self-employed the best!

Anything else to share?

We are working on the teachers’ planning center now and looking forward to another facelift for the hardworking teachers.

To learn more about Kelly Hickman’s design work:

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