Student Design Competition 2024-25


The Propylaeum Organization of Indianapolis has reached out to ask for your help on a major preservation project. The Propylaeum Mansion and Carriage House is a historic property listed on the National Register of Historic Places, and the carriage house was the original location of the Indianapolis Children’s Museum. The buildings were built in 1891. The organization’s founder May Wright Sewall was an active proponent of the arts and is credited for founding the Heron School of Design that would later become the Indianapolis Museum of Art Newfields. In keeping with the tradition of their founder, the Propylaeum organization has asked you, design students to use your design knowledge and creativity to redesign an apartment in their historic carriage house.

The Project

The Propylaeum board is now ready to update and renovate the second floor of the carriage house with the intent of renting the space. This residential apartment would bring in additional income to cover the cost of upkeep for the historic buildings.   Their ideal tenant would be fast-paced working adults that are looking for easy walking/biking distance to work, access to the downtown entertainment, and a home that serves their busy lifestyle. However, there is concern that the stairs and small space might detract from its appeal. So, they are looking to create an attractive space that honors the Propylaeum’s history while adding modern conveniences. Because of its historic significance, great care must be taken to preserve the architectural features existing in the space.

The Challenge

Create a residential space that balances the commercial need to attract tenants who want modern convenience, while preserving the historic importance of the building. You the designer are being asked to honor Historic Preservation principles by preserving architectural features and elements that are original to the space. However, you do have creative license to blend historic features with an updated design. The original woodwork, baseboards, door and window casings, windows, radiators, and original wood flooring will remain where they are currently. Doors cannot be moved and walls cannot be added. All overhead existing lighting is located in the current floor plan. No new lighting locations can be added to the ceiling drops. Exceptions to this will be called out in later detail.



The current footprint of the kitchen is very small and will prove difficult to provide the space and convenience. To provide the best possible layout, the Propylaeum has given you permission to take out the back side of the second bedroom closet labeled on floor plan to expand the kitchen space. The closet door wall and door jamb of Bedroom 2 will remain.


The Propylaeum is ok with a smaller 24” apartment size range and 18” dishwasher, but they have asked to have a 30” refrigerator. They would also like a microwave that does not rest on the counter. This could be a space saver microwave over the range or it can be built into other cabinets. They would like to provide some custom features like spice and herb storage in the cabinetry and a pull-out trash can built into the cabinets to keep the area looking neat and tidy. Because of the historic nature of the apartment, they want the style of the kitchen to complement the historic architectural features, but does not have to be period style. The Propylaeum requests that the new kitchen flooring material be resilient, durable and environmentally friendly.


One unique feature they would like you to consider is to build a custom roll away island to increase the amount of workspace in the kitchen. They would like at least one side to fold flat for tucking away against a wall or flat surface when not in use. For safety, the island must incorporate locking wheels.


Counter surfaces will be Cambria Quartz . Sink and faucet will need to be specified from Kohler Crescent Supply

Living/Dining Room

The built-in bookshelves and wall sconces are original to the property. Because these elements are listed under the historic registry, they cannot be modified or removed, and the Propylaeum is eager to incorporate those elements into the interior design. They would prefer to provide a furnished apartment and request that you come up with furniture selections and layouts. To blend the style of the home with current trends, the board wants your design to blend a combination of antiques and modern comfortable furniture. They would like you to incorporate two turn-of-the-century side chairs that can be reupholstered with updated textiles.  The Propylaeum has emphasized that they would like a new sofa that will complement the chairs but needs to be extremely comfortable for tenants and their guests. They have specifically stated that they do not want an antique style sofa, but also something not too contemporary and out of place in the apartment. They would also like you to include an area rug that will complement the furniture pieces. On the east wall they would like a large print wallpaper with a minimum 12” repeat.


The Propylaeum has approved that the walls, ceilings and all trim work of the entire apartment can be re-painted a different color, and the original wood floors will remain but can be re-stained. Because there is no dining area, the Propylaeum requests you provide at least seating for 6 somewhere in the living room for entertaining guests. This does not have to be a standard 6 person table.


To maximize airflow, the Propylaeum requests that at least one ceiling fan with light in the space and must be located in one of the current locations.

Primary Bedroom

The Propylaeum is open to the idea of closing off the door from this bedroom into the bathroom for more wall space. This room has southern and western facing windows, and the Propylaeum wants the impact of the natural light to attract potential tenants. Include window treatments that will not block the natural light when open, but block light for sleeping. The Propylaeum requests this bedroom portray a “respite” vibe within your selections of furnishings, fabrics, furniture, window treatments and lighting. They would like the room to house a queen-size bed, at least one nightstand, and possibly additional clothing storage furniture.

Second Bedroom

Since the space is small, the Propylaeum wants to use this bedroom as a multi-purpose zone. The modern-day workplace has rapidly changed, and residential environments now need to provide an area to work remotely or accommodate someone who does hybrid work. In your layout, incorporate a work space and lateral file storage. Also include guest sleeping arrangements for one person. The closet door wall and door casing of Bedroom 2 will remain if you choose to use the closet for the kitchen footprint, but the door can be removed. It is up to you to come up with a creative way to use the jamb depth should you choose.


One modern convenience that the Propylaeum wants to emphasize is laundry access in the apartment. You will use the hallway to include a stackable washer/dryer. The Propylaeum has approved the hall closet as a potential space for the stackable unit and this is the only location where wall leads can be removed. However, because there is no landing space at the bottom of the stairwell, if the hall closet is used for laundry, another zone for winter outerwear must be provided somewhere within the apartment.


The Propylaeum is open to the idea of closing off the door from Bedroom 1 into the Bathroom, to gain a larger vanity and makeup area. Because it is unknown if the floor joists will allow for the toilet to be turned, the board asks that the toilet remain in its current location facing south. Removing the door from the Bathroom to Bedroom 1 would also give opportunity for a recessed medicine cabinet.


The existing hardwood flooring can be changed to tile or other material. The current fiberglass tub/shower will be removed and replaced with a new custom designed shower or tub/shower in its current location. The small closet inside the bathroom will remain and can hold linens and paper goods.


All counters, shower curbs, shower shelving and niche shelves will be Cambria quartz and can be found on their website


The following fixtures must be specified with Kohler Crescent Supply products. All products can be found on their website


  • Plumbing Fixtures
  • Undermount or vessel sink
  • Vanity
  • Faucets
  • Showering components
  • Light Fixtures
  • Medicine Cabinet


FLOORING MATERIAL needs to be labeled for each room on floor plan under room title.

Green Space

There is an area on the roof deck that will allow for some gardening, but they would also like an area to provide biophilic and herbal relief to the indoor space by growing herbs and other plants in front of one south or west windows to provide greenery during the winter months.

What to Include in Design Submittal

*Drawings should be scaled for 11” x 17” paper

**Drawings must use NKBA Guideline standards

  1. Apartment floor plan drawn at ¼” scale.
  2. Concept statement outlining your design theme used to create the look and feel, including how you solved the design challenge.

ONE of the two options below:

Option #1

    1. Kitchen Plan (******Drawn at ½” scale)
      1. Floor plan
      2. Elevations of any wall receiving cabinetry/countertops at ½” scale
      3. 1 or 2 perspectives
      4. 10 most important guidelines used from the NKBA Guideline and Graphic Standards used to create your design, noted on your floor plan and tied to a Guidelines Schedule: Kitchen standards and Guidelines can be found at:
    2. Select 1 of the following and submit one perspective, a design statement outlining how  you incorporated the design requests:
      • Living-Dining and 1 Mood Board
      • Bedroom #1 and 1  Mood Board
      • Bedroom #2 and 1  Mood Board

Option #2

    1. Bathroom Plan (******Drawn at ½” scale)
      1. Floor plan
      2. Elevations of any walls receiving showering products, vanities, plumbing or lighting fixtures, medicine cabinet or toilet, drawn at ½” scale
      3. 1 or 2 perspectives
      4. 10 most important guidelines used from the NKBA Guideline and Graphic Standards used to create your design, noted on your floor plan and tied to a Guidelines Schedule: Kitchen standards and Guidelines can be found at:
    2. Select 1 of the following and submit one perspective, floor plan with furniture layout and design statement outlining how  you incorporated the design requests:
      • Living-Dining and 1 Mood Board
      • Bedroom #1 and 1  Mood Board
      • Bedroom #2 and 1  Mood Board



Designs will be judged among all participating schools. This year all the students compete as individuals and the awards will be given to the top individual student in each category. You are designing for a real-life client, therefore the Propylaeum will also be providing judges to score and critique your designs. NKBA will also be bringing in Interior Designers from the Indianapolis area to help judge the Interior Design portion of the competition.


Qualifying score: Your design score for your Kitchen or your Bath plan (select one), must meet a minimum qualifying score before being able to advance for judging of Categories #3-#5.


#1. Best Kitchen: $1,000

#2. Best Bath: $1,000

#3. Bedroom 1: $1,000

#4. Living/Dining: $1,000

#5. Bedroom 2: $1,000


Use of NKBA Graphic Standards and Guidelines 50 points
Meeting the specified requests and criteria per each room 20 points
How well the concept statements match drawings, renderings and mood boards 20 points
Adherence to design packet criteria 20 points
How well the mood boards portray the criteria specified in concept statements 20 points
  130 Total Points