Whether you’ve participated in Greek life in the South or just appreciate it from afar, it’s hard not to be charmed by a historic mansion-turned-campus-residence. The University of Georgia’s Alpha Gamma Delta sorority house was recently updated by interior design firm Metal + Petal to maintain the home’s historical integrity, while embracing a more modern aesthetic – and we got a sneak peek inside. Take a look!

The exterior of a Georgia mansion with the Alpha Gamma Delta symbols and an American flag.
Wait until you see the inside of Alpha Gamma Delta’s stunning historic mansion at the University of Georgia!

Unofficially referred to as “The Wedding Cake House,” the Thomas-Carithers House was built in 1896 by William Winstead Thomas, a businessman, architect, civil engineer, and Athens’ local government member. “It was bought and sold by a couple of other significant Athens families before being purchased by Alpha Gamma Delta in 1939,” explains Abby Evans of Metal + Petal, who spearheaded the project

Metal + Petal has completed interior design projects at several sorority residences throughout Georgia (including several others at the University of Georgia), so it was no surprise when the Alpha Gamma Delta housing officials approached them to modernize their historic mansion. “They would be celebrating Alpha Gamma Delta’s 100-year-long history on campus and wanted to elevate the house as part of that celebration,” says Abby.

From custom wood trim to hand-painted murals, the Alpha Gamma Delta house’s recent redesign maintained many of the original elements of the home while bringing the overall aesthetic into the now. Just wait ’til you see those photos!

“Our focus was on the historic, public spaces in the house, including the foyer, gentleman’s parlor, library, drawing room, study, and solarium,” she explains. “Prior to beginning our work, the spaces were hardly utilized by the girls, and the overall feel when you walked in the door was stale.” Follow along room by room to get a feel for the new design!

The Foyer

“Our main priority was to embrace and celebrate the history and architectural dimension of the home while also making it relatable to the girls living there,” says Abby. “We wanted any changes to be intentional and impactful and looked for areas to create contrast and brightness.” They started with the foyer.

Dressed in rich, custom woodwork and Tiffany stained glass windows, the foyer is the most well-known space in the residence — the spot where friends and family are greeted and a common throughway to other areas of the home.

Redesigned main entry of a sorority house, featuring a grand staircase
Custom wooden trim and flooring provide a stunning foundation for the foyer.

“When we began, the plaster walls were dulled by drab wallpaper; ornate, heavy fixtures lit the room,” says Abby. “We painted a crisp white over the wallpaper and replaced the bronze, ornate fixtures with transitional brass lighting,” Abby says. “The central chandelier was exchanged for a bright, welcoming lantern, and pendants were replaced with clean-lined brass fixtures with lovely hints of rich, alabaster stone.”

Built-in reading nook with stained glass window
In the main entryway, the original (and elaborate) flooring, grand staircase, Tiffany glass, and dark wood paneling ground the space as more modern furnishings and fixtures brighten it.
Main entry of a sorority house, with stairwell and ornate ceiling
Contemporary lighting adds contrast to the foyer, offsetting the dark wood paneling. “Our favorite detail is the delightful green wallpaper pattern we introduced on the ceiling and in small nooks within the heavy trim to draw the eye and create texture,” says Abby. “As you get closer to the pattern, you see it is the schematic of an English topiary garden.”

The Drawing Room

Naming one parlor the “Drawing Room,” the Metal + Petal team embraced curves and a feminine color palette. “We made this space the most formal in the house and centered it around the lovely piano, original to the home, that sits in this room,” says Abby.

“We incorporated two large traditional sofas with high backs in a glorious rose-colored velvet for maximal seating. We also curated a unique coffee table centerpiece with pull-up stools as an interesting focal point,” she explains. “One of our favorite elements in this room is the cloud wallpaper in a pearl finish. The metallic sheen brings added reflection to the space and seamlessly carries the eye to the central fixture — a breathtaking cluster of textured glass globes that plays beautifully off the wallpaper’s cloud effect.”

drawing room with pink sofas
“In the Drawing Room, we tucked a charming sheep sculpture by the grand fireplace to bring a sense of play,” Abby says.

Featuring a clever mix of old and new, each room was transformed into a more practical, functional space for its residents. “[It was] a more traditional palette expressed in modern patterns,” Abby tells us, “a testament to the modern women living in this storied, traditional home.” She goes on to say that the aesthetic focus was bringing vitality, movement, and joy to the house — something she most certainly accomplished. Additionally, she sought exuberant patterns, colors, and energy-lifting pieces to infuse playfulness.

close up of pink coffee table with books
Feminine details add a touch of lived-in coziness.
two lucite chairs with white cushions in grand drawing room
The juxtaposition of modern touches with classic elements — like these lucite chairs alongside a grand piano — is a hallmark of the home’s interior design.
Close-up of an ornate white fireplace with a chandelier that has glass globes
A gorgeous glass-globed chandelier adds a touch of whimsy to offset the classic fireplace.
Close-up of a vignette that features books, photos, and a silver bowl
“One of the very best parts of this process was harvesting decorative accessories and photos inside the house,” Abby says. “We spent hours polishing silver, dusting antiques, and sifting through photos and books depicting life as an Alpha Gam over the century they have owned the house. We displayed as many of these treasures as we could.”

The Gentleman’s Parlor

A space for young men to await their dates, this “Gentleman’s Parlor” is undoubtedly well-loved by the ladies of Alpha Gamma Delta. One of two spaces in the front of the house that function as parlors, it boasts a beautiful fireplace and intricate trim. With help, the space took on a brighter, more elegant feel with masculine touches sprinkled in. “A couple of my favorite nods to its name are the matching houndstooth rugs the conversational layout sits atop,” Abby says.

The design team divided the space into two distinct parts and created back-to-back conversation areas. “We wanted the Gentleman’s Parlor to function as a space suitable for group work,” explains Abby, “so we created two private conversation spaces back to back where the women could gather and work through projects or make plans for their weekend.”

Living room with back-to-back white couches in front of a fireplace.
Back-to-back couches sit atop houndstooth rugs, divided by an end table with greenery.
Two green chairs in a sitting room with velvet drapery
Rich green drapery brings in modernity and masculinity.

The Study

“The hand-painted mural in the study is original to the house and is said to depict Athens at the time the house was built,” Abby tells us of the room’s wall artistry, setting the room’s tone. To avoid removing such an eye-catching Georgia-centric feature, the team created an aesthetic to support the artwork.

Dining room table and chairs in front of a wall featuring a landscape mural
Aside from fixtures, paint, and wallpaper, we did very little to the existing architectural detail of the home,” Abby tells us. “We challenged ourselves to make our aesthetic decisions to complement the existing details and, of course, to avoid any invasive renovation work. In this study, for example, the pre-existing murals were left untouched.
pink velvet chair with gold light
Sleek pink velvet chairs and gold reading lamps flanking the window bench help to brighten and modernize the overall aesthetic of the room.

“Its existing function was the girls’ television space,” she explains. “The heavy lounge furniture and restrictive layout distracted from the room’s unique magic. We re-assigned it as the study, with a long central table and comfortable chairs for group study, and freshened the space with soft, contrasting patterns on the home’s beautiful window seat. Our favorite features are the whimsical sconces on each wall that illuminate the mural and draw the eye to its unique scenery.”

Dining room table in front of a window with built-in seating
A modern table offers a productive space for studying.

Flooding the space with natural light and some lighter furniture pieces, the mural is now surrounded by elements that make it stand out even more. “The gorgeous hand-painted mural, fireplace, and bay window in the study were celebrated with a symmetrical communal table layout, where girls could convene for quiet desk work,” Abby says.

The “Small Room”

As with the rest of the house, this room’s renovation incorporated splashes of the sorority’s color palette. “We used the sorority’s symbolic color palette of red, yellow, and green as much as tastefully possible throughout the house,” says Abby. “We wanted the interior to feel owned by the organization without literally monogramming pillows or hanging their crest.”

Blue mosaic fireplace surrounded by wallpaper featuring books
This wallpaper is a bold and captivating choice. “The function of the design is just as important as the form and is often much more demanding,” says Abby. “That being said, the creative is motivated by the fresh, exuberant energy of the home’s residents. We get to have a lot of fun with our selections and make choices that not every homeowner is willing to go for.”
close-up of study nook
This study nook, starring a subtly chic animal print sofa and modern table, is to-die-for.
Close-up of photos and trophies on a green fireplace mantel
Now featuring a vivid jade green fireplace mantel, this “small room” became one of the house favorites.

The Solarium

Located in the back of the house, the solarium was virtually empty before the renovation, but that’s not to say it didn’t have its perks — oversized windows, tons of natural light, and an overall feeling of tranquility. “The bright, narrow space felt casual and slightly utilitarian, making it a hard transition from the rest of the house,” Abby tells us. “We embraced this disjunction by making this space the most joyful in the home.”

“We drenched the walls in bright, happy green and brought character to the noticeably modern floors by painting them with a checkerboard floor pattern,” Abby says of the modernization. “We rehomed the girls’ television in an existing nook and placed it on a playful console with casters to be available whenever they need.” They also lined the windows with cozy chaise sectionals, adding greenery and playful patterns for even more comfort and texture.

Sunroom with green walls, white couches, and a checkered floor
Abby tells us, “We lined the wall with chaise lounge sectionals and hid a television on a stylish rolling console to make it the perfect place for cozy movie nights, lazy weekends, or a quick afternoon nap.”
Close-up of windows against a green wall above white couches
The girls were very excited about their new space and eager to put it to use,” says Abby. “We could tell they were thrilled to gather and enjoy their new surroundings. There were girls chatting in the parlors and napping in the solarium before we even finished our photoshoot.

Photography by Kaitie Bryant.


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Jenna Bratcher
About the Author
Jenna Bratcher

Jenna Bratcher is StyleBlueprint Nashville’s Associate Editor and Lead Writer. The East Coast native moved to Nashville 16 years ago, by way of Los Angeles. She is a lover of dogs, strong coffee, traveling, and exploring the local restaurant scene bite by bite.