Interior designer Liz Toombs is no stranger to residential design. After all, her Kentucky-based company, PDR Interiors, does plenty of it across the country. However, it might just be Liz’s knack for Greek housing interiors that makes her stand out from the crowd. With college football season at the forefront of our minds, we caught up with Liz to learn about her “in” with the South’s Greek community and what trends we can look forward to on college campuses everywhere. Please welcome our newest Interior Designer Crush, Liz Toombs, of PDR Interiors in Lexington, KY.

Liz Toombs of PDR Interiors, wearing a royal blue dress and white jacket.
Please welcome our newest Interior Designer Crush, Liz Toombs, of PDR Interiors. Image: Ashley Nicole Photography

Who or what inspired your design career?

My grandfather, who I was very close to, was a realtor when I was younger, so I was exposed to a variety of house styles early in life. My whole family is very creative, but I attribute my design interest to the real estate element.

How would you describe your aesthetic?

Clean lines for the furniture and an overall soft and relaxing color palette with punches of bold patterns and colors. It’s a little bit mid-century modern-inspired, with some whimsy thrown in here and there. A great example of this is my China cabinet; it’s a 1960s Drexel piece that’s lacquered in cobalt blue with gold hardware.

You do a lot of work with the Greek community — how did you discover that niche?

My first Greek project came from one of my husband’s business contacts. From there, I have built my client base and network via word of mouth. I am an alumna of Alpha Gamma Delta, so I am very familiar with the Greek collegiate experience.

Gamma Phi Beta entryway at OSU.
The Gamma Phi Beta sorority house at Oklahoma State University enjoyed a major renovation with the PDR magic touch. The pre-existing iron staircase railing and chandelier were preserved while everything else was updated. “We redid the flooring, added the branded inlay in the tile, had some custom artwork done (by Lexington, KY, artist Kayla Weber), and added the furniture and new carpet on the stairs to give it a refreshed look,” says Liz. “It’s a really nice presentation when you enter the house.” Image: Eric Baker
Gamma Phi Beta living room with trophy case and blue couch.
A grand piano and trophy-filled glass display cases stand out in OSU’s Gamma Phi Beta “Card Room.” Image: Eric Baker
Gamma Phi Beta study room at OSU.
A study room with branded, engraved chairs and ottomans (with hidden power sources) offers sorority sisters a comfortable and productive place to work and chat. “We actually took one of the branding images from Gamma Phi Beta, and we had this fabric custom-made, and then we turned them into throw pillows and used them in the house,” Liz tells us. Image: Eric Baker
OSU's Gamma Phi Beta dining hall.
The OSU Gamma Phi Beta dining hall features an ornate ceiling designed and implemented by Krittenbrink Architecture out of Norman, OK. Image: Eric Baker

How is on-campus design different from home interiors?

Residential design serves one family. Greek design serves a group of 50 to 300 women annually. My team’s sorority projects are an interesting hybrid of residential appearance with commercial durability. It’s a fun balancing act.

What is your favorite project to date?

This is always a challenge for me to answer! I have so many favorites, and all for different reasons. If I must choose one, I would say it’s our project we just finished at the University of Georgia. The house underwent a major remodel, and the transformation was amazing!

What advice do you have for parents moving their kids into college when it comes to room design?

Choose items that pull double duty, such as Rubbermaid totes for under beds, shoe bins, and storage benches. If you buy durable items that offer great function, they can go from place to place with your child. The best pieces can be used to store things AND easily move them to your child’s next home when the time comes.

Seating area in a Nicholasville, KY home.
This home in Nicholasville, KY, offers a tranquil space overlooking the homeowners’ deck and pool. Image: submitted
Living space with blue marble fireplace.
Despite an extensive delay due to the pandemic’s start, this home received an upgrade with all-new furniture. Image: submitted

What one item should every college student make sure they have to make their room feel cozier?

The must-have for a cozy room is a good throw blanket — one that is oversized and a soft material.

What are the prevailing current college interior design trends you’re seeing?

In college spaces, Boho is still very popular … Macrame wall hangings, slubby/textured pillows, and lots of neutrals like blush, cream, and white.

What is your favorite space or design element in your own home, and why?

The sunroom, for a lot of reasons. First, I love the windows because they let us look out over our tree-lined backyard and bring in so much natural light. Second, I have intentionally chosen materials that are durable and easy to clean. I can enjoy the beautiful white fabric on the sofa because it’s Crypton, and I know any puppy paw prints will clean right off! The rug is another great material choice; it’s made up of commercial carpet squares with a colorful pattern. If any of the squares were to get damaged, I could easily remove them and replace them with fresh ones.

If you could collaborate with anyone in the world — be it another designer or a dream client — who would it be?

Hmmm, I’d say Reese Witherspoon. She seems like she would be so relatable and easy to work with. I love the colors and patterns in her Draper James products, so I think we would align well on aesthetics.

Alpha Chi Omega sitting room.
The Alpha Chi Omega sorority house at the University of Kentucky boasts a large seating area with ample space for meetings, working, and enjoying college life! Image: Chris Phebus
Alpha Chi Omega group bathroom
Liz gave these Alpha Chi Omega house group bathrooms a spa-like feel for a dose of tranquility. Image: Chris Phebus
Grand staircase at Alpha Chi Omega at UK.
The Alpha Chi Omega grand staircase is the epitome of Southern elegance. A tile inlay features the sorority’s emblem, a lyre. Above, a stunning chandelier gives dimension. Image: Chris Phebus
Gamma Phi Beta sitting room at the University of Kentucky.
The Gamma Phi Beta chapter at the University of Kentucky features a cozy living room space with a fireplace that boasts framed, throwback artwork with the sorority’s Greek letters. Image: submitted

What design trends are you most excited about this year?

Lighter-colored wood flooring. I am ready to say goodbye to the dark stains and welcome in light and airy flooring finishes.

Can you describe your design philosophy in five words?

Connect and collaborate to create. It’s important to me to form a connection with my clients so we can collaborate to create the best space for them.

Kitchen designed by PDR Interiors.
This kitchen features custom cabinets from Barber Cabinet Company and light fixtures from Visual Comfort. Image: Matt Peel
Bathroom designed by PDR Interiors.
“The client saw her cabinet inspiration online,” says Liz. “We needed a very small vanity, so she went to her cabinetmaker, who custom-made this for her. We added the wainscotting and did a beautiful paint color in there (Sherwin-Williams Seaworthy) to try to make an impact in that small space.” Image: Matt Peel

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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.