Liz Toombs designs homes to foster community
Words by Mary Kate McGowan
Photos by Erick Baker
A house is where you keep your belongings. A home is where you thrive. And when it comes to crafting spaces that radiate warmth, style, and camaraderie, Liz Toombs, a certified interior decorator and founder of PDR Interiors in Lexington, Kentucky, has mastered the art of creating homes for her clients.
A native of Louisville, Liz grew her passion for design while attending the University of Kentucky in Lexington. In 2009, she took a leap of faith and established PDR Interiors, embarking on a journey that led her to a unique niche market: Greek housing, specifically sorority interiors.
With a dedicated team by her side, PDR has become a major player in the world of Greek housing design. While also handling residential and commercial projects, their focus remains on creating welcoming and stylish spaces for sorority women across college campuses nationwide — because it's about more than just design. As a former Greek herself, she understands the profound impact these spaces can have on young women.
“It gave me a place to belong and kind of a home within a bigger university,” she said. “I feel like this work is pouring into college women. I want to support and empower these young women through our designs."
For Liz, designing spaces is a labor of love. Her passion for fostering growth and building communities extends far beyond transforming interiors. Liz takes pride in mentoring young women and creating spaces that inspire personal growth and connection.
Creating a welcoming and durable space for Greek housing is no easy task. Liz and her team understand these environments' unique challenges and design considerations. They prioritize using sturdy materials, stain-repellent fabrics, and multi-functional furniture to balance comfort and functionality perfectly.
But it doesn't stop there. PDR goes above and beyond to create spaces catering to communal activities and individual needs. They ensure there are study areas for academic focus and private spaces for self-care and mental well-being. Their goal is to transform sorority houses into nurturing environments that foster personal growth.
"Designing is like a puzzle with each project because everybody's a little bit different in their needs and their budget," she said. "It's fun to figure out how to achieve that for them."
Not only is Liz passionate about designing exceptional spaces, but she is also dedicated to mentoring young professionals and giving back to the community. Recognizing the importance of soft skills in professional success, Liz started a soft skills class to prepare students for the real world.
"I realized how important soft skills were, so I taught a class on soft skills because I wanted to help them be more prepared when they entered the workforce," she said. "I wanted to give back to students and offer them the support and guidance that I wish I had when I was starting my career."
Beautiful spaces are not limited to physical places. Liz has found immense comfort and fulfillment in building a supportive community. Her unwavering dedication to mentoring and giving back to her community is truly remarkable.
Recognizing the transformative power of mentorship, Liz goes above and beyond to offer valuable opportunities for students in her firm. As an alumna of the University of Kentucky, she seeks out student interns from the university's interior design program, empowering them with practical skills and insights for their future careers.
But Liz's passion for mentoring doesn't stop there. She actively participates in various mentoring programs, including the Empower program through her sorority, Alpha Gamma Delta, which focuses on leadership development. Recently, Liz took the lead in guiding a cohort of exceptional students through a series of sessions that explored different leadership principles.
Diversity and inclusion are also close to Liz's heart. She actively participates as a mentor in the Diversity in Design Pipeline initiative, which was formed in partnership with Thermador and with the Interior Design Society, which offers scholarships to students from diverse backgrounds. By bridging the gap and promoting inclusivity in her industry, Liz is significantly impacting the future of design.
"I absolutely love mentoring students. It's incredibly gratifying to give them a chance to experience the industry they aspire to be a part of," Liz said. "It fills me with hope for the next generation."
But Liz's passion for philanthropy extends far beyond her work. In memory of her late mother, who bravely fought kidney cancer, Liz established a scholarship for the University of Kentucky College of Agriculture, Food, and Environment. This scholarship provides much-needed financial aid of $1,000 annually to a student who has lost a parent to cancer, offering support to those facing the challenges of education and loss.
"It's truly fulfilling to have a client niche that aligns perfectly with my desire to mentor young people. I consider myself incredibly fortunate," Liz shares, reflecting on her journey.
To see more of Liz and PDR Interior's work, visit http://pdr-interiors.com/.