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Ren­o­va­tions in the Paul House (Photo: Nicole Ault / Hillsdale Col­legian).

Junior Sarah Schutte said she took action when she noticed the Paul House needed some repairs. Luckily for the women’s res­i­dence, Schutte, a res­i­dence assistant there, said she likes home dec­o­rating — and she and her family are good at it.

During spring break and the summer, Schutte, her parents, and her brother worked hard to ren­ovate the Paul House, also known as the Dow Res­i­dence, stripping wall paper, painting, tearing up old carpet, and redec­o­rating to make the 19th-century res­i­dence a more wel­coming space.

The college approved the ren­o­va­tions to the house and paid for paint and some sup­plies, but Rebekah Dell, assistant dean of women, credits the Schuttes for making it pos­sible.

“It actually all hap­pened because Sarah and her family was excited and willing to come in and spend a period of time working on the house,” Dell said.

Although Schutte said she “fell in love with the house” while living there last year, it was not ideal.

“A lot of it, to me, was aes­thetic,” Schutte said. “Wall­paper was peeling, there were cracks. There were drafts, old water damage. The radi­ators were chipping. Just little things like that added up. And there were hardly any lights, so people didn’t want to come study, and that’s what we wanted. We wanted people to come.”

Schutte approached Dell and Dean of Women Diane Philipp in the spring about painting the dining room and kitchen. Her family vol­un­teered to help. Her mother, Stephanie, said they just wanted to support the college.

“At this point in our lives, that is what we have to give, so we wanted to help Sarah create a place where people will want to gather to learn and build rela­tion­ships and grow in the atmos­phere inspired by Hillsdale,” she said.

After com­pleting the painting during spring break, she said they had a vision for more they could do to spruce up the place. The Schuttes offered to come back and do more in the summer, and the deans con­sented.

“We wanted to show the college by painting that we were really invested in the house, and they’ve just responded to that so well,” said senior Emily Lehman, head RA of the Paul House. “It’s been a team effort.”

The res­i­dence now sports a fresh paint job, instead of wall­paper, in the living room, kitchen, and dining room. The Schuttes also patched cracks, and Stephanie Schutte reuphol­stered fur­niture for the res­i­dence. Her father, Greg, built a wooden coffee table.

The family also col­lected paintings to hang and redec­o­rated several rooms, including the upstairs study room with a new map theme and a self-serve coffee bar in the works.

The college pro­vided new carpet for the living room and piano room. It also paid for the instal­lation of new lighting fix­tures throughout the house and ren­o­va­tions to the main-floor bathroom, which both Dell and Schutte said was the most needed update. A few pieces of fur­niture from Mauck Res­i­dence and ori­ental rugs donated to the college are welcome addi­tions, Dell said.

She said, however, the res­i­dence will even­tually need further ren­o­va­tions.

“There are plans, but down the road, of ren­o­vating the Dow House, but it’s not in the imme­diate future,” Dell said. “It’s on our radar, but we don’t have a set date for that.”

Schutte and Lehman said they are excited for new pos­si­bil­ities that have opened up because of the ren­o­va­tions.

“Now it’s a much more livable space, and I think it’s not going to require quite as much work to make it feel warm and friendly,” Lehman said. “I’ve already seen people gath­ering in the house in a casual, friendly way. That just makes me happy to see.”