Hope College’s newly announced $5,000 annual tuition raise is accompanied by an exciting tuition-funded project: Fixer Upper’s very own Chip and Joanna Gaines are traveling to the Hope College campus! Durfee Hall, the only all-male dormitory, is getting a facelift. Constructed in the 1950s, Durfee’s interior is quite dated with beige walls and unsanitary conditions—the whole place reeks of neglect. This safety and health crisis will soon be addressed in the most efficient way possible: a gentrified modern farmhouse interior makeover.
On Hope’s campus, Durfee Hall is known for its unique culture and traditions. Their values are rooted in manhood and (REDACTED). This renovation seeks to redo the entire dorm from top to bottom with a style never before seen, or desired, by a single resident. Bathrooms, dorm rooms, and common spaces will be transformed from their originals style. This renovation will be a significant shift for current residents. Jonah Lawrence, a freshman in Durfee, spoke with overwhelming excitement about the current changes: “I literally have no clue what is going on. Everything is being sanded and refinished and oversized wooden signs keep popping up everywhere. But my Mom is really happy, and she pays my tuition, so it’s fine. I guess.”
The Durfee Hall bathrooms, infamously known for their lack of shower curtains, will be seeing a dramatic change. Each shower will now feature an authentic swinging barn door sourced from a local dairy farm. The Gaines couple cited this renovation as an innovative essential project within the residential hall. These authentic cedar barn doors feature a rich mahogany finish with intricate carving details, which add to the ambience. These new doors violate several health and building codes and are not waterproof, but the farmhouse aesthetic is perfectly executed. An array of Durfee residents have displayed their discontent with the new barn doors, claiming that they are “unnecessary” and “contradictory to community-building.” However, the renovators do not appear to be adapting to the concerns of the residents.
This project is not only improving physical aesthetics, but also breaking barriers. The Gaines couple, natives of Texas, are now entering the West Michigan bubble, creating cultural collaboration and unique opportunities. During a lunch break from renovation, Chip Gaines lost in a ping pong game 11-0, activating the hall-wide agreement that requires an automatic chapel run. When notified of this agreement, Gaines refused to participate, stating that the rule was a direct violation of “southern hospitality.” He negotiated to install additional shiplap in the custodial closet in exchange for a pardon from his chapel run. His counter offer was accepted with reluctance.
The Durfee Hall renovation has also drawn attention due to traffic issues. Last week on E. 10th Street, four semi-trucks blocked traffic from both directions. The semi-trucks weighed several tons altogether, each filled exclusively with shiplap. This has become the main design inspiration for the project. Shiplap will be added on all four walls of each dorm room, including shared common rooms. This will reduce closet capacity by 60% and will also reduce the room size. When asked about reducing room sizes to the equivalent of slightly larger than the average federal prison cell, Joanna Gaines responded, “I do not think shrinking the space will have any impact on livability. Once completed, these rooms will provide a farmhouse and cottage core look and feel. At the end of the day, that is way more important than space, room for beds, or living standards and ergonomics.”
This project is not only a win for current Hope residents, but also the college’s admissions office. Ever since news of the Gaines renovation broke, applications for undergraduate admission have increased by 45%. Patrick Collins, a prospective Hope student, shared his feelings, “This Durfee Hall renovation has made Hope an attractive school. I was planning on attending Yale on a full ride, but who knows now. Turning down a dorm with shiplap seems like the mistake of a lifetime. Nothing this big has ever happened to me.”
Current Hope students not living in Durfee have shown their discontent about the renovations, claiming it is a waste of money and unfair. Madelyn Samuels, a sophomore living in Voorhees Hall, expressed her concerns: “I think the renovation is cool, but I feel like it is an awful use of money. The other day in my dorm room, water from the pipes leaked into my room. It leaked onto my lamp cord and I was mildly electrocuted. When I contacted Res Life asking for medical attention or a room change they responded with ‘No,’ and then a red heart. I think that there is way too much preferential treatment around here. But, hey! At least I don’t go to Calvin”.
While an attempt at reaching out to administration was made, there was no official comment. However, the Hope administration did tweet a seemingly related tweet off their Twitter account: “Ayeee Fixer Upper slaps, PERIOD! #gainesgang Property Brothers who??? BTW tuition increases coming soon… anyways keep hope and stuff LOL. uwu.”