Julia Beamish, head of the Department of Apparel, Housing, and Resource Management, has been named a Top 50 Innovator in the kitchen and bath design industry for 2018.

The designation, made by Kitchen and Bath Design News, an influential industry publication, was made in only the second year of the annual list.

“Beamish’s impact extends far beyond the confines of her college’s campus,” the Kitchen and Bath Design News stated. “She has also served as an at-large delegate for the White House Conference on Aging. And, along with two other Virginia Tech professors, she was the co-author of a pair of reference books — Kitchen Planning and Bath Planning — that are considered among the most authoritative planning resources available for professional kitchen and bath designers.”

Beamish, who has had a decorated career in both design and academia, is one of the few educators recognized with the title.

“It’s a nice honor,” she said. “But I think it reflects the value of our entire program, rather than being about me. I’m just the face of the program at the moment.”

Beamish teaches residential space planning with a focus on universal design — which aims to accommodate the full diversity of people, including young children, older adults, and people with disabilities — and accessibility. At Virginia Tech, she helped found a 1,500-square-foot learning center — now called the Center for Real Life Design — that incorporates six kitchen vignettes, classroom space and, more recently, a design library.

“There has been a major effort over many years to encourage people to think about kitchens and baths as long-term investments in their homes,” she said. “It’s expensive, so you may want to consider how you and your family members might change.”

The center acts as a laboratory for not only professionals, but also for students to test different kitchen designs and to understand how kitchens may function within homes.  

To Beamish, teaching future generations about universal design and its importance in the world is a way of giving back.

“I always wanted to be a teacher,” she said.

Written by Taylor Dickerson, a senior majoring in professional and technical writing in the Department of English.