Guest Writer: Scott Hathcock on Interior Design -- What If I....Am Renting?

What if I…Am Renting? 
By Scott Hathcock

Kiersten and I have had our share of moves.  As of today, we have moved 11 times within a span of 14 years of marriage.  With so many house moves, you will not be surprised to learn that 9 of the 11 were rentals.  Not wanting to let renting and landlords stand in the way of our personal stamp, we’ve managed to do some pretty cool transformations.  I will be featuring a few of these rental redesigns (with before and after photos) periodically in the blog. 
One common thread is the use of paint.  While there are some exceptions with landlords not allowing you to paint the walls; for the most part, changing the color of your walls is always a viable option…especially, if you are okay with painting them back to the original color before you move out. 
This first redo we will be featuring is a den/family room.  As you can see from the original photo, the room was beige prior to moving in.  The floor and fire place surrounding was tiled in neutral colored ceramic squares with smaller blue tile accents.  Not a bad pallet, but for us it lacked in warmth and personality.


Now, the after picture…
The swimming pool, in the backyard, was right off the back of this room, but the backdoor placement and windows deterred us from making the pool our focal point.  So, we opted to play-off the pool's color pallet and paint the walls with a greyish blue color.  Inside the built in bookcases (left of the fireplace), we painted the back wall orange to add pop to an otherwise unnoticed architectural feature.  One of the biggest and most noticeable changes however was to the fireplace. 
Here’s what we did:
  1. Removed the dated brass fire screen from the fireplace facing completely. 
  2. Covered the surrounding area with a tin sheet (cut by hand with tin snips) and attached it with screws.
  3. Overlaid the fireplace tile with a sheet of ply wood cut to cover the tile area and attached it with 4 screws to the outside corner studs.
  4. Covered the plywood with blue and teal glass tile sheets using the standard tile application.
  5. Made a new (4 sided) mantle that sat on the top of the original white molded mantel and attached it with a few finishing nails.  The mantel was stained maple to continue the look of the mid-century flavored furniture pieces.

Estimated cost of paint and fireplace remodel $65.00. 
Furniture wise, I should note, the mid-century looking sectional sofa and round sofa coffee table were purchased upon move-in from Craig’s List for a total of $400.            



For those of you who know my husband, Scott, you know he's a genius with interior design.  Not because he went to school for it, but because it's a God-given talent.  He can write, draw, paint, design, sing, act.  It really makes me wanna punch him because he has such natural talents.  We are your typical artsy couple who design and  love making things look beautiful but we tend to mostly do it without a pocket full of cash (read: layoffs, unemployment, etc.) Scott has been asked on numerous occasions (or he's volunteered because he's very generous) to help re-do homes, schools, backyards, cottages, you name it.  I've asked Scott to write weekly on this blog to give tips and tricks for making life beautiful on a budget.  I'm honored to have Scott writing for me and lucky for me, if he misses a deadline, I can just reach over and pinch him.  Best kinda guest writer EVER.

By Scott Hathcock

Frankly, I’m not sure what I would do if someone ever said to me, “You have an ‘unlimited’ amount of budget to spend on this room.  Now, go and create something!”  I have always found it more exciting to “fix” what has already been done, decorated, created or painted.  In other words, I like to use what’s already there to inspire a design.  Maybe it’s because when Kiersten and I were first married, like most folks, we didn’t have a lot of anything.  What little furniture we brought to our union was handed down.  Framed works of art were a lavish expense.  And, no single piece of anything in our house cost more than a thousand dollars or came brand new from a showroom floor.  We were then and still are today a family of design “re-inventors.”  It doesn’t hurt that we are also change addicts; after all, choosing to move 11 times within a 13 year span would be painful to most, but we have always looked forward to the challenge of re-purposing what we had so that we could feel reborn in our new space.  

There is no doubt in my mind that, had we not moved so many times, our houses would have seen an equal amount of room design facelifts and re-arrangements. 

For purposes of this blog, we will be looking at our own personal room projects from the past (including missteps), our present musings and including client projects and challenges.  This will not necessarily be a “how-to” in the traditional sense, but more designed for you to ask yourself the question, “What if?”
What if I painted this wall green?”
What if I built my own coffee table?”
What if I found a wing-back chair on the curb?”
What if I built a stage?”
There are literally no limitations here…except budgets.  We are going to explore all things that go into creating an environment.



Balance is Bullshit

Balance is bullshit. Yep, I said it.  Driving in the car today on my way to pick up my daughter from school, I was actually thinking about the saying "having it all."  This is something that's been said about me because I work from home.  Well, I call bullshit. After coming home, working on a billion different work-related tasks, I saw this article, written by Cali Williams Yost, posted on Linked In:  http://www.forbes.com/sites/work-in-progress/2012/02/08/3-reasons-entrepreneurs-need-to-discuss-work-and-life-but-stop-talking-about-balance/.  And I almost high-five'd the computer screen.

I've written about my different stints as work-out-of home mom, then stay-at-home mom, and finally work-from-home mom.  I've lived  every scenario since becoming a mom 13-years-ago.  And each time, the talk is always about balance.  When I was a stay-at-home mom, I desperately missed the creative, business woman side of me.  And when I'm working, I, of course, miss concentrated time  with my kids where I don't feel on-call all the time via Blackberry. Am I happy with the path I've chosen with my career and Mod Mom?  No doubt about it. But do I feel balanced?  Nope.

When I was a guest on the Nate Berkus show, Nate asked me how I balance and I said that for me, it was about figuring out when to try to fit it all in.  If I'm tired, it's not a good time to use the table saw.  But seriously, that's the kind of juggling I've been thinking about since 2007.  If I'm gonna be "present" with my kids after school, then I have to get up early to do the manual labor stuff so I don't cut my hand off and schedule the computer work for later.  And that being a work-from-home mom didn't mean I work less, it just means I have to weave 40+ hours of work in and out of my life as a mom.  Oh, and now that I'm not building, it doesn't mean that I'm just phoning it in.  It's quite the opposite.  Sometimes I look back at life in my garage as the "simpler" times.  It was easier to manage 100 orders in a year that I had control over than growing internationally, designing new lines, and managing manufacturing from a different state.  Wait, where was I?  See...even my brain can't keep up.  Back to balance....

Do my kids lose out sometimes?  Absolutely.  Does work take a backseat sometimes?  Yep. Mainly I think we all have to get real about what it means to run a business from home, or work in an office, or raise kids 100% of every day of every year.  Or to just live and work in this day and age, period.  It's not about balance.  For me, it's more about juggling and knowing that "having it all" is not reality.  I sometimes feel like I have it all when I manage to shower.  That's just the way it is.  Clearly, someone who has a tough time fitting in a shower during the day isn't going to win the "balance" award.  And I don't want to because, well, balance is BS.