Friday, August 26, 2016

"I've never met a color I didn't like." - Dale Chihuly 
I think we're all familiar with the Beach Boys song “California Girls”. They talk about Southern girls and the way they talk, the daughters from the Mid-West, and of course, California girls. I'm starting my introduction with this song to give you a little background on myself. My name is Heather, and I am originally from California. I lived in “The South” for two years. and have been a Mid-West girl for the past 19 years.

One thing that I noticed, having lived in very different areas of the United States, is the different architectural styles across the country. Our home in California was on a mountain, and the style of the area was quite different from the style in my grandparents' neighborhood in the valley, and different still from my grandparents house in Utah. In Virginia I toured a mid century lake home, and a two kitchen three story traditional home. South Carolina introduced me to plantation homes, and Indiana offered many different styles. I had the pleasure of touring many of the old mansions in downtown South Bend, including Tippecanoe Place and the Oliver Mansion . I was always aware of structural details, and always interested in decorating. With every home I toured, I became more fascinated with architecture and design.

When I was about nine, my dad (a former carpenter) showed me how to read floor plans. After countless hours studying plan books for enjoyment, my dad showed me how to draw plans using graph paper. He helped me cultivate a love for architecture and space planning.

Eight years ago, my husband and I bought a fixer upper in Mishawaka, Indiana. I obsessively dream up new ideas to update our 1920s home. My husband and I both wanted to be architects. We love bouncing ideas back and forth until we perfect our design, but my favorite part is watching our dreams become reality step by step. I know that most people find living in a renovation project to be frustrating, but I find it exhilarating. Yes, sometimes it is frustrating, but I love to be a part of it; making beauty from chaos. I love walking friends through my home and drawing word pictures to describe all of the changes we have made. People are always surprised, and friends often forget what it used to look like. I get bored of living in a finished house, and am always looking for something to improve.

I have gained a little experience through our projects in laying tile, using power tools, refurbishing, painting, and dry walling. I'm no expert, and I can show you where I messed up, but I am proud to be a part of my projects.

I'm not one to pick favorites in any category. I simply like what I like, and quite often, I like several things in any given category equally. The same goes for design style. I don't know how anyone could see the beauty and detail put in to different styles of buildings and choose a favorite. There are so many styles, and they're all beautiful works of art.

Having said that, I will say that the commonalities of the styles that I love are bold choices, artistic details, and color. I believe that whatever you do, you should do it with gusto. Your house is a canvas waiting for you to make it into an artistic expression of yourself. You can make an exact replica of something else that you have seen and be safe, knowing that you are not the only one choosing that style, assuring yourself that you didn't make a wrong choice, but ask yourself, who am I trying to please? Your house should be pleasing for you to look at, comfortable for you to use, and reflect your style, not what is trendy right now, because what is trendy today, is “dated” the next decade. I suggest being true to yourself by heeding this advice: “Follow the path of the unsafe, independent thinker. Expose your ideas to the dangers of controversy. Speak your mind and fear less the label of 'crack-pot' than the stigma of conformity. And on issues that seem important to you, stand up and be counted at any cost.” -Thomas J. Watson

I have an eclectic style. There are many elements to many styles of design that I like, love, or appreciate. I love touches of art nouveau. If a fixture, floor inlay, or accessory imitates nature tastefully, I am drawn to it, such as stained glass designed by Louis Comfort Tiffany. Tiffany's designs are breathtaking, demanding a few moments of your time to take in the beauty and splendor he captures in his glass windows and accessories. I'm drawn to the natural stone fireplaces and wood beams of rustic style. I love the artistic detail in classic style, and the fun spin of classic reinterpreted style. I am drawn to the bold colors and grandeur of art deco.
Italiano: Brooklyn Museum 24January2014 8/26/16

I am always looking for something new, bold, exciting, beautiful, interesting, unique. I would never choose just one thing to describe myself. People have depth, unique character, qualities and interests. I believe that your house has some characteristics of it's own that need to be expressed, but the individuals inhabiting in it need to express themselves through the house as well.

In my designs I have tried to waste as little as possible. We have a wonderful set of nonprofit home improvement stores in the area that accept building materials that can be reused in someone else's projects. When I cannot find a use for something in my home, I donate materials there. It's also a great resource to find unique items. We were able to expand our kitchen without buying all new cabinets by finding matching cabinets at the ReStore. I have done several refurbishing and repurposing projects around my house as well. Just because something doesn't look beautiful at the moment, doesn't mean that it can't. Creative thinking and a little work can go a long way to reduce construction waste. I really appreciate that Ivy Tech Environmental Design is focused on sustainable, green products and practices.

I'm looking forward to learning all about environmental design, and I am excited to fill this blog in with pictures, posts, inspirations, and hopefully some personal projects!