The type of client who hires me generally has some excess funds to make their living spaces better. Some just want a great house and (trusting me) tell me to do whatever I want. Others enjoy the design process, and like to be involved every step. I have all kinds of clients, and I enjoy the variety. For example, one of my recent design projects was re-doing a $10 million vacation home. However, once in a blue moon I’m granted the opportunity to design a space for someone in an extra special circumstance.
A close friend of mine’s mother is in her late 40s, and has had a challenging life: she raised 3 children on her own, barely making pennies over minimum wage, and thus was economically forced to live with her parents for the past 20 years.
Her uncle just passed and left her his home and some cash. For the first time in her life she now has an opportunity to have a home that she can call her own. But because she’s never had one, she has no idea how to turn her uncle’s old house into a space that reflects her personality – not his.
My friend called me in to help her, knowing that his mom desperately needs direction. I remember exactly what he said when he first called me about the project: “Tim, I know you usually do really high-end homes, but would you consider helping out my mom?” I’d helped him design an apartment in NYC and also one in Los Angeles, and therefore he’d experienced what its like working with me; he knows that I understand design as it relates to creating a space that reflects the person who will be living in it and he knows that I believe your home should tell your story.
The house, in the East Bay area in California, is like a living memorial to the kitschy 1970s – (see the pictures!) – as her uncle literally hadn’t changed anything in it for nearly 40 years since his own wife died.
Phase One happened last week, when I did my first walk-through to assess our options and talk-through with her how she would like to live. When I asked what style she liked, what colors she preferred, etc., her response was to say she wanted it to be comfortable, to be a place of rest and peace. I promised her that that is exactly what she will get – and I also realized after spending 3 days with her that no one would ever be more appreciative and grateful than her.
We now begin the metamorphosis from the 70s Time Capsule that it is to a haven of tranquility for its new owner. After it is cleaned out the contractor can go in and rip out the bathrooms and kitchen, install new flooring, and do some minor structural work to open up the closed- in spaces. This home, once renovated, will change her life for many years to come. This project is so special that I want to share the process with you to illustrate how design can positively and profoundly impact someone’s life.
Follow the process on Instagram as it unfolds over the next several months @TimTattersallDesign