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  • Trish Whitsell

Never Too Busy To Design


Sometimes we get too busy. Too busy to really stay in touch with why we do what we do. To appreciate the small things, and enjoy the big things. Busy is usually a choice, we chose what kind of career we have by how busy we wanted to be, how much time we wanted to invest in "becoming" a doctor, a lawyer, a chef, or even a stay at home parent. We choose our family size, our life style, and even the car we drive by how busy we want to be. Sometimes though, we get busy to avoid those raw emotions that can hold us back in life and even consume us. I usually will lose myself in work to deter myself from feeling overwhelmed when any sadness or loss touches our lives. After my father's death, I immersed myself in work.

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call from a lady who was wanting an in home consultation. She had remembered me from a furniture purchase she had made earlier this year. After talking with her briefly I decided all she really needed was a handy man to do some repair work. I offered to share with her some handyman, and general construction work guys numbers with her to save her money on our consultation fee. She kindly and sweetly persuaded me that she truly wanted a consultation with me. My first thoughts were, I have been traveling and so busy with new builds that I wasn't sure I wanted to take on overseeing upkeep projects on a house. There isn't a lot of money in upkeep work for a designer, afterall I am the owner, this just seemed a too menial task for me.

How embarrassing now to me to think I was too busy, too good for such a special and important task as this project. Reflecting back, because of my attitude; I didn't deserve to be be chosen for such an important task.

I am so happy now that something in her voice just pulled at me to at least check it out. So, I shuffled around a few things, and scheduled the consultation.

The day of the consultation I immediately recognized Tina from my days working at a local furniture store. I couldn't remember initially what all she had purchased but definitely recognized her kind and beautiful face. As we visited and she walked me around the house showing me different things she was needing repaired, I couldn't help but recognize a deep pain in her voice as she discussed why some pieces of furniture must stay, and others could be changed. Only someone who has experienced life changing loss would have clearly heard the pain in her sweet voice. She kept apologizing for becoming so busy that they had let the house kind of deteriorate on the outside as the deck was in need to replacing several boards and other outside issues. I wanted to say to her I understand why she became too busy, as busy is a good way to muddle your way through grief. I didn't address nor ask any for any more details than what she freely gave. Just tid-bits, and definitely not the full story of their journey through pain.

Her oldest son Ben, still lived in the house her husband and her purchased for their youngest son Tyler (they called him Ty for short) to attend university and live off campus. Because of health issues, Ty couldn't live in the dorms with all the other freshman. During his attendance at the University of Arkansas he succumbed to his illness and passed away. Ben, now a teacher at a local school who had lived with Ty there when he passed, just couldn't get rid nor change anything from the time his brother died. Even a small Christmas tree still sat where Ty had originally set it up, looking like it was ready to be decorated and displayed.

Tyler had built a beautiful dining table that anyone would be proud to display in their dining room, as it is beautifully crafted and well built. I couldn't help but admire the details of his work.

Although, to make the table make sense in this house that was designed in french pavilion, (from the outside to the inside including wall color, doors, handles, and light fixture) we definitely need to change out light fixture above table to be be more industrial or even farmhouse instead of this formal chandelier.

The paint color will also need to be changed to a more conducive color scheme for a nice flow. The formal curtains will need to be removed as well.

My recommendations were pretty simple and I didn't need a week to write it all out for her, draw out any major $1,200. floor plan design, or even an $850 consultation package. This house meant more to this family than the monetary value of their original purchase that was clear to me. With that said, she doesn't live in the home. Instead, her single son does. We need to make it comfortable for Ben to reside in, but not just go crazy with a remodel. The main areas of concern for her truly to focus on is the outside upkeep. I ended the consultation letting her know I would ask for bids from a few handy men and also painters and fwd them on to her. I would definitely oversee the work done, to ensure it is done correctly and efficiently.

When I left and was driving back to our office, I admired the strength this woman possessed and my heart ached for Tina. As a mother I can't fathom the amount of pain she endured losing her son. This family endured more than most families could withstand. I realized what an honor that this still grieving mother entrusted me with such an important task. She was doing this to help her living son to move on, to deal with his loss. A mother still putting her children above her own need to stay busy. How humbled I felt as I realized this house now meant something more to me than just an upkeep kinda job. I want to make this home comfortable and long lasting. I want that table of Ty's to stand out and be proudly displayed in that home. I want to be a part of this transformation process and in the upkeep, and design of any future work. I love this house, and these people. I will never forget how important it is to connect and allow raw emotions to help inspire my inner design mode. Nor will I ever take for granted again the importance of a customer's trust in me for any size project. I will forever be changed.

I will revisit this post with updated photos as we finish up this project.

Remember stay humble. ~ Trish Whitsell


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