Making things function and feel better
This is officially the first time I’ve had the opportunity to write “2019.” Wow! Time is certainly fleeting which reminds me of why I started Birch Hill Interiors in the first place.
Reflecting back (way back), I always loved making things. As a little girl, I loved to play with Barbie dolls and made houses out of all the cases that Barbies came in. In the summer I moved my Barbie houses outside and even dug up part of the yard to make a driveway (my sister had the Barbie car). I can’t believe my parents didn’t get mad about the missing grass, but we lived on a farm with acres to spare, so I suppose it wasn’t a big deal to them.
When it came time to think about college, I did a mental inventory of my favorite high school classes and what I enjoyed doing most in my free time, besides socializing. I chose art as my major, and because the University of Wisconsin-Superior had a good art program and wasn’t too far from home, I enrolled there.
I loved drawing, painting, fibers, jewelry, ceramics, etc., and quickly got my teaching certificate so that I could teach art. When I graduated, however, our country was in a major recession.
The first subject cut out of school curriculums was often art, and that meant fewer art teaching positions. For a while, I worked as a substitute art teacher but, with time to think about my future, I decided to pursue a career in graphic design instead. My first job was in a publishing company that produced law enforcement trade journals. Later I was the art director for a “concept-to-print” graphic design and printing firm with much more exciting accounts, my favorite being the Minnesota North Stars hockey team. About this same time, a husband and then children blessed my life. I had done corporate graphic design but now wanted to be home for our children. I wanted to attend their various activities and be involved in their school through volunteering as – wait for it – an art teacher! Throughout this time, I also still wanted to design, so I began my freelance graphic design business, which I still maintain 18 years later.
As our children became more independent, my husband and I renovated our small bungalow in the Twin Cities and a farmhouse in rural Wisconsin. These experiences really helped to define our values – and the principles I bring to my staging work. We learned that we’d rather improve something that already exists than add more sprawl to the suburbs. There is structural quality to older homes that is worth preserving and maybe just needs some tender loving care. Improving what already exists is also better for our environment and enables us to live more simply. For us, a smaller house also meant a smaller house payment, enabling us to afford more experiences with our children – and to focus on faith, family and friends as the most important things in life.
So getting back to why I started Birch Hill Interiors: I have always loved design and people, and staging and redesign is just another expression of that. Staging is really three-dimensional design and gives me a means to help people with principles that I live and breathe. I recently read Simon Sinek’s business and leadership book “Start With Why,” which encourages readers to define what inspires them so that they can inspire others. I can now say with confidence and simplicity that my “why” has always been to make things function and feel better. It was true when I was playing Barbie as a little girl. It is true as I do graphic design. And it’s also true as I stage and redesign homes.