Chattanoogan: Beth Van Deusen – She Has Designs On Your Home

Wednesday, February 27, 2013 - by Jen Jeffrey

Designer Beth Van Deusen’s mild manner doesn’t stop her from being fearless in her ideas. Her background experience in the construction industry gives her the edge in marrying creativity with functionality and making her a most sought after designer in space renovation.

Beth was born in Pennsylvania but she would visit her grandparents Norl and Florence Hamilton in Chattanooga and would eventually make the city her home. 

“My grandfather ran the Army Ammunition Plant. When I would come here to visit, I was fascinated by Rock City. I have memories of flying into Lovell Field by myself on an airplane when I was just four years old,” Beth says.

“It was different back then,” Beth remembers fondly. “I loved it. They gave me the little wings pin and took me up in the cockpit; they’d give you the magnetic little drawing pads … it was special.”

Her father Frank Calderazzo was an engineer and her mother Janet was a stay at home mom until moving to Chattanooga with her children and obtaining her teaching degree.

“It turns out that she was a great teacher but she did it for her children’s schedule,” Beth insists. “She taught at Allen Elementary in Soddy Daisy and Red Bank Middle.”

Beth attended GPS and worked at Wendy’s and then at Loveman’s in the shoe department. “I was terrible in sales,” Beth admits.

Following her mother’s footsteps, Beth’s first job out of college was teaching. Beth taught at Howard and then at CSAS.

“I had majored in French and English which was not very useful.  It was useful that I received a good education, but not in finding a job. I didn’t know what I really wanted to do. I taught English and French for five years and I liked it, but I just didn’t love it. My husband was a teacher and he just loved it. I knew that I didn’t have the passion that he had,” Beth asserts.

In 1990, Beth had married Schaack Van Deusen who is 21 years her senior. Mr. Van Desusen was a teacher and coach at Baylor School and is well known in the wrestling and theater community.

The Van Deusens have two daughters, Sarah 19 and Elizabeth 10. Schaack was about 60 years old when his youngest daughter was born. “It will either kill us or keep us young,” Beth quips.

Staying at home with her first child, Beth didn’t know if she would want to go back to teaching. “I was interested in interior design and went back to school at UTC for a degree in that field. I started doing freelance work for John Coffelt who was my drafting teacher. John was also the owner of HGH Construction,” Beth states.  

Through working with the construction team, Beth developed an interest for ‘space planning’ and navigated her way to the structure part of design.  

“I do space planning and I draw renovation plans. I talk to people about what they are trying to accomplish and then I draw the floor plans and the 3D stuff. I do draw new houses plans but renovation is what I mostly do,” Beth says. 

Launching Van Deusen Designs in September of 2011 was a step in the right direction for the skilled designer. 

“I was the in-house designer and project manager for HGH Construction for 14 years. It was a great experience for me and I gained a lot of ‘practical’ experience that I exercise in my business,” Beth promises.  

With her background in the construction end of design projects, Beth is able to foresee problems that could occur when clients bring in their ideas. 

“I know what you can take out and what you can’t and how much things will cost. You can dream of the things you would like, but if you design out of your budget – it’s pointless,” she says. 

In taking the step to go out on her own, Beth says, “I wanted to concentrate just on design, I was doing some other things in the company and I wanted to be able to just dedicate myself to design. I love figuring out the pieces of the puzzle of a house and how it is going to flow for the client.” 

Beth’s passion in a design project is ‘solving problems’ using her experience knowing what doesn’t work for a client’s house and knowing how to bring together what they want to accomplish. 

“It’s a challenge to me but I love it,” Beth insists. “I will wake up in the middle of the night and think about an idea.” 

Beth’s talent shines through when transforming a basic 1960s rancher into a craftsman bungalow. “Changing the exterior or opening up new areas for a more unique, textural style is what turns a space from blah to interesting,” Beth affirms. 

Her husband’s retiring has allowed Beth more freedom to pursue her own business. Beth works alone and has not hired other staff. While business has been going very well, Beth contemplates possibly expanding. 

“I had a good first year, but this year has been even busier. I am very happy about that – I just don’t know what my next step is. The thing I love to do is the design and, if I get bigger and hire people, then I wouldn’t get to do the part that I love. I want to still keep a hand in the design part,” Beth maintains.

Though her focus is the design, having experience in construction enables Beth to refer clients if they want help seeking contractors.

“It’s like a puzzle and all the pieces are kind of scrambled. You have to figure out how to get those pieces in the right place. I like orchestrating the big picture, seeing it come together and looking at the whole thing with clients - modeling it and seeing what all the possibilities are,” Beth says.

Creative ideas come with functionality for Beth. Her background experience has helped her achieve what others may not think about.

With every project, Beth has learned something that she could use for the next job and all the years of knowledge add up.

“Sometimes people come to me with a preconceived idea of what they want. I always will draw what they describe to me, but then I draw my ideas. I draw three options and usually what happens is we will pull things from all three possibilities and then come up with a final result,” Beth says.

Using a designer gives clients a fresh set of eyes and Beth’s background brings her a step ahead.

 “There are just typical things I know on the other end …things the client may not think about,” Beth proclaims. “When they say to me, ‘I would have never of thought of that’ – it is always fun to hear.”

jen@jenjeffrey.com

 

 

 


This Week In The Arts

This week in the Arts: Thursday, October 23 Main St. Mixer at the Urban Lawn Civic Arts League Opening Reception at Ringgold Art and Frame Gallery, Ringgold, GA FACES UnMasked at the Church on Main Storytelling Circle at the Northgate Public Library TEXTURES Exhibit at Gallery 1401 Neshawn Calloway at the Mountain Arts ... (click for more)

Two Streets Narrowed Friday In Cleveland, Tn.

Ocoee St. and Broad St. at the monuments in Cleveland, Tn. will be narrowed to one lane Friday. A crew from Baston Monument will begin hanging tarps at 8 a.m. and cleaning the monument that was reconstructed during the summer. The crew will be using a sandblaster during the cleaning. Both Ocoee and Broad Streets will be one lane in the area. The cross-through will ... (click for more)

Chattanooga Firm Gets $1,010,000 Contract For Overseeing VW Expansion For New SUV Line

A Chattanooga firm is getting the contract for overseeing the construction work for the new SUV line at the Volkswagen plant. Officials said the EMJ Corporation has been selected for the project that will give a new surge of activity and employment at the plant at the Enterprise South Industrial Park. The work includes additions to the body shop and tech center and adding ... (click for more)

Man Airlifted To Erlanger After Early Morning Crash In Bradley County

Bradley County EMS responded to an early morning crash Thursday at 7 a.m. at the intersection of Lauderdale Memorial Highway and Walker Valley Road in Charleston. Three ambulances and an EMS supervisor responded to the scene. There were three vehicles involved and one car left the roadway.   One adult man suffered serious injuries and it was determined that he needed ... (click for more)

Chairs Cost How Much?

Many times while growing up, I would go to the store with my parents. More often than not, I would see something I wanted, and ask my parents to buy it for me. More often than not, they said no. “Why?” I asked. “Son, money doesn’t grow on trees.” That’s a phrase I’m sure many of us have heard more than once over the course of our lives. However, I have since learned that they were ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Dear Friend Luther

One sunny morning in June years ago, the renowned radio icon Luther Masingill was on his way back to the WDEF studios on South Broad Street when he stopped for a red light and noticed a young couple in a car idling next to his familiar light blue Ford pickup. “What caught my eye was a buck-toothed boy eating a banana in the back seat,” he explained in an aside to that day’s lunchtime ... (click for more)