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

 

 

 


2015 Freedom Celebration To Be Held Saturday

A 2015 Freedom Celebration will be held on Saturday at 10 a.m. at First Baptist Church, at  1275 Stuart Road, in Cleveland. Those in attendance will be Mayor Tom Rowland, Rev. Steve Morgan, Viet Nam veteran Steve Orders, Homeland Harmony Quartet, Ryan Wilson, Jack Clark, David Goodwill, Bill Curtiss, and Bethany McCoy, the McCoy First Baptist Choir/Orchestra, Tyler Brinson, ... (click for more)

Obedience Club Of Chattanooga Begins New 6-Week Session July 20

The Obedience Club of Chattanooga will begin its next 6-week session of obedience, rally, and agility classes for puppies and dogs on Monday, July 20, at its training facility 4 miles south of Chattanooga on Highway 193 in Flintstone, Ga. Registration will be held on Sunday, July 19, from 1-3 p.m. at the training facility.  During registration, various OCC dog/handler ... (click for more)

Plumbers Bring Complaints To WWTA; Told New Contracts Are Ready

Several plumbers on Thursday brought complaints to a committee of the Hamilton County Water and Wastewater Treatment Authority (WWTA) and got little response other than being told that new contracts are ready. Kay Keefe of Keefe Plumbing said the small number of plumbing companies still participating in the program to repair leaky lines to homes, have long been operating without ... (click for more)

Non-Custodial Father Who Picked Up Children At Chattanooga Daycare Is Caught In Ohio

A non-custodial father who picked up his children at a Chattanooga daycare and headed north has been caught in Ohio. T ony Thomas and the children have been located in Toledo. T homas is in custody in Lucas County and awaiting extradition. T he children were unharmed and will be in Child Protective Services custody until the mother is able to pick them up. ... (click for more)

Could The Marriage Decision Spark A New Independence Day?

I confess that this year I am having a hard time with the idea of celebrating the 4th of July Independence Day. It is not because I am not thankful to God for what was done on that day, what it represents, and the blessings I’ve experienced that flow from it. On the other hand, I want to think that maybe this year’s celebration will mark a period in our history in which a new movement ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: My Pre-Fourth Observations

I hate to do this, right on the heels of my monthly ‘Walk in the Garden,’ but I have more things on my desk that I dare not leave unnoticed before tomorrow’s Star-Spangled celebration. Foremost is the plea to anyone who shoots off firecrackers to please wear eye protection and ask watchers to stand back. Our eye doctors say firecracker-related injuries have doubled in the last three ... (click for more)