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

 

 

 



Alton Park Street Fest & Clean Up Set Up Saturday

Chattanooga Mayor Andy Berke and District 7 Councilman Erskine Oglesby are teaming up with multiple city of Chattanooga departments for the inaugural Alton Park Street Fest & Clean Up on Saturday.  “The purpose of this event is to empower District 7 constituents and the surrounding communities to take part in the revitalization of their neighborhood,” said Councilman ... (click for more)

Figuring It Out Exhibit At Townsend Atelier

Every Thursday evening, since 2009, Townsend Atelier has held an open figure drawing studio its facility in Chattanooga.  Throughout the years, countless artists of all ages and levels have come together to continue this time-honored artistic tradition of studying the figure from life and building a supportive community of artists.  This exhibit features works created ... (click for more)

1 Person Killed In Plane Crash At The Collegedale Airport

A person was killed in a plane crash on the runway of the Collegedale Airport on Friday evening. Charles Swain, who is the director of the airport, said the plane is a total loss. It was a single-occupant plane. He said the plane was taking off when it crashed. He said the person who died frequently had flown out of the Collegedale Airport. The FAA and NTSB are investigating ... (click for more)

$26.2 Million Grant Awarded For Bradley County Veterans Home

A $26.2 million U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs State Veterans Home Grant has been awarded for the construction of the future Bradley County Tennessee State Veterans Home. “Today is a monumental day for the veterans of East Tennessee, and I am thrilled that they have finally received the long overdue grant funding for the Bradley County Tennessee State Veterans Home," said ... (click for more)

A Tribute For My Brother – Sgt. Jonathan Gardner, U.S. Army

Seven years ago today, my family and I found out that my brother, Sgt. Jonathan D. Gardner, was seriously injured by a roadside bomb, (explosively formed penetrator - EFP), while on a mission in Kuwait. The EFP went through the bottom of his seat and put a softball size hole in his upper thigh. The doctors said that if the bomb had entered the Humvee an inch to the right, he ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: The Saturday Funnies

All of us who marvel at the sound of bagpipes at a funeral realize the majesty that people like piper Scottie Maclellan can lend to any “homecoming” and for years there has been a wonderful tale out of Nova Scotia that leads this week’s parade of The  Saturday  Funnies. Mind you, I do not write these stories, as many who have followed man’s laughter down through the ... (click for more)