By Keri Foy
Women with a knack for design and a can-do attitude often find themselves helping other people make their homes just as beautiful as their own. Over time, people notice, the design-savvy opinions are solicited, and a career path emerges.
For Jen Hohl, owner of Custom Refinished Decor, the trek of her calling began on Oak Street in Old Louisville. She and her husband Dean rented an office in a building that housed not only their offices, but also three apartments. When the owner was ready to sell, the couple jumped. After that first purchase, they bought four more buildings on that same street.
|Jen loves this comfy chair in her master bedroom that overlooks the lake. She suggests adding living green plants to your home — and is especially loving succulents for their texture.|
During those adventures in property management, Jen learned the art of painting furniture. This self-proclaimed junk gypsy found that not only was her detail-oriented personality good at it, there was a market for refinishing furniture. “There’s always a way to rework inherited furniture: changing out chairs, painting the table, or adding fabric,” Jen says.
Jen especially enjoys the transformative nature of her work. “Seeing something that people have put out for trash and turning it into something beautiful — it’s rewarding to me,” she says. Clients have brought pieces to her that are sentimental to them, but just don’t jive in their space. “I can make it work in their home today: living beautifully is surrounding yourself with pieces of furniture that tell a story.”
|Jen climbed scaffolding to paint over her brick fireplace and wood bookshelves making a huge modern
change to her great room space.
While she and Dean eventually sold three of the properties, friends began to take note of her talent and called on her for decorating advice. Thanks to that, Jen is not only helping to restore furniture, she’s also helping clients with color consults and interior design. In fact, in the middle of our interview, a friend texted her from the aisles of Madhouse, a home goods store in New Albany, asking her opinion. “It’s fun,” Jen says. “I don’t mind at all.”
|Little touches, such as the wood behind the fireplace in the master bedroom, make a room special.|
Jen’s friends would request she re-accessorize their built-ins or ask where they should place a piece of furniture or knick-knack. “It gave me a great platform because I could practice and get better,” says Jen, whose honesty is a welcome calling card among her social circles. “I’ll still walk into a friend’s house and tell them, ‘This isn’t working.’ My friends appreciate that.”
Visiting Jen’s home on Brazil Lake in Indiana, it’s easy to see why her friends flock to her for ideas. Her home is understated yet well done. The gray on the walls is perfect — due to Jen’s due diligence — and the light fixture above the island should be envied. “A home should be warm, welcoming and comfy,” Jen says. “I want to pop on my couch and kick my feet up. I hate going into a home where you feel like you can’t sit down.”
- Integrate conversation pieces into each room of the home. “Whether it’s an antique or a piece of art, it can spark a memory,” Jen says. She has many examples in her home.
- Bring the outdoors in with plants such as ferns, succulents, trees and fresh-cut flowers.
- Create a signature scent that people associate with your home. “Mine is gardenia in the spring and summer and vanilla/cinnamon in the fall and winter.”
- Use magazines and books to add a design element to your rooms.
- Pay attention to the lighting, such as dimmers, candles and lamps because it sets a mood.
- Change your accessories often even if it is just rearranging them — “it gives you a different look, and it’s free!”