At Floor Coverings International, we love to bring you tips and advice for interior design. Today, we have an interview with Tabatha Muntzinger, DIY designer and host of the blog Turn Right at Lake Michigan.
Floor Coverings International: Could you tell me a little about yourself?
Tabatha Muntzinger: Well, by day I’m a purple-haired 30 year old mother of two — my son is five and a half and my daughter will be four in August. I have a bachelors degree in sociology and I hope to get my Ph.D someday — my fields of study are sex and gender studies, so I’m a real fun dinner party guest, haha. I have five cats and two dogs and am a bleeding heart animal rescuer, as well as an aficionado of good food, coffee, and most things purple.
By night, I work for the independent theatre association in Dayton, the city I’ve lived in almost my entire life. I have always loved and often participated in the arts — I was an actress for a short time — so I feel really fortunate to be employed by the theatre I grew up visiting with awe and wonder in my eyes. And on the weekends, I slowly renovate a 117 year old 1250 square foot Dutch Colonial home, DIY style. I run two blogs and have written for and/or been featured on a handful of blogs and websites for both my house and my writing. I keep busy.
FCI: Looking through your blog, you’ve been remodeling, reworking, and redesigning your home for a long time. What do you like about the redesign process? What do you find rewarding about it?
TM: As someone who’s always been creative as well as curious, I have always been asking myself “What if?” And I’m just stubborn enough to try most of the things I dream up answering that question, ha. So I really love sitting in a space — usually from several different vantage points — and just kind of waiting for the room to speak to me, to ask me what if. What if we close off that wall? What if we can save the floors? What if we just painted it all black? I love the endless possibilities of it all, the hugeness of each space no matter the square footage.
The greatest reward for me is when it works! I’ve had plenty of ideas fail or prove less than ideal over time and that’s incredibly frustrating. But when it all comes together, not necessarily all perfect like in a magazine, but in a way that is pretty identical to what I envisioned while also benefitting the house and its occupants? There’s nothing that beats that feeling. I also love the sense of accomplishment, of learning a new skill or taking a new risk or just making the right choice for the space. It shows me that truly anything is possible with enough vision, research, and hard work.
FCI: What are some of your design inspirations? What fuels your interest?
TM: I’m always drawn to Victorian styles and I’m not really sure why that is. I grew up in builder grade mid century homes, so maybe it’s the attention to detail, the specificity of the design? It requires you to interact with it, to get closer, to touch, to be able to appreciate both the picture as a whole and the most finite detail. And you have to love the drama of it all, ha. But then I also love bright, super saturated colors and glossy surfaces and clean lines, too. I love things that feel like they have history, that could tell you a story.
I’m a very tactile person, so it’s more about how an item or a design or a house makes me feel. But as my kids get older and life gets busier, I look a lot for the intersection of beautiful and functional. So dual purpose things or rooms spark my interest, whether it’s a blatant flexibility or not. Again, I think it cycles back to being able to tell a story, to hold my interest and not just be a flash in a pan.
FCI: Tell me about one of your favorite projects.
TM: That’s actually really hard for me to say. It’s like having to pick a favorite child! Especially since each project has been a learning curve and thereby a stepping stone to my abilities to tackle the next project, they all have a soft spot in my heart. They all also have their aggravations, ha! I think the one that felt the easiest and least complicated was turning a small, spare bedroom upstairs into a nursery for my daughter. The floor needed the carpet removed and replaced with hardwood, but being pregnant I had some help with that. Growing up, I wasn’t allowed to have bright colors or lots of decor on my walls, so to be able to create a space that was very much appealing to my inner child was almost cathartic. Now, that room is actually my office and the kids’ playroom, and I really haven’t changed a thing about it, so I think that speaks a great deal to how much I enjoyed the space I created.
FCI: You’ve been running a blog for several years. What helped you decide to start up a blog? What about the blogging platform do you like?
TM: Well, I’ve been writing as long as I can remember, so when I discovered LiveJournal many moons ago, it felt like a natural fit. So, on one platform or another, I’ve been blogging for about 12 years. I started with personal, diary-style sites (of which I still have one, though these days they call it a ‘lifestyle blog’) and then, after buying the house and working on it for a year, I realized the house and its projects were kind of dominating all of my public writing. I had a lot I wanted to write about from all corners of my life, but it all felt too disjointed. I was also keenly aware that not all of my readers wanted to hear about my house, and others came to my blog just for the house stuff. So a spinoff blog was formed, and that’s how Turn Right At Lake Michigan came to be.
I love how blogs can connect people. You find your tribe, so to speak. You also get to see parts of the world and through the eyes of people you otherwise may never had met, never mind know like a dear friend. It’s a great form of self expression that has blossomed into a legitimate form of media, just by us sitting down and telling our stories. I kind of think that’s nothing short of magical.
FCI: Thanks for taking the time to answer these questions!
TM: Have a great day!
Tabatha can be found at the Turn Right at Lake Michigan blog at http://www.turnrightatlakemichigan.com/