Sarah Hatley has the kind of eye for design and color that effortlessly pulls together a room. If she ever decided to come out with her own show, Joanna Gaines will have to move over. Sarah has been a part of 5 full remodels and around 6 other partial ones. "I love the before and after the most," says Sarah. "It's really fun to see one man's trash become another man's treasure."
As for Sarah's design muse, it's not Joanna, though she does admire her style. "I don't really look at any one designer in particular," explains Sarah. "I love Pinterest! And I love looking at period homes. But I do enjoy the show, "Hometown" and the way the husband and wife team work together and the way their relationship comes out in the decorating."
Remodeling has always been a part of Sarah's life. She didn't grow up wealthy and at 7 years old, her mom married a man whose financial situation resulted in the loss of their home. "Because we didn't have anywhere to go, we moved to the house my mom's husband had grown up in... which had been abandoned for years. I remember traveling up on the weekends and we would camp on the living room floor with no power or electricity. We would spend the weekend fixing things like holes in the roof. The photos of the house were really horrific," Sarah remembers. "It was literally caving in in places and we had to take on large projects like rebuilding walls. When that marriage dissolved, we were without a home again. So my mom and I found a vacant home that we bought for $8000 and together we remodeled it. We re-sided, stripped and painted cabinets, learned about electrical issues and built custom bookshelves. We would salvage things from condemned houses and make them beautiful again."
Sarah adds, "I went through a phase where I really liked new things because I'd never had them growing up, but I quickly learned that new things felt...empty. They didn't have a history or personality to them. I realized I really love old things and making them new again."
Sarah and her husband Robert recently remodeled their current home, stripping the former daycare down to the studs inside and giving it new life. "I love looking at the before photos, but if I had to pick a favorite thing about my house it would be either my kitchen or my porch," says Sarah.
Who can blame her for not being able to decide? What's not to love about subway tile and open shelving or a wide, wrap-around and covered porch? However, those things are secondary to Sarah's true love of her home. "What's really meaningful about this remodel, is that it was designed for the lifestyle we want to live. It's open concept so we can spend time together. Our bedrooms are small because the majority of the space went into the rooms we would share together."
Robert and Sarah also designed the rooms and furniture to be multipurpose, with the kitchen table being the center of operations for homeschooling, baking, crafting, and family meals. "Coming into a house that's been built for your style of living makes your style of living very easy to do," says Sarah.
Her advice for moms who love interior decorating but who may not have the time or money for a full remodel is this: "Repurpose. Repurpose the things you have, but also items from flea markets and auctions or from friends and family looking to get rid of stuff. It's taking something another person wants to throw away and making it beautiful, and not just beautiful, but personalized. Take a chair and reupholster it yourself. Find a dining set for free on Craigslist and learn to strip it down and paint it."
Whether remodeling your home or finding a decorating style, Sarah also recommends sticking to the classics vs. rolling with what's trending. "I remember one of my first apartments and I spent all of my money remodeling my apartment in a Southwestern Motif," Sarah cringes. "I loved it, but I no sooner got done with it than Southwestern was hideous and nobody liked it. I couldn't remodel or sell my decor because no one wanted it. So if you're on a budget, try to go for a classic feel in whatever style you go for. Blankets, pillows, and photos are easier to replace than big bulky furniture and less costly to replace."
Sarah's largest piece of advice though is to make sure your design, decor, or remodel matches your current lifestyle. Nothing beats a home functioning in a way that makes your lifestyle easier, and your family time more enjoyable.