Revamping your home? Think young

The area’s up-and-coming pros offer tips and tricks


Although the Miami Valley is known for losing grads to flashier locales, plenty of younger talent is setting up shop in the region. In particular, home design and remodeling is enjoying a renaissance. We talked with five up-and-coming industry professionals to see what they’re up to and get some tips you can use in your home.

Capitalize on region’s feel

Interior designer Jennifer Morris has been doing design work in the area for the past eight years. She’s done work in other states, but enjoys the tone and style that the region offers for decorating. “Moving helped my sense of design by bringing a rustic, Midwestern, but also industrial feel,” Morris said. “I’m strongly attracted to the rustic, arts and crafts design.”

Since the Miami Valley is home to both industrial buildings and historic houses, Morris said, “Tying antiques to industrial work fits Dayton … it’s eclectic.” Her biggest tip? “Work with the outside environment of the house,” she advised. “Dayton has a lot of historic homes and bungalows. Stick with the architecture of the house while designing the inside.”

Recycled, natural materials

Although they started out remodeling homes, the Mehaffie brothers now focus exclusively on custom concrete — but with a twist. We visited their Lorain Avenue studio and chatted with Zack, Ryan and Noah Mehaffie to get the scoop.

If you’ve seen the bar at Pulse Nightclub, then you’re familiar with the Mehaffies’ work — concrete surfaces, including countertops, bars and benches. “We had always done concrete — driveways, sidewalks,” said Zack. “This is more what we want to do, more creative.” Ryan added: “When we remodeled kitchens before, countertops were the only thing we didn’t do. We started doing this and realized we liked it more.”

What do they recommend for your next remodel? “Find recycled or natural materials,” Noah said. “Before going to chain stores (for building materials), go closer to downtown.” “Try First Street Recycling,” Ryan said. “The balance of materials keeps things unique.”

Focus on critical rooms

Perhaps you’re remodeling with a purpose in mind. For many people, the decision to sell a home means finally tackling the to-do list. Design professional-turned-realtor Ashley Morris with HER Realtors — The Rosko Group realized her dream of becoming a realtor this past year. “I decided to just go for it,” she said. “I enjoy sales, the housing industry and design.”

If you need to give your home a buyer-friendly facelift without breaking the bank, Morris recommended: “Focus on updates in the bathrooms and kitchen areas. These are areas buyers are usually the most critical of. You don’t have to go all out — painting cabinets a neutral tone can go a long way.”

Go neutral

Kurt Doll is the owner of Studio i in Dayton. Doll, who studied fine art at Miami University in Oxford, initially worked in construction, but changed his focus to painting, faux finishes, plaster and custom murals.

“I wanted to use more of my creative side and do some work for people as well,” Doll said. Now, “I’ve been doing it for roughly 10 years.”

If your home needs an update, Doll said, “Typically I would suggest people do things that aren’t necessarily trendy … trends fall out of favor with people. Going with a neutral paint and getting style and color from furniture or decoration or art can be a little bit easier to change out.”

If you’re planning to move at some point, neutrals in your decor “are more buyer friendly.”

Seek consignment finds

They may be young — all seven employees are 30 or younger — but the crew at Designer’s Consignment in Dayton has had no trouble making a splash nationwide. “We started in the bottom left corner of our building and expanded from there,” said manager Mike Malloy. “We started out with high-end furniture, but we went more towards anything that was cool … we do a lot of artwork, collectibles, porcelain.”

Malloy joined his childhood friend, Designer’s Consignment owner, Todd Schear, in the business in 2011. Business has boomed with not only local, but regional and national clientele from as far away as Spokane.

If you’re looking to decorate your home with consignment finds, Malloy suggests: “Know your market, and know what things sell for. We do a considerable amount of research, and knowing your product is always helpful.”


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