I’m drawn to aged and imperfect things.
There is a vibration and an energy in them — a wonderful history that can be both seen and felt. I adore rusty metals, chippy paint, old hardware and all kinds of antique salvage — architectural, furniture and, most especially, lighting salvage. These are the timeworn materials I use to create a variety of functional and decorative home accessories. I find joy in transforming primitive and old industrial elements while preserving their original character and patina. Seeing others appreciate and enjoy my work is always gratifying, and it affirms that I am doing exactly what I need to be doing to live a joyful life.
My one-of-a-kind signs and accessories are sourced entirely from antique salvage and found items. I find almost anything can be used as artful decor if it has character, and I keep a toolbox handy for those moments of inspiration — like slipping a handheld mirror into a wall-mounted drawer pull for decoration and practicality, or a chippy old cabinet door layered with a piece of meaningful art or a photograph. I create decorative flowers using antique lighting salvage and hardware — they’re probably my favorite offerings right now — but I’m always trying something new. I spend time restyling vintage furniture, making reclaimed wooden tops for cool old iron bases and finding new ways to use old materials.
One can get a real sense of who I am and how my Tattoo’d Home brand evolved by visiting my creative workspace in the basement of my home. It’s brimming with salvaged and odd relics waiting to be incorporated into one-of-a-kind pieces. Among those elements, I’ve handpicked quite a few functional industrial pieces for my own use. My favorite is a huge dip tank originally used to strip furniture. I built a wood top for it, and I absolutely love the broad work surface and interior storage.
One entire wall of my workspace is lined with rolling shelves from an old shoe factory. They perfectly display the lovely salvage goodness I’ve gathered over the years, some for my work and some I display to make my heart happy. By design, everywhere I look are crazy cool things that offer ideas and inspiration and, of course, everything I need to create.
Really, there is nothing like the ebb and flow of a living, breathing, working creative space. Mine is usually cluttered with projects in varying states of progress, and I move between them as ideas evolve and glue, paint or polyurethane dries. When my worktable is full, I start projects on the floor, materials strewn everywhere and ideas bouncing around like super balls on the concrete floor — especially if I am preparing for a vintage market. The weeks leading up to an event can be creative chaos, but I always eventually bring my studio back to the lovely clean slate pictured in these pages. I love organization.
Attached to my tool shelves are metal bins for essentials like work gloves, tape measures and sandpaper. Racks of industrial shelves are filled with salvage pieces sorted and visible so I can find just the right embellishment. At my work surface, a large assortment of rusty hardware (it’s important to me to use old nails and screws), wire, clamps and hand tools are within reach. That way, I can easily access supplies while I play with design. With everything at my fingertips and music playing loudly in my headphones, I can get lost for hours in my creative work.
I can be messy, but I’m also efficient, so it’s important that everything have a place in my workshop. For instance, I have collected quite an arsenal of tools that I keep by the door so I can easily grab a saw, grinder or sander and head outside to do work that results in piles of shavings and bits and pieces flying every which way.
Unlike many successful makers, I didn’t find my artistic expression as a child. I found my creativity as a young stay-at-home mom in a busy and disconnected marriage. I began simply, by playing with materials and ideas in a quiet back corner of our basement — it was an ideal escape, one that offered flexibility and nurtured my soul. Eventually, I found my voice, and my workspace continued to expand and evolve. It’s been nearly 15 years since my creative spirit first awakened, and with it, a more authentic life unfurled. I began to own this part of myself that felt important and true. I am no longer in the marriage, but my hobby bloomed into a successful creative business that allows me to be happy and independent.
I’m often asked about the meaning behind my brand name, Tattoo’d Home. For me, a tattoo makes a visual statement. It’s a symbol of self-expression, artistic freedom, rebellion, a visual display of a personal narrative and reminder of spiritual or cultural traditions. I love the idea of bringing all of that warmth, creative energy and highly personal expression into our living spaces. Like a tattoo, home decor should be personal and artful — a reflection of what’s important to you and how you see yourself in the world. And, like a tattoo, your home is meant to celebrate family history, ignite your passions and showcase your individuality.
People can buy my wares in local antique markets and at vintage shows. My retail spaces are carefully curated, and I pour my heart into them with my own artful self-expression. For me, merchandising my work is fun and fluid, and I’m constantly switching things up to provide a more interesting shopping experience. Keeping it fresh also encourages folks to come in more often to see what’s new. I challenge myself to always give them new ways of displaying the things they love.
One thing I’ve learned in my creative life is the profound importance of community. I’m lucky to have a big, amazing family that loves and supports me in all kinds of different ways. My sons, especially, have done more than their fair share of moving heavy things in and out of my workshop and retail spaces — and between grumblings about that, I know they’re proud of my work. One of my five sisters, Kathy, is a talented vintage dealer in Kansas City. She has become quite a badass carpenter. We love working together when we can and taking long road trips to source materials.
I have found my place in the vintage community here in St. Louis as well. I’ve met so many talented and supportive women, and some have become my closest friends. Spending time with like-minded women whose heads are also overflowing with ideas makes me feel understood. Many of my customers have become friends as I’ve found we are often kindred spirits.
My home reflects my Tattoo’d Home philosophy: I layer old and new pieces to help tell my family story and reflect what we value most. I have always found joy in creating a warm place for my boys to rest, connect, laugh and grow.
As I began this journey, I knew very little of what it would take to pursue a creative life. Carving out a tiny space for myself was the first small step in that direction. To do so was pure instinct from a place of longing, intuitively knowing something wasn’t quite right in my life. I’ve learned to pay attention to my inner voice, to follow my own instincts and to make creativity part of my everyday life. Self-expression is critical to my emotional well-being, and I am nourished in my studio.