Hudson designer publishes retro-styled book aimed at streamlining homes
by Charles Cassady
It may look like a 1950s-style cookbook, but local author Sharon Kreighbaum’s literary effort is all about losing the bulk – and not in the food sense.
Is Your House Overweight? is Kreighbaum’s lavishly illustrated, retro-looking hardcover how-to guide (with “recipes”) to a simpler, more streamlined home, condo or apartment layout.
Local business owner
turned her love
of downsized design
into a book.
Kreighbaum’s business, Staged Makeovers, redecorates and re-organizes homes that are coming up for sale. “I’ve done all the way out to Avon and Avon Lake,” she said. “I do all the ‘heights’ – Cleveland Heights, Shaker Heights. I’ve done Kent, all of Akron.”
Kreighbaum said she had an inside track with the field. “I really started redesign for realtors 20 years ago, before there was ‘staging.’” It was such an unfamiliar concept she had to explain it to many home-sellers before setting about straightening, streamlining and organizing.
The home stagings led to Is Your House Overweight?
“It did grow out of Staged Makeovers,” Kreighbaum said. Over the course of de-cluttering and redecorating homes, she would meet sellers who wished they had used her services earlier, not to move but to enjoy their homes. Their general reaction: “‘Oh my gosh! If only I knew this before, I would have lived much better!’”
People began calling upon Kreighbaum well in advance of planning to sell their homes; they wanted them re-arranged for quality of life. Knowing that not everyone could afford the services of a professional for visits and consultations, “I just decided I’m going to put it into book form.”
Is Your House Overweight? recommends rampant recycling of old catalogs, saying goodbye to unnecessary stuff like souvenirs or trophies and selling off (or donating for tax write-offs) those personal collections. Just hiding stuff in garages, basements and the dreaded, spare storage room are not ingredients in this dish.
A cluttered environment, Kreighbaum said, is a stressful one. A clean one encourages imagination and productivity. And the residents? “They felt better about themselves. They started to lose weight,” she said.
This is Kreighbaum’s first book. She shopped her initial manuscript around commercial publishers but found even if they would take her text they had their own concepts of layout and presentation. “I decided to self-publish, because I’m an interior designer, and I love vintage.” She said the 1950s in particular had a nostalgic ambiance she wanted to evoke on the page. “It’s just a time when people appreciated beauty more. They just spent more time and effort to make things look beautiful. Even the cars looked like works of art.”
Kreighbaum decided to create her own Heather Lane imprint and bring out Is Your Home Overweight? with complete creative control, and she had a vintage-literate team to do it.
Richard Lucas is a Renaissance man, she said, out of Los Angeles. The graphic artist and web designer as well as a stand-up comic and an actor turned up on her Web query for “vintage designers” during a Staged Makeovers website makeover. “I was totally impressed by all his work. And believe it or not, he does book layouts. As an English major, he could work on my manuscript with me. It was perfect.”
The other collaborator was a local illustrator from Akron, Justin Campbell. He has an Interior Design degree from The University of Akron. He also works for the Akron Art Museum and designs fashion. Campbell’s cast of 1950s-style females (and a mouse) recur throughout the book to offer observations and advice on de-cluttering.
Kreighbaum confesses that she too has had her own problems with accumulated possessions and had to learn to cut down. “Being that I’m very artsy and into interior design, I have to surround myself with things of beauty,” she said. Furthermore, she came from a family of builders, engineers and carpenters, who never threw anything out in case it would come in handy someday. So, for one of the before-and-after photo comparisons, Kreighbaum said, “my office is the office in the book.”
Is Your House Overweight? came out in November 2011. Since then the author has worked scattered engagements into her work schedule. She has appeared with the book at the Learned Owl bookstore and the Rocky River Author Festival. Her spring circuit is making the rounds of the various branches of the Cuyahoga County Public Library in Strongsville, Maple Heights, Orange, Parma and elsewhere.
For more on Sharon Kreighbaum’s business and her book, including updates, appearances and an “overweight home” blog, go to the nifty-fifties website StagedMakeovers.com