If the talent of interior designers has ever been doubted, one only has to step into the design shop of E.S. Tichenor Company Interior Design, located in the heart of Butchertown. Without question, the shop is one beautifully designed room after another. However, the talent is hidden in the knowledge of the before of this building. Scott Tichenor and his wife, Leslie, transformed this rundown tenement into the beautiful place it is today. When Tichenor bought the building 33 years ago it was divided into six apartments. To come into this slum was not the thing to do, says Scott Tichenor. He adds that people would walk on the other side of the street because it smelled so bad.
Back then, 17 people were living in apartment six, which is now their bedroom. And yet, Tichenor went to the effort to talk the owner into selling it to him. What was it he saw in this rundown building? It was the courtyard that sold me. Other factors contributed: the structure of the building; its strategic location close to downtown and the arts; and it was cheap, says Tichenor.
Less than a year after marrying Leslie Mills, also from Louisville, the couple went into business for themselves. We wanted to work together. I just couldn't see getting married and one going one way and the other going the other way, says Tichenor. Scott runs the creative side and Leslie oversees the business side. Relying on their strengths, it is a partnership that has brought them great success. Scott admits Leslie is better at managing their money. If she didn't, we wouldn't have any. Leslie, however, has a background in architecture and together they have made the structural changes to their home and business. Scott Tichenor grew up in St. Matthews, and, as he puts it, We had no money. But from a very early age Tichenor loved nice things and was drawn to a
refined lifestyle. One defining moment in his life was while he was in his early 20's working at The Strassel Company, a Louisville design firm no longer in business. The owner, Mrs. Mendel, invited him to dinner. She lit all the candles, and we ate in the dining room. I knew then there was another life.
From that moment, Tichenor has strived to live that other life. He and Leslie have worked hard to create a certain lifestyle for themselves and have built a business helping others live their own best lifestyle.
When it comes to their own home, Tichenor says, We put sweat labor into it for many, many years. I spend a lot of energy making it right. Although Tichenor describes his home as very warm and says that people love being here, he also thinks some feel it's fake or not true to the Tichenor couple. Their home is not a showplace, but rather a well thought-out space filled with everything that he and Leslie love, from books to family photographs, his Canton collection, Mauchlin ware and art. Actually, the home is an open book of his and her life. This is who they are and what they do.
Possibly the reason others might not believe the home is real is because they don't possess the passion for these specific things. I like this kind of stuff, said Tichenor. I can't remember when I didn't like it.
While he designs his home with a style that reflects who he and Leslie are, Tichenor says not everyone does. He makes the observation that people have a penchant to fool themselves. They might say, I love books. And Tichenor replies, Where are your books?
This small example shows Tichenor's direct approach. Naturally, not everyone is fond of his no messing around attitude but quickly get the point when they are billed for his time. We were the first people to charge a fee, says Tichenor. We start everybody on an hourly basis so you're not just giving ideas. I wanted to do more than just make a pair of curtains for the room. I wanted to be able to say you need to knock down this wall. I don't sell a product. This alone is what sets Tichenor apart from many other designers in Louisville. His mind is not set on selling; rather, it is on getting the room right. This is why he asks for a $1000 retainer and a commitment of spending $25,000. Regardless of this approach, Tichenor says, I'm no more expensive than other designers. I just require a whole look. Tichenor is
happiest not when a guest walks into a client's home and asks if Scott Tichenor did it. He much prefers it when the guest says, What a lovely room. Did you have help? If Tichenor's design fees are a little steep for your budget, it is still possible to get his inspiration by visiting his shop. Inside you will find many things Tichenor himself has designed: many of the chandeliers, a coffee table that started as an old wheel, armoires, prints with custom frames, lamps, custom shades, and antiques that he has refurbished to a new beauty.
The shop holds a nice balance between fine furniture and what Tichenor calls barnyard antiques. Also included in his menagerie of furnishings are ethnic pieces, for instance a small Pakistani chest and shelf hanging above it. Items from India are currently popular. They go rape the country of all their stuff and in five years you won't see it anymore, says Tichenor. However, I think it's more fun now because people are much more open. It used to be people only wanted English or French.
Tichenor likes this style and sees it as a much more artistic approach. The juxtaposition of fine furniture with the barnyard antiques or ethnic pieces is art. I like the individuality, says Tichenor.
And isn't that what your home should be, your own individual style? Wes Johnson paid me the greatest complement, says Tichenor. Our house looks just like us.