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Feathering the nest

By Julia Melloni

December 15, 2005
You probably don't have to spend a small fortune on furnishings if you want to make over your house. In fact, to achieve that sharp new look, you might not have to buy much of anything at all.

That's because you have the stuff you need, but you just don't realize it. It's stashed away and long forgotten in your basement, attic, or garage.

Enter Tamar Schechner, interior designer and master rummager. She'll spend a few hours rearranging what you already have, and voila: Your living space is transformed, and believe it or not, it's all yours.

Schechner's new interior decorating business, nest in Shelburne, looks to cash in on the quick, low-cost room makeover trend, which is popular on TV.

"It doesn't have to be scary to change a room," Schechner said, "it will renew your house and change your energy."

Schechner, a graduate from Parsons School of Design in New York City, has a talent for rearranging furniture and a flair for moving furnishings from one part of the house to create a new look in another. The drive to design has been with her since childhood.

"While I was growing up, my mom and grandparents were painters and my dad was an architect, and we lived in a sophisticated house that he designed," she said. "Design is in my nature. I feel this in my bones."

Since she opened nest, hunting for interesting pieces of furniture and artwork in a client's attic or basement is all part of a day's work. In a 4- or 8-hour session, Schechner works to rearrange and redecorate a room in a manner that adds style and function -- with the added bonus of not buying anything new.

Dave Mendenhall and Jenny Breckenridge of Burlington recently used Schechner's services to redecorate their living room.

"When Tammy came in, she talked to me about how our family uses the space, and I feel like she got a sense of how we wanted the room to work and what we've tried before," Breckenridge said.

Here's one simple thing that Schechner did that made a big difference for Breckenridge. Before the room was redesigned, a large chair sat on the threshold of an archway creating a barrier to the living room. The chair is now a focal point. It was moved in front of a large window and is used as a reading chair -- even by their kids.

"The space is much more workable now, and it encourages people to come into the living room. The flow in the room is very different," Breckenridge said.

When Schechner does a makeover, she said, most people like to leave the house so it's a surprise when they come back. Breckenridge had Schechner redecorate her house while she and her husband were at work and the children were at school.

"Tammy brought up a dresser from our basement. When I came home I was like, why is there a dresser here?" Breckenridge said.

"She hung six pieces of art on one wall, and it looks so much more interesting. She found a small set of prints that we had stuck in the basement and hung those as well. The whole composition she created with the paintings on the wall does need a piece of furniture there. And now we're thinking of storing games and CDs in the dresser."

Schechner also created a conversation area at one end of the living room with a couple of chairs set across from the couch with an end table reborn as a coffee table.

"I'm so happy and excited," Breckenridge added.

Life redux

For the past 11 years Schechner was the editor and creative director for the high fashion Laisha Magazine (which means Woman's Magazine in Hebrew). She produced hundreds of covers and enjoyed working in the anthropology style, which she described as "where India meets Maine and New York lofts meet beach cottages in a crisp eclectic look." Schechner loves the slip-covered look where homes are comfortably functional, creative and shabby chic.

"I understand people's style. I know how to make it vibrant so that things look alive," Schechner said.

Schechner, her husband and sons moved from Israel to Vermont this summer to start a new life. "A few years ago we took a sabbatical to live in Vermont after reading about the 10 best places to live in the United States. Once we went back to Israel we couldn't get Vermont out of our minds. We knew we needed to make a change now with the age of our sons approaching mandatory military service in Israel," Schechner said.

If her three sons served in the Israeli army, Schechner realized that their consecutive years of service would make her a mother of a soldier from 2009 until 2015. That idea motivated her and her husband to move from Israel, leaving behind their home, family, friends and careers.

"We came here because we wanted a better life -- everything from shows at the Flynn to visiting the museums in NYC," Schechner said. "We're just euphoric about the lifestyle here."

About the business
WHAT: nest interior decorating and consulting
WHO: Tamar and Ronen Schechner (left), owners/operators
RATES: Half-day decorating: four hours for $350; full-day decorating: eight hours for $650.
CONTACT: 922-4486