By Becky Quinten
“I laid the tile floor myself,” Jim Dulin said with a gleam in his eye, looking at the showroom floor. It is soft brown and waves at your eyes. You think you are looking at wood, but you’re not. It’s tile. It’s clear that Jim loves tile.
Jim partnered with his best friend, Doug Boyd, and established Dulin Design Group, at 911 S. Main St., last December.
The business started unexpectedly after Doug showed up unannounced at Jim’s house one morning.
Jim was sitting at his kitchen table, not at work because he had been laid off from his previous job.
Doug said, “I’ve got a building downtown. Why don’t we open up a shop?” And the partnership began.
Dulin Design Group is an interior decorating and flooring store that sells to both residential and commercial customers. Their current market includes Christian, Montgomery, Todd, Trigg and Caldwell counties. But, Jim notes, they will go further out if called upon. Their niche is porcelain tile, their forte is custom showers, but they also offer carpet and wood flooring.
The shop is large but inviting. The building has been in Doug’s family since 1946. It originally housed his father’s businessv Boyd’s Men’s Wear.
Doug remembers vaccuming the floors when he was a child. Now, he is “the carpet guy.” Jim designed the layout.
The design duo took the sheet rock off the interior walls and crumbled the plaster off to expose the beautiful brick work. Jim explained the only way to remove the plaster was to crumble it. Each wall required eight hours preparation time.
As far as his designs, Jim leans toward timeless, conventional color palettes.
“You can’t change the color of tile,” he offered. “We prefer neutral colors. We keep our designs conservative, so they are not outdated quickly. We do consult on wall colors if requested. You can always change the color of the walls.”
Jim said the ultimate goal is to make sure their customers are happy and incorporate their vision as well.
“Design is a collaboration of ideas between my customers and me,” he said.
A big screen TV in the showroom is tuned most of the time to HGTV, so the customers can get ideas. More importantly to Jim and Doug, customers can see that the projects on HGTV are staged. They never show an outlet being cut out or intricate tile cuts. The home shows make DIY projects look easy, he said.
The biggest challenge of the business is satisfying the customer. While they have their own warehouse, much of their work is based on custom orders. A shipping delay, uncontrollable by the business, creates issues for the customer and the contractors. Jim and Doug have multiple crews and are they are selective about who does what job according to the skills of the crew members.
The Dulin group focuses on personal service. Sometimes they are asked to do projects they don’t advertise. “If I’m not comfortable doing it, I’m not going to do it.” Quality is key to the business.
Folks often ask Jim why he decided to start a business now.
“You are in an 8 to 5 comfort zone if you work for someone else,” he said. “If you’re knowledgeable and love what you do, what difference does it make?”
This was a primetime for the duo to start a business because their families are “all on their own paths.”
Community service is important to Jim and Doug. Jim loves to cook and manages the Rotary Club dinner during the annual auction.
Jim said the first year of business at Dulin Design Group has been good. Along with advertising on WHOP radio station, Jim posts their latest design projects on their Facebook page, “Dulin Design Group.”
Spruce up your home for fall
The whole family can help with these simple and inexpensive ideas.
1. Eliminate the clutter. Remove clothing, toys, paper and create a permanent new space for them. Hang simple hooks in the entry way set at a height children can reach. A box covered with leftover wallpaper or fabric can become a toy box. Moving boxes are sturdy, inexpensive and ideal for this project.
2. Create a single focal point in the room and on the table tops.
Paint a single wall with bold color to add emphasis to the room. Paint the other walls light gray or off white. Use no more than three complementary colors in the room to allow the eye to flow throughout the space.
3. Enlarge a room by placing the couch away from the wall creating a walking path and putting a book case, table or other item next to the wall. Hang a mirror to reflect the opposite wall.
Use throw rugs to create a cozy, defined area. Minimize patterns (stripes, checks, dots) in the room.
4. Repurpose what you have.
Evaluate your furniture to determine what you can use it for that it might not have been designed for. Shabby chic is always in vogue.
Stripping, sanding and restraining furniture can be overwhelming and time consuming. Using strippers may require you to re-glue the piece because it may melt the glue. While this may be necessary for structural integrity it is not always necessary. Scratches and dings can be repaired with spot refinishing.
5. Refurbish furniture by removing the dirt and built up wax and oils. Clean the piece with Murphy’s Oil Soap gently rubbing the finish with fine #0000 steel wool. Let dry. Repeat as necessary. Apply a refinishing oil infused with stain with fine steel wool allow the furniture to dry. Repeat until all the rough places are filled in. Polish it with
orange oil to seal the finish.
When the project is complete use high-quality furniture polish that does not add new wax build up to the piece such as Guardsman or Steinway furniture polish to maintain your new finish.