A Historic 1890 Complete Renovation in Monte Vista
By Steve Bennett
Photography by Joey Solis
Designer: Diana Dietrick of Crafthouse Interiors
Builder: Theresa McFaul of Mai Vu Plumbing & Construction
Featured home: A historic 1890 complete renovation in Monte Vista
Type home: Victorian
Type design: Transitional
SA Woman: Let’s talk about the 1890 house on Woodlawn, which you worked on with Theresa McFaul of Mai Vu Plumbing & Construction. (The home has since been sold to private residents.) You had to gut the house entirely, giving you a sort of blank slate to work with.
Diana: Working with a “blank canvas” is a designer’s dream! However, it could be a challenge in regards to selecting the right style, coming up with the right concept that makes sense for the market, the budget, the existing architecture and neighborhood aesthetics, and the needs of the potential homeowner. In this project, one of the challenges was coming up with an interior layout/floor plan that worked with the existing exterior architecture of the house while preserving the historical details.
SA Woman: In your various home interior projects, you cover a lot of styles, from Farmhouse Chic to Hollywood Glam. You seem to be very versatile.
Diana: There are a lot of designers today with a branded style, and that is how they’ve become known and successful. For me, my strength is actually the opposite! I am very good at designing different styles, fusing styles, and coming up with something unique or very distinctive. I love many styles, and part of what makes me excited about my work is the challenge to create something custom, unique and different every time. I hardly ever repeat the same design twice; I treat every project as if it was its own story and with its own identity.
SA Woman: When working with a private homeowner, what’s the approach?
Diana: Ask a lot of questions, a lot of listening, informing the client, and a lot of pictures! LOL.
Part of being a good designer is the ability to ask the proper questions in front and listen very carefully to what the client wants vs. what they need, and how that translates to their budget. I also make my clients show me their Pinterest boards, or show me pictures of what they love or hate, what their dream space would look like if there were no budget. Sometimes clients don’t know how to communicate the feeling or style they want, and it always works best when they show me pictures and tell me what they love or hate about it. This shows me their visual directions, which helps me create a customized plan for them.
SA Woman: How did you get into interior design?
Diana: I was always a creative child, loved to draw, was good with craft projects, and appreciated art, music, dance, and anything that was creative. At a very young age, I knew that I was meant to work or do something in the creative field. In junior high, I had a math teacher that had us do a floor plan of a house and build a model out of cardboard. I loved and enjoyed the project so much and got an A+ for being the best model in the class! I am also analytical; I like to plan, I like technology, I like drawing, meeting different people, I love creating experiences, working in teams or independently and Interior design allowed me to do and experience all that. I knew after that workshop that Interior design was my calling.
SA Woman: How would you define your design philosophy or vocabulary?
Diana: I believe that interior design is the art of creating an experience. Being a designer is a big responsibility because we determine the parameters of how people will experience that space. As designers, our commitment and mission is to elevate and improve the quality of life of the people using and living in the space. I believe aesthetics, basic principles of design like balance, proportion, color, and cohesiveness are very important, but the space fails to be a great design without functionality. An essential part of being a designer is solving problems and creatively coming up with solutions that solve those problems.
A native Texan, Steve Bennett has written about art, architecture and books for more than 30 years, working for the San Antonio Light, Express-News and Austin American-Statesman. Currently a freelance writer and editor, Steve makes a mean dish of green enchiladas and believes there aren’t many better things in life than the drawings of Vincent Valdez and the Berlin noir detective novels of Philip Kerr.