For Carole Scoggin, it’s the moment she unveils the piece of furniture she has decorated and sees her client’s pleased expression.
“The most magical time for me is when I connect with the customer,” she said.
It’s then the Nockamixon Township artist knows she’s retrieved something hidden in the piece that has spoken to her – and even better, is especially meaningful to the client.
Unabashedly emotional about her work, Scoggin has been painting and decorating furniture for years. But now she has turned her passion into a business called Red Door Redo, and sure enough, that old red door she fell in love with and carted around the country as an Army wife, stands guard in her garage/workshop.
The place is a chaotic mass of design and color. It’s a wonderland of creativity – recycled home furnishings, such as benches, tables, bookcases, cabinets, sprinkled with hand-sewn, hand-painted pillows and other canvas work. One of her favorite pieces is a small Mission-style bureau that was originally a salesman’s sample.
Under her brushwork, a child’s rocker took on a new life as a colorful bi-plane. Scoggin knew the family she was working for and called to find out the numbers of the boys’ football uniforms. She painted them on the fuselage as the plane’s ID number.
Her vivid imagination is fed by a wide and varied national and international background – unusual enough to be a bit breath-taking. She spent part of her childhood in the Netherlands when her father worked there. She’s also lived in Germany and throughout the United States.
When her home was in New Britain Township, she graduated from Archbishop Wood High School and Duquesne University and taught elementary school for a while.
She also wanted to be an actress, but has now happily diverted those dramatic instincts into her paint brush, even painting the sets for Palisades High School’s theater productions.
She does some substitute teaching at Palisades, but she also drove a Palisades school bus for several years, charming her young riders with her artwork. She rows on a dragon boat team on the Cooper River in New Jersey and even has made hats for the boat’s drummers.
Scoggin’s done all that while a busy wife and mother of four and still following her creative flights of fancy. Her husband, Jay, is a government consultant.
Her oldest son, Andrew, a graduate of DeSales University, apparently inherited his mother’s drama genes and has played a leading role at the Pennsylvania Shakespeare Festival in Center Valley. Daughter Caroline goes to Bucks County Community College; second son, Benjamin, a senior at Palisades, is headed to Harvard College in August to play football, and Patrick is a sophomore at Palisades. Her sons and their friends help her with deliveries.
Scoggin said she’s had a feeling that she’s reached a point in her life when everything has come together. “This is what I was meant to do,” she said.
“I can’t explain it,” she added. It’s a magical thing that happens when I see a piece of furniture. Sometimes I’ll just sit there and look at it for a while and then something jumps into my mind.”
She was astonished after something prompted her to paint a bunch of lavender on an old cabinet that had belonged to a client’s grandmother. Only after it was finished, did the client reveal, “Oh, my grandmother loved lavender. She had it everywhere.”
“It’s like a living person has left a fingerprint,” Scoggin said.
She admits, while laughing, she’s been called “a furniture whisperer,” but said, “I think of this work as rescuing pieces, then repainting or refinishing them with a creative twist.”
Scoggin will either work with a client’s special piece or find one to meet their needs. She likes chasing down “finds” at barn sales and in antique shops.
“It’s all part of the journey,” she said, while acknowledging running a business is a new experience for her. “I want my work to be affordable and I like to think of it living in someone’s home,” she said. Her website is reddoorredo.com
For many business owners, the big reward for their labors comes with the ka-ching of the cash register.