Seeing What Can Be
As a mother of two sons, who are now grown and successful, Debbie tells of a trip to a large home improvement store about 15 years ago. She inquired of an employee, "What tools would I need to take down a brick wall?" He responded, "Well, how big is the wall?" Her answer took him by surprise. "It's 8 feet tall by 10 feet long." He said, "Lady, you need a telephone!" Amusing, right? Hmm. Without missing a beat, Debbie asked, "Well, what tools would a repair man bring to my house?"
And, with those tools in her cart, she checked out of the store and went home. Later that day, with her then-10-year-old son, the 8 x 10' brick wall skillfully came down. No phone calls to handymen required.
This story is an apropos analogy of Debbie Welch's life. Since then, she has brought down her share of brick walls, both literally and metaphorically. One wall she has obliterated is that of stereotypes. Though she is attractive and feminine, Debbie proves that to be so does not equate to weakness in any way.
While living in Chapel Hill, North Carolina her family decided to build a new home. They hired a builder, and her involvement in the process became quite hands-on. Already an artist in pottery and batik, as well as a graduate of the School of Fine Arts in Boston, Debbie enjoyed giving input into the design of the home. During this period, she not only worked closely with the architect, but became an apprentice carpenter as well.
Following the home's construction, Debbie proceeded to get her General Contractors' license as a builder. Together with a girlfriend, she crafted a design/build business in Chapel Hill, successfully building spec homes in the area. Her career continued, even following a move to Potomac, Maryland, where she joined a large, well-known design firm.
Moving to Hilton Head Island in '02, following numerous vacations here, Debbie had considered this a step into retirement, but that wasn't to be. She renovated her Sea Pines home in which she was living, and found Hilton Head to be a wonderful venue for this type of work at the time. Often teaming up with Hugh Hobes of RCH Construction, Debbie provides the design via her own company, DNW Design. In addition, she has also been on the Sea Pines Architectural Review Board for several years now.
"One of my favorite things to do is to take an older, less appealing home, see what it can become, and then transform it, adding curb appeal, new features and marketability. The result is what seems like a brand new home, at a fraction of the cost to build something from scratch," she explains. "Someone else may see a tear-down, but I can visualize something altogether different. Especially in this economy, it's important for homeowners to get the most bang for their buck. That is always my goal in working with people on a property."
For Debbie, art was always a rewarding facet of her life. The melding of art with home design was foreshadowed when she was in junior high school. For a science project, Debbie constructed a miniature house, showing its layered elements, such as insulation, walls, and wiring. Little did she know then, that she would later be led to this particular career.
Debbie's designs have been featured in various architectural and lifestyle publications, including "Southern Living," which spotlighted a warehouse conversion, one of her interior design projects.
In addition to running her own company, a recent endeavor of Debbie's is creating unique driftwood sculptures. But the great outdoors beckons her as well, from beach to bike path, to kayaking adventures with friends.
Taking down any walls that threaten to impede growth, Debbie Welch views the world a little differently than most, seeing what can be, beyond merely what is, a transformative vision that makes her corner of the world, well frankly, a whole lot brighter.
Hometown: Kettering, Ohio
Moved to Hilton Head Island in: 2002
Favorite TV Show: Anything on HGTV
What's your favorite way to relax?
Working on an art project
Where would you like to go on vacation right now? Paris
What's your personal motto? Challenge yourself to try something new, then tell yourself "you can do it!"