The Herald Bulletin

April 13, 2013

‘Perfect combination’

Scott takes off with design business

By Emma Bowen Meyer
For The Herald Bulletin

PENDLETON, Ind. — A side business is quickly taking over the life of Eric J. Scott as he has officially entered the world of design.

Although he has consistently consulted with friends, family and acquaintances on interior design choices, space planning and event coordination since he was 15, he only established EJS Designs four years ago.

“I’ve always had one of those creative minds and entrepreneurial spirits,” said Scott, general manager of Gaither Family Resources for 10 years. “I love meeting people and getting to know their personalities and see where they come from.”

By working at Moneyhun’s Fine Gifts and Furnishings while attending Highland High School, he began designing displays and Christmas villages. Degrees in art and business from Indiana University have supplied him with the know-how to not only create beauty but to tackle the challenges of managing a business. In January, he won the Rookie of the Year Award at the Indianpolis Home Show.

To embody his motto “Your life . . . My design . . . The perfect combination,” Scott sits around the dinner table with clients to discover their tastes and habits to ensure his concepts match up to the unique family before him.

“I love being at the dinner table because you really learn who you are with,” he said. “Design is more than having things look good. You want to adapt to their lives. If the end result isn’t functional, it doesn’t work.”

With the variety of popular television shows that feature interior designers, people are becoming more interested in the idea of hiring someone to advise them on home décor choices. Scott mentioned a few tidbits to keep in mind when considering that call.

Design advice is not as expensive as people think.

“People hear the word ‘designer’ and they think ‘expensive,’” said Scott. “Yes, you are paying for a service, but in some ways it actually saves the client money. We are finding pieces they like and that fit their style so they will tend to keep them a lot longer.”

Visualizing what works

Without professional assistance, people may purchase items that don’t really work for the space and then change them out five or six times trying to get the look or balance they are seeking. A hit-and-miss strategy can cost more in the long run than having an expert nail the look on the first try.

He told of one family that had purchased all new kitchen cabinets in a shade that was wrong for the room. Replacing those was an expensive fix that he could have helped them avoid.

“It is hard for most people to visualize what things will look like as a finished product,” he said. “I pick their brains and find out what they like and determine what will look good in the space.”

Scott also doesn’t turn his nose up at any price point. Whether he is working on a T.J. Maxx budget or a custom budget, he enjoys helping people create a space they love.

Function is vital.

“Function is huge, huge, huge for me,” he said. “If you pop the mail on the same place when you come in the door, you will continue to pop it in the same place. I learn the habits of my clients and build them a space they can live with.”

While gorgeous may be a goal, the finished product must meet the livability standard to pass Scott’s approval. This is another reason he likes to watch the family within the home to understand how they use their space and how he can improve upon it.

Sometimes this requires removing a wall, but other times simple changes can make a substantial difference.

Safer choices for expensive renovations are wise.

Thinking smart

While trendy colors are great for a wall, pillows or other accents, Scott encourages clients to choose more neutral tones for items that cannot be easily altered later — such as tile, carpet and cabinetry.

“I try to think smart,” he added. “It depends on the budget and we work around pieces that they already have. It’s a lot cheaper to change pillows than fixtures.”

Bigger is better — to a degree.

“Everyone is afraid to use a big piece or a big picture, but you need to think bigger than you normally would,” Scott said. “You really do need that because it makes a statement.”

Generally people need to choose bigger pictures, paintings and lamps, but remain in proportion to the room.

“And you want to splurge on the pieces that are unique or will become the focal point of the room,” he suggested. “Go cheaper on the other accents or accessories and it will all still look like it could have been in a magazine.”

Too many cooks spoil the broth.

Often friends are brought into the decision-making process and tend to confuse the client — or pressure them into something they don’t truly want.

“It is your home and you need to make the final decisions,” he said. “It becomes more frustrating to you if you get too many opinions. My big goal is to make sure when I leave, the home feels right to the client.”

Each week, Emma Bowen Meyer features a Madison County home. If you know of a home that should be showcased, send an email to