Company: TFO Contracting Solutions
About Pam: A self-prescribed entrepreneur and dreamer, before starting TFO, Pam owned and ran a technology business. After selling the technology business, she started out refinishing furniture, designing spaces for friends and family and then decided that becoming a general contractor was the natural next step. This allowed her to not only design spaces, but to begin to understand the entire process from start to finish. Now along with helping clients visualize functionality and aesthetics, she helps ensure that everything is structurally and mechanically sound.
Q – You have worked on a project that used several items from Bellacor. Tell us about the Shealy house. What shape was it in when you started on this project and what is the overall vision?
A: Though the home was built in 1905 it was actually in wonderful shape considering its’ age and the fact that it had sat vacant for years. Almost every inch of this home still has the original wood…absolutely no drywall or plaster. The homeowner commissioned us because she loved our idea of keeping it as close to its’ original footprint as possible.
She loved the character and charm of it and refused to have us caulk a single board before painting which allowed the true character of the wood to act as the focal point. The two large foyers make such a first impression and the simplicity of the large over-sized gold pendants compliment them perfectly.
If you would like to see more before and after pictures click here.
The Shealy House is home to 6 original fireplaces. The one pictured below is in the dining room and the mantel was originally in the kitchen. We moved it here so that it would be one of the very first things you saw when you entered the home. Complimenting this space was easy when paired with the Salento chandelier. It is one of my go to lights. It comes in several sizes and colors so it easily adapts to any space: dining rooms, kitchens, living rooms, foyers, bathrooms, bedrooms, closets, etc.
Q -What is your take on mixing old with new? When should you? When shouldn’t you?
A – I love mixing old and new. Because I have no formal design training I’m not really sure when it is “correct” to mix the two, I only know what I like. So, when it feels right to me that’s when I use it. Below is The Shealy House laundry room which is a real mixture of old and new. The floors, walls, ceiling, barn door, mirror, sink and reclaimed heart pine wood top are all very old. The appliances, custom built cabinetry, hardware and flush mount lighting are all new. To me, this works.
For the Shealy Home, every aspect of this design was mixing the old with the new. One example of this is the front porch. Since we are in the south, southern porches are known for their painted blue ceilings. In this part of the south, Haint Blue is the most popular color and it is known to keep away the spiders and the spirits! We complimented the blue ceiling with black matte ceiling fans and black outdoor lantern pendants hanging on either side of the original front door.
Q – Why contracting? What brought you into this typically male-dominated world?
A – For years I owned a technology business and though I loved my team and our customers I was never truly passionate about this line of work. During those years, my husband and I flipped and renovated houses on the side and that I loved! So, when we had the opportunity to sell the technology business, I decided I was going to spend the rest of my life doing something I truly enjoyed. I started out refinishing furniture, designing spaces for friends and family and then decided that becoming a general contractor was the natural next step. There’s definitely plenty of irony in this. I’ve never been the one to actually DO the work, more of the delegator, so everyone that knows me, especially my husband, gets a kick out of where I am today. I now appreciate the fact that you really just can’t move that light switch over a couple of inches to the right after sheetrock and painting has taken place. Well, you can, but that’s a change order!
I think the most interesting part of this kind of work is that women are really good at it. For years, it’s been something men just did. But, if you think about it, the woman is typically the one that really LIVES in a home, in every part of it. So, it makes sense that a woman should make most of the decisions about what that space should look like and how it should function. Let’s be honest, I’m personally not framing up walls, laying plumbing pipes or painting. But I am there throughout the process making sure I understand every aspect of it so that I can not only direct the project but also explain everything to our clients. And, on every single job or almost every single one, the decision maker is a woman, typically the wife. And, as you know, women are BIG communicators, so we communicate throughout the entire process and drive our subs (and husbands) crazy! But at the end of the day,…I am our clients’ biggest advocate and I make sure they get exactly what they want!
Q – What’s the biggest obstacles that you have had to overcome?
A – Myself. In all aspects of my life, I am always the problem. I can be controlling, overbearing and tend to speak and act before thinking. Needless to say, I’ve made a lot of mistakes and continue to have a ton of ON THE JOB TRAINING moments!
Q – So far, what are you most proud of as you look back on your career?
A – I’ve had lots of proud moments. The work I do is very fulfilling. Being allowed into someone’s home to help them transform their space into something functional and beautiful is extremely rewarding. Maybe I’m most proud of the fact that I’m willing to do it; to take a chance not only on myself, but on the amazing people I get to work with (my team, our business partners, and our clients) and that, they are willing to take a chance on me.
Q – What inspires you and gets you out of bed in the morning and moves you to create and do something new every day?
A – I’m all about change and challenges. So, every day brings both of those. I look back and I really love all of the projects we’ve tackled and I am looking forward to what future projects will bring. I know with them will come lots of obstacles and challenges, but also tons of opportunity, a chance to think outside the box and continue to push ourselves out of our comfort zones. As crazy as that sounds, that’s what really gets me excited! That is when I have done my best work; during those moments when I start to doubt myself. I’ve trained myself to power through the doubts and ignore what I call the “ugly phase” so that I can finish what I started and get to the other side.
Q – When you aren’t working on a project, how do you like to spend your time?
A – I’m a workaholic…I hate to admit it. I use to say I worked to live, but not true, I live to work. I know that sounds so sad. But, I’ve decided as I age, I need to keep it real. I love my family and friends and I try to incorporate them into my life, but I truly LOVE my career, so I spend most of my time doing it or thinking about it. I also love to shop, entertain and I love to laugh, so I get together often with friends and family. I get to live a life where I do something I love and I get to do it and share it with people I truly enjoy…our team, our clients, my family and my friends. So for me, it’s easy to incorporate one into the other.
Q – If you wouldn’t have gone down this career path, what else would you be doing?
A – Possibly a yoga instructor, or nutritionist, maybe even a writer. I’m a health nut and I was an English Major in college and I love to read and write…so maybe I would be doing all of those things…maybe I still will…
Q – Speaking to future female contractors and future designers, what would be the most important thing you would tell them?
A – The most important thing I think I would say to anyone about their career is to try and figure out early on what you really love doing. I didn’t start this until my late 40s and I wish I would have seen the signs earlier and realized this is what I should have been doing all along. But, not going to focus on that…just glad I’m doing it now! I am, however, trying to help my kids realize their passions now so that hopefully they will be able to do something they love a lot longer than I did.
Fun Fact: I won the state typing championship in High School. Yes, such a proud moment for my parents:)! There’s a story, there, but we’ll just keep it at that. I will say that when this happened, one of my adorable aunts said to me, “Oh, sweetie, that is so great. You could be an executive secretary someday!”
Photography courtesy of Preston Cook Jordan Young and JP Crane.