It’s not like what you see on HGTV.
Did you know television is not an actual depiction of real life? Yes, even on HGTV and on shows like Fixer Upper (which I love!). An accomplished, professional interior designer doesn’t whimsically walk through a home with a client, quickly telling what they would do in a room, then give an off-the-cuff budget estimate. It’s not a quick, nonchalant process to design incredible rooms that reflect the clients’ personalities and needs.
No, real life interior design is much different. It’s a business, with carefully thought out systems and processes. I have spent this last year growing in this process. After completing the Interior Design course at New York Institute of Art & Design, I went on to take the Residential Interior Design Certification exam. Additionally, I have read numerous blogs, attended webinars, and listened to incredible podcasts. Actually, one podcast, A Well-Designed Business, has been nearly as helpful as all of my school training!
The common theme in all of my learning is this: this is a business, not a hobby. If you want to actually make a living, and not just play around, you must have key systems in place. As in any business, you can have incredible skill, but if you don’t know how to run a business, you’ll fail. One statistic I heard is that Interior Design is about 80% business, 20% skill. I would absolutely believe that to be true, and that statistic is applicable to SO many areas of expertise.
The Gift of Time
As I’ve spent the last year in training, I’ve had a handful of clients. Let’s be honest, if we had to live on my income, we would be sleeping on the street. Thanks to my hard-working husband, I’ve had this time to grow. Additionally, I’ve been able to keep my son home before he launches off to Kindergarten in the fall. (What??!) But I’ve also had the time to be able to establish how I want to run my business. Like I said, I’ve spent countless hours learning from those ahead of me. I’ve visited the trade-only showrooms & had time to set up my accounts. I haven’t had to scramble, while in the midst of serving clients, to figure out how I’m going to do things. It’s truly been a gift.
How I Want to Run My Business
First of all, I’ve had to decide that this is not a hobby.
I’m going to be profitable and professional. Shopping days with clients are not for gabbing and fun.
I’ve defined my “niche” client.
Not that these are my only clients, but I recognize it is within these categories that I jive well.
We help young couples, established families, and accomplished professionals design comfortable environments to retreat, recharge, and entertain.
My philosophy has been established.
We believe your home is an reflection of your personality & style. We specialize in classic, refined interiors, designed for functionality and enduring style. The definition of classic describes it perfectly- “judged over a period of time to be of the highest quality and outstanding of its kind; of a simple, elegant style not greatly subject to changes in design.” Our goal is to incorporate your style with functional needs- after all, a home is to LIVE in! Additionally, we love the relationships we build with our clients. As your family grows or your lifestyle changes, we want to partner with you for years to come!
Personal Design Style
I know that I lean towards traditional, transitional, and coastal styles when designing. Not that I can’t design in other styles, but it’s within those styles that I really thrive!
Establishing Vendor Relationships
I’m so fortunate to live in Atlanta, with the best trade vendors close by. By visiting ADAC and Americas Mart, I have vetted various vendors/showrooms, found out important price points, and discovered which ones I would love to work with. There are some AMAZING trade-only brands out there that do not cost a fortune for the consumer. In particular, Go Home Ltd, has incredible selections, fantastic quality, it’s made in the USA, and it’s available at affordable prices!
Finding the best project management platform has been key. There are a couple out there, and one is under fire in the design community for recently selling out to a giant corporation. I’ll let you read about that on your own. But the one I’ve started using is Mydoma Studio. It gives order to the project, allows clients to approve selections online, sends POs, etc. A great way to add a whole other level of professionalism and order to the design process!
Maybe this article is just to give you a peek into the “secretive” interior design world. In truth, there is really no need for secrets. If you are hiring a good designer, they can be open and honest about how their fees work (which does vary on project to project), and have clear expectations on both sides. Recently, I did an exercise called “Your Business in Words” by Nancy Ganzekaufer. It helped me give clarity to my desired end result once a project is complete:
I create functional layouts, help clients in color scheme and furniture selections, and oversee the whole design process. It is so rewarding to see the finished space reflect the client’s personality and needs. In turn, a finished space frees the client to recharge after a long week, spend important time with family, and entertain loved ones.
Ready to hire an Interior Designer? Now you know what to look for!