Becoming an interior designer

My journey to becoming an interior designer hasn’t been an easy one but it’s taught me a lot about myself. From self-doubt and the classic feelings of being a fraud to developing the confidence that has seen me develop into a multi-award winning interior designer. 

2 November 2020

Kathryn Trentini

2 November 2020

I love this picture of me and that’s saying something! As someone who loves to be a support person, who loves to be behind the camera rather than in front of it, it took a lot of guts to have these photos taken. I love it because it represents to me one of the days that I knew I was taking myself seriously as an interior designer. I was prepared to put myself out there and declare to the whole world, I’m an interior designer. It was scary, I felt like a fraud, I had so much doubt about my ability to make this work but I decided that fake it till you make it would do me just fine that day. So, I got myself to that photoshoot and was so proud that I’d believed in myself enough to go through with it. What an exhilirating moment it was!

Before starting Trentini Design, I had a number of long term positions that have all helped me build this business to what it is today. I truly believe that they all culminated in creating this business. Working with the local government in customer service allowed me to hone my negotiation skills, it taught me patience and the value of being able to actively listen. Growing a business from small to medium sized taught me the power of leadership when it’s done right, the value of building a team from the ground up, one that works in synergy and brings their own individual strengths in order to create the best team possible.

In 2009 I embarked on a renovation project that changed the course of my life. From that moment I decided I wanted to be an interior designer. It would be a few more years later that I finally enrolled in an intensive course where I learnt the skills to work as a professional interior designer. When I returned home from Sydney I had what I now call a delusional thought that I was going to start an interior design studio. I mean, WTF right?! I lived in a regional area, on a farm, already running a business alongside a beef cattle farm. Yep, I definitely had the time to start an interior design studio. 

Not long after I returned from Sydney, my long-term relationship broke down and I found myself in a place I hadn’t expected to find myself. Needless to say the interior design studio dreams were put on the backburner until I’d sorted out the logistics of my personal life. A few years later, I’m in my new place and I think to myself let’s revive that dream again. Let’s take a look at how we can take this interior design studio dream into a reality. I know now that I used the relationship breakdown as an anchor, as an excuse to not start the business. I’ve said it before I’m definitely a tortoise, rather than a hare when it comes to life. And I wasn’t any different in this situation. When I make a decision, I am determined and tenacious and fearless and I just keep on moving. I keep on moving with intuition and sometimes I don’t even know where I’m headed, it’s an instinct I know I will end up in the right place. I can now look back and know that despite finding myself in some really dark places during those years, it was that pivotal moment in my life that my ex said to me you’ll never make a go of it as an interior designer that gave me the drive to succeed. I don’t relay this memory with malice; it’s to give context to how easily I allowed others to influence my life without me understanding why. It’s to give context to how low I was feeling about myself and how determined I was to pull myself up out of that pit and be utterly and completely in control of my own future.  

A few years passed, and I started to slowly build my interior design portfolio but there were long periods of time where I would be supporting myself through other work like building websites and SEO for other businesses.  My dream of a successful interior design studio didn’t leave me though and I continued to slog away at it. When I say slog away at it, I really do mean that. The way that I was working through a project didn’t feel right and I needed to concentrate on getting that right so I didn’t continually piss off clients. Yep, I was pretty good at that. I know that my nature is to include everyone in a process and make sure everyone is happy with the direction that it was going. But that didn’t serve the clients because without realising it, I was putting more pressure on them to make a decision when in fact they wanted me to make that decision for them. 

The next pivotal moment in my drive to succeed was making the decision to put my own name to my business. This had been something that scared the bejesus out of me, because it would mean that everyone would know IT WAS ME. Don’t get me wrong I loved the original name of my business – it had a sentimental value to me and as much as I didn’t want to part with it, I knew that if I was going to get to where I wanted, then making this change was the right decision. 

Almost at the stage of giving up on this dream, I found by chance a mentorship program that taught me how to run a successful business as an interior design studio. It was the turning point in my business. The investment for me at that stage felt like a make or break moment in either putting this dream to rest once and for all, or seeing my dream turn into a reality. It wasn’t the design process that was wrong, I knew I could design. It was everything else that wraps around that that needed my attention. I remember being on a zoom call and thinking I have to make this work! I have nothing else I want to do more than to share my passion with other homeowners so they can live an expanded life with their home being their biggest support. The fear of failing, or being seen as a fraud or not living up to my expectations slowly started to dissipate the more I participated in the program. I’ve gone from strength to strength and now run a multi-award winning interior design studio where I get to work with amazing homeowners who trust and believe in me and the process that we take to work through a project.

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