What it’s like being an interior designer.

The question I get asked all the time is what’s it like being an interior designer? And normally the question is asked with such excitement because most people’s perception is that they think it’s a very glamorous profession! There’s much more awareness given the number of TV shows on at the moment that showcase interior design, that talk about interior design, that talk about interior decorating and interior styling. People are a lot more aware of interior designers, interior decorators, and interior stylists. And so when I meet someone, they’re always really quite excited to meet me. And when they ask that question, “Oh my God, what’s it like to be an interior designer?” I almost feel like I shouldn’t let them down with the reality of what it’s really like being an interior designer! It’s really weird, I know! It’s a very exciting profession and industry to be part of; at the same time it’s a really hard job to do every day.

15 October 2020

Kathryn Trentini

15 October 2020

The relationship that forms between an interior designer and client is built on trust. Without that, the magic never happens. When a client trusts in the process, they relax and enjoy the creativity that expands their understanding of how their home can support them to live an expanded life. I feel privileged to lead home owners through this journey that gives so much to me as an interior designer. 

If you ask any other interior designer, I’d say they’d agree with me that the day-to-day can be quite a rollercoaster depending on where you’re up to in a project, depending on what’s happening with the client, with a supplier, a tradesperson or what’s happening on site. And so the highs can be quite high and the lows can be really devastating. When you’re in the midst of a low you can take a big knock to your confidence as an interior designer. I’m sure that most other interior designers feel this way. As an interior designer, I put so much of myself into each and every single project that I work on, that when things go wrong, which they do, it’s a really difficult situation to find myself in.

When things go wrong, you feel personally responsible. You are personally responsible when things go wrong. You’re the one that’s leading the project, that’s driving the project. You’re the one that the client is putting their trust in. You’re the one that is working with suppliers and tradespeople, the one who is in charge of estimates, quotes, procurement, ordering and deliveries. And so when things go wrong, that can knock your confidence for a six. But when things go right, that’s the best feeling that you can really ever have as an interior designer. Oh my goodness, the highs of when things go right! When you solve a particularly hard problem or when you get the sign-off to progress to installation, that’s a high! Getting sign-off on the design from your client is a massive high. That’s the big tick you want as the designer. It means you’ve nailed the design and there’s nothing quite like that getting that big tick of approval.

And there’s really nothing better than that. And then, the other high will be… for anyone who has renovated before this is going to sound crazy but I personally love being onsite during a renovation. That’s got to be one of the most stressful and yet most exciting components of any project. I’m not sure if I’m a little bit bonkers when I say that, but that’s always been one of the things that I really love about being an interior designer. And I loved it even before I trained as an interior designer. When I was renovating homes for myself, way back when, that was always the most exciting thing being onsite, working with the trades, working through problems, coming up with solutions that both tick the box for me in terms of the aesthetic of the design itself, but also working with the trades in terms of making sure that everything would actually work properly. Seriously, one of the best feelings.

So the highs you feel like you’re soaring and the lows can be devastatingly low. This can be an extremely stressful profession, but it is honestly one of the most rewarding things that I’ve ever undertaken in my life. To successfully walk through a project with a client from the start to the finish and be there with them the entire way as their cheerleader, as their advocate, as the person that’s removing the stress of actually going through a renovation. That’s rewarding. The most rewarding part about being an interior designer though, is after you leave the project. After the family has settled back into their own normality, they’re back into their own routines, they’re back into their own space. And they get to enjoy their home!

It’s almost like they’ve been holding their breath for this entire process and finally, they can let that go. Finally, they can breathe out. And then they see the wonderfully supportive environment that has been created for them, by me and by the team of professionals that I work with. When you check back in with a client after three, four months and see how relaxed they are, to see how much enjoyment they get out of being within those spaces that I’ve been able to create for them, it’s one of the best feelings. To see the difference to the lives of those that live in that home, I really do think that is probably why I persevere being an interior designer.

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