A Long Story: How I Got Started Designing & My Advice


I often get emails asking about how I got started in the field of interior design & how I started my own business & wondering if I have any advice for people looking to enter the field & start out on their own. 

The emails are from all different types of women.  (And yes, so far, they've all been women)  Many are mothers, some are interior design students while most are looking for a second career in interior design.  (A surprising number are lawyers...  kind of interesting.) 

I've been bad about responding to these emails lately because I've been meaning to do a post on them & didn't want to write the same thing a bunch of times & have saved them in a folder in my inbox.  (I have to be honest & tell you that I'm insanely slammed right now with the new baby & work.  I'm in a tough transition, trying to run the busines while being a good mom to Justin & Christian and of course wife to Dave...  If you've emailed me with a question & I haven't responded, please don't hate me & just go ahead and send me another email.  I'm just having difficulty time finding time right now.  )

Ayway, back to the question of how I got started in my career.  First things first:  I absolutely LOVE my job.  Would I say that I've "made it?" or am on the top?  Definitely not.  I've certainly come a long way from where I started, but I've got a long way to go. 

Here's my story:  In college I majored in Communication with a concentration in Public Relations and a Minor in Creative Writing.  (Pleeeeease forgive all of my typos/ grammatical errors/ use of repetitive words, etc. that you always see on here and I promise that I actually do know how to proofread, but for the purposes of this blog & in the interest of time, just don't. )  Anyway, I thought public relations was interesting and pictured myself working for a big firm or at least the PR department of a really cool company.  I actually thought writing press releases was FUN!   I also had a little side business with my roommate, called "Mystickal Dreams" (please feel free to laugh :) where we made throw pillows, home accessories, cute little shirts, and aromatherapy-type products and sold them on campus.  (There's a whole post's worth of info here so I'll tell you about that another time)

Anyway, the Summer before my Senior Year of college, I got an internship at the PR department of a national organization with headquarters in Washington, DC.  I bought a couple of blazer/ suits and thought it was so exciting to take the Metro in & out every day.  I wore high heels.  I had my own little office & made phone calls & wrote press releases and worked with really nice people. I learned how to surf the internet because I was bored & finished with my "tasks" and became an expert in dog breeds.   (Seriously, do you know what a Chinook is?  I do.)   Some big stuff was going down at the time politically with this organization, so it was a really interesting time to be there..  or should have been.... 

My boyfriend at the time (Mr.David Liess ;) was up in New Jersey with his parents for the summer and so I often headed out during Friday rush hour to visit him.  (6 and a half hours for what should have been 3 and a half was NO FUN.)  On weeknights I would come home and flop on the bed exhausted from the day.  I'd wake up around 10 PM or so and eat & talk on the phone with Dave.  (I did go to Happy Hour & have fun too on some nights, but knowing I had to be up super-early put a little damper on it.)   I drew a lot that summer I guess just because I had so much creative energy bottled up inside of me.  (And I cannot draw...  ask my clients!) 

So I went back to school that Fall and kept on with PR.  JMU had a bunch of job fairs and I started talking with companies & I just wasn't really interested.  I started wondering if it was really what I wanted?  I wasn't really into the inflexibility of corporate life (If I could leave for New Jersey Friday AM instead of Friday afternoon- how much better would the day be??)  ...  And honestly, I wasn't passionate about it.  I wanted to be excited about my job & really make a difference.   My dad started talking to me a lot about our family business, Maestranzi Corporation, (macturing locomotive components) and about coming on to work with him.  He wanted to train me so I could eventually take over the company.  I saw how much better the company could do if it had a little PR and I was excited about getting the company a website & into tradeshows & making brochures & meeting with potential customers, etc.

We decided that I would go out to Illinois where the company was based and I would spend the summer shadowing my dad & learning the ropes and handle tradeshows/ etc.  Anyway, at the end of the Summer, I headed back to VA and did maestranzi's PR from there.  I went back for tradeshows and met with railroaders...   Things were going really well.   At home, I'd decorated my second apartment and was having a newfound love affair with a thrift store near my house.  I painted my bedroom twice and my dining room 3 times in under a year.  It was while experimenting here that I started really thinking about a career in design.  I signed up for an online diploma program and slowly worked through it.   I was attending railroad conventions but planning out new floorplans for my house on scrap paper during meetings.  (Sorry Dad if you're reading!!) 

Dave & I got married and moved into our townhouse and with that came more experimenting.  I started helping out friends & family &  finished my schooling.  I started taking small (very small jobs) on the side and ended up doing some real estate staging, which eventually led to decorating the homes of the people's whose houses I'd previously staged.  During this time, I started an LLC  (Pure Style) and thought it might be nice to do designing part-time.    I decided I would advertise my website on a designer listing website & my Grandmother, who was one of the few people at the time who took this idea of mine seriously, paid for a whole year of advertising for me & said I could pay her back one day when I'd "made it."  (She was also the one who paid for my diploma program and encouraged me to do it.)  I went to work for a designer in DC when she needed extra help. We worked mostly on model condominiums sans-clients.

I had made my own website for Pure Style LLC and knew it looked bad.  (This was in 2007)  The spaces that I'd had pictured were great in person, they just looked terrible in the photos I'd taken.  I scoured designers' websites that I admired & tweaked mine to look more like theirs.  I took out all of my before & afters and left in only the afters.  I copied layouts and got it looking okay.   (By the way, my hourly rate was very low at this point and I was happy to have any work at all.  I would have done it for free to be honest!  My goal was to get some well-designed spaces under my belt for my portfolio.)   I was able to do this because my dad was still paying me commissions on accounts I'd landed and in no way could have supported myself if it weren't for that.  I realized what a gift it was and decided I wanted to make the most of it. 

I took another hard look at my website & couldn't ignore the bad photography any longer. I realized I really wanted to make a go of my business. Dave & I decided to bite the bullet and have our house photographed which at the time was a huge financial risk for us.  I learned a lot watching the photographer that day. I uploaded the new photos onto my website and it was crazy- the calls started flying in!! I couldn't believe what a difference the photography made! Same house as before, just new photos! craziness.

We sold our townhouse for a huge loss because of the realestate market, and moved into my mom's basement with the baby a couple of towns over.  We saved our money & could not wait to buy another place.  It was tough on our pride, living in the basement, but it really was so good for us.   I was busy with jobs and there's no way I would have been able to handle it without the built-in babysitters up stairs ;)  In October I stumbled upon something called a "blog."  I don't remember whose it was at the time, but I thought it might be fun to start one too, so I did.  My grandmother & my mother-in-law were my only readers :)   
The jobs kept coming & I posted a couple of them on the blog.  It was so much fun to be able to share work with other people!  I was shocked when I opened up the Washington Post one day and saw my blog in there on Blogwatch on a post I'd done of a client's dressing room!!  I screamed so loudly that morning that Dave & my parents thought something terrible had happened.  I think from here you pretty much know the rest: I just kept designing & blogging & then house-hunting and eventually renovating and now here I am with the house semi-finished and one more baby boy!
Is it for everyone?  I don't know.  Some things I can tell you:  I believe you can be an awesome designer, but a terrible business owner and if you don't have both, you won't make it in business on your own.  I've had businesses since I can remember:  In high school, I sold homemade lipbalms & lotions & aromatherapy stuff, and in college there was Mystickal Dreams ;)  My dad's an entrepreneur, his dad was and that entire side of my family runs their own businesses.  Out of the 9 cousins, 7 of us have our own thing going on.  I truly think running your own business is "in" you, just as they say talent is in you:  You either have it or you don't.  I'm not saying you have to be from a family of entrpreneurs, but you do have to have a business head to go into business for yourself.  If you have amazing talent and aren't so much into business, you can still work for a firm & make a name for yourself that way.  Going into business for yourself is a hug risk and you WILL be broke in the beginning.  I wouldn't do it if I didn't have either a spouse whose income could support us in case it didn't work, or some other form of income as a buffer. 
A question I'm often asked:  "I have kids & not a lot of free time.  I'm afraid it will take up too much time."  My answer is that having your own business is like having another kid.  You have the advantages of flexibility & it's insanely rewarding but it's always there in the back of your mind.  You're never really "off."  You're happy when you're working 40+ hours because it means you have projects.  That being said, I do it & I have a family and a business and I love it.  I love the creative outlet and connecting with people and making them happy.  You just have to decide for yourself if it's for you. 
Dave just reminded me that your family needs to be on board with the choice to start your own business. There's NO way I could do it without his help and if you do have kids at home, you either need a spouse with a great schedule or a LOT of babysitting/ nannying from someone else.   You can't do it all.  It's tough to keep it feom being a trade-off:  "Hi honey, how was your day?  Ok, here, take the kids & see you later."  We have to work really hard to keep it from being like this because our little ones are so young & we don't have daycare.  I have them all day.
Another thing to think about is that state in which you live.  In some states it's illegal to call yourself an "interior designer" if you haven't passed the NCIDQ exam.  In some states, you can't even specify a fabric to use for surtain's in someone's living room.  Again, this could be a whole new post, but check out Joni's post on the issue here.   If I lived in one of the states mentioned, I would have to shut down my business, go back to school to get a bachelor's in interior design (my diploma program would not count)  and work for someone else for 4 or so years, then sit for the exam (costs around $1000 with a low first-time pass-rate) in order to practice design.  All of the states have different laws with different verbage, so it's really important to do your research.  (Almost all of my favorite designers are self-taught btw!  go figure! ;)
Some advice on how to do it?  Try to work for someone in the field.  Do it for free if you have to.  It's good to observe how everything works.  I learned so much when I worked for an interior designer in DC, but the biggest thing I learned from it was, "I can do this."  I mean this with no disrespect, but I think it's how you should feel if you're ready. 
Educate yourself.  This is huge & I think most of us here are doing it daily or we wouldn't be reading blogs.  But read- read- read.  Learn about the history of design, different styles, people, etc.  Every project brings on another set of challenges and you have to constantly research & educate yourself to get each one right.  Your knowledge is what you're being paid for, so you better know what you're talking about. 
Do your home.  Use it as a labratory to experiment.  Help friends & family members with theirs.  Take before & after photos.  And don't underestimate the power of professional photography. 
Self-confidence is key.  Educating yourself, getting experience under your belt, and completing jobs successfully all give you the self-confidence you need.  Until you have all of these things, I can honestly tell you, it's a bit scary.  I used to get SOOOOOO  nervous when a new client would call.  (I'd break into a sweat and pace on the phone :)  When you're new, it's tough.  (I'm still new enough to get nervous every now and then, but not the way I used to. )  There are days when I'm perusing other designers' porfolios and I feel SO out-of-their-league(s).  I  picture a large firm of "heel-clicking" designers (you've got to listen to last week's Skirted Round table) and I get anxious just thinking of them!  Then there are days when I wonder  what I could do if I had a huge budget for a project & I just get so excited thinking about the possibilities because I know it would be good.  (And most days I'm somewhere in between these 2 extremes.) 
And how has having a blog helped??  Wow, I really can't say enough.  I've met so many awesome people through blogging and have learned so much from them.  It's also been great because potential clients can look up the blog & get a sense of who I am & how I work. They can read about my design philosophies and make sure they jive with their own before even contacting me.  It's also allowed me to take on long-distance clients through e-design, which is such a fun & rewarding experience.  As much as I love it though, this blog takes HOURS a week to do.  Between 10-20 I'd say, sometimes more.  It's not only writing the blog, it's also responding to emails from the blog, reading my favorite blogs (there are so many now I don't even have time to read as much as I'd like!! arrgg) and taking photos for the blog and now of course ORGANIZATIONAL PROJECTS!!! hahah what was i thinking?? ;) ;)
I don't want to sugarcoat anything or deter anyone from following his/ her dream.  Not everyone can do it but many people can.  You have to have the natural talent AND the drive.  You have to be able to set goals for yourself and go after them whole-heartedly, with the support of your family.  You can't be afraid of hard work and if you're a workaholic, you'll have to learn to create a good balance in your life of work & family/ home.  In all honesty, at times I feel so torn.  When I'm behind on work (as I am now) I feel bad when I'm just hanging with my family because work is hanging over my head, and then I feel guilty even thinking that.  When I'm working, I often feel guilty knowing my family wants to spend more time with me.  And friends?  Well, I barely see them right now.  We talk & catch up, but I spend any free time I have with Dave & the kids.  (Right now is a bit crazier because we have a newborn at home, it's not like this when they get older.)  ...So think about what it would really be like for you..
Anyway, sorry for the insanely long pictureless post that might not apply to you at all, but I really wanted anyone who was interested, to have all of the info I could think of.  I tried to answer everything I could think of, but if there's something I missed, please leave me a question in the comments section and I'll answer it at the bottom of the post. 
So if you're thinking of switching careers & starting your own interior design business, think long & hard, and good luck.  You're the only one who really knows if it's right for you. 
ps- Maria of Colour Me Happy is one savvy woman, so check out her thoughts on what it takes to be an interior designer, here.

Questions from Comments:

-CJ, I'm thinking you mean how do I layout furniture selections, fabrics, lighting, etc. on a board for clients to see?  I currently do my e-decorating via email and so nothing is actually mailed to the client.  I create design boards by hand for them just as I do for my local clients and scan in the boards for email.  (I guess I'm old-fashioned?? :)  I would love to switch over to some type of computer program, but just haven't had the time to research it yet.  I do think branding is really important so it's awesome that you're getting your logo & will be using it on everything.  (I'm getting mine revamped as we speak! :)   


kerrisdaledesign said...

Wow...first commenter!! Thank you Lauren for your very candid/honest/insightful post on your journey to becoming the wonderful interior designer that you are! As a mom of two little ones I especially appreciate hearing how another mom with her own business juggles it all...and it is ALWAYS a juggling act isn't it? I totally identify with it being "another child", I've always described it that way too. Anyhow, thanks for the insight, I'm sure many budding designers will appreciate your thoughts.

Kerrisdale Design

Ness Lockyer said...

You hit it on the head there Lauren! great post and I am like you, the way it started etc and I often think of others like us, Brooke Giannetti for one, and laugh at the insane rules there are in the States, especially if you have been doing it for a while.

Its not easy with small kids, running your own show, but just think when they go to school, you can essentially work for 6 hours uninterupted during the day and have your family life after school...I am nearly there =0)
Ness xx

Tina said...

What a wonderul post Lauren! I loved reading your story and your determination and drive are so admirable! Yours is a wonderful story, and I am so pleased that you are now in a place where you are getting the accolades and acknowledgemt you deserve as the wonderful designer that you are! It is also fantastic to see that you are able to combine your own business with being a Mum and a wife ~ you always inspire me:) Thanks so much for sharing with us ~ Tina xx

DustyLu said...

Fantastic Post! Thank you for sharing your feelings about were you been and how far you have come. I to have seen the ASID madness but yet goodness. My husband and I own our own business now for 9 years, we are a licensed painting and decorating firm. I think your right about having a good head for both. One can not survive without the other. Your business is like having another baby, and yes you are broke esp at the beginning..lol I have been working my way up from, walking my bosses dog..(seriously) to re-painting something for a client all night because the color was not right. Design is not all glamour like people think it is. It hard work, mental strain, etc. add kids on it and wow..your busy..I too have a 20 month old.. But I too LOVE it and will forever.
This is prob one of the best posts I have read yet. Thanks, ~lulu

Anna said...

Lauren..thanks so much for the informative and inspiring post..it has helped me alot..especially since I am at the stage of getting my diploma..and I know that this is what I really want to do..it just fits and the passion runs through my veins...you know when you just have that feeling that this is what you were MEANT to be doing.
Thank you for also bringing alot of true life realisations into it also..family is important..and so it balance..which I think is the key to having both. Your a gem x

Fran said...

Lauren....great post! Thank you for sharing your background on how you got started. The juggling part is the toughest and how to balance it all. Thanks for keeping it so real. I've just started my blog and am already concerned how am I going to do it all??? I'd be curious to know what online degree program you took? I've searched for a couple, but would love a recommendation or two. Great post....thanks again, Fran

Kelly Green said...

WOW - what a long post and full of so much! Thank you for being so honest and letting us all know what it is like being in your shoes. I feel some days are diamonds and others are dust and to come up with something in between would be good! So, the no frills perspective from you helps me put my 'thing' in to perspective too. Thank you Lauren. KG

Red Door Home said...

Lauren - thanks for telling like it is. Each of us has a story and it was joy to hear yours. Being a Mom, business owner, blogger, wife, etc takes a tremendous amount of time and energy. In the end though, as long as you are doing what you are passionate about it is all worth it.

Design Beginner said...

Thanks so much for your post!!! I am in my last semester of the Interior Design program at the University of Minnesota. My dream has been to start my own business and in this economy...that might be my only option.
It's really inspiring to see how hard you have worked at this career-cheers!!!

Rie said...

I loved reading about your experience and chuckled at your college business name. So funny. :) I'm happy to not have the pressure of running a design business. I love doing it for my own home but I think it would be too stressful doing it for other people.

I really admire designers like you who take on the challenge of OTHER PEOPLE'S OPINIONS. I was a graphic designer before children, and I loved the creativity but really disliked other people's un-artistic input. Ha, ha... that is why I will likely always just create for my own home, and it's probably better that way. :)

Kudos to you for all your hard work and determination! I'm sure your business will just grow and grow because you have a unique style and are very personable.

Rachel said...

Thanks for sharing this great post, Lauren! I can't believe how similar our stories are - my first college degree was also communications :) I have started my own business but because I am technically a stay-at-home mom, I am constantly trying to figure out if I have time to take on clients, blog and be a good mom. It is nice to see that it can be done!


Erika said...

Thank you Lauren, so helpful! I appreciate the honesty, it helps me and many others make a more informed decision.

Hamptontoes said...

Excellent post! My story is quite similar to yours. I will say that it is harder to juggle it all when your career is your own company. I never know when to turn "it" off. Daily it is a juggling act, but I love what I do so daily I try hard to find the balance for all my passions. Off to work now. Have a great day.

C.J. said...

Lauren, I just read your "how you got started blog", and thank you for your input. I am a new business, Designs for You, a home staging business. I have always decorated for me, family and friends. It is in my blood, and my mind is always on it. I would like to branch into the edesign, would you mind telling me which program you use? I am good with colors, fabrics, furniture but not sure how to incorporate all of it. Is there a company that could help me with not a lot of money to start? I am having Annchovie make up my logo which I will put on all correspondence, i.e. stationary, etc. I have a small portfolio but need to do more. I know this is asking a lot of questions but could you or any of our fellow bloggers give me advice? I believe I have the business part down as I was a Realtor for twenty nine years so was self employed and dealt with all that entails. Thanks so much for all of the info, I do not have stars in my eyes (as in I am not stupid) lol but really want to do this badly. Thank you again for taking the time to read this, and hopefully respond.

Newlywed in the Suburbs said...

Thank you so much for this post! It was wonderful and informative! Very appreciated.

Living It At Home said...

I loved reading your story and I am so happy for you that you chose the path that you are on right now. You are very blessed and have a wonderful family that supports you. You are so talented and that comes through in everything you take on. And you are still so young! You have a whole life time ahead of you to work on your craft...not that you have to...you are so great already!

I too have thought that I would like to do something more creative with my life. I studied to become a Dentist, graduated with DDS, and actually liked it and worked for awhile in NYC. Then I had my daughter and moved to San Francisco with my hubby. I think when you are in a certain "bubble" you don't really see the world or learn anything about yourself. Over the years, as a stay at home mom, I realized I love being creative! I just couldn't go back. That is why I started a blog, so I could learn more and express myself creatively. I would love to do what you do. You inspire everyone with your skill, creativity and honesty.

Thank you for all you do!

Living It At Home said...

Oh! I also wanted to say...that you have a talent for writing too! {sorry for the long post}

mg said...

Interior designers produce complete sets of construction drawings and are conversant with the building codes in their province/ state. They need to be licensed because they are involved in design that affects life safety. There is a lack of understanding in the blogosphere about the difference between a 'designer' and a 'decorator'. If it wasn't for the strong architects lobby interior designers would be known as 'interior architects'.

Lauren said...

MG, I disagree with you but don't want to get into it here. Please head on over the the Cote de Texas link below to see both sides of this argument:


Thanks so much, I really appreciate it.



Sharon said...

Thank you for writing this. I know all your readers truly appreciate it.

Low Tide High Style said...

What a great story and I think it's wonderful that you followed your passions to find a career that you love. It's true that you can't do or be everything to everyone, and owning your own business or working for yourself usually means more work than if you worked for someone else. But as you said there are other benefits that sometimes make it all worth it in the end! Being a designer is hard work, that's why I like writing about them. For the last 11 years as a writer I've been able to see wonderful homes, meet wonderful people and enjoy the work of designers such as yourself!

My daughter is where you were when you first finished college (she just graduated last May) and I plan to forward this on to her.

Kat :)

Lynda @ Happenstance Home said...

Lauren, what a wonderful post! I enjoyed reading your story. Back when I was in college I had thought about switching my major to interior design but was so close to the end I just stuck with my initial choice. All these years later I still wish I had switched and have been thinking about taking classes. I was happy to learn that you did an online course. I've considered that route. I'm wondering if you'd share which course you decided on. Your boys are so adorable! I have two myself but they are in grade school now. Everything does get easier - the challenges are just new challenges. Have a great day!

Nadine said...

Brilliant post. Very encouraging but also honest. You made my day!

Home Inspired said...

Thank you so much for the insight to your world. I have been deisgning for friends and family for awhile and am finally trying to make a go of it with my own business. Your story has given me the encouragement I've been needing!

amymeier said...

Love, love, love this post! It was so great to hear your background as well as what you are doing presently. I too have had my own businesses for as long as I can remember. I sold wrap skirts in high school and started my own handbag line after college before launching into my interior design firm. It is hard and exhausting, but man it is so much fun! Wouldn't change a thing. Thank you for being so open about your struggles.
Amy Meier

Flavia @ Estilo Home said...

Thank you for such an informative and honest post! I've been wondering how you got to where you are but was too shy to ask :) I'm in a similar boat to where you were a couple of years ago (I actually do PR now and have started taking classes in Interior Design, which is where I believe my true passion is.) You are a real inspiration to keep me moving forward with my dreams.

gentrifyrichmond said...


Loved reading about your rise to designdom! I also love that you are not a purist in design, but make "real" spaces that aren't Crate&Barrel cookie-cutter. You also don't try to change a house (kudos!), but work with the house's period, no matter the atrocities committed during an era.

I think many people may not understand the lack of time an entrepreneur has. Your posting will, hopefully, make that a realization. There is no separation from work/home, and there is no such thing as a 40-50 hour workweek - definitely not a "spare time" venture for moms. (which is why I chose to work a cushy, non-creative job)

Loving Life in Southern California! said...

I LOVED this post! thank you for sharing. It was very inspirational and comforting to know there are others in the same shoes. THANK YOU!

Jennifer said...

lots of great things to think about! thanks for the links to other topics, too. hmmmm now the wheels in my head are really turning :)

Acanthus and Acorn said...

I think my original comment got lost in cyber world. Lauren, first let me say I think you did a beautiful job conveying your journey into design. For many of us it is about our backgrounds and our talent that makes up the winning combo to succeed in this uber competitive business. Secondly, with regard to mg's comment, I can certainly appreciate and respect her perspective, but it lacks some information. The job of the interior designer (in my view/opinion/experience) is to design a space that the client envisions within the parameters of their budget, that is both beautiful and functional. The architect is necessary for anything that involves creating new construction or the reworking of an exisiting structure, along with a structural engineer in most situations. The general contractor and his trades are responsible for the work proposed by the architect and designer. Meaning it is their job to make sure all the proper permits are obtained and the work complies with state and local codes as well as executed as specified by the architectural drawings and plans. While I have many renovations under my belt and substantial experience overseeing such projects, I do not profess to be an expert and therefore always rely on all of the above. Maybe V&L can give their insights. Anyone embarking on a career in design needs to understand it is seriously hard work, but also very rewarding.

Liz said...

Great info on starting your own biz, you really do have to have the entrepreneurial mind-set. I was just thinking of writing a "What to do when you don't have enought time to do it all..." post for my blog too, but I really love being self employed! One more thing: I check in with your blog regularly, not only because your style is so gorgeous, but it is totally do-able. Some mags and blogs make it seems out of reach. You are an inspiration!

Melissa said...

This all really resonates with me. I almost accidentally started a children's clothing company-- it certainly wasn't in my long-term plans a few years ago, and probably the year I had a (pretty sick) newborn was not the best time to begin. BUT-- it's incredibly rewarding watching it grow. I hear you on every single point-- and I'm really struggling because my husband is a corporate attorney (read: not flexible hours) and we have no family close by, so I'm either investing heavily in child care out of our personal finances to have time to work or I'm freaking out b/c I get behind when my kids are around. Balance is really hard to come by. I love hearing your story.

Wendy @ The Shabby Nest said...

Hi Lauren...your story sounds very similar to mine in many ways. I majored in Fashion Merchandising in college, worked in Advertising and PR and finally decided that my true love is Interior Design, so I am currently enrolled in a diploma program. I am slowly getting my own design business started, but am so happy because it is what I WANT!!! My husband and I run our own photography business, so I know what you mean about needing a business head. But at the same time, it is nice to have the flexibility of being your own boss...although with 4 kids, the juggling act is INSANE! Thanks for this post!!

Riviera Boardwalk said...

I am sitting here reading your blog trying to get well enough to start a stronger chemo. Just too sick for chemo right now. But reading this informative blog is helpng me feel better and learn too.
you are a special lady!

Traci Zeller Designs said...

Lauren, thanks for being so insightful, honest and refreshing ... not to mention talented! Much of your story sounds like mine - and with 3 year old twin boys, there never seems to be enough time in the day for everything. But when you love it, you just do it all somehow ... although I know the guilt of being behind better than I wish I did!

phyllisja said...

Lauren, Great post, so informative--I was wondering if you use a professional photographer for all your posts or if you have learned to 'fine tune" your photography techniques? thanks

A Country Farmhouse said...

Hi Lauren, Loved reading your story! It was comforting, inspiring and motivating all at the same time. You have such great style and finding your blog has really helped me evolve with my own sense of style. I always love popping in to see what you've been up to around the house. As DIY'ers ourselves, it's so great to know that there are others out there working on their homes as much as we do! Sometimes we feel like we're the only people (at least in our social circle) that bought a house that needed work! So it's been great to connect with 'people' like us. xoxooxTrina

Marija said...

I live in one of those states. And my job is hard and my days are long and I can't believe how much more "business" and how little "design" I do on most days. Thanks for being straightforward about the workload and commitment.

I think MGs point is that in "those" states, an interior designer must have the skill/credentials to produce complete construction drawings or they must use the title "interior decorator". Not the case everywhere as you pointed out (and is elaborated upon at CDT). I'll say this - it's annoying and unfair. Case in point, you can be a general contractor in Illinois with NO education or experience. Just pay a fee. We're talking constructing buildings, supervising trades, building stairs, you name it. But to plan the space, select the interior finishes and call yourself a designer, it's all about the NCIDQ. It's unfortunate.

Very honest post. Nicely done.


Marija said...

btw, i used to be a lawyer :)

(my mom is still mad at me...)


Emily A. Clark said...

Thank you SO much for taking the time to post this. It is amazing how similar our stories are from the PR degree (and realizing I so wasn't in love with it) to the having small children & mommy guilt to go along with it to the realizing "I can do this." For me, it was a now or never moment. I love design and I have finally realized I'm just as capable as "most." This post was a huge encouragement to me. Thanks again.


Kris and Jen said...

Loved this post and am so grateful for it, and for your honesty. I feel like you read my mind and answered so many questions. As a newbie to the blog world and a mom wanting to reinvent herself(used to be a teacher for a living, now do enough teaching at home:))I appreciate all your insight and encouragement. Thank you!!!

Deanna said...

Awesome! Thanks for posting this. It's inspiring and HONEST! Are you speaking of Rhodec when you talk of the online diploma you received?

The Little Big House said...

What a generous post to write! I can relate to so much of your story - going to school for a different degree (for me it was architecture) and then ending up with a design business in a different field (web/graphic). And then of course there is the challenge of juggling work /family & friends when you are the 'creative talent' and the 'boss'.

That said I've always thought of interior design as one of my 'dream careers' and it was really lovely to read of your journey into a career that showcases your obvious talent!

Leah Moss said...

Oh Lauren, you are the BEST, girl!!!

This is one of my favorite posts...even without all your pretty pictures :)

Super helpful, honest, and thorough! It's incredibly inspiring to see you juggling it all, and being totally candid about it during the process!

Maria Killam said...

Thanks for the mention sweet Lauren! I loved, loved reading your story as everyone else will too!!

Yamin said...

I recently came across your blog and have been reading along. I thought I would leave my first comment. I don't know what to say except that I have enjoyed reading. Nice blog. I will keep visiting this blog very often.



pve design said...

Great! love it.
Kids get busier as they grow, so enjoy the time now when they are small. My sons will be 17 and it is really busy juggling. I wish you tons of happiness and success with your home, your family and your business. Friends will always be there!

Lauren Comet said...

Lauren--I think recently you posted about a blog where the woman posted about less-expensive knock-offs of furniture, lighting, rugs, etc. I can't find the post, but would love to bookmark the page, so can you tell me what it is called again?

Ruthie's Renewed Treasures said...

Enjoyed your story Lauren. You have worked hard and I admire that your family still comes first! It's fun to have a passion. Hats off to your husband who sounds so supportive!


Willow Decor said...

Thanks for sharing your journey- It's so wonderful to hear that designers/bloggers I admire had a similar to story to my own. It is very inspiring to hear about your path and the honesty in which you approach your work. I love reading your posts.

Holly and Sean said...

Great post and it is so clear that it came straight from the heart. I totally relate to the burden that emails and other "less glamorous" tasks can be and how much time they truly take to just running a blog, let alone a business! For me the solution was just coming up with a standard email that I send to the many, many requests about starting up how to start a business (in my case, not in interior design, but painting!). Thankfully all my readers have understood, and it really feels like a weight has been lifted! Hope you continue to strick the right balance for yourself with continued success~


"Yeah, that works..!" said...

Thank you so much for this post. Chock full of honest and helpful info. I believe one of the most important messages you conveyed was that you listened to your inner voice and recognized all of the strengths and attributes in your life. You were and still are wise enough to use them for your advantage. End result - a woman who is true to her passions and her family and therefore others in your realm naturally benefit as well.

Hannah Kate said...

Hey Lauren! I had heard about Lindsey's blog a while ago and started reading that and then I saw your blog off of hers and have been reading it too! I love it, and have really enjoyed all the others that I have found too! I started one when I was stuck in bed for a few days, but it is not up to the caliber of yours! Your kids are beautiful and it sounds like yall are doing really well! Anyway, talk to you later!

Sandra said...

Hi Lauren,
Would you mind telling me how long it took you to complete the design course. They give you 3 years and I just received it December but haven't started due to health issues. Thanks for such great information on what you have done to be the successful Designer Mom you are!

sweet&broken said...

Thank you for the post - I just emailed you yesterday (from a different gmail). I am inspired by your post and grateful for your blog!

Little Shop said...

This was a great post; I don't mind reading, especially something this informative. Your confidence to go for what you want is inspiring. Love reading about your experiences!

Chateaux Interiors said...

Great post!! I really enjoyed reading your story...very insightful. Being a new designer myself I found myself relating to your story over and over!

Chateaux Interiors

jackie said...

hi lauren,
LOVE this post! you read my mind answering all of my questions!! i was wondering if you could tell us the online school you studied interior design through.
thank you again for taking the time to write such an informative and helpful post. i love your style! (btw, i was just at red ticking (in seattle) talking to pam and we were talking about your wonderful blog - i told her you posted pics of her house in march - and she told me what i wonderful sweet person you are:)

Bonnie and Clyde said...

I have been "blog stalking" you for some time! I never comment, but I always read! But I just wanted to say that I LOVE THIS POST! SO HELPFUL! I am terrified to really go after my dream. And this was so comforting. And I appreciate your honesty on how hard it has been. Anyway, just wanted to say thanks! And keep up your fantastic work!!!!!!

Haven and Home said...

I have been meaning to do a post like this for a while, I could not agree more! About EVERYTHING!!!!

Decorator said...

Lauren, thank you so much for you brilliant post. I always wondered how could you manage to start and keep doing that and now I'm really impressed and motivated by your simple and clear answers. Thank you so much for being so open and honest :)