The Glamour of Interior Design

I think it's sort of a common stereotype that the job of a decorator or interior designer is a glamorous one:  Meeting with clients in beautiful homes, looking at pretty fabrics & swatches & tiles in a perfectly organized office, Shopping all the time, presenting beautiful design plans, networking at parties, doing magazine shoots, creating inspiration boards, showhouses...  all of that.

{Doesn't my office just look lovely?!...  This is the office made to look pretty for our Piccola Magazine photoshoot.  Photo by Maya Wechsler}

Well, yes, these things do happen, but they are done between the many days & hours spent doing paperwork, billing, emails, FILING, driving from showroom to showroom in search of a parking place, running out the door like a crazy person, meeting deadlines, backordered items, talking on the phone to try to get damaged items repaired or making returns, coordinating shipping & delivery, chasing down & coordinating contractors, creating quotes and preparing budgets, trying to fit waaaay too much stuff in your car, making timelines, scheduling meetings & jobs, and generally just always needing to do more than you could possibly do in one day.


{The carting tons of stuff around part}

Lots of days, I wear my "work sweats."  (This is my fancy term for sweats... I always say that in a Nacho Libre voice:  "I need some sweats!")  I've told my assistant that she too can wear work sweats, but she rarely takes me up on it.  (So I'm guessing maybe this is not as normal as I wish it was...  A client stopped by a couple of weeks ago unannounced & I definitely regretted my choice of work sweats & no makeup that day.) 


{Nacho/ me on the work-from-home days}

I always feel a bit like I'm the only one who has it this unglamorous, but in talking to friends in the business, I don't think I am.  (I do think I take the glamour down a few notches more with the work sweats though ;) 

I'm always analyzing my business & how we can get things to run more smoothly, make the experience better for our clients and for us, and to make the most of our time.  I'd love to find more ways for my assistant & I to spend more time doing the fun stuff and less time doing the business side of it, but the unglam stuff is typically even more important than the fun, creative part in this business and only having the one side of it just isn't reality. 

I recently just found some new interior design project management software & I think it's going to cut out a lot of our "business" time. I'm so excited but want to wait to share with you until I can be sure. (I'm doing a free trial right now & will keep you posted.)


So I'd love to know- If you have your own business (any business)- How do you maximize the creative part of the process and reduce the drudgery?  Got any tips?  Programs? Systems?  Schedules?  Would love to know!  If we get enough comments, I'll be sure to compile them all together in a post later on in the week.  Thanks!! 


xoxo, Lauren

If you'd like help creating a home you absolutely love, contact me about our design services.

59 comments:

Bethany said...

Wow - your office looks amazing. and PS - the best part is the bare feet :)

Bethany
http://powellbrower.blogspot.com/2012/01/for-sale.html

Kerry @ Design du Monde said...

Before I moved and had to close my decorating business, I had to use my dining room for an office. It stunk to have to straighten everything up so our family of six (seven now) could sit down to dinner.
As a result I often had things in a state of disarray.
I am sure your work "sweats" look great.

Heather said...

Delegate!

Tammy@InStitches said...

It seems that virtual assistants are the big thing now, but I just can't let go of doing... well, everything !

Janell @ Isabella and Max said...

When I was working with clients 90-99% of the job was not very glamorous. The only time it felt so was when job was complete and the client thrilled, or during some of the shopping trips. The rest, a lot of work. Interesting how there is such a perception! Love the photo of you in your office, you ARE looking glamorous! Janell

allumer * decor said...

Hi Lauren! First, I have to say I really love your blog, and as a blogger who is trying to build my own blog and start a business, you inspire me so much (I'm looking forward to following!!). I just bought THE BUSINESS OF DESIGN by, Keith Granet ...have you heard of it? And a very successful designer here in Chicago told me to look into STUDIO I T . She swears by it. Also LOVE that lantern in you amazing office!

(Eileen) a creative day said...

Can't wait to hear what the program is, pls share! We need it in my office! I totally agree with the non-glamorous part, we spend a lot of time keeping up with the paperwork of design.

We normally try to take at least one day a week that we block out from client meetings to stay in the office and get paperwork done, that helps us stay on top of it and not get buried!

eileen
www.acreativedayblog.com

Kristy @ I Design Love said...

I am in love with your paint color! What color is this, please tell :) Your office is so relaxing! It almost feels like you are on the beach somewhere :)

www.idesignlove.com

Marianne {Style For Living} said...

Oh, yes... not nearly as glamorous as most would think! I know I metioned this to you on Twitter the other day, but I recently started using Studio Webware, which is similar to your program. Still trying to carve out time to learn the program. Hopefully by the end of this week I'll have it figured out. I do think tools like this can help up save time and keep us organized!

Melaine Thompson said...

Can u tell us where your lantern is from? xoxo, Melaine

jeanine said...

Jeans are my comfy pant of choice when no one else is around!

For programs, we tested Design Manager years ago but didn't make it past the trial. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't right. I've also heard good things about Studio IT but haven't used it myself.

I hope you do share what you finally decide to use.

Dandy said...

I have used Design Manager. Any god software that keeps track of tax and has templates for proposals and letters, contracts is priceless. It's still time consuming, but so much better than the old days of creating all those forms on Excel. ugh. I no longer work in interior design, and I do not live in a city with to the trade fabric showrooms, and I love fabric! So, that's what was the most pleasurable for me--the D & D Building. :)

Jodie Okun Interiors said...

oh i love when you do posts like this...behind the scenes of design! i can always relate! unfortunately i dont have any good tips...because i feel like you do most days! i do try to keep mondays for office days...that helps me to get caught up. anyhoo...i cant wait for the rest of the comments for some good ideas! thanks for always bringing up great topics! xo jodie

suzanne said...

Ok, so I am still in my PJ's doing all the above (and it's 12:00pm!. I too am trying to set up a better system to keep track of all the billing etc as my business has grown. Manual billing isn't cutting it anymore and keeping track of taxes etc is a nightmare. I bought Quick Books Pro but need help setting it up for the design business. If anyone can recommend someone knowledgeable in the Washington DC area, I'd be forever grateful!

Ruthie's Renewed Treasures said...

My thoughts exactly. So glad you keep it real! The busy work is what wears me out and frustrates me too. Always comforting to hear it's not just me! The fun stuff is about 10% of the job! Oh...about the sweats, you have a right to wear them cause you have a baby bump! Ruthie

Griffin Design said...

Lauren,
I too have Studio IT, I use the web ware version and it has made my business much more efficient. I have great reporting capabilities and the accounting features keep me from being the dog house with my accountant each quarter. I would advise having someone come in to "train" you on the system. While it is intuitive, it is challenging when it comes to applying money and making/receiving payments. I hired a Studio IT bookkeeper who comes in 1x a week to manage clean up and keep up with invoices and billing. It's worth the fee because I can focus on doing what I am best at....decorating. I am hardly and accountant.

Patty Palmer said...

Now THAT is a great desk!

Courtney Lane - Blog said...

This post was great to read! I'm an interior design student in Seattle and have been made quite aware of the non-glamorous parts of the interior design industry. I think it's good for people to know that while there may be glamorous parts of the job, it's not as easy as it may appear! Thanks for doing this post!

Courtney Lane
courtneylanemichaels.blogspot.com

thebeneblog.com said...

Lauren,
I am in the same boat as you and my car looks exactly like yours..filled with cabinets, tile, paint samples, rug samples etc...
I use quickbooks which simplifys the book keeping end. I think the key is delegating out mundane chores like picking up face plates and 24 for knobs for cabinets..those are things we just don't need to do. I am also finding that sometimes outsourcing floor plans and such free up my time...but it depends on the clients budget..but most of all it is the control of paperwork and a very organized work space...it is a tough balance.

Sarah said...

I definitely echo the value of a great design business software. What also works for me is doing a little bit of filing and paperwork drudgery each day rather than letting it pile up. It helps me feel more organized and makes it easier to focus on being creative if I don't see a huge pile that I know will take a full day to deal with.

Maria Matiopoulou said...

Amazing home office, it looks so fresh and bright!
The truth is that the backstage obligations of an Interior Designers aren't that glamorous but the result always makes me love every part of the boring-non glamorous process.

Maria

http://www.unidentifiedlifestyle.com

AntiqueChase said...

OMG your work space is amazing! Could you please let me know what that perfect blue wall color is?? dreamy!

pve design said...

Lauren,
I think in order to maximize the creative part, one always needs to make time for nature, for family, for exercise and for good nourishment.
Being uber organized and making lists and goals, setting limits and saying no to jobs that might not be right. Plans for 5, 10, 15 years help because time goes fast!
Working from home and being a Mom, one needs good help and lots of support.
That could be copious amounts of hugs, kisses, coffee, chocolate or tea!
pve

crisangsteninteriors.com said...

I'm not a sweats girl, but on days when I think I'll be at the home office all day... I live in yoga pants. Some of them have holes. Thank God no client has dropped by yet to see that...

Carla Aston said...

There's lots of unglamorous in this biz. It's hard for people to understand, but it's a business first, then it's the creativity. I have Design Manager software and couldn't function without it. I do all my quotes/proposals/billing/time-keeping, etc. there. It does more than I even understand, I just wish I had more time to learn how it can help me more!

I wear my white track shoes when I install or do photo shoots of projects. I can't understand how anyone can do it in heels!

casey at loft and cottage said...

Great post, Lauren, and as someone juggling a growing design business I'm soaking up all the comments on what tricks/tips others have for dealing with the drudgery! I hope you'll do a followup post, and a review of your software if you like it!

Something Gorgeous said...

Love your work spec, especially that table. What a peaceful ambiance you have created!

Lisa, An American Mom said...

I don't have any tips, but I was wondering if you could tell me what that gorgeous color on your walls is? I am pregnant with baby #3 also and if it's not a girl, our laundry room is getting painted aqua. *Something* is getting painted aqua. Ha ha. If you have a minute, please share the paint brand/color. Thanks Lauren! As always, love your blog.

Andrea Johnson said...

Your office looks amazing! My office could use a little work. I am an interior decorator and would love to know what software you are using! I am the queen of putting off paperwork. Especially my in box that is full of paperwork that I never seem to catch up on. I agree with you, it isn't all glamorous but I still feel so lucky to be doing what I love. Not everyone can say that:)

Leah H. Grier said...

I own a custom invitation and stationery store. I don't think there is any way around the day-to-day business stuff. We're in business because we work for/with people who don't want to worry about if something comes in broken or the wrong color. Even when it is "slow" in the store I am always busy with the business part.

Maria Killam said...

Haha, I recently bought 4 pairs of 'work sweats' ones my Stylist recommended on her blog, they are from American Eagle. One green, one raspberry and 2 gray ones so that I could be comfortable at home (where I spend so much time in my office) and not look totally dumpy. I love that I'm not the only one!!
Great post as usual Lauren!
xo
Maria

Pretty Inspirational said...

Your office looks great! I use Quickbooks. You can customize your estimates and turn them into invoices with one click of a button. Quickbooks handles invoicing, receivables, payables and payroll plus produces great reports. Proposals are in Word and Project Mgmt is in Excel. I track all my delivery dates, meetings, to dos in one place...Google calendar. I like adding either clients, employees, or my husband to calendar entries so we're all synced. This all works pretty good so far but I'm still a pretty small operation with one employee and juggling approx. 10 clients at a time. My needs will probably change as I grow. I look forward to hearing how the software works for you.

Laurie Blaswich said...

I love the texture of the sea grass rug wall to wall, nice touch!! My design work is pretty much as you describe, can't wait to hear about your new software find?

Thanks for sharing,
Laurie

Sarah's Fab Day said...

I don't own a design business but I did run the HR for a company for several years and now teach Pilates part-time. One thing that always worked for me and kept me on track was keeping on top of those crummy "easy" jobs (you know the ones that aren't so easy when you let them pile up?). I would always dedicate a time block to those jobs in the morning and then my afternoons would be free to tackle the jobs that would take a good amount of time. Thankfully this strategy has worked for me for years.

Candylei said...

Love the uncluttered open office. It has the look of being right on the beach!

Lisa @ simple-e-design said...

Love it! I just this afternoon did a quick presto change from my comfy pants ( as my husband likes to call them) to my jeans and wellies (snow in Denver today) as i dashed over to a client's for a last minute chair chat. I love hearing everyone's thoughts about streamlining the paperwork. Do tell if you like the program you're trying. Xo, Lisa

Carmel @ Our Fifth House said...

Your office certainly looks like a glamorous place to work. I love that you share the real stuff in addition to the pretty stuff.

Gwen Driscoll said...

STUDIO WEBWARE WILL CHANGE YOUR LIFE!!! Email me or call me if you need to chat. Glad to share our experience w/ you, converted from many years of nightmares using Quickbooks to Webware last year.

Karena said...

Lauren for me it is all about balance; which can be so difficult to achieve!

Love your office! Plus I am sure you look perfectly beautiful in your "sweats"

xoxo
Karena

Art by Karena

New England Fine Living said...

I would love to hear more about the software. I too used Design Manager, but found when my computer crashed it was not so easy to load on another and I was limited on sharing files. I am always on the lookout for a better one. Love your office too!

Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

Hi Lauren, check out these pants from Lucy...they are so comfy and light you just might love them for cute work pants...or everyday. I just checked on the old style that is on clearance and they are really limited on sizes.

http://www.lucy.com/Walkabout-II-Pant/110116,default,pd.html?cgid=Bottoms_Pants&dwvar_110116_color=DARK SAND

Sixty-Fifth Avenue said...

Here is the clearance pant
http://www.lucy.com/Walkabout-Pant/224073_SALE,default,pd.html?cgid=Sale_Bottoms&dwvar_224073_SALE_color=CINDER

Be Inspired said...

I LOVE YOUR OFFICE!! I'm trying to make my office a little bit more functional and glam without going over board and yours is just perfect!

I also find it to be hard some days to get all glammed up when I have so much on my to do list to, so some days I throw on my glasses and roll with the punches, hoping I don't run in to someone that will judge me for my comfy clothes and studious face on. I think I throw on my glasses some days to make up for wearing my comfy jeans.

I would love to know more about your design management program..

Alison said...

I've used Quickbooks for 18yrs. I especially like that it tracks my money really well. I can compare years profits and expenses as well track clients. You can customize all invoices, add excel spread sheets...It is really easy and all bookkeepers know how to work it.
As for the sweats- I stopped exercising during the baby years but have now come to the conclusion you can't work out and shower- my clients are use to it. If I have a big presentation I make sure to shower and dress. Definitely not glamorous- not to mention ruining your nice clothes with paint and mud

Allie & Chris said...

Hey girl! I love your blog and your work!

I have a new blog for you to follow, if you wish...

http://allieandhusband.blogspot.com

Allie

Johnpaul said...

I'm so excited but want to wait to share with you until I can be sure.interior door designs

jaylen watkins said...

Very interesting job done. Thanks for lovable post.

Interior Designer Education and job Requirements

Blandet-landhandel.dk said...

Hi there.
Really enjoyed reading this post, because I can relate big time. I run a web shop, and work (hard!) from my home. I also have 4 girls.
I try to be more aware of my choices. E.g.: When I chose not towear make-up, I also chose that a client might see me like that. So I tell clients that stop by that I am doing boring paperwork and has chosen to do so without make-up - and they always understand - never judge, and we usually always giggle over it. So a somewhat embarrasing situation turns into an amusing one.

Also, I try to focus differently on the socalled boring things, than I used to,because life is so full of them. Paperwork, laundry, phonecalls to order stuff etc etc. I simply try to get the best out of it! For example, when I do tax, I let the paper pile up, then do them all while I watch a movie (or Desperate Housewives etc). I reserve the time for it. It might take a little longer, but I no longer HATE it as much, and I don't feel as much sorry for myself.

I have come to peace with the fact that life is full of boring everyday stuff, that needs to be done by ME. I guess this goes for ALL jobs, not just yours and mine. I can tell you that working as a lawyer in a ministery is equally full of less interesting things to do...don't miss that at all....So, focus on getting the best out of it, delegate what you can (it IS worth it!) and enjoy your job. All of it.
Greetings from Katinka, Denmark
PS: Off to do taxpapers...while watching Mission Impossible. Should be mission POSSIBLE, though. Haha.

marbella said...

Suzanne, email me and I will send you the info for a great CPA in this area. He is great with quickbooks, can set it up for you and show you how to use it. He has many designer clients so knows the business.

Ange Vanderheide said...

Ha, thanks for the reality check! Question though, is something wrong with the fabric shop? Haven't been able to access it for a while, is it temporarily closed, heaven forbid!

shaunarae said...

I love the carpet in your office! Where did you get it from?! I need something that isn't atrocious to put in a couple rooms in our house.
Thank you so much :)

Viteri Design Management said...

Hello,

I am a Business Manager for a very elite design firm in NY. I have set up the company to run remotely from any device. I would highly recommend two things. Studio Webware and the best type A organized assistant/Business Manager you can hire.

I am the Jack of All Trades and Master of Many. Another option you should consider is outsourcing your paperwork. Really you can let go of that portion of your company. I would love to give you some more advice. Please feel free to respond to this post.

Marcus Design said...

Oh I just love this post, and I am sitting here in PJs fyi :) It's nice to know all the struggles and unglamorous portions of the job are common to all. And I have to confess to being a huge Nacho fan, I say many a quote from that movie ... in a Nacho voice of course! Love love loved this post!
Nancy xo

beezhouz said...

I feel so much better seeing your work-from-home-day lunch choice, as I just finished chips and Helluva Good French Onion Dip for my midday meal. :)

eklatt said...

A) That house looks absolutely amazing. B) Since I've started blogging, interior deigners blogs FASCINATE me and have motivated me to go back to school in the fall for a degree in interior design. Would you be able to give me some tips on what I can expect when I come out with my degree? How would I go about finding a job in the field? Would love your crazy hectic job if only for a day!

peacelovedecor.blogspot.com

eklatt said...

I forgot to include my email for my previous questions. Would you mind emailing me with any tips on how to get into the interior design business? I would love to know how you became so successful with it. The interior design world completely fascinates me but I would imagine it's a tough one to get into.

Klatterinl@gmail.com
Thanks and hope to hear from you soon!

Emily said...

I am dying to hear what you do as well. I am just starting a new business adventure. We do use Quickbooks and it works wonders for us. BTW~ I am dying to know what the paint colour is in your office. GORGEOUS and beautiful!!

Alexandra Rae said...

Pouring over these comments I'm even more confused than before! I just converted from QB to Design Manager at my new manager's insistence. Only problem was I found it so complicated that neither I, nor my bookkeeper, could use it. But it does track big projects really well. Some here seem to love it. Some love Quickbooks. And some like this Studio Ware. I guess I'll just have to keep looking for the glass slipper!

Any more comments?? Did you find Design Manager as complicated and confining as we did? Studio IT? Studio Ware? BTW, We are an all Mac offc, and we need web sharing....

jazz john said...

OMG your work space is amazing! Could you please let me know what that perfect blue wall color is?? dreamy!

Kenneth bordewick