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How I became an interior designer

Emma Painter is an interior designer based in Emsworth, Hampshire.

I have always loved houses and homes, seeing how other people live and creating a home for myself. The psychology of what makes a house a home fascinates me as do the stories behind a home and its inhabitants. So it has been a natural process to become more involved in the world of interiors.

Learning about interiors

Increasingly I’d been living and breathing anything and everything to do with interiors, so I made the final jump to interior design as my full-time career via KLC School of Design, Chelsea Harbour.

Emma Painter, interior designer

I fitted a diploma course (which was both wonderfully inspiring and immensely practical) around work experience locally, setting me on the right pathway and confirming that this was definitely the career I wanted.

I’ve never looked back, opening my own interior design studio in 2015.

What it’s like to be an interior designer

Running an interior design studio is by turns inspirational, wonderful, challenging and, of course, at times, frustrating.

It’s a huge privilege to be asked into someone’s home and I take that very seriously, ensuring that each design process has the client at its heart from start to finish of every project.

This could include initial design appointments with new clients; visits to a building site to check on a build progress; a home-based day designing interiors from floor plans to elevations down to the last detail; sourcing anything from interior finishes to art, to furniture, to towels, to bedding.

A design brief varies from the needs of one client to the next. It is my job to create a design concept that fits an individual brief and then fill in all the detail that is so crucial to a beyond-expectation design.

As a designer, you need to be an excellent communicator in order to design the perfect space for your clients, both in terms of getting to know your client and their lifestyle, and all the minutiae that involves, and in communicating your design ideas and concepts to them.

There are no shortcuts

A huge amount of skill, patience, focus and hard work are required but the end result is so worth it. I have to say that I have the biggest smile on my face when a client loves their newly completed space.

As well as the day-to-day tasks, keeping up to date with the fast pace of technology and ever-changing seasons of interior design, decoration and fashion provides constant input and inspiration. As well as ensuring your daily design skills are honed, learning to be creative to order is an essential skill that takes focus, time and practice.

The daily running of your own design studio means wearing many hats to cover everything that makes a business run as it should – including fine-tuning your brand, advertising, social media and a whole lot of spreadsheets too. It is a balance but often a thrilling one and as your business grows so you can learn to delegate.

Advice for an interior designer in the making

There comes a point where you have to be in it to win it but making sure you have the right foundation skillset to start with is so important. Meet with people in the trade if you can; attend design fairs, talks and courses. Find work experience to get a feel for what is involved, and which bit of the interiors’ world fascinates you the most.

Then work hard and throw yourself in making sure you keep educating yourself as you go.

Be confident in your own unique design talent and listen to your clients. Above all, remember it takes time to develop as a designer. Having an idea of where you would like to end up and what type of designer you would like to be helps enormously.

Keep your ‘design heroes’ as your inspiration; listen to them speak if you have access, read blogs, follow Instagram and Pinterest, meet like minds – whatever makes you tick.

If you love it keep at it and your hard work and passion will be rewarded in spades.

To view Emma’s work click here.

Charlotte Harding
Charlotte Harding
Charlotte is a journalist and the co-founder of The Women's Work Collective.


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