Interior Design. What’s it all about then? Six years ago I used to ask myself this all the time. I didn’t know a lot about it but I knew I loved it. I knew I wanted to pursue some kind of career in it and I didn’t care how to go about it. When I was growing up, my mum allowed me and my sisters a totally free reign of our bedrooms- provided it didn’t include any form of bluetac, posters or black paint. I shared a room with my sister and we would sporadically decide the space wasn’t quite right and we would change the layout. Every time we did it, it always looked better than it did and this is where my interest stemmed from. As I got older and when my sisters moved out and I had the larger bedroom to myself where I would be able to have complete control over the arrangement and colours. In a way my sister was my first client and then I became my own client who was allowed to experiment with the design. I know now that designing a space for yourself is the hardest of all!
In the Summer of 2009, my mum and I were cleaning my grandfather’s house after his lodger/best friend passed away. We cleaned every inch of what was a filthy, masculine and dated house – thank goodness for sugar soap! After we cleaned, my grandad was feeling a little more adventurous and he allowed my mother and I to decorate his late friend’s bedroom. We didn’t do too much, just a fresh coat of white matt paint of the ceilings, apple green on the walls and a new carpet and the room wasn’t recognisable. From a sepia, smoked stained den to a fresh guest bedroom. An artificial plant, scatter cushion, throw and candles later we had created a new way of living for my late grandfather. He had a new lease of life. He enjoyed the smell of fresh paint and being able to go into what was a room where his best friend slept. That feeling of seeing satisfaction on his face was what spurred me to love design and for my mother to want to carry on around the house. So we went on to the larger spare room which was the room by grandfather’s friend actually died in. For me I really struggled going into this room knowing someone had recently passed away here. After decorating it a cool blue, buying new bedding and mattress I was able to come to peace with this space. It was no longer the room Graham died in but a space which my family and I would use as a dressing room.
Room after room we completed my grandfather’s own bedroom, hall, stairs and landing, lounge and downstairs shower room. My grandad was happy to continue and we decided we would need a professional to help with the upstairs bathroom. It was the sixties avocado bathroom suite which was ‘complimented’ with ghastly tiles and horrific carpet and so it became a trip to Wickes showroom in Thetford. The designer came round and it was that moment I knew I wanted to do the designer’s job. The designer knew what would look nice, with some fitted furniture, new floor to ceiling tiles and pure brilliant white bath, loo and basin. At the time I didn’t know if it was kitchens and bathrooms which I wanted to specialise in but I didn’t rule it out.
The bathroom was fitted and the whole family were in awe of the difference. We didn’t mind washing or using the loo in an immaculate room which was clean and bright. My grandad was my official first client and wow he was a well behaved one! He gave me a budget per room and a brief to make it refreshing and modern. Easy!
From this, my grandad liked my new found interest in Interior Design and he paid £500 for me to complete an online Diploma in Interior Design. I completed the course in about six months if I remember rightly and I learned so much from it. I knew there was a lot more to learn too and after finishing sixth form I went to college and completed a Foundation degree in Fine Art which I was able to specialise in anything I wanted – naturally I chose Interior Design. I taught myself how to use Google sketch up and draw scaled floor plans. I passed my Foundation degree with a Merit and I was chuffed with how well I did considering I was the only person in my class who specialised in Interior Design.
I knew I needed to learn more and I didn’t want to go away for university because of the sky high tuition fees and living costs and I looked into distance learning degree courses. I went to an open day at the National Design Academy in Nottingham and knew this is what I wanted to do. Based on my personal income at that time I was eligible for a tuition fee and study grant which was fantastic. The whole degree was completed online via an interactive platform which I was able to do part time whilst I worked full time.
My grandfather passed away in December 2014 and I was absolutely devastated. He was a father to me after my own father passed away and was a mentor, strength and friend. In August 2015 I was having a really tough time about my late grandfather and something that day made me decide to randomly check the Wickes website for any potential jobs at my local store. I went on the website and was delighted that there were two positions – a Kitchen and Bathroom Advisor role and a Kitchen and Bathroom Design Consultant. I wanted the Consultant position but I applied for both and soon enough I was contacted for an interview. I gave that interview everything I have. I bought a new outfit, studied the company in depth, created my first portfolio and eagerly went for it. It went great. I loved the interviewers who are my now managers. I left the interview and waited in anticipation for a call from Wickes over the next few days. I received the call a couple of days later to say that I was not successful for the Design Consultant position based on my limited sales experience but I was required for a second interview for the Advisor role. I went along again after leaving my then-job for a dentist appointment. I was given role plays and the interview went so well I was given the job on the spot. Words cannot describe how happy I was but I stand by that my grandfather was in some way responsible because no Design Consultant positions had been available in ten years.
I continued my degree alongside my new role within Wickes and I graduated last month with a First Class degree with honours. My new colleagues were fantastic, instant friends of mine and they welcomed my womanly touch and design flair for their own designs. It was strangely perfect. I have been extremely successful in my Advisor role and am number three in the whole company for my position – quite a feat for someone who had been doing the role for under one year! Customers were disappointed that it would not be me following through with designing their kitchens and bathrooms but this only drove me to succeed even more. I think the difference between me and anyone I have worked with is that I just want to design. It is not about sales, targets and commission – although the uncapped OTEs are bloody amazing… I just love being able to design a space which will genuinely change the dynamics in a household. Turning a three times a day job into new found hobby.
About two weeks ago on Monday 1st August my manager told me there was a designer position open in another store which I had been put forward for by a senior member of staff. I didn’t hesitate and I called the manager of the store to arrange the chat. The following day I went along and was offered the position on the spot again based on my new manager having completing his ‘homework’ on me. Needless to say that I am exceptionally happy, and I am blessed to be given an opportunity which has been a dream from a child. I have an extensive amount of training and courses to attend in the next twelve weeks but I will endeavour to keep you updated.
So I actually started this post wanting to talk about my degree and think I may have gotten carried away but it feels great to dissect it and look back. I will keep you informed about my journey in my new job and I should be starting the training in a week. Yay! If you would like to keep updated you can follow me on Twitter, Instagram, bloglovin and youtube.
Go for what you love in life and don’t stop until you get there.
A post for you G-Dad xx