I’ve Done it All
Yes, I’ve been around the block so to speak. As a 24 year interior design veteran, I’ve done it all. I started out designing homes around the greater Baltimore area back in the early 90’s. Then I rode the “faux finishes” wave and painted my way around Maryland while that trend lasted. Next, I pioneered the field of nursery design and gained notoriety designing luxury baby nurseries for celebrities and “regular” folks nationwide for two decades. I’ve even had some air time on TV and have a long list of celebrity customers. I’ve been a nursery artwork, bedding, rugs and kids’ product designer. And now I’m working my way around Central PA as a real estate home stager. I love everything about interior design and I spend countless hours reading about and trying out the latest trends in home decorating, nursery decor and good design. Yes, I’m obsessed with designing and I don’t see that changing.
Advice From a Seasoned Interior Designer
In my two decades as an interior designer, I have received countless emails and phone calls from people asking me how I got started in nursery design or if I would give them advice – my “magic formula” so to speak – for becoming a successful interior designer. Well I have to admit, there is no magic formula. There are many ways to get where I’ve landed and many designers have made a successful career and name for themselves. However if I had to give solid advice to upstart designers, the main thing I would emphasize is that you have to work HARD. It’s not an easy field. Some of us make it look easy and the TV personalities make it look like a cake walk. However it’s not an easy career to develop. There is a lot of trial and error in developing a successful interior design company and trust me, I’ve had my trials and my errors over the years.
It’s Not as Easy as it Looks on TV
In addition to being willing to put in countless hours developing contracts, a website, portfolio, marketing yourself and learning the latest in good design, the next thing I’d advise is that one MUST be flexible and willing to continually evolve. I’ve been a part of the interior design world long enough that I’ve seen trends come and go and come back around again. (Yes, I’m THAT old! And if you see me, ask me about my experience with toile wallpaper and you’ll get my point.)
I’ve also learned that in order to continue to make a steady income in the design world, we need to observe the trends in our particular area as well as provide services for areas where there might be a void in our region. Hence why I’ve been a designer, a faux finisher, a nursery designer and now a home stager for realtors. I’ve evolved and been willing to go into unchartered territory to make a solid name for myself and continue to make a living doing what I love…designing. If we’re not willing to evolve and try new areas of design, we risk becoming stagnant, predictable and in many cases, obsolete. I’ve seen it happen to many a designer.
Know Your Demographics
After spending nearly 20 years living in the greater Baltimore area, I now live in beautiful Central Pennsylvania. It’s a rural area, but filled with plenty of local culture and the nicest people you’ll ever meet. While my neighbors have great taste, they’re also not the type to throw away good money. They want to invest in products and services that are of good quality and will stand the test of time. We aren’t frivolous folks here. We are proud and practical. Which brings me to the point above with reference to evolving. I like it here. I want to stay. But the majority of the local clientele are not the type to pay for high end luxurious baby nurseries. If I wanted to live here and not be on the road to NYC or Los Angeles every week, I needed to find a way to use my expertise as a designer locally. Don’t get me wrong, I love traveling to the big cities to design luxurious nurseries, but it’s not a reliable way to put bread on the table on a daily basis. And I’ve still got kids in college. I need a steadier gig.
Find the Void
There seems to be more designers in the area than clients willing to pay designer fees. And with all the DIY on Pinterest, Houzz and Youtube, as well as readily available trendy furniture on discount websites, designers just can’t make mark up on selling furniture like we used to. I’d be hard pressed to make a good living competing locally- which would bring me full circle back to traveling further for the design work. So I looked for the local void.
After meeting with Harrisburg area realtors and Carlisle real estate agents, I found a need for home stagers. We have a few home stagers in Harrisburg and the surrounding area, but there is more work than they’re able to keep up with. The real estate market is healthy and realtors recognize the value in staging their sellers’ listings for quick and profitable sale. Bingo! I found my next venture! I’ve successfully created a real estate home staging business and have built a solid reputation with local Central PA realtors. I’m staging occupied homes and staging vacant homes and my stats are great! I love getting creative within a tight budget and I enjoy seeing a boring, cluttered, vacant or outdated space come to life within a few hours. The best part, I don’t have to compete with big box or internet discount sites to make a sale.
I’m Still Doing What I Love
I’m still designing nurseries for my company Jack and Jill Interiors and will continue traveling nationwide to do so. However, staging homes locally is fun and keeps me working steadily without hopping on a plane. And working as a local interior designer and stager allows me to meet more of my Central PA neighbors. I’m a part of this awesome community and I’m loving every second of it.
So if you’re a realtor in Harrisburg, Camp Hill, Mechanicsburg or Carlisle PA, contact me to discuss how we can work together. My pricing is cut and dry. You’ll know exactly what to expect and what it’s going to cost.
And if you want references, I’ve got them. The agents I’ve worked with are 100% satisfied with our results. On average my vacant staged homes are selling within 7 days. Yep. I’m that good.
Stay turned as this interior designer continues to grow and evolve. It’s been a fun ride so far and I’m not even close to being done yet!