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Interior Designer

S22 E7 – A Hot Look at Interior Design with Michelle Rohrer-Lauer

Welcome! Today in The Lounge, Nick sits down with Michelle Rohrer-Lauer of Michelle’s Interior. Michelle has fabulous sophistication mixed with modern elements to gives that special magical feeling that fits you and your home.

So, You Want to Be an Interior Designer. Now What?

So, You Want to Be an Interior Designer. Now What?

By McKenna Heck | October 31, 2017

You love interior design, but you’re trying to decide if it is your future career. Or, you’ve already entered into the industry but have some questions. Either way, you’re in the right place! This article dives into what interior designers do, the variety of job options one might have, and the best and busiest places to be.

Design by: Alan Tanksley, Inc.; Residential, Triplex in Gramercy Park, NYC – Click the image for more info.

First Things First, What is an Interior Designer?

Interior designers do a lot more than just make a room look beautiful. They create functional, practical and aesthetically pleasing spaces for a variety of clients. There are multiple design verticals to work in, from residential and hospitality, to commercial, retail, and government. Designers can freelance their work, get hired at a firm or open their own. But it isn’t all just fabric, colors, and furniture — while interior designers may select things like lighting and materials, they are also responsible for designing accessible spaces that meet building codes and procedures. Here are some tasks that an interior designer might perform:

  • Working with clients to come up with a design concept, project goals, and requirements
  • Determining how future users of the space will use it and move through it
  • Creating a timeline for the project and a budget with cost estimates
  • Sketching preliminary layouts by hand, redline, and repeat
  • Selecting furniture, lighting and finishes including materials, wall covering, and flooring
  • Utilizing computer-aided design (CAD) technology to finalize and render designs
  • Placing orders for the above materials and furnishings and supervising installation
  • Constantly coordinating and communicating with contractors, building architects, and the client
  • Upon completion, confirming that the project is indeed finished and the client is happy

As Nick May always says, an interior design business is only 40% design and 60% business. If you want to run a firm someday, you need to know the business side of things as well, like marketing, budgeting, staffing, etc…. or hire someone who does ;). 

Steps to Becoming an Interior Designer

Becoming an interior designer takes more than creativity — it usually helps to have some formal education under your belt. There are both Bachelor’s and Associate’s degrees related to interior design, and a few schools even offer Master’s degrees. Interior architecture and interior decorating are other related majors.

Interior design students generally study computer-aided design (CAD), hand drafting, building codes, drawing, architecture, ergonomics, spatial planning, furniture design, and other related subjects. Are you wondering if interior design school is right for you? This article by Nick May talks more deciding whether or not an interior design degree is right for you.

Some schools require that you receive a Bachelor of Fine Arts whereas at others you might acquire a Bachelor of Science. Be sure to note this difference and ask to see a potential schedule of classes. A Bachelor of Science might focus more on the technical side of interior design, and the psychology behind it. A Bachelor of Fine Arts is usually interiors-focused, and you might be required to take other art studios like drawing and painting. But every interior design program is unique, and taking the time to talk with someone at a school is going to be the best way to determine if their program is right for you. Also, the Council for Interior Design Accreditation accredits certain interior design programs. This means the school undergoes a rigorous review every few years, and having a degree from an accredited school looks good on your resume.

Sketches by: Garrow Kedigan – Click the images for more drawings.

If you decide not to go to school it is important to note that some states require interior designers to be licensed and others do not. In some states, you must be licensed to do design work. In other states, both licensed and unlicensed designers can do interior design work, but only those who are licensed can use the title “interior designer.” And in some, anyone can be an interior designer.

In the states that require licensure to use the “interior designer” title, designers must pass a state-approved exam. This exam is most often the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), but it varies by state. These exams usually are a combination of a college degree, a written exam, and work experience. This file from the International Interior Design Association (IIDA) lists states and provinces with required exams, the name of said exam, and what the regulated title for an interior design is in that state.

Design by: AJC Design; Residential, Private Residence, NYC – Click the image for more info.

What Are the Qualities of A Good Interior Designer?

Creativity. While it takes more than just an artsy eye, creativity is essential to being a successful interior designer. Understanding color and having the ability to imagine what a space will look like (as well as communicate it in words and drawings) is important as well. Spatial arrangement, textiles and texture, and balance all fall under this category.

Multitasking. It’s unlikely that you will only have one project at a time. Interior designers are often tasked with handling multiple projects and the clients that come along with them. That’s where this next skill is really useful.

Organization. Handling multiple projects at the same time, especially all at different stages, takes an organized individual. Layout and arrangement of furniture and décor is a large component of this job as well.

Being a People Person. You will be working with clients, contractors and coworkers. This requires you to be a good listener and clear so that you can relay information to others you work with. You also need to know when to set your personal preferences aside and let the client choose. Being outgoing and personable will help make you stand out and make clientele excited about working with you.

Problem Solving. This comes into play most with the timeline and budget. Unexpected bumps come up all the time — for example, the tile the client loves is discontinued or their plumbing needs to be replaced. You can imagine the variety of issues that arise. It’s your job to find the solution. 

Design by: Virserius Studio; Hospitality, Marriott Charles de Gaulle, Paris – Click the image for more info.

So, What Kind of Interior Designer Do YOU Want to Be?

Great! You’re still here! That means you still want to become a designer. I bet you thought the decision-making process was over. Well, it’s not: now, it’s time to think about what you want to do in the industry. There is a wide variety of employment opportunities for interior designers. Do you want to design full homes? Or focus specifically on kitchens and bathrooms? Do you want to work with systems and furniture in commercial offices? Improve the environment in a healthcare setting? Create luxury hotels and restaurants? Maybe you don’t even want to be a designer but a home stager! Or photograph interiors like Alyssa Rosenheck, do PR, or work on the business side of a company. You never know, and the options are endless… so it’s okay not to know RIGHT now. What is important though is to do some research, call some firms, talk to employees, intern at a couple places, check out who is on the team and figure out the right fit for you! It’s SO important to intern or shadow at a firm, specifically while you’re still in school. (Listen to Nick and Julia Buckingham talk about how crucial it is to pick a school with an internship program here.)

The great news is, most firms do a variety of work. For example, you can stay at some companies for years and work on residential, hospitality, healthcare — AND if you’re like Francesca Bucci, cruise ships too! It is important to research the place you want to work, and see what kind of design they do. Don’t apply for a position doing residential design if your passion is designing retail stores and restaurants. You can always ask for an informational interview with the company or to take an informal tour.

Design By: Chip von Weise Associates, Commerical Office, Cards Against Humanity, Chicago – Click the image for more info.

Location, Location, Location!

Another important question to ask yourself is: where do you want to work? Lucky for you, it’s okay to be picky. Every single state supports some kind of interior design, and it’s up to you if you want to be in a rural area designing lake homes or a huge city space planning offices. You’ve also got the option to go international. Learnhowtobecome.org has a map comparing interior design salaries by state. It also has a fun feature where you can select two cities within the same state and compare how salaries may differ just a few hours away. The website lists the following as states with the highest mean interior design incomes:

“4 Years Later”….

After you’ve gained some experience in the industry, you might want to plan your next move. Who do you want to work for? Do you want people to oversee what you do? Or do you want to be your own boss? Interior designers can work independently or be a part of an existing firm. They can work as an interior designer, an independent consultant, or an educator — the list goes on and on. It is all about you as an individual and what excites YOU. Maybe the firm you interned at offers you a job! That’s amazing. Just remember if you want to open your own firm someday, then you’ve got to work your way up to the top: Learn all there is to know first.

The average salary of an interior designer is around $47,000 — but keep in mind it is unlikely that you’ll make that fresh out of school. Salary also varies by what kind of interior design work you do and where you’re located. An entry-level designer should expect pay around $40,000 per year. With more experience comes more pay: junior level or mid-career designers make an average of $50,000-60,000 a year; senior designers make even more than that; and principals can make $100,000+ per year.

Home stagers typically make their money per job. This includes an initial consultation and the staging project. Everyone charges differently depending on the client, location of the project, and how much staging help the space needs. Payscale.com has a calculator that shows average interior design pay but allows you to customize by entering your experience level, the city you’re in, your employer, and more.

Design by: Drew McGukin Interiors, Residential, SOHO loft – Click the image for more info.

Does Interior Design STILL Sound Like an Awesome Career?

Yes??? Yay! Because it is. Interior design is a wonderful field that combines art, numbers, people, color, texture, travel, visualization, and a lot more into one amazing job.

I hope you found all of this information helpful. Please leave a comment if you have any questions or suggestions, and check out my E-Book here! I’ve interviewed a panel of interior designers, employers, and educators about portfolios, gotten tips on what to expect in an interview, and learned the do’s and don’ts of design.

133 – Sanja Radovanovic: Home Staging from Rome

Sanja Radovanovic: Home Staging from Rome

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with Sanja Radovanovic on home staging, her ambassadorship with IAHSP in Europe, and what’s next for her in the world of home staging.

Getting to know Sanja Radovanovic

Sanja Radovanovic, born in Serbia, currently lives in Rome, after residing in at least eight other countries. She met Nick at the International Association of Home Staging Professionals (IAHSP). Sanja speaks five languages and loves men’s watches, sunglasses, and high heels. She also enjoys Nutella and wine.

How Sanja got into design

Sanja states that interior design has always been a part of her. As a child, her mother’s job kept the family moving, which meant constant renovations and redesigns. Now, she is married to a diplomat, which keeps her family moving as well.

She has been involved with IAHSP over the last year and is on the board of directors. IAHSP is the longest running industry association and is dedicated to advancing the education for stagers and realtors. The organization provides ongoing education throughout the US and is expanding into Europe.

For Sanja, the switch from interior design to home staging came naturally. She was always attending open houses, though she mentions it’s a tough market educating clients on what staging is. She prepares a home to bring in top dollar in the least amount of time.

Sanja initially established her business in Chicago but has moved, again and again, restarting from scratch, feeling like she has to work twice as hard. She relies on social networks, industry associations including IAHSP, and professional relationships to build her business wherever she is.

What her business looks like

Sanja has never worked for someone else. She has always run her own firm. Interior design clients ask for home staging when selling, and then ask for help designing their new home after they’ve moved. Much of her business has been brought in through word of mouth.

Sanja mentions that interior design requires designing for someone else, which means you need to listen and understand what they need and want, whereas staging is for a home must appeal to a wide number of individuals, so it can sell, not the current owner.

What’s next

Sanja is investing a lot of time and effort with IAHSP expanding across the globe. In Rome, there is less design work currently due to economy, but IAHSP founder, Barb Schwarz, says, “The world is full of money, you have to find it.”

Learn more at Staged Homes and The Art of Staging.

  • Upcoming Events

NeoCon – June 12 – 14

PCBC – June 26 – 28

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 2

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

KBIS – Jan 9 – 11

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com. Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

130 – High Point Spring Market 2017 Show #3

High Point Spring Market 2017 Show #3

125 – Industry and Previously Owned by a Gay Man

Phyllis on Branding and Michele Hofherr on Previously Owned by a Gay Man

On this episode of The Chaise Lounge, Nick chats with industry partner Phyllis Harbinger about branding and email messaging and Michele Hofherr about her business around curating unique items and the story behind the name: Previously Owned by a Gay Man.

Checking in with Phyllis on Branding

Phyllis recommends consistent messaging across all platforms, even down to your email signature. An email signature is the block at the bottom of your emails that often includes contact information, social icon links, and your company logo. Phyllis also mentioned that including your photo can help people feel like they already know you.

Phyllis also cited that 72% of consumers want to hear from you via email rather than any other method of communication. So, how much is too much in your signature? If you are telling an entire story, including product information, or have irrelevant quotes, you may want to consider simplifying the content.

Beyond your email signature, there are other branding components to consider, like your actual email address and logo design. As far as the email address goes, using “@gmail.com,” “@yahoo.com,” etc is a mistake, rather, use your company name. This not only supports your brand but makes you look more professional. A well-designed logo can make all of the difference as well. Phyllis and Nick recommend services like Hatchwise and 99Designs.

These are both cost effective ways to have a third party skilled designer create a logo for you.

Phyllis recommends finding creative and useful ways to use your logo too. She added her logo to a tote bag to give clients to keep their samples in. The pair also discusses handmade and personalized gifts for clients, and always keeping colors, logos, and fonts consistent. In closing, take a look at the brands you know, love, and trust. What can you learn from them?

Send Phyllis an email to get in touch and learn more!

Getting to know Michele Hofherr and Previously Owned by a Gay Man

Michele Hofherr is a straight woman married to a straight man. She loves black handbags, Montecito, CA, and red wine. She isn’t a private person, so nothing is off limits; she even admits to loving guilty pleasure, binge-worthy TV.

  • What’s with the name?

Previously Owned by a Gay Man is a peer to peer marketplace that curates furniture through individuals. Michele and her team curate unique items and individually list them on their website. These items don’t have to be owned by a gay man. It’s about the essence of a gay man, not the literal interpretation.

The name came from the true origin of the idea as it articulates what inspired them. Michele’s gay friends would move constantly and would always have extra items. These items were given away for free far too often to people who didn’t fully appreciate them. While Ebay and Craigslist fill a niche, those avenues can be overwhelming.

  • What the business looks like today

The business has been up and running for three years. Michele runs the front end. She’s the creative idea person. Her business partner, Lindsay runs the back end, with a focus on technology. Lindsay has never been into design personally.

There are now at least 1000 items listed on the site. The goal is to remain very curated and not too large. Michele wants to prevent the overwhelming feeling that other marketplace sites possess. She wants to have a revolving door of great stuff.

As mentioned prior, Previously Owned by a Gay Man is a peer to peer marketplace. Individuals list their own items and warehouse them, while Previously Owned by a Gay Man facilitates shipping, which is paid for by the buyer. Geoffrey De Sousa, Chief Curator, is a design aficionado with an objective point of view. Everything submitted goes through him.

Learn more at Previously Owned by a Gay Man’s website.

Industry: The Chaise Lounge Podcast

Upcoming Events

 High Point Spring Market – April 22 – 26

HD Expo – May 3 – 5

ICFF – May 21 – 24

NeoCon – June 12 – 14

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13


Wrap Up


If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com.  Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!

123 – Gillian Rose: Color Science

Gillian Rose

Gillian Rose: Color Science

Today in The Lounge, we are joined by Gillian Rose, a Canadian transplant whose New York-based interior design and color science consultancy draws on over two decades of professional design experience, emanating from her formal training from Parsons School of Design.

Getting to know Gillian Rose

Gillian is calling into The Lounge from Canada. She is a cat person and loves beach vacations. Gillian likes to wear scarves in order to make a statement with color. She enjoys having personal connections with people, and if she weren’t an interior designer, Gillian would likely work in jewelry as there are six generations of jewelers in her family.

How did Gillian get into design?

Growing up, Gillian’s step parent was an interior designer. This made her always aware of design and form. Gillian ended up studying business at The New School. At the time, she was interested in photography and enrolled in a class at Parsons. She fell in love with art school and landed in interior design.

After Gillian graduated, she decided that she wanted to work for John Saladino. Through many resume submissions and points of contact, she ultimately received an internship. From there she moved on to a full-time position with Jay Spectre. Gillian always researched who she wanted to learn from and went for it. She did whatever it took to get an interview.

At this time, the economy was rocky but the corporate world was more stable. Gillian applied seven times to Kohn Pederson Fox until she finally was accepted. She said that this was an era where big business was booming and budgets didn’t exist. Though, Gillian worked in hospitality, which was less stable. She never had a big desire to own her own firm, but there came a point in her career when she could do what the heads of the company could do and decided it was time to start her own business in 1997.

Gillian’s first client was a new construction project referred by an architectural firm. She worked with architects to create the layout and flow and joined forces with her client to create the right decor. Gillian found that there wasn’t much difference between the level of responsibility she took on as a business owner and as an employee, however, her relationship with the client was more of a partnership.

What the business looks like today

There are two sides to Gillian’s business: design and color. Frankly, the design side designs and manages projects and the color side aids in creating new colors for all kinds of clients, both commercial and residential.

Gillian and her team started focusing on color after 9/11. Clients weren’t looking for interior design. Instead, people needed healing and soothing, so Gillian educated on color to help her clients make selections. Color can really make or break an environment. Gillian explains how our brains react to and remember specific colors, why introverts and extroverts like different colors, and how corporate offices might not want to paint their walls the same colors as their logos. Gillian made choosing a color less intimidating by putting paint in nail polish bottles.

It was a slow start, but The Science of Color is thriving now. Gillian fields speaking engagements, press, and even calls from branding companies. She said that we think of color as an object, but it’s often bigger than we are.

Learn more at The Science of Color and Gillian Rose.

  • Upcoming Events

High Point Spring Market – April 22 – 26

HD Expo – May 3 – 5

Las Vegas Market – July 30 – Aug 1

BDNY 2017 – Nov 12 – 13

  • Wrap Up

If you would like to hear more episodes, please visit us on iTunes or on our website at TheChaiseLoungePodcast.com.  Lastly, find The Chaise Lounge on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter or post a review on iTunes, you may even hear your review read live on our next podcast. With that said keep dreaming big, and keep designing a great design business. See ya!