As a professional interior designer in Bergen County NJ, I often get asked about why I became an Interior Designer. The answer made me think back in time for the influences that shaped me.
Here’s how my story evolved.
The Early Days
It started in elementary school. I grew up in a two-family house with cousins who lived upstairs and other cousins who lived next door. Of all the cousins, I was the oldest of three oldest girls. We were all the same age, went to the same school and had the same teachers and tests. The three of us were always compared to each other and the stakes were high. If my cousins each got 100 or 99 and I got a 98 on a test, my parents were not too happy!
This comparison encouraged me to try harder, do better and be better. It was an underlying theme for me. I believe it gave me strength, perseverance and determination. “Good enough” was not for me. Whatever I took on in life, I wanted to do it in the best way possible and at the highest level.
High School and More
In high school I was influenced by my Home Economics teacher. Home Economics was the study and teaching of how to better family living. I thought that was an inspired and noble cause. Helping and teaching others to improve their lives through better nutrition, food preparation techniques, child development, fashion design, and home furnishings gave them the needed information to live better. To me, this was problem solving through Home Ec education.
Looking back, I realize that my parents were pretty cool in their youth. They were another positive influence for me. Looking at their photos from the late 1930’s when they were dating, I saw that they were very into the fashions of the times. This is an outstanding photo and one of my favorites.
My mom loved getting dressed up to go out dancing in nightclubs with my dad. She entertained a lot and loved beautiful things especially furnishings. She had a great eye and liked to go antiquing. Our home was filled with unusual accessories and the antiques she collected. She had style but not a lot of money so she needed to be very selective. Being surrounded by beauty and detail inspired my passion for design and began the development of my “eye”.
I think that all of these influences were significant in forming my desire to be an interior designer. My mom used to say that when I was young, I cut out pictures of furniture and pasted them into room layouts. I did that rather than play with dolls!
My real calling was Interior Design but I didn’t know it until later in my teaching career. When a city-wide financial meltdown caused many to be laid off, I realized that teaching was not as secure as I expected it to be! It struck me that I always loved Interior Design…now I could do something about it.
College Education and Beyond
I went back to school for another degree, this time in Interior Design. Specializing added to the knowledge gained in Home Furnishings. I went to Parson’s and graduated with Honors. I sat for the NCIDQ exam (the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam) and passed that too and became a Professional Member of ASID. (I am sure you are not surprised!)
My first profession of Home Ec education assists me in many ways with my current profession of Interior Design. Food prep and nutrition knowledge helps me design great, functioning kitchens. Knowledge of fibers and their pros and cons helps me determine which fabric will be best suited for my clients’ seating. To add to all the prior knowledge accumulated over the years, I still take relevant courses to be most current in this vast and ever-changing profession.
Lifestyle Interior Designs
Interior Design is also an inspiring and noble endeavor. I help people solve their design problems so they can live better and be happier. My work is always a reflection of my client’s desires which is the most important to me. It’s not my home. It’s theirs. But design filters through me—reflecting my core beliefs and values. I don’t like to do what everyone else does–ordinary is not “good enough” for me.
I aim for a well-designed look but with a twist. I design in an sophisticated manner, not too far out to be very edgy but far enough to make it interesting, timeless and elegant.
I guess you’d say I design with the three S’s of design: