When I was chosen to design a room in Nashua's historic Anderson House in 2017 for a fundraiser, frankly, I was extremely honored, but also quite surprised.
You see, I'm not an interior designer. I'm an interior decorator. Many people use the two terms interchangeably, but they’re very different.
I was among designers who had been in the industry for years. Some even owned their own businesses. They had many years of experience, lots of industry contacts, and staff to help build out their vision.
I had been certified in interior decorating for several years and, until now, it had been just a side hustle. I had left my corporate job a few months before this opportunity arose, and was trying to determine in what direction I would take my decorating business. I had no contacts. I had no staff. I just had a vision and a passion.
Despite my subconscious trying to tell me that I was an imposter trying to play with the “big kids” in this design house project, I was excited at the opportunity. After all, the fundraising committee had awarded me the project and, apparently, they had faith in me and my vision for the sunroom that I had chosen to design.
The one thing that set me and my design apart from the other designers was that this sunroom would be created with reclaimed materials–at least 95% of the pieces, anyway. That’s my brand. And that’s what I love to do. Reclaim, refresh, repurpose, recycle.
For almost a year, I pulled together furnishings based on my vision and plan. I had made some wonderful contacts that helped to replace the carpet, sew cushion covers, and lend me some new pieces of décor for the space. I also created and built some items to use in the space as well.
In the end, the sunroom was exactly how I pictured it. I loved it!
Before the public opening, I was able to walk through the entire home and take a peek at the other designers’ spaces. It left me feeling like an imposter once again.
I tried to convince myself that my insecurity was only in my head. Not every one of the rooms was exactly to my liking. And my room certainly wouldn’t be everyone’s favorite either. That’s the great thing about design. There’s a style for everyone.
But each of the designers who visited my sunroom were so kind and encouraging and very positive about my work.
The day of the open house came and I was able to be there, in my sunroom, to answer questions and, more importantly, hear the comments from visitors. My feathers certainly fanned when one visitor told me, “This is my favorite room in the house.”
I learned so many things about myself and my business through this experience.
I learned that I should not listen to my inner critic. I do have an eye for design. And through my lens, I have my own style. There are people who will love it and others who will hate it. I just have to find the ones who love it and create for them.
My thoughts around reclaimed design were confirmed. There are beautiful items that can be reclaimed, refreshed and/or repurposed to become an important element in the design of a space. And not only is it a more affordable option, but also an eco-conscious one.
There are so many other learnings from my journey with the Anderson House project. And the decision to build my business around upcycled design was the most important learning.
There’s room for all types of design. And each one has its place.