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Doing what you Love

Updated: Jun 14

Forget the valentines and hearts and flowers for just a moment. I want to talk about my first love- home design.


I never thought I'd be one of those people who loves to work, but as it turns out, I am. I can say with all honesty that my greatest romance always has been, and always will be with designing beautiful spaces. It's something I've been willing to fight for, sacrifice for, and pursue with all my heart and soul-- if that's not true love, I don't know what is!



It all started when I was very young. I was taught the basics of perspective from my father around age 4- to me, it was like magic- I was hooked. I was always practicing drawing in "3D" mainly: boxes, ribbons, strands of pearls (dad was a jewelry designer in the 80s) trees (with limbs and roots extending in all directions), and animals. Then, I leveled up a bit... I drew a bicycle in great detail.. then, a house. I have to admit, it felt good to hear the "oohs and aaahs" from adults telling me how advanced I was for my age- it was definitely encouraging. So, I drew and painted, constantly.



At a certain point, my family was looking to move, and I went on many house tours with them. Then, it was decided that they would build our new home. This is when I saw blueprints in person for the very first time. I started to emulate the "plan view" of a house- and draw plans of my 'dream home', and my 'ultimate coolest room'- they had themes like 'in the jungle' or 'under the sea'... This is a true story: if I stayed home from school because I was sick, I wouldn't watch cartoons- I would put on HGTV or This Old House for "inspiration" haha. I was really having fun with it. Later, I visited the architecture studio of a family friend. I looked around in awe, and said to myself "wow- this is what I want to do when I grow up!"


Sadly, math was never my forte (dyscalculia), so architecture school was not in the cards for me- but, after years of trying to find my way with something else, I graduated with an art degree (surprised? lol) Fun fact, when I was in my last semester at college, I wanted to take a class in autocad, just to see what it was all about... my school didn't offer it, so I found one that was did. It was too late to formally sign up, so I didn't tell anybody, but I just started attending the night class without being on the roster. I made it to every class (but skipped the final). That professor must have been so confused- poor guy haha.


And then, I went into real estate- because, ya know, houses... I sort of figured I might weasel my way into designing homes by working with buyers who were purchasing a "fixer-upper", but it never really worked out that way. (side note, I am still interested in doing this- even more so now actually.) I have spent many years doing real estate work, and I really love it- it's super gratifying- but it was never "it". Staging was naturally my favorite part- I could easily move things around and change the feel of the space instantly. Clients would often say "Heyyy, I like my space like this- I wish you'd been here to do this before we decided to move" On one occasion, a client even decided to stay put! (although I'm sure that had less to do with me than I'd like to admit.)


In 2019, my desire to create intensified. I asked a dear friend who is also an interior designer what I should do to break into the industry- without having to go back to school because lord knows I spent way too much time there the first round. He suggested a kitchen & bath designer position at Home Depot- they would train me, and I could put "designer" on my resume. At first, I resisted this idea, working in a big box store didn't sound like too much fun- but eventually, I decided it was worth a try. Home Depot wasn't hiring for a designer, but they asked if I'd be interested in their Pro Sales department, given my sales experience- I said OK, as long as I'd be 1st in line if a designer position opened up, and I accepted that job. That was in March of 2020- when nobody knew what was going on with the pandemic yet. I told them I would start work when the pandemic "blows over" I figured it would take a couple of weeks. (So naïve).


Shortly after that, it just so happened that I took some real estate clients on a showing appointment at a new build. The agent was married to the builder- and was designing the interiors of his development. We got to talking, and she suggested I do what she did- take the RISD course on Interior Design. And, that's exactly what I proceeded to do. The program has some ups and downs, being all online since the pandemic, but overall, I have learned a lot in terms of how to use software like autocad and revit.


The real experience though, came from on the job training- which I am so grateful for. When I look back on it now, there is SO MUCH I did not know when I started; mainly vocabulary for describing the anatomy of parts of a home- windows and doors and trim are so much more complicated and involved than I ever realized. I am certain that I was a P.I.T.A. with all of my questions- but I was extremely eager to learn, and still am!


stiles? mullions? who names this stuff?!


While on the job, I learned about scale, and placement, and I learned about communication between designers and the field, spec books, divisions, plans, elevations, callouts and cut sheets, vendors and sourcing materials. I learned about wallpaper, paint, wood, floors, tile, grout, quartz and natural stone, lights and switches, fabric, doors, windows, trim, hardware, plumbing, valves and so much more in just a year and a half.


Something else that I learned, really surprised me; I always knew I had "vision" to see the end result of a design... (the hard part is communicating to others what I can already see- and executing it) but, while working on floorplans, I realized that I can actually visualize the plans I've created, in my mind's eye, without having to look at them- neat!


Since then, I have been supplementing this on the job learning with youtube videos from Brent Hull, Instagram reels from Erin Stetzer Builder, Hans Lorei and architect Robert M. Berger podcasts like The Build Show, and oh so many books...



In August 2023, I took a leap of faith and started my own design company. I have said for a long time now, that to be a designer, for me, isn't just a job- it's a calling. It's something I was born to do. Something I have natural, god given abilities for. Most of all, it's something I truly love.


Cheers to keeping the love alive <3


Natalia



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