What do you do for a living?
Certified Interior Designer & Life Coach...and mom!
How would you describe what you do?
I create authentic spaces for my Client's. Whether it's residential or commercial, I guide people through life transformations by helping them create a new, more meaningful and authentic relationship with themselves and their space.
What does your work entail?
Color Consulting, home staging, redesign (using a client’s existing furnishings to create a new look), new construction design, furniture restoration and reupholstery, CAD, remodels and decorating existing spaces for both residential and commercial.
What’s a typical work week like?
On a slow week I may meet with one to two clients and spend 5-10 hours shopping for a project or communicating with sub-contractors regarding specs or bids. On a busy week, you can add to that two to three additional client meetings, pit stops at a showroom or two to place orders, and working on my social media or networking events.
How did you get started?
When I was a child I realized how much I loved rearranging my mother's furniture every other week or so, as well as redecorating my room as much as I could with what ever I had. In high school my mom became a single parent and I remember decorating my entire ceiling of my room with all the pretty paper shopping bags I had saved from cute boutiques I had visited. There were at least 50 bags stapled to my ceiling, and it looked really cute. All my friends ended up wanting the same look in their rooms. I just had to improvise a lot because we didn't have a lot of money. I started repainting and repurposing furniture before it was even a 'thing'.
What do you like about what you do?
Seeing the look on a client’s face when I present them with a finished room is all the reward I need!
What do you dislike?
The “back office” work! No one tells the aspiring designer that they will also be the bookkeeper, the PR person, etc. I HATE keeping up with the invoices, the receipts, the bills..
How do you make money/or how are you compensated?
In addition to an hourly fee, in some not all cases, there may be a 10-15% mark up on items purchased for the clients when a trade discount is available.
How much money do Interior Decorators make?
The average Certified Interior Designer in my region makes between $75-$115 per hour, depending upon their range of services and advanced education.
How much money did/do you make starting out as an Interior Decorator?
What education, schooling, or skills are needed to do this?
In the State of Colorado you DO NOT need a degree to practice interior design. However it is important to always get credentials regarding certifications in interior design. ASID designers make more, starting at $150 per hour but that degree program is much more lengthy, comparative to an architecture degree.
What is most challenging about what you do?
Taking the client’s vision and putting it to paper then creating an actual room is by far the easiest aspect of this job. As designer, I’m often playing the role of mediator between spouses, and three people can describe the same vision for one room but be thinking of three completely different end results, this is by far the most challenging part of my job. Clear communication is key! But it helps that I hold a Psychology degree for when those moments arise!
What is most rewarding?
I love helping and teaching my client's that their home is so much more than where they live, but breathe, grow and celebrate. I love the intimacy of common ground and the excitement of fresh possibilities. I love harvesting the beauty on the other side of chaos. I love the glow of a woman, man, couple or family recreating their life from a place of intuition and self-love.
What advice would you offer someone considering this career?
Start small- take on small jobs for people you know, build your reputation and word of mouth will spread. Don’t be afraid to talk money with your clients and contractors and if ever you walk onto a job site and you’re not sure what you’re doing- fake it! Be confident, if you don’t know the answer, ask someone who does, but never let your clients see that you feel overwhelmed. And never, EVER, steal business from another designer in order to try and get ahead. Focus on what you bring to the table and be authentic!
How much time off do you get/take?
I used to work 7 days a week just to keep up until I realized that I was setting myself up for burnout before age 40. So now I never work Sundays and one weekday, and during slow months, I meet with clients only on Monday through Thursday to allow time for personal appointments like Dr visits or trips out of town.
What is a common misconception people have about what you do?
That anyone can do it! Often times a lot of people are born with that God given talent as I was, however there are still skills sets and education you need to back it up. There is a lot more to what I do than what HGTV makes it seem.
What are your goals/dreams for the future?
Within the next few years I hope to be the go-to designer in this region as someone who has created my own unique niche in a very saturated marketplace. I want to be known for creating a new type of design that is really focused on the Client- inside and out. I want to be known as an innovator, business women who inspires others to think outside the box, a real pretty box. ;) I would also like to start traveling to other State's to do design work and build my portfolio. I also want to write and publish a book!
What else would you like people to know about your job/career?
This is a very fun profession with great reward and plenty of room for growth, however, it is not without its risks and challenges. New designers should protect themselves- legally with proper contracts and physically by not going to questionable meeting places alone. As a single female designer I will occasionally take a friend on new client consultations when I am commissioned by a male client. I have had an inappropriate situation arise, and it was not a good experience. It’s always best to air on the side of caution!
Author, Candance Toscano
"You can design the life of your dreams and acquire that luxurious, fulfilled and empowered lifestyle you know you have always wanted."