One of the unique things about being an interior designer is that there is no such thing as a typical day. Clients come first in this industry, and successful designers are those who can think on their feet and quickly adapt to last minute schedule changes. Luckily, we were able to get three of our favorite interior designers to share each of their unique methods for conquering the madness of their day-to-day. Despite their distinctly different professional approaches, the one common thread is that at the end of the day, they all fall into bed feeling fatigued, yet totally fulfilled.
“I have 5-year-old twins, so my day starts early. After I wake up the children and get them ready for the day, I head to the office, typically by 9:15-9:30 am. My assistant and I begin each day with our to-do list, highlighting the three most important things we need to accomplish that day. I meet with my team every Monday to set priorities for the week and check in on how they are doing. When it comes to working with my team, I do all of the design work and material selections, and my team helps put it together in InDesign, Photoshop, and AutoCAD. Usually, Monday and Fridays are days I spend in the office, and Tuesday through Thursday I am out at client meetings, site visits, and vendor showrooms.
Something I really enjoy and try to make time for as much as possible is charity work. I recently participated in renovating the parsonage at the church where I belong, and it feels really good to be able to give back. We are also fortunate to be frequently invited to attend or participate in industry events, which we do about once a week. It’s hard to find the time, especially because my husband travels often for work, but I enjoy having dinner with friends as a way to unwind and find some kind of work/life balance. Because I have so much going on, I rely on the help I get from my team in the office and the wonderful help I have at home. Without their trusted support, I wouldn't be able to do it all.”
- Mallory Mathison Glenn of Mallory Mathison Fine Interior Design, based in Atlanta, GA
“I wake up early and start my day with coffee and an Instagram dive which includes posting, replying to comments on the previous day’s posts, and sort of setting up what the day will be. I have someone who manages my Instagram account as far as what is on deck to be posted, so they curate it so that my feed has continuity. When I say I'm doing Instagram, it is a pleasure, but it's also work, because it's one of the main marketing venues now that a small business can use that will get them noticed. I learned early on that I am productive in the morning and I am productive late afternoon. In the middle of the day, I'll do yoga or any shopping that I need to do, then I'm ready to come back and tackle work in the office. Creativity needs time and its own space to thrive, or else it won't be as plentiful when you need it.
I handle pretty much all client interactions and the creativity part. I've earned that, so I get to do the fun stuff! I get to push off the not so fun stuff to my team, which is where I learned how to do this, working on the not so fun stuff for designers before I had my own firm. My team puts out the purchase orders, makes sure clients are receiving their proposals, that payments are coming and going, and that things are moving in the right direction. One thing that takes a lot of my time is that I still hand draw all of my plans, which makes me an outlier, and so in a way, it's a business strategy. I enjoy it because it helps me get a real intimate connection with the project and it gives clients an artistic keepsake from the process.
- Kevin Isbell of Kevin Isbell Interiors, based in Los Angeles, CA
“I begin every day in my sunroom with a cup of coffee, and I look at Instagram to get inspiration and see what my other designer friends are doing. I try to post about what we're up to at least 4-5 times a week. A lot of mornings become busy quickly, with contractors calling you at 8 am, for example, so sometimes one can get distracted. It helps to plan posts at least a day ahead. I'm more of an artsy-brained person naturally, so I rely on having an organized system for my business administration.
I currently have two assistants and I just upgraded the office to Design Manager Pro, so we are all learning about the many features we can start to use to make our lives easier! Most of the time, I'm out and about meeting with clients, shopping for clients, or looking for things. When it comes to delegating, I create the main design schemes myself and handle client interactions, while I can rely on my team to help prepare for client meetings, pick up and drop off items to job sites, and make phone calls or send emails to check on the status of items. We frequently encounter what we refer to as "decorative emergencies" that need to be solved. These can range from the workroom needing more fabric to finish a piece for an install deadline later that week to when the tile floor is being laid out and we don't like how the color of the marble. Our days are jam-packed, so we love to get Cariboo Crafted Press Cold Brew Iced Coffees every day for an afternoon pick me up!
I strive to make my clients happy every day. What we do is not only artistic but also relational. I'm also pretty adept at client communication, so that’s where I put a lot of my focus. I try to end my day by making sure that I have responded to emails and messages, but if I have been out on meetings or an install, then anything goes!”
- Anna Louise Wolfe of Anna-Louise Fine Interior Design, based in Atlanta, GA
While it’s clear that there is no such thing as a typical day for an interior designer, one common theme emerges from each snapshot: hard work is at the heart of the business. The good news is, interior design is a labor of love, and every designer we spoke to expressed immense gratitude to be able to live and breathe their passion of creating beautiful spaces while bringing joy to the lives of others. A combination of artistic aptitude, business acumen, and an attitude of perseverance will drive any interior designer to success, no matter the details of the day-to-day.