Design, Home, Interior Design, Just me
comments 26

What is interior design?

Well don’t ask me. I’m just making this all up as I go along. But it is something i’ve been asking myself a lot since I started “treading the boards”.

I have no formal training in interiors or design whatsoever. As you may (or not) already know, my background and training is in dance and it went on to be my career as a teacher and project manager until I became a mum nearly four years ago.


I have learnt A LOT about what it is to be an interior designer since setting up Making Spaces and it might not be what you’d expect. Partly why I started this blog I guess, to share some of the realness behind all the lovely glossy photos you see in magazines. Those photos are about 2% of what an interior designer does from day to day.

Most people i’ve worked with on a design project have been reluctant to tell others they’re working with me. And I get it. It sounds like you’re minted, you’ve got money to burn and you’re “proper posh”.

“Interior Designer? Ooh, check you!”

Not true. We live in a modest three bed semi, with a hefty mortgage and a slightly smaller income than we’d like. As do many of the people i’ve worked with so far so I thought it might be useful to share with you some of the reasons people have contacted me in the past….

… And what i’ve learned about my role as an interior designer in the process.

  • I just don’t have time

This is the main reason people have been in touch. Believe it or not, not everyone likes decorating and re-doing rooms in their home. I know!? Isn’t that mental? People work full time. Spare time over evenings and weekends is rare and precious. How the hell are they supposed to redesign a room too?


Aurelia clock –

How many days would you have to take off work to re-do a room? If you’re able to work that out and action it, you probably don’t need someone like me. If not, your options are to moan about your room for the rest of your life or get an interior designer in and get on with it.

Interior Design = dedicating time to make things happen

  • I’ve got too much stuff

People never actually admit this initially. They go down the “I need more space/storage” route. But ya know, it’s the same thing in my opinion. Most projects have required some serious downsizing of stuff. We’re all guilty of it.

The Blue Room

I’m certainly not adding more furniture or shelves to your room so you can fill it with more “stuff”, or you’ll be needing me to come back in another year’s time for me to re-design it. Let’s work the other way around and fathom out why you’re running out of space.

Interior Design = sensitively dealing with negative lifestyle issues such as hoarding, clutter.

  • I can’t see the space any more. I need fresh eyes

This one’s a biggie. And it’s so important to get some perspective from a “stranger”, as it were. Have you found when you buy a new rug, cushion, anything for a room, when you walk in, it’s the first thing you see? It takes some time to get used to it and then you just stop noticing it all together. Well for most of us, that’s what our whole house is like (unless you’re a faffer like me, where I move things all the time to keep the husband on his toes).

Eclectic Living Room

We don’t see our homes anymore. To us, it’s all normal and fine and then suddenly it isn’t.

Interior design =  A fresh pair of beady eyes that can see past the now and focus on the “potential.”

  • My husband and I don’t agree. Help!

Working with an interior designer is an excellent route to go down if you and your partner have differing ideas about how a room should look and function. I’m an objective eye, on nobody’s side. I’m on the side of good design. And if something goes not entirely to plan, you have someone to blame. Doesn’t that make everyone feel better?


Office Refit

Interior Design =  creating harmony, avoiding discord, providing evidence and reasoning behind decisions, taking responsibility when things go wrong. And sometimes, a bit of stealth marriage counselling

  • I don’t know what I want

Yeah you do. Honestly, you really do. And I think this has been the most interesting thing i’ve learnt so far. I don’t design a room I like and plonk it in your house, I work directly with you, tease it all out of you. You are my inspiration. You, your life, your belongings, your home.

After a little extra push, I convinced these homeowners to wallpaper their entire front room. So glad they did. Final reveal of this room coming v soon.

I’m a body language reader, tone of voice checker and most importantly a big fat enabler. I’m here to challenge and push you a little bit more than you may have wanted to go, not money wise, but with the design. We get your room looking how you imagined it. Only better.

Interior design = mind reader, enabler, bordering on empath

  • How much will it cost?

This is the question I dread and can never answer. How long is a piece of string? How much work needs doing? Are you expecting Ikea or Conran? Do you want me to do everything or do you just need ideas? You can certainly do a room on a budget, and I have as I do love a challenge. You set the budget and I work to it. Just don’t tell me you want your living room decorating, a new sofa, lighting, artwork, rug etc. for £500. I’m not a magician.


I’m there to manage expectations and have been the bearer of bad news at times bringing giddy clients back down to earth on the £’s front. It’s here where the creative thinking comes in, that and some savvy product research.

Interior design = managing budgets, expectations and thinking outside of the box to find solutions

  • I need someone to sort it all out for me. Can you just do everything?

My job really does include everything. Project management, problem solving, co-ordinating and communicating with trades (nightmare), product sourcing and ordering, signing for deliveries, overseeing works, snagging, styling, generally being available to everyone involved at all times. This is by far the most difficult bit. And the bit I lose sleep over. This is where the expense lies. Designing a room itself is not expensive, but the execution and project management is. Want to take three months off work to plan and manage a refurb? Please be my guest. Want me to manage your project for three months but only wanted to spend £500? I’ll get my coat.

Interior Design = Communicating. Liaising. Planning. Budgeting. Site managing. Quality control. Customer service. Personal shopping. Key holder…. (i’ve ran out of words)


ANYONE who thinks i’m caressing cushions all day or flipping through fabric swatches and charging £100 an hour for the privilege… take note of the very delicious Mr Cary Grant. I hate curtains. Cushions are ok. I’m much more interested in solving problems creatively and making things look good at the same time. Multi-tasking at its best.

Have you worked with an interior designer in the past, considering it? Tell me your experience. If not, would you consider it? Would love to hear your thoughts ladies and gents.





  1. Obsessed with this post! I trained and worked as a dancer and am now transitioning to the interior design field! Loved every word, especially the client briehanks for sharing.


    • Thanks Kira. Glad it’s hit the spot. I can relate to your blog name too. Perfectionism is a real killer. Learning to love the imperfect is hard but v v important. I think every trained dancer can relate to that!x

  2. Ah, Karen, so true on every level and refreshing to yea someone being real with the whole process, we have much in common. I too use to be a dancer, have done interior design,not trained and now offering gorgeous pieces for clients like you and yours to bring their dreams alive! Loving the post, your work and your thoughts. 🙂

    • Wow. Another dancer. I wonder if it’s a thing? Dancer to interiors. It’s all interlinked isn’t it? Creative eye, composition etc… Thanks for your lovely comment Alicia 🙂

  3. oldfashionedsus says

    I found this really interesting Karen, I’d also add that you have the knowledge and confidence in your abilities. You know it’s going to be good where as sometimes the client isn’t as confident

  4. Really interesting post. I’ve never worked with an interior designer because I enjoy doing it myself. The £500 budget made my eyes roll! Have a great weekend. x

  5. This is an absolutely brilliant post Karen. I would definitely consider using an interior designer, and I would absolutely consider using you. I had no clue that you have no formal training in interiors or design. You’re bloody amazing. My main problem is that I don’t see my home anymore and I don’t have confidence to put a scheme together myself. I know what I like but I’m a bit too scared to just go for it. I need someone like you who can push me into creating something I’ll love. Such a shame you live so far away!!

    • A lot of interior designers work remotely you know. Including me. It certainly can help just to have someone to push you to do what you really want deep down!

  6. freshdesignblog says

    What, no daily curtain or cushion caressing?! Surely not! Jesting aside, this is a great post, Karen, and I hope it will inspire many more people to use your interior design services.

  7. April says

    I’ve just ploughed through so many of your blog posts! I love your voice and style!

    I’ve just bought my second house and I’m a bit intimidated (and poor) to start putting my stamp on it! I’ve spent 5 years in a teeny (but well laid out) 1 bed house which relied on the steady old magnolia to go with all of the bits of furniture I had… I’d love to get an interior designer, but do you have any reccomendations for someone going at it alone? I’m all over pinterest, currently trying to work out what I want to *feel* in each room! Help! X

    • Hi April, thanks for your lovely comment. It sounds like you’re going about it the right way to be honest. Keep using Pinterest and collate the kind of images that make you feel at home. Use what you already have furniture wise as a starting point and don’t feel like you have to buy everything new. Don’t rush it. You will find in time the rooms become what they need to be. It takes a while to get used to a new space, so don’t try too hard to get it all done in a month. Enjoy getting to know your new rooms and slowly but surely you will know what each space needs. Oh and keep reading blogs, they’re super helpful and best of all they’re free! Good luck!!x

  8. It’s really refreshing to see some real honest insight into the world of Interior Design! Really enjoyed this article, well written & interesting. Thank you!

  9. Brilliant post Karen. I may actually print this off and get clients to read this rather than my formal interior design agreement I have ! It says it all and I totally understood every point. It’s by far the hardest job I’ve done and one I feel at times I can never get away from as once submerged in a project it literally owns you which I don’t think is fully appreciated at times. That said, it’s also the best job I’ve ever had and one I love which is bloody handy. Helping people love their homes is a thoroughly rewarding and you can’t beat that feeling when it all starts coming together 😊

    • Amen sister. So much more than f*ckin cushions! And yes, running a project from start to finish is completely mentally and emotionally exhausting. I wish I had a shut down button I could press at 5pm! Best feeling ever at the end of a project though. Such a high!!

      • Yes the ‘switch off button’ is definitely jammed in this job which I need to get better at for sure. Something I do miss from other jobs at times is having a ‘colleague’, someone to run ideas by or to give another angle on something if that makes sense but then if they weren’t living and breathing the project like me I’d probably get annoyed !!! 😊

    • A thousand times yes! Lost track of how many times I’ve gotten ‘Do we really need a contract to pick out pillows?’ or something similar…

  10. It has always been a dream of mine to be a designer! I like your honesty and for relaying the truth! I have champagne tastes on a beer budget so I have learned to get the “look” on a very tight budget. But I am never happy with what I do as I always feel it isn’t what it looks like in the magazines!

  11. This is BRILLIANT!!! Thank you for sharing. Your whole blog was amazing but ending with a line ‘I hate curtains’ made my day (I am the marketeer of a shutter company)… And as a marketeer, all my clients, (while great of course), also have the ‘Life of Pi’ expectations.

  12. Brilliant! Finally, someone who gets that it’s not just about picking pretty colors and that we’re doing actual work out there! Wish we weren’t on different continents, seems like it’d be fun to do a collaboration project with you sometime…

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