It is a sign that you have reached true adulthood when you enjoy furniture shopping. Your idea of hell as a teenager all of a sudden is actually quite fun. Some of us have a better eye for it than others and some of us can make designing the interior of others’ homes their full-time profession.
This is what Rebecca Hadley does. Unsurprisingly, she has the most Instagram-able flat I’ve ever seen, which is also something I’ve never said about a flat before. Most of us that are not gifted with the eye for design still know what good looks like – while our tastes might vary, we can usually feel the deeply satisfying fengshui of a beautifully balanced space.
Rebecca started working life as a buyer for major brands, including Selfridges and Urban Outfitters, and specialised in homewares and furniture – it’s a great choice for someone with a business head and an eye for design. After 10 years she decided to cut out the middle-man and set up her own business – MakeMyHouseHome.com. MMHH will help with everything from full home renovations to a one-off consultation, but specialises in creating furniture packages. You can see her suggestions for you here (I’ve been through about every combination possible for my non-existent first flat).
Of course, setting up on your own is never as easy as it sounds, and Rebecca laid out plenty of the challenges for me over tea when I first get to her flat. It’s a very steep learning curve and it takes a lot of work to not get very far – initially things move very slowly. There is no-one there anymore to pat you on the back when you do well and help you figure out where you’re going wrong, something you barely realise is there in the workplace, but that many of us really appreciate. Working with others means you usually know when you’re going in the right direction – or not – but being self-employed you’re left to figure it out for yourself. But, for all that, it also means that you’re in control and can trust in your own ideas. You can combine creativity and business problem solving and are constantly learning new skills.
So What Did I Do?
On the marketing side, I spent my time with Rebecca helping with social media platforms by organising and scheduling posts and I did a lot of leafletting the local area to promote the business.
I then tagged along on her visit to a rug supplier’s warehouse – I’ve honestly never seen so many rugs in my life and I never realised I had such strong opinions on them either. To be fair, they were great rugs, have a look at some of the ones we chose here. I had sort of always assumed that each high street shop sourced their products from a complete range of suppliers across the UK and from around the world. This rug supplier, however, worked with many popular high street brands (think Urban Outfitters, Oliver Bonas etc) who all sourced directly from them and could choose products that fit their brand.
Most of what I did, though, was ask as many questions as I could about what it’s like to be an interior designer and why she chose this career…
Rebecca says she had always liked interiors - growing up, her parents were constantly re-designing and re-decorating each room of their house in one big cycle. When she moved into the industry professionally, she found she enjoyed it not so much because of the way she could make spaces look, but because of how it makes a client feel and taking pleasure in how beautiful items are made.
Interior design, for her, connects people and evokes emotion by creating a sanctuary space – she’s able to give clients something they will enjoy every day for years, even decades to come.
In terms of what she actually does on a day-to-day basis, few days are the same. This is partly down to the project based nature of client work, but is also a major feature of running your own business. This means everything from website design, accounting, social media and arranging deliveries, to selecting the right tradespeople to work with and building relationships with suppliers. Behind the scenes, she also needs to analyse sales, research market trends and go to trade shows to meet wholesalers. For her clients, Rebecca is always running off to take measurements, collecting samples, creating mood boards and presenting and refining her ideas. Finally, there is overseeing the implementation of her designs – so everything that you’d expect to come with project management. Variety really is the spice of life to this career, then!
There were plenty of ticks on my list for this career, as it definitely covered my desire to have a creative career with elements of entrepreneurship. I loved that Rebecca was constantly on the move and not always behind a desk. Problem solving and intellectual stimulation were certainly there, and she always needs to be able to come up with new ideas. The work she personally does impacts her clients’ lives and they will benefit from it for years to come.
Much of it, though, comes down to having that eye for style and design. Looking at Rebecca’s flat, it was all too obvious that she had that knack and to be honest, I don’t! Comparing how she decorates her personal space to how I do mine, I am happy to stick my hand up and say I could never compete with her natural talent. I think my creative skills may be best left on paper or from behind a camera…