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Interior Designer Katie Rainey Cures House Pain Points

A former physical therapist gives spaces beauty & function

Stephan Rabimov

Physical therapist turned interior designer Katie Rainey knew that opening  her own design firm would be entering new territory. But she had no idea how much her medical expertise would set her up for success. “In both Physical Therapy and design you really have to understand people, their emotions and their pain points,” explains Rainey, who has a Doctorate in Physical Therapy. Whether you're treating a physical problem like back pain, or helping solve a functional one like an impractical space that clutters your lifestyle, Rainey is there to treat it. 

Describing herself as a house therapist who rehabs distressed spaces, Rainey specializes in functionality and improving the flow of spaces. Her personal design pain point, she says, is when spaces in a home fail to rein in clutter.  In homes with busy families which is her specialty, one pain point she says she often finds is “lack of organization and storage for everyday items such as backpacks, shoes, and sports gear.  Kids get home, gear is dropped on the floor and the space is immediately a mess. Then you trip over it and this disorganization makes you feel stressed.”

Here Rainey shares how she transformed her life while she simultaneously revamped disjointed spaces.

A Focus on Flexible Living

From her base in Annapolis, Maryland, Rainey works with clients to make spaces flexible and beautiful to suit their varied lifestyles. “When your grandkids come over, do you have a space for them to play?” she asks. And, when the grandkids go home, is the house versatile enough so the toys are out of sight when friends arrive for the evening? “You need a place to put all of the “necessary clutter” so you can maintain a beautiful home that functions for you, not against you.” 

Gain Real-Life Experience

Rainey always knew she had a knack for design, but it was the frequent relocations that came with her marriage to a United States Air Force military pilot that gave her real-world experience. “Literally every time we moved, I loved it. It was a new venture, a new place, but also a new home to decorate,” she says. Then, others started to notice the impressive transformations she made in the spaces where her family lived. Whenever the couple sold their house because it was time to relocate, the realtors and prospective buyers were blown away by her design work.  “That really gave me the belief in myself that I needed to follow my creative passion for design,” she says.  In 2020 she started  Katie Rainey Design  and has been going strong ever since.

Marketing Matters

Immediately, she learned the benefits of word of mouth marketing. Her first customer was a physical therapy client. When the gyms were shut down during the pandemic, Rainey was treating a physical therapy client at the woman’s home and told her about her new business passion. One day after she was done treating her, she asked ‘Katie, can you come look at my master bedroom?’ We rehabilitated this space, updating it and tailored it to her liking and needs. Then this led to updating her living room and then I helped them with their second home up in the Cape,” she says. “Then another client got word that I was doing interior design and it’s been a roller coaster ever since!”

Learn to Run a Business

Running her own firm brought Rainey challenges unrelated to the decorating side of her work, she says. She understood that to be successful, she needed assistance in areas she knew less about and that to be profitable, her business needed to operate efficiently.  “I am the worst at technology. It'll take me an hour to figure out how to add a blog to my website,” she says. To improve the structure of her business she turned to Houzz Pro Software for Interior Designers.  “Houzz Pro changed my life. It’s intuitive, user-friendly and supports how I operate my business.”

The software, she says, helps her stay organized in order to run her business more efficiently. She uses it for marketing, project management and to share her design visions with clients. “The project tracking management feature is unreal,  everything is in one place along with a time tracking feature” she says. “Email marketing, wow, this has been a great tool as well. To have all of these features in one place is invaluable. I’m even able to send out my monthly newsletter through this software.”

Smooth the Creative Process

Features like Mood Boards are particularly helpful with certain aspects of design that Rainey learned on the job, not in school. “I love the Mood Boards and the 3D rendering tools. For someone like me that's not traditionally schooled in design, it allows me to design spaces with correct dimensions and gives me the ability to show my clients what their space will look like in real life, without having to learn a whole different software program.”

Houzz Pro helps her follow a clear design flow process. “Every design is different.  They all should be unique and individualized to the client, but the process has to be the same.” she says. “ If it is, then nothing gets left by the wayside, every box is checked, and the design gets implemented correctly.” she explains.

Rainey believes solutions like Houzz Pro are a must for interior designers. “If you really want to grow your business, you must be open to using design software,” she says. “You're going to learn to love it once you figure it out because it's going to make your business easier in the long run.”

Own Your Genius

While still relatively new to running her own business, Rainey grows in confidence with each successful project which demonstrates the value of her work. Women in the design industry, she says, sometimes face self-doubt about their talents and skills. “The biggest challenge for women in design? I think owning our own genius and being willing to ask to be paid what we're worth,” she says. “Believe in yourself. Having the right mindset is key as a business woman. Can I do this? Yes, I can.”

For Rainey that means owning her innate talents that she possessed as a child and transforming them into a successful business and passion she now loves. 

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Stephan Rabimov

Stephan Rabimov leads Content Marketing at Houzz. Portland resident. Global citizen. Nature loving.

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    Congratulations Katie on the success of your Design Business!

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