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The Most Pressing Questions on Interior Designers’ Minds Right Now

See what seasoned pros are concerned about — and looking forward to

Stephan Rabimov

Top designers don’t often rest on their laurels. Even as they’re finishing projects, winning awards and earning rave reviews, they’re thinking about how to grow their businesses, work more efficiently, improve work-life balance and more. We spoke with six interior designers and asked them about their most pressing questions right now, as well as what they’re looking forward to for the rest of 2023 and into 2024. Here’s what they said.

Who: Asisat Edu

Company: DIH Designs in Washington, D.C.

In Her Own Words: “I believe in celebrating my culture and the cultures of others.”

Most Pressing Questions:

  1. Will the clients love it? They always do, but I’m so hard on myself. I think that’s what helps me to keep on pushing forward and to ensure that we’re making all of the right moves.
  2. Am I making all of the right moves as a business owner? That’s a question I’m constantly asking myself. I’m an entrepreneur. I don’t have any background in business, and so for everything, I’m either learning it on YouTube or learning it from my mentors or just trial and error. 

Looking Ahead: “More projects, bigger projects. Then also just being able to really build our DIH Academies, which is another program that we’ve been working on.”

Favorite Houzz Pro Feature: The Clipper. “Before, we were literally taking screenshots of photos and putting them in, or copying and fixing links into a spreadsheet,” she says. 

Who: Trevor Fulmer

Company: Trevor Fulmer Design in Boston

In His Own Words: “I don’t have a degree in interiors, but I often say, ‘If you can do it, you can do it.’ I’m self-taught. I had some great mentors, but I’m a go-getter. I push myself really hard.”

Most Pressing Questions:

Some of those questions are, “Oh my goodness, did we order that fabric for that sofa?” That’s obviously short-term. I think the long-term thoughts and long-term questions I ask myself are really, “What is that next thing? What’s that next big step? Is it bigger budgets? Is it more creativity? Is it expanding outside of the New England area? Is it a bigger brand with more recognition?”

I’m sure also that there are questions I don’t even know that I should be asking myself, which is probably the scariest part. You take each day, and you learn from other people, and you have mentors. You make some mistakes along the way, but somehow in the end, it typically works out.

Looking Ahead:

I think there was a point when computers first came out that we thought, “Computers are going to take over, and we’re not going to be needed.” Then we realized, “Oh wait, a computer’s like a pencil. You can use that tool to make something better, to be more efficient with your time, to be more creative.” I think we’re just going to have to use that same mentality with VR [virtual reality] and AI [artificial intelligence], and all this automation. I think we need to think it through smartly to figure out how we’re going to use it.

Who: Jonathan Gordon

Company: Design by the Jonathans in New Haven, Connecticut

In His Own Words: “We can mesh into any situation and create any type of product that you’re looking for at whichever level you want to see it. There’s not a situation we can’t work with.”

Most Pressing Questions:

I’ve always made a point of doing well by my team. It’s a generous operation. I don’t sleep well if I feel I’m taking advantage of an employee. Sometimes it gets expensive, and that keeps me up at night.

I don’t sleep very much in general. I always have worries. I’m obsessive about making sure that things are doing what they’re supposed to do, that things are showing up on time. I like the clients to be happy. Why else do we do this? 

Looking Ahead:

I’m looking forward to seeing some of these very big projects we’re working on go to completion in 2024. It is very exciting to be able to photograph to see what happens with it. We also have expansion plans. As long as the industry has some strength, I’m looking forward to seeing what we can do and what we can innovate with, and how we can make a difference.

Favorite Houzz Pro Feature: The Clipper. He deems it “a lifesaver,” saying: ”It gathers the information for you, it’s fast and it requires minimal effort and time.” 

Who: Rachel Larraine

Company: The Design Coven, a nationwide mentorship program

In Her Own Words: “I became certified in classical feng shui, became a Reiki master, was really in tune with the spiritual world. I was able to integrate everything into one.”

Most Pressing Question:

My brain goes a million miles a minute, and I’m always thinking of ideas. The things that might keep me up on a project are just double-checking: “Did I do that? Did I do this? Did I call them?” I’m just running the to-do list — having to write those down and hope to get those out.

I’m constantly thinking of new ways to do things. What are other people not doing? How can I make this better? I’m constantly creating.

Looking Ahead:

This year it’s really about expansion and reaching out and connecting to more people than I’ve ever connected with before through the [Holistic Interior Design] podcast, through the membership. Also, just to empower other designers to follow their dream.

Favorite Houzz Pro Feature: The Client Dashboard. “I love being able to message directly on the platform so that the client isn’t texting me or messaging me on my personal email,” she says. 

Who: Holley Pokora

Company: Holley Pokora Interior Design in Philadelphia

In Her Own Words: “I was always the salesperson. I was always a go-getter. I always made a good living, but this was totally like, ‘Hey, I’m going to start a business because I think I can do this.’”

Most Pressing Question:

Whether to expand into a larger office or not. Which I was completely going to do about four to six months ago, and then the owner of the building just basically wigged out on me. I feel like now I’m sort of in a retraction mode a little bit. I really want to get out of my home office space, but I’m a little afraid to. I’ve kept my business so lean — very little overhead, lots of house deductions for my tax time — and jumping into an office space is an investment.

Looking Ahead:

What I’ve been really focusing on is elevating my type of client and what they’re willing to spend. You learn over time, it’s much more productive and a much better reflection of your business when you have a higher-end client who respects hiring a professional, and you have more opportunity for pictures and things to add to your portfolio. I’ve taken my lower-end service off my website.

Favorite Houzz Pro Feature: Mood Boards. “Until I could become efficient and present a whole room of furniture…I was sort of spitting into the wind,” she says. “Once it’s all in one place for a client to say, ‘Yes, that’s my room!’ then all of a sudden, bingo — we’re making money.” 

Who: Katie Rainey

Company: Katie Rainey Design in Annapolis, Maryland

In Her Own Words: “You really have to understand people and their emotions and their pain points. A living space really can make or break your life.”

Most Pressing Question:

I still am licensed as a physical therapist and treat patients on the side, and I teach spin class also. I love the body and fitness, so I’m always thinking, “It’s one or the other; I can’t do both.” But it really does merge a lot.

Looking Ahead:

We’re starting some cool new projects in the new year that we’re planning for now. I’m always so excited to see what the design’s going to turn into, the end product — that never gets old. If it ever gets old for a designer, then it’s probably time to retire.

[I’m looking forward to] hopefully getting these projects started and then maybe taking on more in the new year. And then maybe we’ll hire additional help. Growing my business is really what I’m looking forward to.”

Favorite Houzz Pro Features: “The project management feature is unreal — everything is in one place — along with a time tracking feature,” she says. Runner-up: “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.” 

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Stephan Rabimov

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

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