I am not an interior designer

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
I spent the weekend working on projects for my very first “home design” client. It’s something that’s been in the works for a couple of months now, and it’s been sort of thrilling, actually.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}

We have plans to work on a bunch of rooms in her home, but we’re focusing on three specifically at the moment. I’ve been loading up my truck with her furniture and taking it back to my basement to be trimmed and sanded and painted and stained. I’ve been piling lumber in the back of the truck and heading home to build her totally custom pieces. I’ve been taking thrift store finds — excitedly discussed over Facebook Messenger — and tweaking them so they’re perfect for the spaces.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life} I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}

I’ve been taking a TON of photos of the progress and I can’t wait to show them to you once the rooms are finished.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}

There is something about this entire experience that just feels RIGHT. Sometimes I dream about being able to do something like this all of the time. Put the kids on the school bus, hop into the truck, head out to somebody’s house, tour around and make notes while we chat about ideas, and then go home and start turning those sketches into REAL rooms.

But here’s the thing that makes me stop mid-daydream.
I am NOT an interior designer …

I’m a person who buys old furniture on Kijiji (and happily accepts free hand-me-downs) and gets out her paint brush.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
How to paint laminate furniture
Why you should paint your hutch

I’m an amateur woodworker who builds furniture using basic pine and incorporates scrap wood whenever possible.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Upcycled DIY headboard
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY signpost deck decor
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY sofa tables

I’m a thrifter who buys secondhand lamps (and then paints them and replaces the shades) because new lamps are too overpriced.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Thrift store lamp makeover

I’m an art-lover who makes her own pieces, frames postcards and greeting cards, buys discounted frames, and builds photo ledges so she can keep changing it out without making a million holes in the wall.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY photo ledges for $15
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Photo ledges in our daughter’s bedroom

I’m a fabric hoarder who sews curtains, cushions, quilts, and throw pillows because it’s much cheaper. (And you get exactly what you want.)

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Bench makeover + new cushions
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Sewing new living room curtains

I’m a mom who understands toy clutter (SO MUCH TOY CLUTTER) and the struggle of clothing organization, and comes up with inexpensive ways to deal with it.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY Shopkins shelves
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Using board games as wall art (toss the boxes!)
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY LEGO countertops
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Cheap and easy floating shelves
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Our son’s closet makeover
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY clothing tree for organizing a week’s worth of outfits

I’m an organizer who’s always trying to figure out ways to store, organize, and display what our family needs (while still making it look nice).

https://heathershandmadelife.com/2018/01/how-were-tackling-our-daughters-very-messy-bedroom.html
DIY blanket ladder for $10
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY plant shelves for $10
https://heathershandmadelife.com/2018/01/how-were-tackling-our-daughters-very-messy-bedroom.html
DIY slide-out pantry for next to the fridge
https://heathershandmadelife.com/2018/01/how-were-tackling-our-daughters-very-messy-bedroom.html
Paint storage solution
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Turning bi-fold closet doors into French doors
I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
Hiding a dog crate with a custom end table

I’m a fully-grown child who loves surprising her own children (and their friends) with the stuff she would have LOVED when she was younger, like canopy beds, loft beds, Beauty and the Beast-inspired shelves, and custom monkey bars.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
DIY canopy bed with rainbow curtains
https://heathershandmadelife.com/2018/01/how-were-tackling-our-daughters-very-messy-bedroom.html
Curvy, whimsical shelves made from end tables
https://heathershandmadelife.com/2018/01/how-were-tackling-our-daughters-very-messy-bedroom.html
DIY monkey bars
https://heathershandmadelife.com/2018/01/how-were-tackling-our-daughters-very-messy-bedroom.html
DIY loft bed with reading nook and play area

I am not an interior designer. When I look at the work of REAL interior designers, I think “I could never do that. I could never *be* that.”

For starters, they buy FULL-PRICE lamps! They buy brand-new furniture and curtains and probably pay ridiculous prices like $50 for a single throw pillow. They karate-chop pillows to make them look fancier in photos, and buy real flowers (achoo — no thanks) to stage their rooms. If a client turned me loose in a RETAIL STORE to buy nothing but BRAND-NEW things, I wonder if I’d even know what to do … other than zip over to the clearance section instinctively.

I am not an interior designer {Heather's Handmade Life}
$4.00 Winners frame with missing glass? Yes, please!

I never went to school to learn to design rooms. I went to journalism school! True, I’ve been writing about interior design/decorating since I was 21, working my first real job at a newspaper, but I don’t have credentials or real-world experience (outside of my own home, and the homes of my family/friends/neighbours). I don’t own paint swatches. I don’t use fancy design words like “colour theory” and “monochromatic.”

I am not an interior designer, but — whatever I am — there’s a pattern to what I do, if I look back at all of my past projects: inexpensive, functional, attractive — in that order, I think.

Cost is always at the forefront, because we are not a family that can afford to buy brand-new everything. (I don’t think there are more than a handful of brand-new, non-gifted pieces in our entire house. Um … our sectional and … my desk chair?)

I love being able to redo rooms on a VERY small budget. I love that I’ve been able to help my client take lots of her existing furniture (some of which was gathering dust in her basement!) and make it into something wonderful. She isn’t going to end up with a slick HGTV-worthy space full of vases and trays and $3,000 rugs. She’s going to have comfortable, functional, beautiful, AFFORDABLE rooms put together from pieces she’s had for years, refinished thrift store pieces, and pieces I’m making just for her.

Once I’m finished with this client’s rooms, who knows what will happen next?

Maybe there will be someone with an old bedroom set in their basement that they’re not sure how to redo. Someone with unused guest rooms packed with stuff and they’re not sure where to start. Someone who’s sick of their cluttered kitchen counters and needs a fresh perspective on how to get organized. Someone who wants to refresh their child’s bedroom without spending a fortune. Someone who hates their living room but needs to work with the furniture they already have. 

I am not an interior designer.
I wouldn’t even call myself an interior decorator.
I’m something else entirely.
But maybe that’s what some people need.

Yesterday’s photoshoot was fun and I was totally feeling my “fancy” eyebrows. 😂 . . . If you’re new here, WELCOME! I’m Heather — a 34-year-old mom in Truro, Nova Scotia. I have a seven-year-old son, a five-year-old daughter, and a husband who happens to be my high school sweetheart. 💕 . . . I’m a freelance journalist, blogger and all-around creative, which means I work at home, I’m a quirky introvert, and I’m almost always wearing leggings and a T-shirt (covered with paint and/or thread and/or sawdust). 🔨✂️📰 . . . 🎀 Fun facts about me! 🎀 I have run for office (didn’t come close to winning but I did it for the lolz). I got married in a drive-thru. I can say the alphabet backwards really fast (try it!) and I have a specific pair of undies for Fridays (they have 🍕 on them, naturally).

A post shared by Heather Laura Clarke (@hfxheather) on

So what do you think?

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