Student Nannies’ Career College: Ten tips to make it in… Interior design

Written by Student Nannies


In the latest of our series of Career College articles we take a look at the world of interior design.

Sally Homan, 42, Director Robertson Lindsay Ltd

1.Tell us a bit about your job, what the average day looks like and what’s involved…

I run a residential interior design practice in the centre of Edinburgh. At anytime we will be working on between 5 and 10 projects for private clients. The work is really varied.
In a normal day we may be presenting to clients, meeting suppliers or craftsmen to look at new ideas, working on costings and project plans and visiting site to check on progress.


2. How did you get your first job in this industry and what tips would you give to students for routes in?

I changed careers in my early thirties. I previously had a corporate business career. Actually I think it really helped to be a job changer from the business world because running a successful design practice needs business skills.
I trained at KLC and then did work experience for a well established designer in London to learn the ropes.
After that I set up my business and haven’t looked back.

If you are going to take a course then make sure it is at a design school or university with links to industry such as KLC. It is very competitive to get a job or work experience so the course needs to be relevant to working in the industry rather than being very conceptual.

Get any experience you can. I did 4 of my own flats up so I had painted, tiled and understood some basics of plumbing and electrics. This was really helpful when working with trades on site.


3. What one piece of advice would you give to someone/a student wishing to forge a career in Interior design?

It is competitive to get a job in an interior studio but it is a brilliant career and every day is different.
Make your CV and portfolio stand out by being very professional and well presented.

Maths is quite important as we are regularly working out quantities of material and working on costings so try not to drop it too soon.


4. Who was the one person who had the most influence on your career to date?

Probably my dad. He gives great advice and has always told me to go for it!


5. Considering all the people you’ve met in your field, what personal attributes are essential for success?

A designer needs to be very personable. Clients are putting a lot of trust in you to renovate their home. You need to give them confidence in the decisions that you are making and they want to enjoy working with you through what can be a stressful time!


6. What do you wish you’d known (but didn’t) when you first contemplated this career as a student?

How much fun it would be!


7. What is the best bit of career advice you ever received?

Action something immediately. I used to work in a very fast paced industry where problems had to be solved immediately. We have taken this into our design business and it is a great way to work.


8. What is your career highlight to date?

I think my first magazine feature was a highlight. It was quite scary to change careers and set up a business. Having that first magazine feature was a big achievement!


9. What are the best and worst things about your job?

The best thing is the variety. Every client is different and you never know who you are going to work with next.
The worst bit can be being the only female on a building site and trying to get everything actioned to your plan. That is much easier now that we have great people to work with but it was really hard when i started the business.


10. What do you think the industry will look like in the next ten years and what skills do you think graduates will need to stay ahead of the game?

Clients are seeing more and more images from social media and apps such as Houzz. They used to just have a couple of magazines to hand.
I think this will continue to grow as a trend. Graduates should look at lots of interior images and visit lots of properties. Save anything you like to keep a bank of good ideas for the future.


Sally’s CV

Edinburgh University 1992-1996
BSc Hons In Agricultural science

Marks & Spencer 1997-2001
Head office positions in food buying

Uniq PLC 2000-2004
Managed multi million pound accounts for food manufacturer.

Kettle produce 2004-2010
Managed large accounts across M&S, Tesco and Sainsbury’s. Headed up development and category marketing functions.

KLC school of design 2010
Certificate In interior design followed by work experience in large London interior design business.

Director Robertson Lindsay Ltd 2010- Present
Founded interior design business