How long have you been doing interior design?
I began my interior design business over 26 years ago.
How did you get into this field?
I was an executive secretary for 18 years but I always had a passion for home design. My Dad was a finish carpenter and I loved nothing more than when my parents would remodel and redecorate their home. The entire family would get involved and even as a child, I had an eye for design and a love of fabric.
After following a “traditional” route for some young women at the time, I worked as a secretary until I made my way up to an executive assistant. After working in that field for more than 18 years, I was growing bored of the repetition of my tasks, even though I worked for very interesting and dynamic companies. I was definitely ready for a change and it was going to be drastic one from the corporate world.
I decided to go back to school at 30 to study interior design. While taking evening classes and still working full time as a secretary, I slowly started a small decorating business where I helped people with window treatments and accessorizing. I fabricated all of the window coverings I designed, as I had taken several years of private sewing lessons while I attended middle school. My love of fabrics has been a common theme throughout my whole life.
As the business grew over four and a half years, I realized it was time to make the leap and leave my corporate (steady) job for life as an entrepreneur. I felt excited and nervous but the backup plan would be to temp as a secretary if needed.
I have never looked back. My business continued to grow organically once I was able to meet with clients during weekdays instead of just the evenings and Saturdays which accommodated my “other” job. During the course of my 26 years of interior design, I continued to take classes and study and learn more about my profession so that it could grow to a full service, interior design one-stop shopping experience for my clients, from one window to remodeling kitchens and baths, to whole house design.
What’s the best design/decorating advice you’ve ever received?
Always determine the budget before you even begin. This is the hardest thing for people to understand. When a designer asks you for your budget, or what you are comfortable spending, it helps them to find products and services that are within your range. It saves a lot of time and disappointment because everyone is on the same page from the start.
What’s the best design/decorating advice you can give to new or existing clients?
A few things come to mind. First and foremost, decorate for yourself and your family. Choose things you love, colors that make you feel good, styles that suit your personality. Avoid trends unless they are something you will like long term. Second, put your money into your main living spaces. Always buy the best you can afford. People have thankfully moved away from “disposable” furniture and have come full circle to investing in pieces they will keep.
We love your new book! What amazing adventures you’ve had.
I always wanted to write a book. Several years ago, I was participating in a mastermind group with three other women. One day when I was giving my update and asking for advice, one of the women turned to me and said, “I can’t believe this happened – you should really write these stories down. This would make a great book.” It had been in the back of my mind for a few years, but I wasn’t sure where to begin.
That same week, I was introduced to a wonderful writer through a mutual friend and mentioned it to her over coffee and bagels one morning. She encouraged me to write one of the stories and send it to her. Although rough around the edges, she thought I had something very different and offered to work with me in an editing position. She was moving to Arizona but it would be a great way for us to stay in touch. My design business was extremely busy at the time, so I would send her my notes and she would send them back but it wasn’t until we had the COVID shutdown that I buckled down and worked full time for six weeks to finish the book. It was one of the hardest things I’ve ever done in my career, but one of the best experiences I’ve ever had.
I love to find the humor in everything – even drama! When I began writing, a lot of the details from these client stories (some were over 20 years ago) came flooding back to me. Most “design and decorating” books showcase the beautiful work that designers create for their clients. I wanted this book to be different and fun and to make people laugh!
Self-publishing had its challenges. When working with the content evaluation reader, I expressed that I had changed all of the client names and locations. In addition, some stories contained combinations of clients. The publisher asked me to change the names a second time. Once that was completed and it was evaluated again, the publisher determined that I should take a pen name so that there would be no reference to me or my business. In the end, I even had to change my dog’s name – although I’m not sure he would have sued me – he knows who feeds him!
The decision to choose the nom de plume came easily. I took my paternal grandmother’s name, Angelina DiVersa. Although Nona probably wouldn’t be able to relate to any of these design stories because she spent most of her day making gravy (sauce) with a sprig of basil sprightly tucked behind her left ear, I think she would be happy that her name is in print.