Interior Designing is Not all That

I was one of the leading interior designers in my city. I have been published in all the major local papers and periodicals. I have done prestigious showhouses and model homes. People know my name and think I do great design work. I am a miserable wreck.
I have been an independent interior designer for many years. It sounds very impressive and people look at me with envy when I tell them what I do for a living. “Oh! That must be such a fun job!” Well, it hasn’t been fun for me and here’s why:

Most designers enter the field because they are creative and have great ideas about making spaces more beautiful or functional. Sadly, most clients don’t care how creative you are or how functional your ideas might be. They hired you because they like to impress their friends by saying, “Oh, my designer is working on our Great Room right now.” They will roadblock every great idea you have until you feel like you are delivering a bland, catalog-quality look you are ashamed to put your name on. They will also blame you, personally, for the price of goods (whether or not you even act as re-seller). They will undercut you creatively and financially by having somebody’s pushy sister-in-law weasel in and “get it for them wholesale.”

Clients will also act in a passive-aggressive way towards you because they are secretly resentful that they are not creative or resourceful enough to do their own design work themselves. They think your job looks easy, so they lash out at you, or they change the plan when it’s 80% done and you’ve already invested hundreds of hours of your time.

Clients, in their passive-aggression will also fail to pay you in a timely manner, if at all. I was once kept waiting 90 days on a 35.00 invoice. Your clients will pay the plumber while he’s there, they’ll pay the landscaper every week, they’ll take out a second mortgage to pay for the beloved architect, but just because you had the aesthetic courtesy to do your hair nicely and wear a nicely tailored outfit to your appointments, you don’t look like you need the money. So they pay you weeks overdue. They don’t care if you have a string of subcontractors waiting for their money and that you have monthly sales tax payments to make on the goods they purchased.

Design clients also assume they are the only people on the planet. They call at 7am, 11pm, and even 4am if they have a thought they feel like sharing relative to their all-important decorating job. You are on retainer to them, you don’t need a life or even sleep, as far as they are concerned.

Design clients will attempt to return the unreturnable, even after you carefully express to them that THIS IS A FINAL SALE…your goods are custom-made and I can’t just recycle your 3000.00 hideous floral sofa that matches your lemon-yellow carpet somewhere else. They yell and scream and beat you down, threatening lawsuits until you “settle” with them, to the tune of hundreds or thousands of dollars out of your own pocket. The contract they sign with you, by the way, is not as watertight as you thought. Their shyster lawyer will find a way to point that out to you.

Clients will talk badly about you if you look tired. If they are rude to you and you don’t thank them for it, they’ll bad-mouth you all over town so you never get another referral. They’ll look through your brilliant portfolio and tell you how you could’ve done better.
If you crave constant abuse, like not getting paid, and love to hemorrhage money for issues not your fault/out of your control, then help yourself to a glamorous career in design.

By the way, I am quitting to go cook in an Italian restaurant, where I will get paid each week for every shift I work and my contact with the passive-aggressive public will be limited.