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The deVOL Journal

Better Late Than Never

2nd May 2019

By Sarah Leeson

I first decided to start studying interior design when I was working as a Visual Merchandiser for John Lewis in London. At the time I didn’t quite feel like I had found my career path but I knew I loved working with people and I have always loved the arts and the creative industry. It was a chance conversation with a customer that lit a lightbulb in my head and suddenly everything fell into place.

This lady had explained that her daughter had just graduated with an Interior Design BA from a distance learning course at the National Design Academy, which was based in Nottingham. She absolutely raved about the course and loved that it was so varied. So that Friday night armed with my laptop and a glass of wine I set about researching the University and the course to see what the fuss was all about! I was really impressed with what I read, there were students from all over the world, the modules varied from designing a hotel based on the gin Bombay Sapphire to laying out a mock business plan for a bank should you want to start your own business once your degree has finished. You were also able to work at your own pace from home, fit it in around all your other responsibilities and manage your own time. I knew it would be incredibly tough and it would take 4 years to finish the course without any breaks but I had finally found something I felt passionate about, so at the age of 26, way after most people I knew had graduated I embarked on one of the most challenging but rewarding experience’s of my life so far!

This is the National Design Academy that I am lucky enough to call my place of education.

Image from Pinterest

The next few years consisted of working full time whilst studying, travelling and taking a year out of study to complete an internship at an interior design company in Australia. Moving to a new country and starting a new job in a field you are not yet qualified for was absolutely petrifying but I can honestly say I am so pleased I took the plunge and didn’t let my fear get in the way, maybe I’ll tell you all about it in another blog!

Not your average image of Australia but I love the landscape against a sky and sea of ombre blue.

Once we returned from Australia, we were very much ready to settle down into a familiar pace of life, we moved back to my parents whilst we decided what we wanted to do. Distance learning was great for this, as we weren’t restricted to where we needed to live. My partners family is originally from Dronfield which is near the Peak District and I am originally from Buckinghamshire so our idea was to move somewhere in the middle geographically. We did our research and Leicester seemed like the perfect place! We found a city centre flat that was in a great location and moved in, then came the hunt for a job. I had been following Floors of Stone and deVOL on Instagram for quite a while, I loved the products, the vision of the company and the story behind the brand so when a job came up at Floors of Stone I applied straight away. It was my 1-and-a-half-year anniversary at Floors of Stone in April and it’s safe to say it has flown by!

One of the things I love about my job is that I am able to bring some of what I am learning on my course to work and vice versa. When we have customer walking into the showroom with fabric swatches, paint charts and even samples of cupboard doors it’s so nice to confidently be able to visualise the look and feel they are going for and help them tie it all together with the perfect flooring. Our job is not only to talk to customers about pretty marbles or characterful flagstones, but it’s also about understanding how someone lives, the type of house and home they have, whether they have a family or pets, the lifestyle they lead and what they love when it comes to colours and textures. I always try and find out these details from my customers at the very beginning of the process so I have a sound understanding of their flooring needs, Afterall it’s a dangerous game offering someone with 4 children, 2 dogs and who lives in the countryside a clean, crisp sandstone that is only going to get ruined after a week’s use! I want to help find our customers something practical and beautiful that they are going to love for years to come and that is going to fit around their needs.

There is always someone to have lunch with at Cotes Mill!

Some people would have you believe that interior design is a fluffy subject that is all about floating around with a matcha latte, wondering which cushion to put where, and to be honest I had a slight naivety about the course before I started as well. I would confidently say that the academic side of interior design most definitely outweighs the creative. I work on a lot of electrical plans, floor plans, architectural schemes and technical computer programmes such as CAD, Photoshop and Sketch-up, these have seen me almost throw my laptop out the window more times than I care to remember but I always get there in the end. For someone that finds maths and using a computer let’s say…… challenging, it has been a real test of character and patience for me. I have learnt a lot about myself since I have started this course and I am still learning to give myself some credit for how far I’ve come. That 26-year-old me really wasn’t fully prepared for what was coming but when I am sitting back between modules and I look at what I have learnt all the stress and laptop throwing is worth it because I am lucky enough to have found something I love to do and I get to do it every single day.




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