How to have a decorated career as an interior designer

'I really love what I do' – Jude Burrows on the joys of thinking outside the box when it comes to styling beautiful spaces and working creatively with clients

Based on the rugged North Coast, in a Victorian townhouse lovingly restored, designed and decorated by herself and her family, interior designer Jude Burrows has been styling homes and businesses since 2000. Passionate about creating stylish and functional spaces for her clients, she’s worked her magic on everywhere from Barry’s Amusements and Rathmore Golf Club in Portrush, to various private properties and show homes.

Providing creative solutions to a wide range of clients through her business, Jude Burrows Interior Design, Burrows is very happy to be doing her dream job on a daily basis. However, running an interior design business isn’t something she initially set out to do. Indeed, like a lot of entrepreneurs, she came to the role in a roundabout way, having actually started her career as a typesetter in a publishing house.

Interested in textiles at school, but with no clear idea of what she wanted to do career-wise, Burrows went on to complete a Combined Arts Degree in Leicester.

'No-one ever said that interior design was an option for a career,' she says. 'But I made a lot of friends at university who were doing more vocational courses and it was a real eye-opener for me. They spent a year in industry as part of their courses so they would start into employment after graduating, but I didn’t have a specific discipline.'

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Involved in various multimedia projects outside of her studies Burrows and her friends would go into bars, DJing and installing panels of fabric and getting people thinking about the meaning of life. When it came to looking for jobs, however, she focused on graphic design and visual imagery positions, but ultimately found herself typesetting books instead.

'After a year I came back to Ireland but as there weren’t really any publishing houses here I was looking for jobs in graphic design again,' Burrows explains. 'But because that wasn’t what I was trained in I got a job in a printing company. I was really struggling. I found graphic design at that time very one-dimensional – it was before it became exciting.

'A job then came up working for an interior showroom and I got that. It was a sales position and gave me a really good grounding in sales and taught me about colours and combinations and textiles.'

Staying with the showroom for six years, Burrows then left work to focus on bringing up her young family. It was during this time that she fell into self-employment.

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'It wasn’t intentional, but people started asking me to do work for them so I did a business course and have never looked back. It was actually at a mother and toddler group that someone first asked me to help them and it was a great first job to have.

'I now cover all areas of interior design for my clients, providing creative solutions for their individual needs. It’s very easy to be a seller of blinds or carpets but when you’re working with an individual you’re looking at how they live, their likes and dislikes, their family set-up, the location of their home and how they use it. You’re problem-solving and trying to anticipate issues that might arise as well. I help people to think outside the box.'

Liaising with local crafts and tradespeople is another big part of the job, she adds, so good communication skills are key, along with interior design flair of course.

'It’s brilliant because I get to work with all sorts of businesses,' she says. 'It’s not just about having ideas – you have to source materials and work with the craftspeople on the functional aspects of a project. In the process of doing that you learn lots.

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'We restructured our own house, which helped me immensely in seeing how things work behind the scenes during the building process.

'I think my favourite thing about my work is this sense of being able to problem-solve for people, along with the relational aspect. My clients usually end up being friends. I really love what I do and enjoy the flexibility my business gives me to live on the coast and spend time with my family. All those things feed the creative process.'

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Image via Unsplash

This article has been published as part of Creativity Month, a celebration of creativity and the Creative Industries in Northern Ireland which runs throughout March. This year's theme is careers and skills – click here to read other articles on how to get into various Creative Industries professions. See the programme of events featuring over 150 inspiring workshops, performances, talks and much more at www.creativityni.org/events.

See more of Jude's work and find out how to get in touch at www.judeburrows.co.uk.