The Glamorous Life of a Decorator

Think the life of a decorator is always glamorous? I’m sharing what a typical work week looks like. You be the judge!

I’ve been busy working on several design and decorating projects over the past few months, and thought it would be fun to give you a behind the scenes look at what my day-to-day is like within my business. I’m one of a small percentage of people who truly loves what she does, but I’m certain in saying it isn’t always the glamorous job so many people make it out to be.

Artwork, Furniture, Drapery and Fireplace

Sure, I get access to some of the most beautiful fabrics, wallpapers, decor and furniture pieces in the industry. I also get to be creative, set my own schedule, and shop with other people’s money. But, there are also those late night emails or calls from clients questioning the height of a newly installed light fixture or the darkness of a paint colour. There are those times when I need to drop everything in my day to take a look at a custom made sofa that has shown up with a major flaw in the fabric after a client has waited several months to get it. Those, indeed, are the glamorous days in the life of a decorator…

The number of projects I have going on at any one time depends on the scope of the work, as well as the time frame. Some projects last over a year, whereas others wrap up in as little as one afternoon. Currently, I’m working on three long term projects and two short term projects. My schedule is a bit fuller than I’d like, but two projects are scheduled to wrap up this week.

Here’s a recap of what I did last week (not including blogging or other responsibilities)…


The morning started out with returning emails from potential clients, followed by confirming appointments with current clients for the week. Most often this requires a series of back and forth emails until all questions are answered and everything is set (until I get at call changing things up again). Next, I ordered replacement paint swatches from Benjamin Moore (I always leave my larger swatches with clients).

In the afternoon, I drove 25 minutes to pick up the photography I had dropped off at the framer’s the week before and sourced table options on the way home at 3 different locations. Unfortunately, only one was a contender, so it will require a bit more running around.

Wood Trestle Dining Table with X Base


My day started with an email from a client who is the contact person for a condo building lobby project. Unfortunately, the carpet tiles we selected were installed incorrectly and needed to be changed out. As well, she had made the decision on her own to relocate the position of the main light fixture I had dropped off previously (photo below). In addition, the electrician was going to install 3 other light fixtures he thought would work in the lobby that neither of us had seen (yikes)! After following up, I updated the spreadsheet for the budget to see where we were at, went over the remaining pieces for the project, and set a time to meet later in the week.

In the afternoon, I drove 20 minutes into the country (going as little as 20 km/hour across a newly oiled road) to meet with a new client for a design consultation.

DVI Amethyst Light Fixture for Lobby


As part of Tuesday’s design consultation, I sent a follow-up email outlining what we had discussed. Next, I discussed art options with my condo lobby client. Later that morning, another client returned my call and we finalized the style of window treatments for her new home. For the next hour, I sourced and ordered fabric samples online.

Later that day, I drove 25 minutes to HomeSense to hopefully find a large art canvas that worked in the condo lobby. I lucked out and found just the right size and colour (and lugged the oversized piece to my vehicle as the wind tried to take it away). Next, I stopped at Pottery Barn to look at shelving and picture frames, and finally met with my condo client (and actually found parking) to drop off the photography and art canvas, check out the newly installed light fixtures (they looked okay), and discuss what the options were regarding the damaged carpet tiles.

Pottery Barn Picture Ledges and White Frames


Thursday morning I took a trip to the flooring supplier to discuss the condo lobby project. We came up with a plan A and B (and hopefully we won’t need a C). I returned to my office and followed up with my condo client on the carpet issue.

For the remainder of the day, I worked on an E-design for a basement family room.

Basement Family Room Space Plan by Satori Design for Living


The morning started with completing the E-design and preparing it to send off to my client. Later that day, I got an email from my condo client saying the installer thought the large art canvas blended too much into the wall (now the installer is a designer), and that she had to think about it.

In the afternoon, I drove 20 minutes to check out an ottoman for a client’s family room, as well as coffee table options for their living room.

Square Button Tufted Blue-Grey Ottoman

Although every week is a bit different for me, I can pretty much expect there’s going to be somewhat of a hiccup (big or small). Last week it was the glue showing through the carpet tiles installed in the condo lobby. I also had to reassure the same client that the art canvas would make sense once the accent chair and all of the other elements were in place. (I’m keeping my fingers crossed or I’ll be loading it back up and returning it to the store where I hope not to stand in line for too long)!

When I first started my business five years ago, I really took these problems to heart. Since then, I’ve learned they’re just part of the industry, and I try my best to plan ahead and avoid them as much as possible.

So why am I telling you all this? I believe the value in hiring a designer or decorator goes well beyond his/her creative talent. A good one is often willing to roll up his/her sleeves to tackle those less-than-glamorous parts of the job. Perhaps it will require late evening visits to make sure the lighting fixtures are on site to be installed early the next morning, or presenting dozens of fabrics until just the right one is found. As a result, countless unpaid hours are often spent behind the scenes on any given project (the parts they don’t show you on HGTV).

All in all, I do love what I do and have wonderful clients. Glamorous life? Sometimes. But, more often than not, the life of a decorator is like any career that has its great days and those “I’d-rather-be-somewhere-else days.” It’s just something to keep in mind.

Thanks for stopping by!

Shauna at Satori Design for Living Blog - Home Decor, DIY, Vintage Finds, Recipes


  1. Ahhhh, someone who understands exactly what I go through each and every day.  Very insightful post Shauna.  Your clients are very lucky to have such a dedicated, trustworthy interior designer as you!
    Thanks so much for sharing.

    1. It’s one of those things that unless you’re doing it, you won’t truly understand. Still, I love what I do, and I have some of the best clients I could ever ask for :)

  2. I’m not a designer (though I wish! I love design!), and I have the utmost respect for what you do. I’ve made those phonecalls to contractors at 9:00 pm because I just realized that the paint colour is HORRIBLE! (or I’ve finally gotten the courage to call) 

    I have to say, I love that ottoman. Did you pick that one? 

    1. I always want my clients to be honest. Sometimes it takes having faith in the process and trusting that it will all work out in the end.

      Isn’t that ottoman gorgeous! Yes, I think that’s the one we’re going with (actually 2 of them side by side).

  3. So interesting to see what you do in a day. Things are never as glamorous as they seem – even if you love them. I have been looking at that big canvas from urban barn (in the top right of your 4 pictures) and love it. I wish it would go horizontal as I have a big wall to fill.

    1. I know what you mean about that canvas. It really only works with high ceilings because it’s 200 cm tall (almost 7 feet). Keep your eyes open at HomeSense, as they sometimes have those oversized pieces for under $200.

  4. Thanks for the behind the scenes look! After a career in pr/marketing, I just started school for interior design. I’m overwhelmed by how much there is, but love it so far!


  5. That is a lot of running around! It’s a good thing you love what you do, since that makes all the hassles of the job worth it I’d imagine. :)

    1. Some weeks involve a lot of running around, but I try to plan it that I’m out and about only a couple days a week. It really depends on the type of project. Thanks for stopping by!

  6. sounds just like my days and weeks. Glad to know I am not the only one with the late night emails and the driving all around. Every client should read this to see what really goes on beside all the fun stuff!

  7. Good post Shauna..
    It’s like you are describing my week except besides being a decorator, I also do a lot of staging and believe me it’s not always as pretty!  I’m a sweaty mess after lugging in bins and moving furniture:)

  8. That’s exhausting! I’m asked why I don’t pursue interior design all.the.time. I love it, but after seeing what a good friend went through I’m not sure it’s for me. It’s not what I thought it would be with quotas. However, she worked for a firm that was pretty tough and that made it so much more difficult. She’s happily working for herself now. :)

    1. Working for a firm could be such a nightmare with all the demands. I have flexibility a lot of people don’t and I really like that part of my job. All in all it’s great, except for those things that go wrong, and some days I just don’t feel like running around, but I have to!

  9. What a timely post for me! I laughed out loud about the installer turned designer. This week a painter told my client that she absolutely would not be happy if he painted her railing / banister a dark charcoal so he doesn’t want to do it….. We are both certain this is a change to make in her home!!! I wasn’t anticipating a response like this…..

    On another note, she didn’t like a bed I sourced for her at all and decided to go look at another one on her own….only to come across the bed I sourced and realize that she loved it! That was kind of a fun feeling in the end, although I panicked in the beginning and second guessed my whole decision to try and do this interior design gig!!!

    1. Oh yes, everybody has an opinion. It’s welcomed when it’s structural or something of that nature, but when it’s purely aesthetic, I find it so annoying. They don’t know the entire design plan! You will definitely come across indecisive clients, but that’s okay. Just remind them they hired your for a reason. Believe me, I change my mind part way through projects on occasion as well, so they will too. Good luck with everything, and let me know if you ever need someone to lean on!

  10. Shauna, you have nailed it, especially the many unpaid hours! Even when you’re off the job, like trying to go to sleep at night, you can’t just turn it off no matter how hard you try! Unlike a light fixture, there is no on/off switch for a decorator! Lucky clients!! And you are pretty incredible – the week you just painted along with this great blog you are so consistent with, not to mention all the other things that make life, life – well, you make it seem so effortless! I loved this little look into a week in the life of Shauna! :-)

    1. I’m not sure effortless is the word. Some weeks are pretty crazy around here (but it’s my own fault)! It looks like you are pretty much the same with your business/life as well!

  11. What a great peek into your busy life Shauna! It looks like a wonderful job with beautiful results and I appreciate you telling us the behind the scenes and countless hours that goes into your work.

  12. What a great look into your day to day… I think a glam follow up would be just as interesting! I’ve never really worked for clients, not in that way… still on the fence about what I want to do when I grow up, so having my own design firm, hmmm don’t know yet.

    1. Now you know why I put it off and put it off. I’m pretty sure your days are just as busy with everything you have going on too. It’s always important to take a break to feel refreshed and then get back on the horse again!

  13. Hmmm, after seeing the pics of all those gorgeous furnishings you showed, I think I am still going to stick with “glamorous” when thinking about your job ;)

  14. Sounds just like mine!  Running here and there and then back to the computer!  I am glad to see that you are staying busy!  I too love my job… and I wouldn’t have it any other way!

  15. Great post Shauna and so true about our jobs not being as ‘fun’ as people always think it to be.  I too love my career choice but there is never a dull moment and we are always ‘on’.  Love those tufted ottomans by the way!!

    1. There are a lot of balls to juggle with any one project. In some ways it makes it interesting and it never gets monotonous, but sometimes I’d like have the 9-5 where you can just close the office door and forget about it all (okay, probably not LOL!).

  16. Hi – I was googling Ottomans and those Button Tufted Blue Grey Ottoman squares are exactly what I need for my living room! Where did you find them – love your style!


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