Unconventional Path to Design: Interview with Accountant-Turned-Designer, Nichole Hill

Discover the inspiring journey of Nichole Hill, a Certified Public Accountant turned celebrated Interior Designer. Nichole's story is a powerful testament to the transformative power of following one's passion. Once confined to the numbers and nuances of accounting, she found her true calling in the dynamic world of interior design, facilitated by the supportive community and flexible learning environment at The Interior Design Institute. This interview explores how Nichole embraced her creativity to reshape her career path, showcasing that it’s never too late to pursue what truly brings you joy. Dive into Nichole's design philosophy, her experience with Magnolia, and how her previous career crafted a unique foundation for her burgeoning success in design.

from accountant to interior designer with nichole hill

Image source: #IDIstudent Nichole Hill from @_nicholehill

Meet Interior Design Graduate, Nichole Hill

Hi! My name is Nichole Hill. After recently completing an interior styling internship with the well known brand, Magnolia, and obtaining my Diploma of Interior Design from IDI, I have returned home to Albuquerque, New Mexico. I am currently working as an interior designer and stager with a local company, Su Casa. Besides interior design, I also love running, yoga, baking, and really anything creative!

What was your childhood dream?

My love for creativity and design began when I was young. Whether I was redesigning my bedroom every few months, creating things to sell at craft fairs with my mum, or baking a new recipe, I loved creating and making things beautiful and dreamed of working in fashion one day.

What inspired you to become an interior designer?

As I got older, while I still loved being creative, I also found an interest in business and decided to do what I thought was most practical. I graduated college with my Bachelor’s and master’s in accounting.

Then, I went on to work in public accounting and obtained my Certified Public Accounting license, quickly realising just how much I needed to be creative in my career to be happy. While I was working in accounting, I began decorating my own apartment, creating designs on software like Spoak and learning more about interior design. I eventually decided it was time to pursue this passion of mine. I enrolled in The Interior Design Institute course and applied at a local home staging and interior design business and was lucky enough to be hired as a stager and designer, beginning my journey into interior design.

What is a typical day in life like for you as an interior designer? Do you have any rituals that you stick to?

While everyday looks a little different, I do have some rituals I always stick to when designing for a client, friend, or even myself. I always start with learning as much as I can about the person I am designing for. Learning more about what they love, their everyday routines, what inspires them, their hobbies, and what styles they are drawn to. I usually start with a questionnaire and asking them to show me any inspirational photos and items they already own and love. This helps me get a better understanding of who the person I am designing for is and what their unique style is. I believe helping a client define their style will allow me to create a space that feels most like them, and where they can truly be themselves. From here, I always create a mood board to help convey to the client the overall style and mood of the space we will be trying to create. Once we create the perfect mood board, I can start designing and making decisions for the space!

How would you describe your design style?

I would say my design style is a mix of styles and is constantly evolving. However, I do think there are a few elements I will always be drawn to. Growing up in New Mexico, I have always been surrounded by adobe architecture and nature. Because of this, I think I am drawn to more organic and natural styles. I would say I love an earthy colour palette with shades of cream, pink, tan, rust, and green. I love natural materials such as wood, stoneware, leather, and linen. Another thing I think I will always love is mixing new with old. I love finding the perfect antique or thrift to add to a space!

interior by nichole hill

Image source: #IDIstudent Nichole Hill from @_nicholehill

Where do you find creative inspiration for your designs?

I find creative inspiration from Pinterest, reading through magazines and design books, and talking to other creatives. I also find inspiration by getting out in nature or going somewhere new. Whether it's going on a run/walk outside or going to a new coffee shop, an antique store, or even taking a trip.

Do you follow any trends?

Trends can be tricky. For me, when it comes to trends I try to always ask myself if I’ll still love it in the future and does it feel true to who I am and what my style is. I think trends can be great in helping you discover something you didn’t know you loved but it’s important to know your unique style so you’re not just following a trend because everyone else is.

What are some of your goals?

Currently, some goals of mine when it comes to interior design are to work with more clients and become proficient in software such as AutoCAD and SketchUp. One long-term goal of mine is getting to purchase and design my own home! Some personal goals of mine include running a marathon and to work on expressing myself creatively in other ways than just design, such as baking/cooking, painting, drawing, etc.

Do you have an ethos behind your work?

My ethos is centered on creating spaces that are not only beautiful but also an extension of the people who live in them, spaces where people can truly feel and be nothing but themselves. Spaces that inspire them every day to be the best versions of themselves. I believe the spaces we live in affect who we are and understanding what our unique style is, is necessary to an understanding of ourselves. I believe there’s a story to be told in each of us and our homes are just one of the ways we can explore and tell that story. By listening not only to what a client needs but to also who they are, I hope to create designs that enrich everyday living and promote well-being.

What kind of space do you work in?

When working on a design or creatively, I like to work in a space that I feel comfortable and inspired in. At home, I always keep a pin board by my desk where I can pin anything that inspires me or any samples for a project I am working on. I also like keeping a candle and fresh flowers on my desk. When I am in need of a change in scenery, I enjoy going outside or to a local coffee shop to work.

interior by nichole hill

Image source: #IDIstudent Nichole Hill from @_nicholehill

How do you find a healthy work/life balance?

I try to find a healthy work/life balance by making time for the things I enjoy and spending time with family and friends. Whether that’s getting up early to go for a run or workout or taking time to schedule dinner with family and friends, I find these are the things that energise and motivate me.

What makes you most happy?

Spending time with family, being creative, when hard work pays off, and being in nature are the things that make me most happy.

Is the online community important to your work?

The online community, especially the design community, has been very important to my work. I have met and been inspired by so many other designers and creatives online. I have learned so much from others that have been kind enough to share their own stories and lessons they’ve learned. I have also been fortunate enough to be featured in articles and blogs, like this one. I love that social media can be used in this way, to create community and to meet others interested in the same things you are around the world.

What have been your business highlights so far?

While my career in design is just beginning, some highlights so far have been being hired as a designer and stager at Su Casa, completing a client project and having it featured in an online article, being an intern for a successful company like Magnolia, and graduating from IDI!

interior by nichole hill

Image source: #IDIstudent Nichole Hill from @_nicholehill

Rapid Questions

Favourite pastime/hobby:

Running, yoga, baking, cooking, thrifting

Favourite colour:

Definitely pink!

Favourite quote:

A quote I read the other day by William Morris, that is one of my new favourite quotes when it comes to interior design: “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”

Favourite book/magazine:

Favourite design book - Live beautiful. Favourite design magazine - Magnolia Journal, Feel Free, Architectural Digest

Favourite accounts to follow:

Favourite brand/supplier/software:

Brands I’m loving right now - Bed Threads for the best linen bedsheets & OurPlace where I purchased my favourite pan to cook with and a local favourite brand is Upside Goods for the best candles!

Favourite software - Spoak a fun, easy-to-use design software for mood boards, floorplans and elevations!

Favourite artist/designer/stylist:

This is a tough one, I love so many! Here are a few of my favourite:

  • Athena Calderone
  • Amber Lewis
  • Jerimiah Brent
  • Joanna Gaines
  • Colin King

Describe your work in three words:

Thoughtful, cohesive, meaningful.

Course Questions

Why did you choose to study with IDI?

After already graduating with a Bachelors and Masters in accounting, I did not want to go back to college full-time when I decided to follow my passion of interior design. However, I still wanted to learn more about it and gain some kind of education. I came across IDI one day and loved that it offered the flexibility to study on my own time and schedule, but still offered the guidance and community I was looking for. I read reviews from past student and heard some of their stories in design and knew that the course would be perfect for me!

What was your favourite part of the course?

My favourite part of the course is the assignments at the end of each module. I had so much fun completing each assignment and loved that many of them equipped me with the skills and knowledge of what it would be like working for a client. I also really enjoyed getting feedback from my tutor, Meghan Yang; she provided me with a lot of helpful guidance and advice. After completing the course, I feel more than ready to take on my own clients and projects.

assignment project by nichole hill

Image source: #IDIstudent Nichole Hill from @_nicholehill

What advice would you give to new students?

My advice to new students would be to enjoy each assignment and take your time. Take time reading other resources and discover multiple ways of creating mood boards, elevations, sample boards, etc. Pretend you really are presenting your projects to a real client and start to create processes and systems you would use when running your own business. Taking time to do things like this will help you be more prepared when you do start taking on clients and will help you discover what works best for you!

What projects are you working on now?

Now that I have completed the IDI course, I am now working on the SketchUp and AutoCAD Advanced Modules at IDI. With Su Casa, I am working on a few exciting design projects and stage several homes a week with our wonderful team!

How can people connect with you?

People can connect with me through Instagram @_nicholehill or at bio.site/nicholehill.

idi graduate diploma student nichole hill

Image source: #IDIstudent Nichole Hill from @_nicholehill

Ready for a Career Shift? Let Your Interior Design Passion Lead the Way!

Nichole Hill's transition from accounting to interior design is not just inspiring—it's a call to action for anyone contemplating a career change towards more creative pursuits. Like Nichole, you can leverage the comprehensive courses offered by The Interior Design Institute to pivot your professional path towards something you love. Our programs are designed to equip you with the necessary skills, offering flexibility to learn at your pace and a community that supports your growth every step of the way. If you're ready to start a new chapter in your career, explore our courses and take the first step towards a fulfilling future in interior design. Don't wait any longer; embrace your passion, join our community, and start transforming spaces and lives today. Sign up now and experience the satisfaction of turning creativity into your career. With our 7-day money-back guarantee, you have nothing to lose but a world of opportunity to gain!

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