Growing up in Sacramento, CA we didn’t have a lot of money. I was homeschooled in an environment that was toxic in many ways. Home wasn’t exactly a happy place, it was a place I was afraid of; a place of neglect, disorder and trauma but I refused to be a product of my environment. My sister and I made a pact in our teenage years that we would commit our lives to doing better and being better. This commitment we made to each other has gotten me where I am today and will get me where I’m going tomorrow. It’s the voice in my head that tells me to keep going and see all things through.
I have always valued family and community most in life. I believe a happy family starts with a solid foundation and that this foundation is made up of an environment that you want to come home to, because after all, home is where the heart is. As a child I would envision pulling into to a driveway eager for what’s inside: family, joy, and sanctuary. A place of cleanliness, order and harmony. A place where you come to collaborate, relax, and get inspired. A place any member of the family feels safe and welcome.
I realized at a very young age this was not just a dream and that I could create the family and home I dreamed of and I wanted to help others do the same. So I started cleaning. I eventually went on to own my own house cleaning business called Keep It Clean, Call Irene, where I got to fulfill my passion for serving the community by offering services that sustain an environment they desired to come home to. I loved what I did, I was proud of the company I built and it was an honor to be welcomed into a client’s home. Many of my clients became like family to me. At times I would assist clients with furniture layouts, surface selections for remodels and even went shopping with many of them so that they could freshen up or even recreate their space. My clients inspired me to study interior design and take my passion for home and livelihood to the next level by recreating interiors from start to finish.
I decided to pursue this dream of becoming a freelance interior designer but resources for an affordable education in interior design were limited in Sacramento, then I got sick. Treatment for getting my health back on track was what brought me here to Portland, OR in 2013. On my road to recovery I met my husband who became my inspiration and support for getting my life back, and on track. With my wonderful husband, came along three amazing “bonus” children. They are the light of my life! Truly, a dream come true.
In 2016 I decided it was time to get back into the workforce. I worked a couple of different temp jobs but never felt valued or passionate about what I was doing. From the moment I woke up I would dread the day ahead of me. I started looking into affordable interior design education and that is when I found Heritage. When I talked to my husband about what I wanted to do, which was to quit my job and go back to school, he told me, “I remember the first day I met you, you told me your dream was to own your own interior design business. That you believed every home has great bones and just needs someone with a vision to get in there and recreate the space into the home of a clients dream and that you want that person to be you.” Without hesitation, my husband supported my decision to quit my job and pursue my passion for a career in interior design.
My experience at Heritage has been incredibly empowering. Our class is filled with amazing individuals from all walks of life that share the same passion for design and are eager to learn. I’ve established great friendships that will last a lifetime. We’ve had the opportunity to get connected with vendors by being introduced to the masters of the trade that generously share their extensive knowledge and experience in order for us to learn. Stephanie and the instructors at Heritage truly provide intensive, quality hands-on education that has empowered me to carve the road to success in my design career. This term is coming to an end soon but my journey at Heritage is only beginning.
After graduation I plan to focus on building my business through offering staging and interior design services. Recently, I have completed my staging certification and also established my own interior design business called Design Allure, LLC. I will be leasing office space at Heritage Collaborative in collaboration with other freelancing interior designers starting this summer and I am so excited! This collaborative environment will be a place of support and inspiration where we can bounce ideas off each other, and share a library of resources. My dream has always been to serve the community by supporting their vision of home and livelihood by designing with innovation, integrity and passion so that we may transform any space into a sanctuary. I am so proud and excited to say that dream is now a reality!
Update: Since graduating in the Spring of 2017 Irene poured her heart into building her business Design Allure. The wildly successful Design Allure has grown to a staff of 10 and offers services in both interior design and home staging. Learn more about Irene’s process and view her gorgeous work online here.
Photo credit to Mouve Media