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Student profile // Meet Suzanna Turner

Suzanna Turner isn’t afraid to get in and get things done. While (amongst other things) running her children’s weekly school sausage sizzle and donning boots to dig the footings for her new home, Suzanna completed her Diploma of Interior Design. We caught up to chat about leaving her career in HR behind, online study and her fabulous home in New Zealand.

What led you to study interiors?

“I was in office management for a projects management company at the start of my working life, before I completed a Bachelors degree in Management and Human Resources. I chose to study interior design after I left my human resources career because I felt the study would keep me occupied and so I’d have the skills and knowledge to make the interiors decisions for our house. Designing interiors has pulled all my previous working skills together and now I’m doing something that is so fun, it doesn’t feel like work.”

What did you enjoy about the Diploma of Interior Design?

“I enjoyed that the course explored different aspects of the industry such as residential, small commercial, hospitality and office design. I had to take my studies slowly because the house build was all consuming especially as we lived on site. One of my favourite parts of the course was the plan drawing in Module 2.”

Have you had to fit your study around other commitments?

“Yes, I’ve been active in helping at my children’s school – running a weekly sausage sizzle, reading and spelling support, swimming, etc. On top of that I was pretty hands-on onsite during our house build process. I was digging clay during the footing process, constantly cleaning the site as well as taking on many other menial tasks as the general site dogsbody!

At the tail end of the build I started working with a couple of different local residential Property Developers, putting together interior and exterior colour schemes. I’m now up to about house number twenty with them. The projects are extremely price sensitive, so the challenge is to keep the schemes different and interesting while staying within the budget. Recently I’ve picked up additional work helping purchasers of those houses to select curtains and furnishings, which is a great progression for my business.

I’m now in the process of setting up a home studio to accommodate all the samples and to give me a work space that doesn’t occupy the kitchen table all the time.”

Do you have any advice for others about studying IDO?

“I recommend that you keep the momentum up to get the course done. Follow the advice given early on of sourcing samples from suppliers – they will be invaluable both for your study but also if you want to pull together schemes later on for yourself or for clients. The support of the IDO team is excellent. Ask if you are stuck, as the Educators are really helpful and importantly, they are always prompt with responses, so you’re not left waiting.”

Tell us about your gorgeous new home

“This project started as the renovation of a 100 year old house, but after several iterations with an Architect we realised that it was probably better value for money to start a new build. We then began a new design process on a completely new house. Important considerations included incorporating energy efficient principles, building to capture sunshine (an important element in a cold climate) and to have indoor/outdoor living.

This was the second time that my husband and I have built together and we’ve also completed three renovations. This time we were much more hands on, both in the design and during the building process.

All up the project took about 18 months due to a few delays. There were some frustrations along the way but we had committed to enjoying the process, not stressing too much and not disclosing the budget… to anyone!

One of the best parts was the building crew. After being on site all week and often weekends too, they became part of the family. We trusted them and they were meticulous about details and prepared to accommodate our design ideas.”

What lessons did you learn along the way?

“Relationships are important. We were thrilled with our trades and they worked well, however our design team was more challenging. Next time we’d do more due diligence on the decisions around choosing an Architect and Engineer.”

Do you have any advice for anyone considering building their dream home?

Get the right team around you.

Allow extra for contingency.

It will always take longer than you think or want.

Fast five

Words to live by…  Treat others as you want to be treated yourself.

Interior design hero  I love the work of Hare + Klein.

Favourite apps or websites…  Pinterest, Instagram,

I’m reading  The Strength of His Hand and The Gift of Dyslexia.

I’m listening to  Hania Rani and Grandbrothers when I’m working

Suzanne Turner is studying the Diploma of Interior Design. Find out more about the course here.