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Conversations with Melanie Zaelich

Today we’d like to introduce you to Melanie Zaelich.

Hi Melanie, thanks for joining us today. We’d love for you to start by introducing yourself.
The idea of someday changing careers from a Graphic Designer to a Home Stylist happened after I was on an episode of HGTV. At the time, I was 10 years into my career and I had recently bought my first house. A local production company reached out to the advertising agency I was working at and I quickly submitted to be on the show. That experience planted the seed.

Nine years after the HGTV episode, in 2015, I was ready for a big change. As a designer, my passion over the years shifted from graphic design to interior design and I was ready to embrace it.

While I was still at my full-time job, I started decorating and staging homes on the side. After seeing my friends light up after the transformation I made in their home, I was hooked. It felt so amazing to be able to bring such joy to people.

I enrolled in an Interior Design program to learn how to adapt my design skills to a dimensional “canvas”. I took a Home Staging & Redesign course and became a Certified Home Stager & Redesigner. When I felt confident that I could truly help people, I took the leap, quit my job and launched Happy Place Interiors.

And here I am. I have been in business for more than 5 years now, I have worked with hundreds of clients and everyday I still get the opportunity to see faces light up. It’s a blessing.

We all face challenges, but looking back would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
I chuckle at this question as it has been much bumpier than I thought it would be. Running a business takes a lot more time than I realized and when your passion is as strong as mine is, let’s just say it’s been a constantly bumpy journey to find the right work/life balance.

When I started Happy Place Interiors, I did everything — home staging (vacant staging, occupied staging and staging consultations) in addition to home styling and design. But it was too much and over the years I’ve continuously tweaked and culled my service offerings over and over.

Now I’m solely focused on home styling and design. Although it was a wild ride, I’m glad now I went down all those roads as my experience is well-rounded.

Thanks – so what else should our readers know about your work and what you’re currently focused on?
When I started Happy Place Interiors I had a clear vision of who I wanted to work with: everyday people with everyday homes. The people that wouldn’t typically reach out to an interior designer, like my friends, neighbors, my mom or even my grandma.

Because these are the people that wouldn’t typically reach out to a designer, I developed a different business model and created a modular approach to interior design which differs from the traditional interior design business model of a full service, complete design package. This modular approach offers a lot of flexibility to clients in service offerings and pricing. It’s very a la carte and that can make decorating and designing your home more affordable.

Although I do offer complete design in a full service package, the individual services are my most popular. For example, helping a young couple create a vision for their new home or helping someone who has been in their home for 20 years select updated paint colors, new flooring or throw pillows. I get a lot of requests from people in their 40’s who realize ‘Hey! I’m an adult now and I can actually get real furniture.” And sometimes, I am simply offering professional guidance, shepherding clients along the way as they work on making the home their own.

I love advising and educating people on making the best choices for their home so they can continue to make good choices anytime they want to change things up. Every client, and need is different, I do my best to tailor my services to each of them.

The other thing I knew right away when I started my business is that I wanted my company to be socially conscious and give back to the community. I deeply believe that your surroundings are the foundation for your health and happiness so we donate a portion of profits to five amazing Minnesota charities that help people in need find, fix or furnish homes.

What sort of changes are you expecting over the next 5-10 years?
The Interior Design industry has been constantly changing since HGTV over 20 years ago and now with social media platforms such as Instagram and Pinterest. And it is not stopping or slowing down. Technology is bringing everything to consumers with a tap of an app and interior design is no different.

The next few years will bring even more apps, programs and ways to design your space yourself — such as “shop the look” links, floor planner programs and “view-in-your-space” with virtual reality.

However, although “design technology” will be at the ready for consumers, I don’t think it will negatively impact either traditional Full Service Interior Design Firms or Home Stylists like myself.

In fact, I think that the more design technology gets into the hands of the general public, the more the value of good design will increase. People will realize that good design doesn’t come from an app or a Pinterest Page, it comes from a brain (and heart) of a talented and educated designer.

Pricing:

  • Interior Design Consultation $250
  • Paint & Color Consultation $250
  • Designer-On-Call $100/hour

Contact Info:

  • Email: info@happyplaceinteriors.com
  • Website: www.happyplaceinteriors.com
  • Instagram: @happyplaceinteriors
  • Facebook: @happyplaceinteriorsmn


Image Credits
Spacecrafting Photography
Autumn Lee Studios

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