...because home doesn't happen overnight.
01.10.11 / Back To School

To knock #2 off my 2011 Room For Improvement list, I enrolled in the Sheffield School’s interior design course.  It’s a home study program, meaning I have the freedom to work from home at my own pace – which, right now, is pretty tortoise-like.  I have 3 years to complete the program.  Good thing.  With everything else going on {work, family, kids, tweaking my own home, blog, paying down our debt}, I’m hoping to devote a few hours every week to the design course. You may recognize a few Sheffield graduates.  Lauren Liess from Pure Style Home and Layla Palmer from The Lettered Cottage have both completed the same course I’m taking.  They’re brilliant.

The Lettered Cottage

It feels very strange to be ‘in school’ again.  Although, so far, it doesn’t feel anything quite like my college days.  It doesn’t feel as ‘do or die’ like an organic chemistry lab {aaah!  I still have nightmares about that}; there aren’t any nerve-wracking presentations; there aren’t any parties or 25¢ drafts on Tuesdays; and ‘Friends’ nights will only happen via reruns.  I started working through the course material last week. Boy, do I ever get sleepy sitting on the couch and ‘studying!’  I don’t know how single moms with jobs do the whole school-on-the-side thing.  Kudos, if you’re one of them!

What do I expect to do once I finish the program?  Better knowledge of the field?  A further developed designer eye?  The opportunity to offer design services?  I’m not really sure.  I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself.  Any big changes definitely won’t happen overnight…just like any home improvement projects that happen here.  One thing I know for certain is that ever since I started blogging, I’ve realized how unhappy I am in my current career field.  I do have a well-paying job that allows me to work part-time, be available for my boys, and contribute to our income.  In that respect, I’m very fortunate.  However, I feel totally stifled, stagnant and uninspired at work.  Don’t get me wrong…I work my butt off while I’m there because I do believe in good work ethic…but I’m definitely not satisfied.  With the way jobs are waning, I feel like I shouldn’t whine.  Still, I’m motivated to try something new that I find truly fulfilling.  An early mid-life crisis, you think? Whatever it is, I’m so grateful for Handy Hubby.  He is 100% supportive and encourages me to chase my dream.  He lets me put holes in our walls for decor stuff, takes on DIY jobs that are too much for me, cooks, entertains the boys when I need to work on something blog/design-related and never complains while he’s doing any of these things.  I don’t know what I did to deserve him. {Sorry, for the mushiness here, but it needs to be said.}

So, that’s what I’ve added to my plate recently.  I’m a little scared about going off the beaten path but more excited than anything.  How about you?  Dying to learn something new?  Have you ever contemplated a career change?  Missing anything in particular about college life – whether that was 10 years or 10 days ago?

FYI – I was not compensated in any way for this post.

images:  1) Pure Style Home  2) The Lettered Cottage  3) The Parenting Myth…all linked within



I just wanted to say congrats on taking the step to try something new! I am feeling the same way about my current career (in advertising); not feeling fulfilled at my job but it means a steady income, health benefits, etc. But my mantra for 2011 is to “just go do it” — so I have recently decided to go back to school and get my teaching credential so I can teach kindergarten. Journalism (which over the years has turned into advertising) and working with kids were/are my passions; I’ve given the first one 6 years of my life. Now it’s time to see what else is out there.

I know we don’t know each other so sorry if that was too much personal info but I haven’t shared my decision with many people yet and this post really inspired me. I just want to let you know that I really appreciate your being so open. Thanks! :)


I’ve thought about going back to school – my former life as an urban planner is not nearly as glamorous as Seinfeld portrayed it. Right now I’m a mom and keeping busy with all that entails a stay at home mom’s life. I think if I could I would love to be a professional organizer. I have an unhealthy love for organizing things – especially others since you can only do your cabinets so much. Kudos to you for going back – I hope you gain more than you can imagine!


Wow, Dana and Kaitlyn, I am so impressed with you both. I am also feeling unsatisfied in my career choice lately, but unlike you two I’m not really sure what i DO want to do. This was a very inspiring post to read, though, and I hope you LOVE your class. You seem to really have an eye for design, and I’m sure you’ll be a great student and designer. Looking forward to hearing about your path through school!

Also, never apologize for loving your husband. You guys seem so cute together (love hearing about Handy Hubby!), and how wonderful that you get to spend your life in love with your partner. :)


And here I thought I was all alone in going down one path (the traditional one that provides stability and prestige) yet finding my heart just totally not in it. I basically have an amazing career and future handed to me on a platter (what most people could only dream of) yet I find myself dreaming of something else. I’ve even been offered jobs in my “dream field”. In MAUI of all places. Yet I find myself being scared to take the leap. Then I worry that if I don’t do it, I’ll be bitter with regret. But *then* I think about the family we are trying to start and I’m back at square one.

Oof. What a ramble and gush. Sorry ’bout that. This post must have struck a nerve for me too :) But kudos to you for reaching out and grabbing that apple that is on the high branch. The one that you need a ladder to get to vs. the one that is low hanging and easily pickable. :)


Wow! You all have such kind words for me. I truly appreciate them. And as cliche as it may sound, it feels good to know I’m not the only one questioning what I REALLY want to do with the rest of my life.


You have a natural flair for design, you’ll do great! Congratulations on taking the plunge! It’s been fun to see your place popping up here and there on Apartment Therapy, you’re a star :)

For the last few years, I’ve been talking about going back to school to finish my PhD, but I’ve been dragging my feet, because it’s terrifying! I need to retake the GRE, so that’s my goal for the spring.


All I have to say is congrats you already did the hardest part by deciding to do this. In the end it will all be worth it!


Dana, I just completed an interior design program last December. Like you, I was floundering, had a natural talent and decided to just go for it. It was one of the hardest things I have ever done since I worked full time for the three years I was in school, but I can tell you the sacrifice is worth it. No matter what you end up doing with your degree (I’ve discovered I am more of an artist and illustrator than an interior designer), you WILL NOT regret it! I know you will be amazing!!!


Dana, I came across your blog because you mentioned that you enrolled in the Interior Design Program at the Sheffield School. I work at the Sheffield School and I just wanted to welcome you aboard and wish you good luck with the course. As you know, you have access to a personal student advisor to help you with the course but I just wanted to say hi and tell you that I love your blog.


Zach – Thanks for the warm welcome! Nice to meet you.


I love reading your blog on a daily basis and I just wanted to thank you for saying exactly what I have been feeling for the past year. I’m in the same situation and your blog has inspired me to look into schooling options as well. I wish you good luck, and please keep the posts coming, you have great style!


I have been following your blog for a little over a month (I found it when you were featured on Apartment Therapy, congrats!) and it’s always fun reading about your ideas, advice and stories. How cool you just started Sheffield School of Interior Design because I started in December as well! I’ve been impressed with the program (at least Unit 1 right now). I’m interested to hear your reaction after viewing the DVD. It’s pretty hilarious because it was filmed almost 20 years ago. Between the fashion, electrical equipment in background shots, and overall look of the DVD, I’m surprised they haven’t updated it. I was kind of disappointed when I first starting viewing it because it made me think that the school was too outdated to offer anything really useful but that wasn’t the case at all. The DVD is a great wrap-up to Unit 1 and the rest of the materials are current. So I suppose it offers a good laugh but is still helpful. I’m looking forward to reading future posts about where you decide to go because you are super talented.


I say good for you. College is WAY behind me but three years ago I decided to step into the writing arena and concentrate on interior design. The slow but steady process is not making me rich but it is fulfilling me and that is what it is all about. You will do fine and those three years will fly by and when you hang your shingle you will be so glad you made the change. Good luck…love your blog.


Lindsey – So fun to have a classmate here at H*T! I haven’t gotten to the video yet, but I was warned by previous Sheffield students that the photos/videos were a little outdated. They all said that the information provided is still helpful and that they would recommend the course. I get a kick out of some things {i.e. taking Polaroid pics of potential rooms}! I’m already learning, so it can’t be all that bad. Good luck to you!


Congrats on your decision to go back to school! I’m eager to see what you learn through your schooling and how you will apply it to your home and other work! Can’t wait to hear more about your design homework. :)


I also have a passion for interior design but I am too afraid to try it. I don’t know exactly what it is that scares me most. Maybe it is the fact that I have a 1 year old or maybe because getting a bachelors degree was a real challenge for me (I am not that good in school) or maybe it is because I am worried that 2 people throwing college books and papers across the room out of frustration of not understanding the question (husband is currently in school for his masters) might be to much. I just hope that one day I will try it and take on these fears of mine. This post really said something to me, I am not saying that i am enrolling right now but I am going to start looking up courses and schools to enroll in. Like you said “I’m trying not to get too far ahead of myself.”


Monique – I definitely believe in moms with dreams. More than anything, I want my boys to see me following my passion and doing something that I love because that’s what I wish for them. I’m afraid too. Afraid of doing something different, afraid of rejection, afraid of making mistakes, afraid of making a change that will affect my entire family, afraid of getting in over my head. But mostly, what drives me is my fear of looking back and wishing I’d just jumped in and done it. I heard a saying a little while ago that totally summed it up for me, “Fear is a better feeling than regret.” I wish you the best…when the time is right! We can’t do EVERYTHING in one day…no matter how hard we try.



I just stumbled upon your inspiring blog and I just have to tell you that I am a Sheffield graduate. In my “old” life I used to be a lawyer. Okay – you can earn a lot but I was never really happy and fulfilled with what I did.
When we moved to the States in 2002 from Germany I was forced to take a break because I had to wait for my work permit/ greencard for almost a year and I had a 10 month old baby. It was then when I decided to quit law and start a new career in the interior design field. I graduated in 2006 (pregnant with my 2nd daughter) and started my interior design business slowly when my little one was old enough for daycare. It was the best decision I have made in a long time.
I am now back in Germany since 2 years and I love my job. Good luck with the course. I am sure it’ll be a breeze for you.

Greetings from Berlin,


Imke – Thank you so much for your story. That is very inspiring to me. You don’t even know how much…especially right now with all the house hunting/house selling business thrown into the mix. I’m so happy you’ve found a career that you love. I hope to do the same!


Hi there
Juts found your blog through googling Sheffield. I recently enrolled as well. I work from home part time as an attorney, but I am totally unfulfilled and always wanted to study design. Gray to hear/see other real people who have enrolled at the same time as I!


YAY for you! It took me a while to finish but that space planning stuff was priceless!
I wish you lots of luck and look forward to e-celebrating with you when you finish!



Layla – Aw, thanks!


…I also googled Sheffield and here you are!
I was just wondering how you like the texts so far, if all of them are updated or only a few and what your plans are after graduation?
Thank you so much,

I’m toying with signing up with Sheffield and would love to know how you are liking the course! Found you when I googled Sheffield.