The Washington-based designer talks pillows, success and the women who inspire her.
By Caroline Sandholm
Interior designer DeChelle A. Harris, of Chelle Albert Interiors and now Chelle Albert Home, says her love and passion for interior design started as early as age five, when she flipped through the pages of her mom’s glossy magazines and dreamed of one day creating beautiful spaces of her own. This dream came true in 2004 when she started designing kitchens and bathrooms for Home Depot as a part-time job.
Now, after much success, Harris has launched a pillow line with her own unique designs. Each of the six pillows is named after a woman who inspired DeChelle throughout her interior design career. We talked with the designer about her career path, inspiration and advice she has for aspiring designers.
Have you received any specific feedback from these women? I have received feedback from most of the women for whom the pillows have been named after, and it was all positive. They were mostly surprised and honored to have something named after them.
Describe your design style in less than five words. I would describe my design style as artfully classic and colorfully sophisticated.
How did you end up working in the interior design industry? One of my regular clients at Home Depot was a contractor with a kitchen and bath business. After working with him on several projects, he recruited me to work for his company.
Who was your first customer? My first client was a young guy who had recently purchased his first home. The home was an older DC rowhouse in the Petworth neighborhood. Eventually, that same client started investing in property and I went on to work with him on more projects to help him design and renovate an entire house in the Columbia Heights neighborhood.
Interior designers are only as good as the trades people they have working with them. If you want to succeed in the field you should keep this in mind when making connections and choosing the network of contacts. The people that you’re cooperating with have a bigger part in your career than you think.
Where do you find your inspiration? I find inspiration everywhere. In art, nature, magazines, television. I will see something as I’m going about my day and think of ways to improve it by making it more functional or giving it a better aesthetic.
What would be your words to a young woman who wants a successful career in interior design? To the young woman who wants to have a successful career in interior design, I would say, network, network, network! Put yourself in the places you want to go. Talk with people who are in positions to help you. Don’t be afraid to talk about your goals. It’s mostly been my experience, if you come to people with an open and honest spirit, if they can, they will help you.
Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?
Ten years from now, I see my line of home furnishings in a big box store. I am young so I will still be designing homes and spaces. I would also like to have a foot in the creative directing space.
Harris hopes to expand her pillow line to other products in the future, including candles, mugs, bath linens and more pillows. Visit www.chellealbert.com for more on Harris and to purchase these exquisite pillows.