Meet Darla Harmon
By: Canvas Rebel
Alright – so today we’ve got the honor of introducing you to Darla Harmon. We think you’ll enjoy our conversation, we’ve shared it below.
Darla, looking forward to hearing all of your stories today. Learning the craft is often a unique journey from every creative – we’d love to hear about your journey and if knowing what you know now, you would have done anything differently to speed up the learning process.
I learned Interior Design by attending an online design school called Interior Design Institution, IDI. It is out of San Francisco. I did this later in life, when my kids started to attend college. I have 5 children, so when the first 3 were heading to college I thought what am I going to do with my time? I still had two kids at home but the 4th was just about on her way to art school in Chicago. So while my 5th was finishing up high school I made the decision to go back to school for interior design. While I would study and take test online I would physically need to put designs together, price out items and make a budget. I would laugh that Lowes was my library! The lessons would teach each aspect of design. You then had to implement what you learned with this make believe family using the knowledge you just learned from the lesson. My final test was, and I got to choose, was finding a client and redecorating a room in their home. I put it out on Facebook that I needed a friend who was willing to let me come in and change a space in their home. Many of my friends did volunteer but I choose the one with the most work to be done… I wanted the challenge!
The program was designed to only take a year to complete. I just made it within that year. Still having one child at home, I was first mom then student , I also had knee surgery that year that put me back while I recovered. As I look back on my younger years, college years, I wish I would have gone to college for interior design, it is a timeless career. Then jumping back into it after my kids when to college would have been a little easier and quicker.
Design is such a personal request. When someone invites you into their home and wants you to make it just like the picture they have in their head… you better listen! So all that I learned about design: elements, lighting, paint colors, etc, the most important is to listen and understand what that person wants you to do in their home. Then comes what you have learn in school. How to pull it all together, weather it’s paint colors, or choosing fabric to make it all flow together.
I don’t like to think of something as an obstacle, I think of it as a bump in the road, a way of rerouting, a reason for everything. Whether it was my kids, and they are not an obstacles, like I stated I am mom first student second. I also thing we should never feel or think we can never learn more. There is always opportunities to learn more, you just need to look for them.
Darla, before we move on to more of these sorts of questions, can you take some time to bring our readers up to speed on you and what you do?
My story is one of a stay-at-home mom, who loved those years with my 5 children. As my children grew and started heading off to college, I began to spend more time pursuing the things I love: cooking, family time, and of course–decorating. I have always enjoyed interior design; even as a child, I would play house in my basement, and whatever I could find to make a living room, I would rearrange it to make it feel cozy. So at 50, I enrolled in an online interior design school, The Interior Design Institution, out of San Francisco! I so enjoyed it! Soon after graduating, I started my own small business, Red Couch Interiors.
Since then I have served numerous clients by helping them with their particular needs and bringing their personalities into their spaces. I’m most proud of how, at the age of 50, I began my own small business and how I continually help both women and men in all walks of life with their spaces. The other thing that I am most proud of is how I can bring joy into anyone’s life, no matter how old. A few years back a young mother reached out to me wanting to transform her dining room into a playroom oasis for her then 5 year old. We wanted to surprise him with all of his favorite things while keeping the atmosphere functional as a space that can grow with him. When he saw the room for the first time his eyes lit up as he joyously said, “OOOO! this is for me?!” I could tell he was plotting what to play with first! He was so shocked and excited, I will never forget his reaction!
For you, what’s the most rewarding aspect of being a creative?
I am a very people oriented person, I love wrapping up with a client knowing I have succeeded in bringing their vision into reality, making them happy with a space that is both functional and beautiful. I feel most creative when a client allows me to use my creativity to its fullest potential, with no limits!
How about pivoting – can you share the story of a time you’ve had to pivot?
I was a stay at home mom for 26 years, and I began to realize as my kids were leaving, I wanted to do something for myself. I started picking up new hobbies and concentrating on my passions. One of my passions was interior design, so I enrolled in an online interior design school, The Interior Design Institution. After graduating my goal was to work for myself, thus Red Couch Interiors was born! We began with staging homes for residential real estate, and grew into interior decorating. As COVID hit the staging side of the business began to wane and we pivoted to virtual consulting!
Exploring Life & Business with Darla Harmon of Red Couch Interiors Staging & Design
by VoyageSanAntonio | November 21, 2022 | Local Stories
Today we’d like to introduce you to Darla Harmon.
Hi Darla, we’re thrilled to have a chance to learn your story today.
So, before we get into specifics, let’s briefly walk us through how you got to where you are today.
I have always enjoyed interior design; even as a child, I would play house in my basement, and whatever I could find to make a living room, I would rearrange it to make it feel cozy. My goal was to make it look like a living room. At that time, I didn’t know what I was doing or that it was called “interior design.”
Then as I got into my teens, my mom took me to an interior designer to make over my room. I remember thinking about how fun is to create a special space for someone; picking out colors, fabrics, and furnishings to make someone happy sounded like a great job! I then got into the retail world, managing stores like Lerner’s and Kid’s R Us, but I never thought of interior design again until we fast forward about 25 years. During these 25 years, my friends always asked me to help decorate their homes, and of course, I would do it and have a great time. Now my children are all heading off to college; some have graduated and done their own thing. What about me? It’s my turn! So at 50, I enroll in an online interior design school, The Interior Design Institution, out of San Francisco! I so enjoyed it! Soon after graduating, I started my own small business, Red Couch Interiors Staging and Design.
We all face challenges, but would you describe it as a relatively smooth road?
Any start-up/small business has a challenging road. There are always bumps, even when you think you have arrived. The key is to learn from what has not been smooth, keep an open mind about the changes you might have to make, and learn to re-invent yourself but stay true to your passions. Yes, I have had to do all these! Interior design is unnecessary. It’s a want, and because of this and especially in this day of financial difficulties, it is hard to find jobs. This is one reason stages do my prices. The client can pick how much they want to spend. I want everyone to have an opportunity to work with an interior designer if they wish to! In the beginning, some of the struggles were helping people understand that interior design is not just placing some fake plants in a corner. It’s creative. It’s listening, finding the exact piece, whether it’s art, furniture, or wall color. It understands the layout of the space, where the light comes in, it’s much more than people think, and it comes at a cost. I read this quote a while back.
Dossier: Darla Harmon - Red Couch Interiors
by SA Woman | April 23, 2021 | Interior Designers | The Dossier
What’s your favorite type of design project?
I love a fresh beginning that comes with a new build but also love the challenge with a remodel.
How do you help clients find their decorating style?
Magazines and Pinterest! Clients mark everything they like. I see a pattern, and that’s their style!
How much should I budget for a design project, and how much time should I plan to complete the project?
Budgets will vary from project to project and client to client. I often help the client come up with a budget. The same goes for a time frame; it varies.
What do you feel is a priority for clients when planning a design project?
The planning stage is where all ideas are created. By the end of this stage, the client should have an excellent understanding of the design/style so that there are little to no changes. Changes cause more time and money.
What trends are you looking forward to? What trends are you happy to say goodbye to?
“Grandmillenial: a spin on grandma’s house with a modern twist.” Goodbye, everything white, hello color!
How would you define your design style?
I lean more traditional, cozy, homey but love mid-century.
Decorating shows – love them or leave them?
Love them for inspiration, leave them for false expectations. TV really is magic.