We’re two weeks into the year, and after a long holiday with family and spending the first week of 2019 restlessly writing down ideas for my interior design business, I’ve only found a bit of time now to look back at the year that was.

Looking back: From writing work to interior design projects

Before I go on to tell you about the work I did in 2018, let’s backtrack to when I got started. I grew up wanting to be a writer, got my degree in literature, and nurtured a career in writing, editing, and publishing.

year 2018 in review - yearbook picture
For the longest time since I was a kid, I’d always aspired to be a writer

Somehow through the years, the writing process became somewhat of a burden. I slowly realized that, while writing provided me some sort of fulfillment, the process of writing was not something I completely enjoyed. How did I know? When I started designing spaces, every step of the process—if I may borrow a line from Marie Kondo—”sparked joy” in me. It’s not easy being a designer, but the creativity involved was, is, entirely different from what is needed when one begins writing.

So, despite my newfound “work” as a mother to an adorable baby girl,  I began taking on interior design projects. I started out slow,  taking in a job as a content writer for an interior design website based abroad, just so I could have constant income while freelancing locally. It was challenging. It was overwhelming. But it was a shit ton of fun.
Then life happened once again.

Pivoting away from interior design into digital marketing

Sometime in 2017, I got pregnant with our 2nd child. To make a long story short, I was driven by need (and, well, financial anxiety) to apply with a Singapore-based digital marketing agency for a Manila-based position. With a heavy heart, I temporarily said goodbye to interior design and went back to writing—but this time for B2B and corporate clients.

The demands of this kind of job were eye-opening, to say the least, as it introduced me to the complex world of digital. Apart from the sufficient fixed income it afforded me, it gave me insight into how one should market oneself in the digital age. (In fact, these lessons are exactly what are driving my plans for my ID business today.)

Plus, I got to travel again: in my first three months with the agency, I was able to go to Bangkok and Singapore, with the promise of more trips in the future.

I worked with an inspired team. I had great rapport with my colleagues in the Philippine, Vietnam, and Singapore offices. Every day, I was learning new things. It was a great job.

But given those perks, I was miserable.

I yearned to go back to interior design. I felt trapped by my family’s financial needs. Almost every month, I would cry to my husband after a particularly grueling day, and ask him when I could go back to what I really wanted to do.

I tried taking in one or two interior design projects, to see if I could balance marketing work with design work. It was tough. Marketing needed my left brain, design needed my right. I worked in the office from 9am to 6pm, and on my design jobs from 8pm to sawa. I was tired most of the time, and my poor kids received the brunt of my mood swings.

Then one day, after another tearful confession of my professional misery, my husband asked me, “If you quit your job and go back to freelancing, will you be able to reach a certain quota every month that would keep us afloat?” I was scared. My mind screamed “No!” Would I be able to get clients? Was I good enough to strike out on my own—again? Instead of letting my fears ground me in place, I used them to propel me forward. I will do it.

I gave notice of my resignation the very next day. That was in August 2018—more than half of the year was done.

A review of my interior design work in 2018

Despite my erratic social media posting, I was still getting inquiries via social media, and referrals from friends who have seen my past work on Facebook and Instagram. While only 20% of my existing clients found me solely on social media (the other 80% were referrals by friends—thank you, friends!), imagine how much more I could get if I upped my social media game??

But I digress. For some reason, the Universe allowed me to be able to get back deep into interior design by gifting me with pretty awesome clients. How I loved the feeling of finally being able to enjoy my work—despite the difficulty of doing everything myself, and having to balance it with managing my household, raising my kids.

Here are some (unfortunately, not-pro) photos of my works last year. These are just sneak peeks as I want to be able to do full posts on each of them, so stay tuned for those!

Interior design project #1: Chinoiserie Chic Condo

1) I styled the interiors of a former client’s three-bedroom condo, who needed help incorporating the Oriental artifacts she had inherited from her parents into her bachelorette pad.

interior styling for Asian-style entryway
full-length mirror for an Asian-style entryway
Ang Kiukok painting over custom-made buffet
gold accessories on custom dining table
Sanseviera plant on Asian-style nesting tables

Interior design project #2: A Cool Tech Startup’s Home

2) Automotive website Visor.ph enlisted me to help them furnish and style their office in Pasig.

Red lamp on wood-finish desk
receptionist's desk area with red lamp and concrete walls
framed photo of red car over gray sofa
small meeting room with black bucket chairs

Interior design project #3: Baby-Ready Home

3) A young couple about to give birth to their first baby needed help styling their condo unit, as well as accommodating a nursery into the furniture layout. They were on a budget, so through my Redecorate package (Ed’s note: This is now called our Room eDesign service), I gave them a mood board, color palette, furniture plan, and a shopping list—all of which they executed on their own.

mood board for a Scandinavian neutral nursery room
shopping mood board for a Scandi neutral nursery

Interior design project #4: From Redecorate to Remodel

4) A young family of 4 wanted to update their kitchen, living, and dining areas. They initially availed of my Redecorate package, but toward the latter part of the year, we began planning the renovation as they wanted me to help them manage it. Renovation starts this week!

mood board for a kitchen living room and dining room
color palette of teal, yellow, and gray
shopping list mood board for living room

As soon as I got back into interior design after my marketing agency stint, I immediately received inquiries for my Remodel packages—all full-blown, start-to-finish design packages, with renovations starting this month!

Interior design project #5: Visualizing a Condo Redesign

5) This new condo owner had already signed on a contractor for her unit’s renovation, and realized midway that she couldn’t seem to communicate the look she really wanted. I came into the project with some of the custom furniture already designed and approved. But she wanted to add more cabinets, and lacked the overall design direction she needed to visualize how her unit would look before moving in.

So I gave her design concepts, mood boards, and color palettes for each room, furniture and light plans, sketches, and a materials and finishes board. I also helped her execute these plans throughout the renovation period.

mood board for a sophisticated but rustic living room with yellow sofa
mood board for a naturally relaxed bedroom
mood board for modern and serene bathroom

Renovation of the unit just wrapped up recently, and we’ll be doing a last styling session before I completely turn it over to her.

Interior design project #6: Kids’ Rooms Redux

6) Another family wanted to have their kids’ rooms renovated, one of which had a bathroom. This was pretty challenging as the children were from different age groups (from teens to tweens to infancy!), and they had to share two rooms among them, not to mention merging all their interests into these tiny spaces.

Here are my initial pencil sketches and the 3D renderings of each room:

pencil sketch of boys' shared bedroom

And here is the rendered version of that sketch:

3D rendering of boys' shared bedroom view of study desks with basketball hoop
The two teen boys share a love for basketball. Rendering by Julienne Hidalgo.
3d rendering of boys' shared bathroom
Rendered by Julienne Hidalgo
pencil sketch of tween girl and baby boy's shared bedroom
3d rendering of shared bedroom
The tween girl has to share a small room with her months-old baby brother. Rendered by Julienne Hidalgo

Interior design project #7: Refreshing a Space for Rent

7) A retired optometrist had a spare condo unit she wanted to eventually rent out, so she asked my team to do light renovation work and custom furniture for additional storage. I gave her design pegs for when we eventually purchase furniture and decor (she wanted to hold out on these first), furniture and light plans, a color palette, and elevations of the built-ins we were adding.

design pegs for clean neutral condo
one-bedroom condo furniture layout
elevations for custom built-ins

Interior design project #8: Happy, Healthy, Homey Condo

8) An overcrowded two-bedroom condo badly needed updating in terms of layout and furnishing. I supplied them with mood boards, palettes, new floor plans, and better furniture layouts. Renovation starts in February. Some samples of my rendered sketches below:

Sketchup model of kitchen with dining bar counter
Sketchup rendering of bathroom
Sketchup rendering of toilet and bath

Interior design project #9: From Basic to ‘BnB-Beautiful

9) This condo unit will be turned into an Airbnb studio this year, so I came up with a design concept that would make the bare room feel more inviting and luxurious, despite the minimal renovation. Construction starts in early 2019.

Bedroom mood board with botanical look
Mood board for living and dining areas in Airbnb unit
mood board for kitchen for an Airbnb unit
pencil sketch of Airbnb kitchen
pencil sketch of Airbnb bedroom

Interior design project #10: Modern Farmhouse Mansion

10) And finally, another client inherited the family matriarch’s decades-old house filled to the brim with her collections of antiques, vintage furniture, and all sorts of bric-a-brac. We’re going for a modern farmhouse look due to her affinity for Chip and Joanna Gaines‘ style. They’ve just approved my design concepts and boards, and we are targeting renovation work with my trusted licensed architect and contractor to start by the 2nd quarter of this year. Super excited for this one!

materials board for modern farmhouse family kitchen
materials board for modern farmhouse home office and powder room
materials board for modern farmhouse bedroom
materials board for modern farmhouse walk-in closet and T&B
materials board for modern farmhouse hallway

There you have it! Whew. Many of these are still ongoing projects, so am hoping to be able to publish more photos real soon.

Are you thinking of redecorating or renovating your place? Drop me a line and let’s talk about your home project!
On that note, I have to get back to work! 😉