“That though the radiance which was once so bright be now forever taken from my sight. Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, glory in the flower. We will grieve not; rather find strength in what remains behind.” – William Wordsworth
An important anniversary just passed for me. June 7th was the day my car went over a ravine and fell 200 feet.
The last thing I remembered that day was the air bag barely deploying out of the steering wheel and thinking to myself, “this is not going to be good.” For many weeks I would wake up each morning and ask my husband where I was and what had happened. I gradually regained most of my short-term memory functionality, but it was a long recovery.
And for a long time (years in fact) my life was not very good at all, but in the end my automobile accident might have been the best thing that ever happened to me because that is how I became an interior designer.
Wait, how on earth does a near fatal automobile accident lead to a career in interior design?
The One Event That Led Me to Become An Interior Designer
Well, as a result of my accident I lost the eyesight in my right eye and suffered debilitating traumatic brain injuries. I was alive, but my career as an accountant was over, for you see, all of a sudden my strong left brain tendencies switched to right brain dominant. Math was no longer easy for me and for some reason I had a STRONG desire to draw – something I NEVER did before the accident.
As part of my rehabilitation my team of doctors suggested I go to art school. So I did. My first class was drafting. It was so difficult because I have poor depth perception and getting the pen to the paper was a struggle. But after 11 weeks of trying and trying, it got easier and easier.
Then I took a Color Theory class. It was interesting because at that point I was amazed that mixing blue and yellow made green! We studied how different colors react with each other and how they can make you feel. I was really emotional at this stage in my rehabilitation and just about anything made me burst into tears (yeah – the blue and yellow thing!).
I never intended to become an interior designer, but one class a semester gradually evolved to 4 classes a semester and before I knew it, I was earnestly on my way to earn a second bachelor’s degree, but this time instead of accounting, it was in interior design.
When I took the Beginning Interior Design Class we studied things like balance, harmony and scale. It was ironic and yet very appropriate to my situation because I was still mourning the loss of my eye sight and most devastatingly the loss of my career as a public account. I was struggling to find the balance, harmony and scale in my own life.
Balance: Create a Sense of Equilibrium
I frantically wanted to arrange my life so I felt “right” again. This is what makes balance so important in designing a room, and how you make it look best. When a room is well- balanced everything just feels “right.” You might think your living room doesn’t look right because of what you see, but it is really how you feel in a room that makes it right. Want to apply this to your own home? Read this blog to find out how to get balance in your room.
Harmony: The Arrangement of Elements
I felt my life was in pieces and I wanted it to be nicely arranged again. When a room is in harmony, it means all the parts relate to and complement each other. The best way to create harmony is with repetition and rhythm.
I learned in my cognitive rehabilitation that when a person enters a place that is unfamiliar to them, the mind immediately tries to find a pattern to feel calm. Adding rhythmic patterns to a room makes everyone immediately feel calm. Read this blog to find out how to incorporate patterns in your décor to make you feel good.
Scale: The Relationship Between Objects
How could I balance the scale again and be “good” at something was so important to me. You don’t know how many times someone calls me because they just bought new furniture and it doesn’t fit in their room. Size, number and proportion are so important to make the whole room look good. I now love laying out rooms – that is how I satisfy my analytical side. It’s putting together a giant jigsaw puzzle and knowing it is going to look outrageously good. It’s hard for my clients to visualize a room I’ve drawn on paper, but I can see it so clearly in my mind.
Splendor and Glory Is What Remains: Our Interior Designer Colloboration
I still struggle with disabilities, but I have learned how to cope with them. If you are talking to me and I say the wrong word or you catch me searching for my words, you will know why. Or if I wink at you with my right eye, I am not flirting, it just loses strength sometimes and I don’t even know what it is doing. And if perhaps you pass me on the road at 7:00am with my face bright red, it is because I just finished a hot yoga class (without that “therapy” I would have difficulty moving).
You may not be able to envision what I have laboriously drawn or designed for you, but trust me it will look great. Remember this one thing – homes are beautiful because of the feelings they invoke, not because of the amount of expensive artwork or designer upholstery in them.
I don’t grieve anymore and recently marveled at how I feel so much happier. This revelation stunned me at that moment it struck me, but I’ve genuinely found strength in what remains. My passion for interior design gets stronger every time I design a new home. I hope you will let me marvel you with my designs and help you make your home (and the people that live in it) feel their best.
If you’d like to know more about me, click here to go to my About page.
Summer| 30 June 2016
Beautiful story, Kathleen, thank you for sharing it!
Crystal Ortiz| 1 July 2016
What a touching story Kathleen. And you tell it with such emotion, I’m cheering you on as you work through this newer phase of your life and embrace your strengths and weaknesses. Hugs!
My Honest Thoughts on Work-Life Balance, Motherhood, and Travel | KTJ Design Co| 23 December 2017
[…] If only I had known what would happen halfway through my career! (More about that here…) […]
How to Create an Easy Interior Design Plan for Your Space | KTJ Design Co| 17 April 2018
[…] During that time, I was still going through cognitive rehabilitation (due to my car accident; click here for the story behind that) and the book completely resonated with me. It is a fun little workbook […]
Kathleen Jennison | Interior Designer| 1 July 2016
Thank you Crystal. I always welcome all hugs