Crafting a career change in Connecticut

On a previous assignment, HEINEKEN expat partner Louise Cahill ‘sowed the seeds’ for a career change, moving into interior decoration, which she has continued to pursue in the US along with upholstery.

A lifelong interest

“I’ve always had an interest in interior design, so while I was in the Netherlands I decided to study it formally, enrolling in an Irish Academy of Interior Design online course,” says Louise, a former project manager from Dublin. “Since moving to Old Greenwich in Connecticut with my family, I’ve also started to study upholstery as I wanted to gain an extra skill for my interior design career. But I love it.”

Social networking

“I’m learning all about upholstery along with some fellow expats at a Swedish friend’s house. So it’s also been a nice way to get to know people,” adds Louise. “After arriving at my first class with an IKEA footstool, I immediately started scouring online market pages for old vintage chairs. I love taking an old piece that was going to landfill and fixing it up in an unexpected, contemporary way. I’ve now moved on to more complicated pieces and have a garage full of wingback chairs. I’m running out of space for new projects!”

Organic growth

“As a vocation, this is something I’m hoping will grow organically. I also have a patient friend, who asked me to refurbish some chairs for her – upholstery is pretty time consuming. So I don’t feel I am ready to go out on my own yet but, with my teacher, we’re (slowly) redoing some chairs for her that she was going to replace. They will be beautiful, but they will also take me six months to finish.”

The magic of restoration

“I’m slowly starting to do interior design for local expats, too. As an expat, we move from country to country with some of the same old pieces, as well some newer pieces and often a stack of IKEA, from one house to another. I love to go into someone’s home and help them integrate all of their existing furniture into their new surroundings. Soon they will be able to buy some of my pieces, too. For me, I see an opportunity when people start to see their old furniture as something that can be beautiful again. Hopefully this is the year I’ll be able to grow my business.”

Photo: Louise Cahill

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