iscd Alumni: Simone Mathews

Posted by rachel on January 8

Simone is an interior designer focusing mainly in the residential industry with new builds, renovations and developments she works on both her own projects and with clients. 

Simone also owns and manages her own boutique guest accommodation; SOUL of Gerringong.

“That was a labour of love with all the design works being completed by myself.  It has been a dream of mine to combine my design knowledge & create a space that I can share with everyone.”

What was your background before studying?

I worked in real estate & marketing before I had children. Whilst my 4 boys were young and before at school I worked in my husbands construction business, in the administration & marketing side.  It wasn’t long until I started to live and breathe building & design as we renovated and flipped our own homes.

What’s your favourite memory of iscd?

There are so many, the style of learning and the many friends and colleagues that I have made over the years.  But I would have to say it would be the satisfaction of completing assessments. When you receive your assessment at the beginning of the term and think ‘how can I do this’ … to presenting your work and realising how much I have grown with my knowledge and skills.

One thing you’d like to say to your educator now?

Thank you to my amazing educator Lisa Koehler… for all the knowledge that I gained through our classes, but more importantly for sharing all your hands-on experiences, both your successes & failures.  You taught me how to be resilient; you built my confidence that has allowed me to know where I sit in the design world today.

“The fact that the educators were working in the industry was a huge plus for me.  It meant that I would not be taught from just a textbook, rather both theory and practical.”

When we say “Design your way” what does this saying mean to you?

Design your way is about creating your own unique style, approach and business.  Just as we are all unique as human beings, so is the work as a designer. The key to stand out in a noisy market is to be true to yourself and your design approach.  Don’t be afraid to try something new, mix your styles and be completely open and honest with your work and clients. Design your own way is the only way.

How are you designing your way in the industry?

For me it is all about feelings and how people want to live and feel in a space.  I want to understand the feelings that my clients want to experience . From there, I use my 70/20/10 rule to make those feelings come to life.  70% of one style, 20% of another and a final 10% layer. By designing my way, I know that a property is going to feel right and the look will follow.  

What does a typical day look like for you?

There is no such a thing as a typical day for me!  Firstly as a mother of 4 boys, my day starts with the morning school routine. After I drop them off, I grab my coffee hit on the run.  I like to start my day off with a site visit, that way I have a clear head for any on the run decisions that may be needed. I will either head back to the office to work on a project or head on a sourcing trip.  I also manage my holiday property business, SOUL of Gerringong so I could be dealing with guest check ins to photoshoots. I would love to say that my day ends before I arrive home, but as I am married to the builder whom I work with on majority of my projects, there will often be a discussion across the dinner table … I am still working on the work/life balance.

What is the best thing you have learnt since being out in the industry?

To believe in yourself.  It is so easy in this digital world to compare your work and yourself to others.  Being a creative, it is so important to work with your talent and not allow your mind to second guess each step of a project.  Another big learning it to ask for help, if you are not sure of something reach out to another designer or someone in the industry.  When I am approached by someone for help, it really is a confidence booster.

Where do you get your inspiration from?

Travel.  I am all about ’that holiday feeling’ and this comes through my love of travel.  With my SOUL Home business I am blessed with the opportunity to stay at other holiday properties, from shacks to waterfronts to train carriages.  Each time I am on holidays I am so inspired, and this is when my creativity is at it’s highest and I am in the flow.

Favourite projects/jobs you’ve worked on/completed since running your own business?

Without a doubt, it is my own project SOUL of Gerringong.  Together with my husband, we restored an original 1800’s farmhouse and turned it into a new style of accommodation for the NSW South Coast area.  From the beginning, I had a vision to work with all the original materials and details and transform the property into a place from the moment guests arrived they instantly felt relaxed.  This project we poured our sweat, blood and tears into.  

I am currently working on another project that will definitely be one of my favourites.  It has curved ceilings, double basalt stone walls and just oozes character.

What advice would you give to someone looking to study interior design?

If you have passion for interior design, everything will fall into place.  Be true to yourself and your design. Listening is the key, both when studying and working with clients.  And know that the work is truly rewarding, but that comes with hardworking, highs and lows. And the combination of this will bring you true happiness as a designer.


Are you inspired by Simone’s story and want to learn more about iscd‘s courses?