How I have got hooked for life...

My story and journey as a holistic home designer.




Every interior professionals have their own personal stories. How they discovered their undying passion for interiors, how they got involved, what difficulties, challenges, low points or even failures they went through.

I value transparency. Also I like to get a sneak-peek into not only other people's home but their mind and life as well. I am a self-confessed voyeur in this sense.

So, I feel it is only fair if I let you have a little insight into my life, my world and my own personal journey to become the person who I am today.



I took a fairly early interest in interior design and decoration as a child. I lived in a nice, big house with a garden together with my parents. My mom was a keen 'hobby interior designer' always beautifying, tweaking, rearranging our home environment - sometimes driving my dad 'crazy' with the changes. That day when she repositioned my dad's favourite reading armchair did not go down too well with him. But eventually he got used to the new room layout my mom insisted to.

It was her who dreamt up to extend and structurally reorganise our family home. I was only around 11 and I felt totally fascinated by the prospect lying ahead us as this change also meant to convert the attic into my own 'empire' with a big room and a private bathroom for myself - as I only had a small room for myself which had been separated from the big eat-in kitchen when I was born. From the very start I was involved in the decision making. I sat through all the meetings my parents had with the architect and I could spend hours with studying the new floor plan and all the elevations. I was allowed to pick all the colours, wallpapers, tiles, flooring for the entire top floor - for my own living space. I could even do some building works as well, like laying bricks or operating the cement maker under supervision.

Before all the actual work could have started I managed to raid the attic and I found lots of previous issues of the only interior design magazine existed back then in my home country, in the 80s. It was summer time - no school and plenty of time at my hands. So I transported all the magazines down from the attic up to the flat roof of our garage. That was my favourite place to spend time - yes, on the roof of the garage. It was mainly due to the 'special benefit' of a huge cherry tree standing by the garage with its big branches stretching over the garage roof - a perfect spot for me stuffing myself with cherries picked from the tree while daydreaming, cloud gazing or reading. So I took all of the magazines with me, got a big bowl of unwashed cherries, a cushion and sat down to flick through years of issues.

There and then I got hooked for life. Interior design became my new hobby and fascination.

I envisioned myself as an adult living in my own, beautiful home designed and decorated by me. I also envisioned myself as a person doing this for others as a job.

I could not wait to grow up and walk my own path.


I was born and raised in a small country side town three hours of driving away from the capital of my home country, Budapest. Traveling there back then was a big thing. Due to our home transformation we drove up there relatively often. My mom wanted the best and the most beautiful of everything - Persian rugs, chandeliers, timeless wall clock, classic furniture. These trips were like special treats for me. In the 80s my country still belonged to the communist block, and even though we were said to be the 'happiest barrack' within the block because our standard of living was the highest and we were 'allowed' to buy Western consumer products, there was still a lack of variety and quality of products. And even this opportunity was pretty much restricted to the capital - you could only buy these 'luxurious' products in Budapest in special shops. At the beginning you could not even pay with our own currency, only US dollar or German mark were accepted.

Those were the times, were not they? We drove 3 hours to queue another 1-2 hours to finally get that exquisite wall clock from Germany.... It is still working after more than 30 years so eventually it was worth all the sweat and money. It seems to be timeless indeed. Mom knew a thing or two.

Not only did we do shopping in the capital but we started regularly visiting the biggest seasonal trade fair show twice a year. It was there where we came across show-homes exhibited by some big architect and building company. They were independent houses built up on the site of the fair, you could walk in them and look around. They were furnished, equipped and decorated so they totally looked like proper homes. It was something completely new and I felt sort of mesmerised. It made a huge impact on me. I desperately tried to memorise the layout of the 'favourite' house and when we got home I grabbed a piece of paper and pen and drew up the whole house by heart. This was followed by other 'drawings' later on. Whenever I saw a house I liked from the outside I tried to imagine how its interior layout would look like and I put it down on a paper. Or if I visited someone's home and I fancied it, then back home I put it down on a paper and redesigned it to my liking.





I was around 16 when I started to feel that I had grown out the furniture my parents had bought me when starting primary school at the age of 6. First I tried to make my room more relevant by creating a hideaway reading 'nook' by the bottom end of my bed under the sloping ceiling and fabricating side tables and small bookcases out of polystyrene and cardboard. But obviously these pieces did not last too long as they were not durable. I discussed my desire for a more 'adult-like' room and furniture with my parents and I got the green light. So I started to search for a new and complete set of furniture. We visited all the big names' stores, I mean the Hungarian 'big names' (still in the 80s), I flicked through several magazines, product booklets - and I felt deeply frustrated. There was nothing I could have liked. All the products seemed dull, old-fashioned or tacky and the selection was limited. I was sure there was no way I wanted anything like those sets in my room. I wanted something modern, light, airy and 'youthful' - after all I was a teenager.

There was a very skilled carpenter living in our neighbourhood, we knew him well as he had done a few jobs for us when we went through the house renovation. So one day the light bulb went up in my head: what if I design my own furniture, exactly the way I want it and he makes it for me?

At first it seemed as a crazy idea, my parents were kind of stunned - a 16 year old with zero experience and skill in furniture design and carpentry...are you serious, my daughter? Yes, I am.

So, it happened. I designed a new double bed, a bedside table, a desk, a wardrobe, a sideboard and 3 bookcase / display cabinets. All independent modules so they could be moved and switched around. I had a massive debate with my mom as she did not like the furniture to be too airy - in her opinion. I preferred - and to a certain extend I still do - open spaces, open shelves so I designed one of the bookcases with open shelves from top down to the bottom. Also the side board came with open shelves and without a back panel. My mom argued that they would catch dust easily and wanted me to put up doors. Determined to have my way regarding the new look of my room, I said it was my design, my room, and cleaning the entire top floor was anyway my responsibility since I moved up there so her argument was pointless. For the upholstery of the bed I picked red plush velvet. In addition to all of this I designed a rectangular glass and brass coffee table and my dad made it for me as he was quite a DIY man.

Funnily enough, 7 years later when I moved out of the parental home into my own flat my mom made the same carpenter fix doors onto the sideboard - just to prove her point.


During my teenagerhood I piled up a massive collection of cut out pictures, floor plans, drawings, design articles all neatly filed in albums. Other kids would collect stamps, empty western soap boxes, deodorant flacons or beer cans (yes, those were 'big things' back then, for girls owning an Impulse or Limara deodorant or for boys a can of Foster or Guinness put you into the 'somebody' category and you would not throw them away at all cost even when they got empty, you just neatly put them on your shelves for 'decorative purpose') - I collected beautiful images of interiors.


My first 'low point' came when I discovered that there was no such qualification or job as 'interior designer' per se, let alone 'interior stylist' in my home country, not even in the year when I was about to graduate from high school. The only option those days were me completing an interior architect / engineer university degree which I considered too technical and constructional while I felt more interested in the aesthetic aspect of creating a home. I had no desire to study more maths, physics or anything like that after finishing high school as I was always more interested in the arts subjects than in the science ones. Consequently becoming an architect was a no for me.

My parents, especially my mom always pushed me towards academic studies to obtain a good, college or university qualification in order to have a 'secure job' as they called it. My arty side was not that much appreciated as good school performance and high grades. 'You cannot make a living out of art' was oftentimes cited. As an only child I felt under pressure to be thankful for my parents and go along with their wish for me.


So, eventually I got admitted a nearby town college studying social work and sociology - which was a compromise between me and my parents: an academic subject but in the field of humanities.


Well, if you have read it so far, you are a hero.

If you still feel interested in learning about what happened in the coming years keep on reading here.



If you do not know where to start your journey, by all means, download your beautiful gift, the Home Harmony Starter Kit. This 20 page long booklet will help you become more aware of your space giving tips and ideas to build a stronger connection with your home.

Download your copy here now.



You can book a 15 minute long free discovery call or book an hour long informal chat with me where you can Ask Me Anything related to your design problem.

And if you feel ready to work with me have a look at here in what way I can help you.


Have a fab day,

Marianna


Styling and Decorating - Express Yourself

You might have a newly purchased home that needs a full styling service or you already have the big pieces in place but the interior still lacks that "wow" factor and need some help with the smaller details.

Perhaps you just need a sort of design remix to refresh your space and give it a new look.

Or alternatively you are about to sell or rent your property and wish to make it more appealing and valuable for possible buyers and renters. 

Contact and connect with Me

marianna@unexpectedliving.com  |  Tel: 07507679323

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • YouTube
  • Pinterest
  • Instagram

Sign up to get your hands on the free Home Harmony Starter Kit and to stay connected with the latest news and updates.

Screen Shot 2020-10-11 at 13.22.40.png
Unexpected Living Hub Insiders Member.pn