Her work is as bright, beautiful, and impressive as Dee Harris herself! Dee Harris Interiors is more than just a typical interior decorating company; Dee Harris Interiors is a top-notch, elegant, and superior firm! Her designs reflect her beautiful heart and are unique. This hardworking CEO gave me the honor of interviewing her, and here is what she shared about her journey in interior design.
Dee? Hello Gina.
Hi, Dee; how are you today? I am doing well, and it is a pleasure to meet you, even over the phone.
Well, Dee, same here. I’m excited and honored to speak with you today. I've seen your beautiful work, and I love it! You're amazing! You go, girl! Awe, thank you so much! I appreciate that!
My pleasure. So, Dee, today we're going to have a girl talk about you and your extraordinary work. While I have seen some of your masterpiece designs, I am curious about the woman behind the creations. So, let's get to know Dee Harris. Ok, I'm ready.
Awesome! Now Dee, when I was little, I didn't have a Barbie dream house. I believe part of it was because we didn't have much money. So, when you grow up with barbies and no Barbie dream house, you have to be creative. One of the things that I used to do to drive my Barbie around was to put her in my mother's high heel shoes. To my mother, they were high-heeled shoes, but for us as children, they were cars. (laughs) Barbie had many different cars, as you can imagine. (laughs) it took a creative mind to think of other ways to accommodate Barbie. What was your earliest memory of being attracted to décor, and did you have a similar experience to mine? Yes. As someone who did not come from wealth, we had similar experiences. I think your imagination was much bigger than mine when you were a child because you pushed Barbie around in high heels, whereas I probably drove Barbie around on a floor. (laughs)
(laughs) Dee, if my mother didn't have high heel shoes, I probably would have pushed her around on a slice of bread. (laughs) I was always getting into something. My mind was so curious I was surprised I didn't become the next Einstein. (laughs) I was always coming up with something. As a child, I was constantly inventing strange things, like houses made from sheets, blue rubber cakes, and making lip gloss using Vaseline and strawberry jam. (laughs) While we didn't have much as a child, my mom taught us to be proud of what we had, take care of it, and keep it clean, so we always had a spotless house. That was my earliest introduction to interior decorating and wanting to have nice things. Therefore, I would say that my mother laid the foundation.
Do you have sisters? Yes, I have one sister. I'm four years older than my sister, and we had to share a room. That’s just how it was back then. You had to share a room with your sister if you were a girl.
Oh yes, do I remember those years. Yes, and we had to share a room, and everything matched. Although my mom usually picked everything, there was one time when I was about 13 years old when I asked her to let me change our room around. Despite not having much money, she was willing to let us paint the room, given that the paint wasn't too expensive.
We painted it, and I would talk her into taking me to the Dollar General store. Do you remember those plastic laminated placemats?
Oh yes (laughs) The ones that if you spilled Spaghetti on them, it wouldn't stain them? (laughs) Yes. Because they had scenery on them, I wanted them. Since they were only a couple of dollars, my mother bought them for me. Then I would place the laminated placemats into an 8x10 wooden picture frame and hang it on my wall. They matched perfectly.
How creative! I added some throw pillows for the finishing touch, and my mom would say, "that looks good." So, from there, my love for décor grew. My story began as a child.
Did you decorate for your extended family during that time? No, I primarily did it for our own home. After getting married, I decorated my house, and people always complimented my work.
What would they say? People would say, "Your decor is so nice; you should do this for other people." The crazy part is that I had no idea that would be the stepping-stone to my interior decorating career. It started with me doing it in my own home and people asking me for tips or asking if I could do this or that for them. Decorating a room or something like that would be something I would do. From there, things just snowballed.
That is awesome, Dee! God always has a plan for our life. It’s just a matter of time before that plan unfolds. You have a very artistic mind. Tell me, what is the name of your business, and when did you feel confident enough to start your professional career? My business name is “Dee Harris Interiors,” and I must give my husband credit for the name because my birth name is Daphne. As a kid, I was teased because I had the same name as the cartoon character Daphne in "Scooby-Doo."
Awe! Yes, so when my husband and I met and started dating, he would always call me “Dee Dee” or “Dee.” That’s how I could tell if someone knew me because that’s what they would call me. By having that name Daphne, it was common for people to mispronounce it and ask me, “is your name, Delphine?”
(Laughs) I know, right? Is your name Delfonics or Darlene? So funny! It's like, please, can you get my name right. Yes. (laughs) Dee is a pet name my husband came up with because it's the first initial of my birth-given name, Daphne. It's also easy for people to remember. The (D) is taken from my first name, Daphne, Harris is my last name, and the word "Interiors" was added to my business name because that's what I love doing, making interiors beautiful. So altogether, it's "Dee Harris Interiors." At that point, I started thinking about owning my own decor in my business.
When did you officially launch your business? The year 2019 marked the beginning of my serious commitment to my business. In the same year, I obtained my business license. At that point, I started decorating on a larger scale, outside my home and my friends and family circle.
Awesome! What methodology do you use to develop a decor plan for each home? A good starting point for me is always the consultation because, during this process, I can go into the client's home and see the rooms and talk about what colors they like and envision. I'll ask them whether they like pastels or modern décor. So, I'll pick their brain during our consultation to learn what they like most and what they want to see. This helps me come up with a game plan.
Do you find that most people know what they want? Sometimes but more times than not, they don't. Most of the time, they don't know what they want. Therefore, I take bits and pieces from their likes and dislikes in those cases. But, Gina, it's truly a gift from God because from the moment I walk into the room, it's beyond me.
Usually, I'll enter the home and start scanning the room, conversing with them, and taking notes. My right brain immediately kicks in, and I envision what they want to do and how we'll orchestrate that plan. I consider how they want to use the room, like whether they need more storage or color. My main objective is to clearly envision how I will transform the space to serve my clients as effectively as possible. Although I pitch ideas to my clients, it's also a collaborative process. I aim to understand their needs clearly, so hearing their ideas is vital. Depending on their wants, I may say, “yes, that will or won't work.”
Sometimes, designers advise their clients to throw everything out, but budget considerations are paramount for me. Therefore, budget is at the front of my mind when working on any project.
I aim to make the most of a client's budget; for instance, sometimes, I consider what my clients already have in their homes that could be incorporated into their space, so for the most part, it's a collaborative process. Most importantly, I leave their home with a smile on my face.
You are living out your God-given destiny and purpose, and I know that because I can hear your enthusiasm for decorating over the phone. That's wonderful! Nevertheless, every triumph is accompanied by adversity. In your earlier remarks, you spoke of your clients' smiles when you left their homes, but unfortunately, we live in a society that can't be satisfied with anything. Can you share with me experiences that you've had where people have expressed dissatisfaction, and how did you handle it? For the most part, I've had wonderful clients that became good friends after completing my work. At the same time, it’s unrealistic to think I'll never encounter someone hard to please. I myself have encountered that.
I handle those situations by giving opportunities for revisions but within reason. You can't keep making changes after we've already come up with a game plan, and I've given you my price based on what was agreed upon.
(Laughs) 1:00 AM is not the time to call and tell me you don't like something.
That’s hilarious! I try to be as accommodating as possible but within reason. Suppose the job becomes problematic, and I feel that pleasing them isn't in the realm of possibility. In that case, I have no problem suggesting they find another designer who better understands their needs. Although I have not yet encountered such a situation, I am prepared to handle it if it arises.
If something like that occurs after we hang up, please don't call me and say, "Gina, you're to blame because you brought it up."(laughs) Right! (laughs)
To date, what is one of your proudest decorative moments, and have you designed for anyone that you would consider notable? Honestly, all my decorative moments are my proudest. I love all my room creations. As of now, I haven't worked with any notable people or household names. But let's speak that into existence. (laughs)
In terms of my proudest decorative moments, I would have to say that I feel deeply touched when my clients express deep emotions by crying after I have finished decorating their rooms. I love that. It is for this reason that I do what I do. They're overwhelmed with so much emotion because it no longer looks like their living space. Considering this is a new experience for them, the shock factor will likely evoke a great deal of emotion. It thoroughly touches my heart. From beginning to end, it is a journey. Upon finishing, I'm excited, but knowing they're excited too is like no other feeling.
Do you find that people who live in economically challenged communities are as eager to hire an interior decorator as those who are wealthier? Are you able to accommodate clients of all budgets? Unfortunately, no, because some people that live in economically disadvantaged communities, mainly people of color, don't have a lot of resources to utilize for redecoration. Sadly, in many cases, that's not even in the realm of possibility for them. However, I'm not opposed to it because I have had clients with diverse budgetary brackets.
In the early stages of my decorating career, I have dealt with clients with minimum budgets of $500. But now that my career has flourished and my portfolio has expanded, I get referrals from more heavily resourced people. When you have a bigger budget, you can do more things.
Many people are fascinated by TV reality shows with interior decorators doing amazing things, but they don't realize how much work goes into it or how much it costs.
On the flip side, I can always find ways to improve a space, even for my clients who do not have a big budget. If you change out one piece of furniture or add some color to a room, you'd be amazed at the difference it can make! So basically, we can make minor changes for smaller budgets, but I can do those wow transformations for people with bigger budgets!
Yes, I hear you. In my observation, many people don't bother hiring a decorator in the hood. I know this because I grew up in LA/Inglewood, surrounded by poverty, and I never witnessed my childhood friend's parents hire a decorator.
That's just something that you don't see. Still, in observing the oppression and depression in those communities, I can't help but wonder whether the lack of seeing the beauty around their environment contributes to the violence and lack of ambition. Right.
For those with strained budgets, these types of opportunities don't exist. They're just not available, and then people wonder why sometimes they don't have the drive to do better and to be better. One contributing factor is that they see only poverty, sadness, and hopelessness around them daily. Oh my, yes.
That's just something I think about. Breaks my heart. The environment around you can affect your mood significantly, and if those surroundings are destitute and downtrodden, it can be highly challenging. In my hometown of South Memphis, I grew up poor. As a little girl, I remember it being so depressing that I told myself, "I have to leave here." I didn't want my surroundings to be mine forever. My goal was to have a better life, not just for myself but also for my future children. It would be depressing and sad for them to live that way.
Eventually, I would like to work pro bono in those communities or assist a family with my time and talent. But I agree that the lack of beauty around you can affect your mood.
Have you ever decorated someone's home when something so strange happened that you had to leave? In other words, did you see something creepy, like a weird bug, someone locked up under the stairs, encountered a strange smell, Sasquatch, The Loch Ness Monster, or anything of the sort? Or did you exit and start a fire in someone's house or break something? Come on, give me the scoop. It's time to fess up! (laughter) (Laughter) Let me share two different situations with you. One of my first projects was a family friend. As aforementioned, I had many referrals, which is still the case. Well, I remember her calling me and telling me that she and her husband had relocated, and they moved into a home that belonged to his great aunt, that passed away, and she told her husband that she couldn’t live there unless he hired someone to make some changes. So, I agreed to take on the project.
Back then, it was just my mom and me. She would tag along with me. And Gina, when I walked in, they had hunter green carpet. (laughs) they have the kind of furnace in their home that would burn the back of your legs. Do you remember that kind?
Yes! Hilarious! They had a pipe that came out the wall, the living room color scheme was lime green, and there was stuff everywhere. Her husband was a pack rat. Additionally, there was a standing bar like my stepfather in the 70s. You stood behind it, and it had a black pleather look. Gina, when I walked into that room and scan assessed it, all I could say was wow!
She asked me if I could help her. As I took my notes, I completed my assessment, including gathering her budget information, and told her I'd think it over and get back to her.
As soon as I got in the car, I told my mother I couldn't do this! My mother assured me that I was capable. During the discussion with my mother, I mentioned to her that I had never walked into a house and felt so intimidated by the feeling that I would be unable to help them.
Did you do it? Yes. To this day, it's hard to believe that I transformed that room the way I did. I still have a photo of that room. The good news is there were hardwood floors under that ugly green carpet. We also changed the colors. They had a couch I could not replace, but I worked around it and brought in some more modern pieces. My first thought was to run, but it ended up being a lovely room! (laughs)
I'm glad I didn't run, and at the end of the day, she was happy with the room. Her friends told her that it looked like something out of a magazine, and compared to what I saw when I first walked in there, I would have to agree. Because that was one of my first projects, and I've learned so much since then, now I know I could have done so much more with the room, but at that time, I did the best I could with the knowledge that I had.
You got interior decorator lesson 101 overnight! (laughs) Yes!
Awesome, Dee, you're amazing! I'm enjoying this interview. You're such a lovely person! Thank you.
Where can people go to find out more about your work? I am on social media, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, and even Tik T.O.K. Just search for “Dee Harris interiors.”
Did "The Indie Post" is about inspiration? We're all about lifting others and bringing encouragement. Hence, as I end each interview, my question is, what would you like to say to inspire or encourage someone looking to pursue a career in interior decorating? I would tell them to follow their passion and their dreams. Sometimes it can seem daunting, and there may be times when you feel your dream is impossible. I've even had times when I doubted my ability. But I will tell you, be encouraged and don't give up, follow your dream, and don't give up. If you hang in there, in the end, you'll be happy that you did. I'm so glad I didn't give up because everything turned around for me; now, I'm living my passion and dream. I can't even imagine myself doing anything different.
Dee, it's been such a pleasure interviewing you! You're amazing! My prayer for you is that God will continue to bless and keep you and your beautiful family safe and well. I pray that God will give you the desires of your heart, be it done according to his will. I pray that God will open major doors for you so that your business will flourish and prosper. I pray that God will strengthen you and give you a greater vision with each project that he blesses you with. Thank you once again for sharing your story of how God has blessed your life and the journey he has set you on. Continue to use this gift to touch others' lives and to be a testimony of what God can do in the lives of those who are faithful to Him. How the most amazing day ever, and I can't wait to see all God will do in your life in the coming days. I'm proud of you! You and your husband be blessed. Thank you so much. Thank you so much for your time. I appreciate it and received it all!