When I Grow Up: Becoming an Interior Designer & Stylist

Hi friends! Today I'd like to introduce you to Nina Dee Rattenbury, an interior designer and a stylist based in Brisbane, Australia. Her style is impeccable and her website is lovely. But see for yourself on her website, and read all about her below. 

As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up? I never had a specific title i wanted to be, all I knew is that it needed to be creative but also exciting. As long as I can remember I've always poured myself into the visuals of a glossy magazine wanting to re-invent those images in some way or make them come to life.

How close (or far) is your current career from that dream? Pretty close! Being creative isn't something you can escape. Working for myself, making up my own rules on how to do business and defining in my terms what an Interior Stylist is, is the dream, and I'm achieving it. That said the dream always gets bigger. I still have a lot to learn and achieve.

What is your official job title? Interior Designer & Stylist (Owner of Nina Dee).


Ok, now what does that really mean? I hustle! Being my own boss means having to wear many hats but for the most part I work on a number of interior projects ranging from private residences to prop styling for editorial and retail.

What is a typical day like? I could be out all day selecting furniture an other beautiful things or on-site delegating an installation to spending hours huddled over my laptop developing my online side of the business. Travel is also a vital part for my business. I need to know what's out there, experience different cultures, be on top of trends, source unique products to be creatively dynamic in my work.

How did you end up in this career? Like every self-respecting Gen Y'er there was no other option but univeristy and like the rest who didn't know what they really wanted I enrolled in BA of Arts. Eventually I realized I wanted to try Interior Design…

I started my first graduate role and kept pushing forward from there. I jumped around a bit finding my feet and niche but I have to say it’s always your first proper job that has the most influence on your career, whether it is positive or negative. Mine was both! But definitely set me on an entrepreneurial pathway and specialising in residential design.

What kind of education or training did you complete for this career? I completed my Bachelor in Interior Design and later went on to do a post grad in Business and Marketing. But nothing beats on the job training. Especially in this industry. So whilst i am proud of my formal qualifications I no longer rate it as the only pathway to gain entry into the industry. You can be taught the technical aspect of design but style and being able to visually translate concepts into reality is something (I believe) comes naturally. Travel and life experience is also a big thing. If you’ve been a little sheltered or not experienced other cultures then you have no reference to develop the depth that is needed for innovative and thoughtful design. Be it architecture, decoration or styling you are “designing” environments for people, therefor insight and an awareness of the world is required.

What advice would you give to someone who wants a similar career? Travel and then travel again! Gain some sort of technical foundation, don’t be afraid to move around and try different segments of the market. This is how you discover your individual style.

The industry is tough and competitive and unfortunately it really is all about who know. Therefor Passion Is A Must! But in the end stick with your strengths and you’ll go far. For me I wasn’t the best technical designer but have natural stylistic flare...and since transitioned from your more traditional interior designer to working on interior decoration and prop styling.

Do you have any other career dreams? What do you want to be when you grow up? I guess it would be to be a fully-fledged style adventurer! What does mean? Travelling the world as a stylist, whilst incorporating adventure along the way.  To travel more with my business and work teaching others what I’ve learnt so far.

Any last thoughts or encouragement for others trying to decide what they want to do “when they grow up”? If being successful means making a living out of what you love. Don’t think your creative passions won’t cut it. It is the only thing that will cut it in the end. Passion and determination is everything.

Thank you so much for sharing your story, Nina! If you'd like to learn more about Nina check out her website or find her on Facebook, Instagram, or Pinterest.

Previously on Mrs Robbins Sparkles...