What’s Next for Interior Design in DFW?

Kim Bailey
Kim Bailey | Image by North Texas Design Group

As the interior design industry grows in Dallas, so does the need for more skilled professionals in the sector.

Enter Kim Bailey.

“I would describe it as booming,” said Bailey, the owner of Design Lifestyles, an interior design firm in Carrollton. “We have a need for talented people in the industry, and we are blessed to have a lot of resources in Dallas. We have the Dallas Market Center as well as the Design District there. I just see it as an opportunity for people with a creative passion and an entrepreneurial spirit to create their own future.”

That is why Bailey plans to open a Dallas campus of the Heritage School of Interior Design in Addison in April.

“It’s the first one in Texas,” she said. “I’ve been an interior designer with my own firm in Dallas for over 20 years. After hiring staff and really growing my firm and seeing the needs in the industry, I found out about this program and was really intrigued about helping people transition into design and learn valuable skills specifically for residential design.”

Bailey, through a licensing agreement, is the owner and executive director of Heritage Dallas.

“What makes this school so unique — what I love about it — is it is very hands-on,” she said. “There is a lecture part of the program, and a big part of the program involves hands-on projects the students will do while at the school. We’ll have walls of samples of tile and fabrics, rugs, wallpaper, and all types of materials. With paints and finishes, students will put together projects based on what they’re learning.”

Heritage has other campuses in Portland, Seattle, and Denver.

“The owner of this school owns the Seattle and Portland locations,” Bailey said. “The Denver school is a license agreement owned by a person there, and I am bringing as licensee the curriculum to Texas. The curriculum is accredited in the other three states. I’m in the process of getting the curriculum accredited under the Texas Workforce Commission, under colleges and career schools.”

Stephanie Thornton Plymale acquired Heritage School of Interior Design after running her own design firm for 18 years. She operates the Portland and Seattle campuses.

At the Dallas campus, space within The Madison building in Addison, located at 15851 Dallas Pwky., is being renovated to house Heritage.

“The Madison is the building I selected for the school,” Bailey said. “I secured about a 3,600-square-foot suite that will become the campus. We have about one-third of that space for reception and admissions offices. One-third will be the sourcing area for hands-on projects with the students. The other third of that space is actually two classrooms where we will have instruction.”

However, instruction is not limited to the classroom.

“We will take students into the design community,” Bailey said. “I’m leveraging my contacts from working years in the design industry to take students on field visits. They’ll see showrooms and visit cabinet and furniture manufacturers and interior design firms. By the time they finish the fundamentals program, they’ll have between 36 and 42 interactions in the design community.”

Many of Heritage’s students already have degrees but do not work in the industry.

“Really, a big portion of the students are people who already have a degree in another field, and they just have this creative passion,” Bailey said. “This gives them a segue to be able to change careers and learn what they need to be successful.”

Others have degrees in interior design but aren’t using them.

“They never found a way to take what they learned and get their foot into the door of the industry,” Bailey said. “When they’re done here, they can also become an independent designer with their own firm.”

Bailey warned that Heritage classes are a demand on students’ time.

“The only educational requirement is a high school education,” she said. “We do want people who understand the commitment that it’s going to take. We have found the greatest success with people who have held down a full-time job in the working world and have completed some level of college. It is a fast-track program, but it is an intensive program.”

The program is delivered in two parts — fundamentals of interior design and master certification — and each has its own tuition cost.

The renovations to Suite 110 at The Madison are scheduled to be completed in February, according to a state filing.

Bailey said open houses have been scheduled, and prospective students are being interviewed for April classes.

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