“The best rooms have something to say about the people who live in them” —David Hicks
Meet my friend, Linda Holt, interior design consultant and smart phone photography instructor extraordinaire! Based in Boston, Linda is the second in a new series spotlighting Women Over 50 crafting a midlife chapter that brings them joy.
When your timeline opens up for something different, what will you choose? Social media relentlessly serves up unrealistic images of the “perfect” midlife chapter. Which creates anxiety, stress, and unrealistic pressure for what we “should” do—and guilt when we don’t. Who needs that?!
So the purpose of my series is to share Midlife Stories of real women pursuing a variety of personal interests. These are unfiltered accounts of women living life on their own terms, unapologetically and contentedly. They’re doing what they consider perfect for them…not what someone else tells them. Isn’t that what we all want to achieve?
By the way, there’s a link at the end if you missed the kickoff post with Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller. But for now, settle in for a delightful introduction to Linda who forged her own path with what lights her up: helping people create a fabulous home space that supports their true lifestyle and individual taste.
From Marine Biology to Interior Design
How Her Journey Started
Yes, you read that right! Even as a child, Linda loved rearranging her bedroom furniture. Growing up, she eagerly delved into anything to do with decorating a home. Then she’d head outside and use her Kodak Instamatic camera to capture vignettes of her beloved dogs. Interior design school was an ideal choice for her continuing education.
However, her dad had very traditional thoughts. Linda was told to pick one of three “practical” fields: science, business, or education. In his exact words which she remembers to this day, “We’re not sending you to college so you can learn how to pick out pillows for other people.”
Moreover, she had multiple colleges vying for her enrollment. Yet even there, he selected the one he felt offered the best chance for her to marry a rich husband (remember, this was 40+ years ago). Linda was good in science—hence, marine biology.
But 3 years into a lab job, it wasn’t what made her heart sing. She’d need a Master’s degree to advance into a more challenging and lucrative position. And then one day on the commute home, she looked up and saw an advertisement above the bus seat across from her: “You, too, can become a photographer!” Linda believed it was a sign … and so she did!
Shifting Into Photography
The photography school tuition was $11,000 which sounds reasonable in today’s dollars. But in an era when $6/hour was the minimum wage, it took working three years in various part-time positions to pay for full-time classes.
Fortunately, her patience and determination paid off: Linda enjoyed a 25-year career as a professional photographer. She had her own studio in Boston, specializing in headshots and portfolios for actors and models. Yet even though she found photography rewarding, interior design remained her top passion.
“I spent my weekends wandering through flea markets or antique stores, making window treatments, trying out a new wall color, or painting a dated piece of furniture. My husband and two sons never knew what room was going to get torn apart next.”
It was the real possibility of undergoing spinal surgery due to the toll of lifting and toting heavy photography equipment that signaled the end of this career chapter and the start of the next: her beloved interior design!
An Award Winning Interior Designer
Linda and I connected on IG in 2019, thanks our mutual love of all things home beautiful. Her photos relay a story that consistently draws your eyes in. And her videos and captions exude calm authority about industry trends.
So when I interviewed her last week, I was floored to learn that she did not officially open Linda Holt Creative until 2011! When I asked her how she broke into a competitive business, she replied,
“Baby steps! I joined a business networking group. I teamed up with a realtor from that group and provided home staging for his listings. This led to another realtor asking for my help. And then one of her clients wanted my design services for a new home. From there, my business grew, thanks to word of mouth referrals.”
Moreover, Linda never said no to any invitations to speak at webinars or to consult in small gatherings. So when she was asked to speak live at a Design Influencers Conference, she knew this would be her watershed moment.
How does one prepare to address 350 strangers when you have a “crippling, life-long phobia” for public speaking?
Practice, practice, practice! Linda not only memorized her speech. She also spent countless hours reviewing self-help YT videos and analyzing her own recorded dry runs. Nine months later, she delivered her speech and received a standing ovation!
In fact, here’s what also happened:
“I can honestly say that talk propelled me to where I am today. I was nervous walking onto stage but I took three deep breaths and delivered my speech. Afterwards, someone came up and asked me to talk at another event. And then another invitation arrived. All of these opportunities snowballed and I can trace it back to this one event. It’s probably the proudest thing I mastered in my life!”
However, Linda has many other accomplishments to be proud of: she has earned a very long list of industry awards and client accolades. Houzz, Architectural Digest, House Beautiful … she’s been recognized by the best!
Yet Linda is not one to relentlessly broadcast her talents. (I actually had to go to her website to discover her industry gold stars!). Self-promotion makes her cringe but as an essential part of a business, she continues to speak about her customer-centric approach:
“Not only do I save my clients from making costly mistakes, but I empower them to create the homes of their dreams, not mine.”
A Slight Pivot In Her Journey
The latest shift with Linda Holt Creative occurred in 2019. While Linda thoroughly enjoyed helping her clients create a home that suits their lifestyle, she became weary of things going wrong in the process that were not her fault. There are many players involved, i.e., furniture manufacturers, installers, construction crew, etc. Yet her deep commitment to her clients’ satisfaction sometimes led to Linda bearing the fallout when other project facets outside her control went South.
Then she had the idea to refine her business model from full service into a consulting service. It really makes sense when you think about all the inspirational resources homeowners can now access, such as HGTV, Pinterest, and Houzz.
Most people already have a design vision. They are capable of hiring trades and buying products. But what they can really use is someone with the interior design expertise and sourcing connections to bring it all to life. So enter in the ability for the homeowner to obtain professional guidance and recommended resources. Then Linda exits and the homeowner carries on!
Whether virtual or in person, the consulting approach has really resonated with all her clientele. It also worked beautifully for Linda’s peace of mind, particularly when the pandemic hit: supply chain snags were not her problem!
The other shift was a dive into creating smartphone courses for fellow interior designers. After casually and regularly sharing tips for better images, she followed through on their clamor for formal instruction.
While her online courses are geared for her colleagues, you can always catch her “Two Tip Tuesday” live IG videos when you follow her. How impressive that she’s continuing to speak live, when once upon a time, she would’ve blushed if someone in the grocery store stopped her to ask a question!
Linda has clearly come into her own when she pivoted professionally into what sets her creativity on fire. And she did it with her customary hard work, laser focus, and quiet determination.
The Wrap on an Interior Design Journey
Linda’s own words really capture how she created her Midlife Chapter, when she was a Finalist in Design Hounds 2021 The Change Makers awards:
11 years ago I started my decorating business. For the first few years, I was still shooting headshots a couple days a week because I was too scared…to make a commitment to a totally different career. I lacked self-confidence, felt like a fraud and was embarrassed to tell my friends…I was so worried what everyone would say. It’s taken 10 years of coaching, mindset work, and many ‘life is short’ wakeup calls, but…all my internal struggles and consistent ‘stepping out of my comfort zone’ paid off. If you had told me 11 years ago this [award] would happen, I would have believed it as much as if you told me I would be living on Mars in 2021 or working as a brain surgeon! …To be in the company of the other winners is truly humbling.”
Here’s how to connect with my talented friend, Linda Holt:
I’m certain you’ll enjoy Linda’s warm, welcoming & lighthearted spirit! Be certain to stop and admire her deft interior designs displayed in her website portfolio.
Who knows, perhaps she can pull together your vision for your next renovation or home purchase. And don’t forget: she’s got the smart phone photography tips you can use when sharing your refreshed home space with family and friends!
—image montages were created on Canva, using photos from Linda Holt Creative
Catch up on the Midlife Stories series which debuted with Katherine, The 5 Kilo Traveller.
Do you dream of shifting into your own new adventure? Head here for 5 Ways To Harness Your Midlife Transition.
What’s happening in your Midlife Chapter? Share a little about your journey with a comment below…and thanks for stopping by!
Stay tuned for another Woman Over 50 feature next month!
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