Have you ever imagined how your space could improve? Dare we say, your space could make you happier? That’s what Antoinette Belson does. She takes your already existing space and furniture and helps “happy” it. From maximizing the space for littles while still exuding a sophisticated vibe, to helping you craft a space that gets you excited to spend time in it, Antoinette’s passion is contagious. Keep reading to learn more about Antoinette and how you can “happy” your space.
SDS: Can you walk us through who you are, what you do and your journey to entrepreneurship?
ANTOINETTE BELSON: I’m the founder of Happy Your Space, an interior design studio. I’m also an interior design coach and host of the Biscuits with a Boss podcast. I am a spunky, quirky, and caring individual who loves to plan. Even as a 6-year-old, I made schedules and plans for myself – especially for my birthday parties!
I lived by the 5-year plan strategy. It started in ninth grade by listing out the sports teams I wanted to be a part of. I was captain of my JV team and made co-captain my senior year. I listed out all the AP classes I wanted to take and when. I would go to a liberal arts school for college. In my sophomore year of college I made my next 5-year plan: study abroad, create my own major, get a job on campus, get into graduate school, get married to my high school sweetheart. In my second year of graduate school, I started another 5-year plan: get a job, move to NYC, work my way up the corporate ladder. I never paused or had more than 14 days unprogrammed. In my third year of living in NYC, I made my last 5-year plan: switch jobs, get promoted, and buy a house.
In 2019, I got the promotion, bought the house and then…. I felt like “What else is there?” I didn’t feel comfortable making another 5-year plan because I wasn’t clear on what I wanted to achieve. Then in 2020 fate stepped in. I got pregnant and the pandemic hit. I am so glad I didn’t make a plan because those two events would definitely not have been predicted.
The year 2020 changed life for so many of us. I finally had a minute to breathe and slow down. I got to reevaluate my priorities and change how I defined success. My job wasn’t fulfilling to me. I had previously had a three hour commute roundtrip which wasn’t going to fly now that I had my son. I was open to exploring new opportunities.
During my maternity leave I had a lot of family and friends reach out to me to help them make their homes work better for them during the pandemic. Homes were now wearing many hats including a 24/7 place to learn, work, exercise and live for all family members. I offered them solutions with space planning strategies and helped them discover ways to declutter, finding more usable space with more efficient layouts and furniture pieces.
Three of the people I helped were so grateful for my assistance that they offered to pay me! I was shocked. This is just something I like to do – help people make their home a happy space to be in. This was my lightbulb moment. What if I could make a business of this? That is how my entrepreneur journey started in November 2020. I started Happy Your Space as a side hustle while I worked my full-time job and in January 2022, I took the leap to make HYS my full-time gig.
SDS: What does a happy space mean to you?
AB: A happy space is a place you feel comfortable being in. This could be a playroom where you feel motivated to get up, move, wiggle, and be creative. This could be a cozy corner that just calls to you to come and snuggle up with a good book. This could be your home office that inspires creativity and productivity – a place you could lose sense of time and spend hours in. A happy space to me literally fills you with joy to occupy.
SDS: Tell us more about the biggest misconceptions people have about being happy in their space and having little kids? Any tips?
AB: Many people feel they have to wait to have “good design” until their kids are older. They feel it isn’t worth dealing with the effort it would take to figure out how to maintain it. Good design is design that works for the users, both functional and attractive. I also like to add fun and flexibility with my designs. I always tell people to utilize my H.A.P.P.Y. method when tackling a design project with littles in mind
H- Hold places for storage. Unless you are a minimalist, you likely have things. Filter through your things to help you prioritize what you really need in the space. Think about portable storage, prioritizing storage, and storage levels for all.
A- Assess, address, and activate your space. Lean into design challenges that are happening in your existing space. Can you modify your existing space with simple layout changes or adding new furniture pieces? Make your home work for you.
P- Pick places for everything. Understand that everything should have a home base at the start of the day. Some things should be displayed, some things should be disguised or hidden, and some things should be removed.
P- Practical over precious. Learn how practical can be pretty. When one holds consumer goods as precious things, one can get overly invested in their preservation, rather than living your best life with your loved ones.
Y- You are in control. Empower yourself. You decide what you want for your space and choose what works for you and your family.
SDS: What’s the most surprising thing about being a coach and entrepreneur? What’s delighted you the most since you’ve started?
AB: I love connecting authentically with so many people. I have helped over two dozen people with designs for their homes that I didn’t know a year ago. I love the relatively instant gratification that comes from a happy client. In my previous life as a project manager, our design projects could take over 18 months to complete from soup to nuts. I also love the control of my schedule and choosing what I want to prioritize when I want to. If it’s an amazing day outside and my son wants to go to the playground, off we go! If I get hit with a surge of creativity at 9pm at night, boom! There I go.
SDS: What advice do you have for individuals starting their business and selling their offerings?
AB: Learn what “yes” feels like for you. This will guide you in making decisions. You have to learn to trust your gut. Learn what fills you up and follow that passion. Don’t think of selling as a chore. The two greatest strategies I have heard about selling are 1) Consider selling as storytelling. Sharing your story about why clients work with you or why you came up with the offering will help people gain trust and interest. 2) Selling is a kindness. If you know something you are offering could change someone’s life for the better, it would be cruel to keep it to yourself and stay silent. Share, share, share! Sharing is caring, after all.
SDS: Lastly, what exciting things are coming up in your life and business?
AB: Summer is always a festive time in my family. We basically have a birth once a week from June 22 to July 26. My son is turning two in July!
I offer 1-hour design consultations to help clients with design support. I will be offering my signature self led Mindful Design Course throughout the summer. I’m also hosting monthly summer design 3-day boot camps to help inspire, motivate, teach, and support you with your design projects at home starting in June, July, and August.
I also provide 1:1 interior design coaching for people tackling full home design renovations who want to be their own project manager, as well as for people interested in flipping homes.