An Interview with Interior Decorator Cindy Schlesinger

A Former underwriter and account manager, Cindy Schlesinger transitioned to interior design so she could fulfill her need to create. Her  decorating business, Interior Minded uses rugs to accent and stylize her client’s homes. 


From insurance to this! How’d you realize you wanted to be in interior decorating?

I was always creative, and I majored in graphic design in college. After graduation I had a difficult time finding a job in my field. I started temping and ended up at an insurance company, eventually becoming an underwriter and account manager.  My clients were Fortune 1000 companies. After 10 years I was becoming very unfulfilled, and I knew I didn’t want to be in the insurance industry forever. One day I received a form letter from a local retail furniture store.  The first line said, “Have you ever considered a career in design?” I thought the job opportunity was the perfect next step in my career because it combined my sales background with my passion for decorating.  I worked there for four years and left to start my own interior decorating business.

Can you tell if a room has been professionally decorated? Any sure fire tells?

I’d like to think so, but I’m not sure I know the answer to that because I’ve never been to someone’s home that was professionally decorated! There was one instance someone received 2 hrs of my services through a silent auction. When I arrived at his home it was so impeccably decorated, and I thought for sure he used a designer.  It turned out he had done everything himself. I kept asking him why he felt he needed me because he was so talented! I think he just wanted validation that everything he was doing looked good.  What led me to believe his home had been professionally decorated was that the furnishings were beautiful, everything was coordinated from a style and color perspective, the furnishings were spaced apart perfectly, the wall art and accessories were in just the right places, and there was no clutter.

Do you have a room or project you think of as your best work?

It’s so difficult to choose just one! One of my favorite projects was redecorating a master bedroom.  Many times clients hire me after they’ve bought some furnishings and they bring me in because they don’t know how to complete the room. This project was a rare occasion when I was able to design the room from top to bottom. I really clicked with the client personally, and her decorating style was the same as mine, so it was very easy and enjoyable to design the space.  Despite the custom drapery and rug I selected for the room, I was proud to have added equally beautiful furnishings at great prices. For example, the nightstands were only $225 each, and the chandelier was under $200.

We are rug people. Tell us the various ways your incorporate rugs into your designs. Do you have process?

I like to use rugs in living rooms, bedrooms, and if there’s space, runners in hallways and foyers. Once I have a floor plan completed, the first item I select is the rug.  Many people think they should paint first, find the furniture, and then buy the rug, but I think that’s doing everything backwards.  It’s so much easier to begin with the rug first, and then select furnishings, fabrics, and paint colors based on the rug’s pattern and colors.

What’s the biggest addition a rug can do for a room?

First and foremost they make a room cozy and comfortable to be in; they really warm up a space.  All tile or all wood floors feel cold to me and the rooms look unfinished; Second, rugs anchor a space by defining a seating area; and third, rugs are great sound absorbers.

Do you have a particular type, size or color rug that you like to include in your work?

There are many things to consider when selecting a rug.  The type depends on the client’s style, budget, and the function of the room.  The size is dependent on the space it’s going in and what furniture will be placed on it.  In a living room, the furniture should either be half on and half off the rug, or the rug should be large enough to fit beyond the perimeter of all the furniture that’s sitting on it.  In the bedroom, an 8×10 is all you need under a queen size bed.

Any rugs that you highly recommend, or ones dissuade homeowners from using?


It really depends on the client. If the client has a budget for a hand knotted rug, I’ll choose one over a machine made. A well-made hand knotted rug can last a lifetime if you take care of it. If the rug will be in a high traffic area, light colors probably aren’t a good idea.  If there are children or pets at home, a rug that’s not a big investment might be a better idea in the short term, or consider something in darker colors that won’t show crayon marks or food stains.

Where do you shy away from using a rug? 

I don’t like to use rugs under kitchen or dining tables.  You’ll be cleaning up drink spills and crumbs off the rug on a daily basis!  I think it’s okay to put a rug under a formal dining table that you don’t use too often.


Thanks for your time and good luck!


Thanks, and please check out my site at www.interiorminded .com

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