Deb Rockwell
Deb Rockwell Nadine Fisher

Putting designs on life

THE tiniest detail summons Deb Rockwell’s full attention. She says it’s a habit of hers but one that has ensured her success in the world of design.

The interior stylist and successful Gold Coast businesswoman is an artist when it comes to homes and style.

And her enthusiasm is infectious as she eagerly shows off her Kirra store – one of two, the other is located at Currumbin Beach.

Her pride is evident as she sweeps her gaze around the large rooms and reveals how they’ve sold so much over the weekend that the displays are not quite as lovely as they were a week ago.

But with new pieces arriving – almost daily – well, nothing stays the same for very long.  

Treasured Interiors is Ms Rockwell’s life. She lives and breathes her work and loves every moment of it.

With the opening of her first Gold Coast store at Kirra (in July 2008) it wasn’t long before she was expanding as business flourished.

The second store, located at Currumbin, opened in May this year and Ms Rockwell is aiming to have five stores open within five years.

“The business has really been like a volcano going off — erupting and spreading so quickly,” she laughs.

“Our stores stock everything from key rings and cushions to rugs, homewares and Italian leather lounges . . . it’s a one-stop shop. But it’s so much more than a job to me,” Ms Rockwell says, “it really is my life.” 

A self-confessed workaholic, Ms Rockwell is at it seven days a week.

She starts each day with a morning walk, or training, at 5am. She’s in the office by 8am and most days works through to six at night.

“I find myself waking in the middle of the night with an idea and I need to write it down, or text it to myself  . . . this stuff is always on my mind,” she laughs.

“It’s all-consuming. And I wouldn’t have it any other way.

“I like to do the buying, consulting, as well as keeping up a presence at both stores,” she said.

And the successful interior stylist and design consultant is making waves in the coast’s design industry, after recently taking out the Best New Business 2009 Southern Gold Coast Chamber of Commerce Business and Courtesy Award.

But that’s hardly surprising when you see Ms Rockwell’s dedication.

Her whole heart is plunged into each project she takes on.

She goes that extra mile to ensure clients get what they want – even if it means selling off her own personal pieces of furniture.

“I had an antique dresser that I’d had done up for myself,” she said.

“At the time I had a client who was finishing off her apartment and was searching for a dresser – so I sold my piece because I knew how much it would be loved.

“I guess I’m really committed to the job.” 

The name for her booming business, Treasured Interiors, is something close to Ms Rockwell’s heart - it reminds her of her late father.

“My dad died when I was 18-years-old and he always called me his “Little Treasure”– so that’s where the name comes from. It’s nice to feel that he’s still a part of my life.”

Ms Rockwell started her working life in the fashion industry at the age of 17. At 19, she was with Cue fashion stores which were then just starting out.

“I started as a secretary before becoming a personal assistant, then marketing manager and buyer. I oversaw the city stores and I loved my job for the eight years I was there.”

“I went from fashion to real estate after I married and had children.

“My boss at the time would renovate properties and I think that’s when I first realised I had an interior design flair – after all interior styling is fashion for the home.

“I worked in real estate for 15 years and have renovated 17 of my own properties.

“I can look at a property now and know instinctively what needs to be ripped out.” 

Ms Rockwell moved to the Gold Coast nine years ago from Sydney. She has two daughters – one is in Europe and the other works in the business with her. The only thing missing is someone to share her life since she divorced.

“Sometimes I think it would be nice to have someone to go home to and talk about the day,” she said.

“But I’m living proof that you certainly don’t need a man in your life to be successful.”

Ms Rockwell says when she first moved to the Gold Coast she went back to real estate but knew there was more she wanted to do.

“So I gave renovating advice and furnished properties. But I was working from home and doing furniture packages which were difficult in such limited space,” she said.

It wasn’t until a close friend suddenly died that Ms Rockwell was prompted into action – she was determined not to waste another precious moment of her existence.

“I realised that life is just too short to wait until tomorrow... so I jumped right in and opened my store at Kirra,” she explains. “And I haven’t looked back.

“Whatever your passion, you have to live your dream.

“I have a real zest for living, and for everything I do, and I’m lucky because I’m surrounded by lovely family and friends.

“I also have fantastic supportive staff, who are great friends. It’s wonderful to come to work with them each day – that’s something I really appreciate as we each have strengths in different areas.

“I couldn’t wish for anything more.” 

It's the passion and unwavering dedication to each individual project that is inspiring. Sometimes it seems Ms Rockwell was born to decorate and her love for this is reflected in her stores and interior styling projects.

Ms Rockwell says her very first decorating project was at the age of five when she decorated the family’s old woodshed with fabric draped around and painting the walls.

“I guess I haven’t really stopped prettying things up since then – it really is something that’s a part of me,” she said.

Now Ms Rockwell does interior styling projects on a larger scale, including hotel entry foyers, offices, the Titanium Bar and Restaurant in Surfers Paradise and the new Coolangatta fish and chip shop.

“I’ve also started hiring out furniture packages to real estates and developers. I do a lot of home-styling still, offer advice for clients even using their current furnishings,” she said.

“And I love doing it. I love people to be happy, it gives me huge satisfaction and makes me happy. My motto is ‘Change your home – Change your life’.”

Ms Rockwell is not only a successful interior stylist but a reiki master as well, and credits these other skills with helping her business.

“I think reiki has helped me to connect with people and know what colours they like,” she said.

“I always create what the client wants. So many people ask how I managed to get inside their head, to create exactly what they wanted, even though they couldn’t put it into words.”

Ms Rockwell believes it’s important to create a liveable lifestyle, saying it’s affordable and easy to do.

“I attend a lot of design shows and am always busy, keeping abreast of current trends.

“I travel to China, Hong Kong and Hawaii to check out furnishings and accessories. Next year what I want to do is design our own furniture.”

If you’re building or renovating Ms Rockwell is the person to see.

“I can help to renovate your house from the ground up – furniture, blinds and lighting, flooring then the artwork and decor,” she said.

“Or I can work with what you already have.

“I take clients shopping for their flooring and tiles, furniture and electricals and pass on my trade discounts to them – so they really save money by having me as their design consultant.

“But I always style to suit the person I’m working with, to create a lifestyle that is beautiful and functional.

“I simply love being in business, being able to help create people’s dreams.

“But the biggest buzz for me is having happy, satisfied clients.”

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