The Great Balancing Act by Franco Boydell

Thinking about how I make my life work is tricky thing to ponder, because much of the time it is less ‘worked out’, more simply ‘happening’. Less a smooth production line of progress but more as a tornado of different things being picked up, swirled around and spat out at random. Running my own interior design consultancy in South West London - Emma Victoria Interior Design - nurturing two very feisty children and co-managing our hectic household with my husband can leave us feeling somewhat shell-shocked as the day draws to a close.

I chose this though, and I don’t regret it at all. Not even on the days when the pressure is on at one of my interior design projects; the children are having a hard time at school or home and need my full attention - emotionally and physically; and my husband and I only manage to exchange cursory glances over the screaming heads of our little darlings, and not much else.


At 27, I looked up from my desk at a broadsheet newspaper, where I sold digital advertising to top global brands, and realised I could count the number of women over 30 and with children on one hand. I had always wanted children, I knew I’d found the partner with whom I’d like to share all of those things with but realised I was never going to get the flexibility I needed to be there for my children and have a job I could love and fit in around a family if I stayed in this industry. It was fun and energetic and I’ve eaten at more top restaurants than I could poke a stick at but, for me, it had a shelf life and it’d just hit expiration. I decided to draw on a passion I had for interiors and, funded by selling a property I had bought with my best friend, I re-trained at KLC School of Design in Chelsea, London.

Now, almost ten years after leaving media I am busier than ever - but move to my own rhythm shaped by me, my family and my projects. When the kids have International Day, World Book Day or Sports Day I am always there, without feeling guilty that I have left other people covering for me and strolling in to an office of disgruntled twenty-somethings who “have to be here from 08:30”.


Very uniquely, my husband also works from home meaning we are able to enjoy a truly 50/50 role in making things work together. Our shared electronic diary is an absolute cornerstone of keeping everyone in the right place at the right time.

I work from home most of the time but due to my love for constant inspiration I like to get out and work in places where I can separate my Business Brain from my Home Brain. I love a local and cosy coffee shop like Brickwood in Tooting Market, where I can have chats with the lovely staff. I often go to sweat out and re-connect with myself at Kula Yoga in Clapham Junction and then afterwards treat myself to an amazing coffee from Coffee Stories on St John’s Hill. When the weather is good I like to go further afield maybe into the V&A Garden or the atrium at The Chelsea Design Centre where I do the majority of my sourcing, all the while toggling my laptop to my phone so that I can work anywhere.


I drive around in my little branded Mini and know that as well as trying to find head space and keep on track with life, I am always representing myself and my company. A design company at that, so looking/being smart and together is important - so people know I can be smart and together on their behalf too. Rolling out of my car in my PJs, bleary eyed and egg stained is just not an option. Everything has to be multi-functional as well as being beautifully designed.

Spinning plates is a cliché, I know, but I just can’t to think of a better metaphor for life, the great balancing act. I have an indescribable and rather self-punishing urge to “nail it”, whatever “it” happens to be. Occasionally, I find myself surrounded by metaphorically smashed plates but I know that perfection is not a reality, or in fact a human quality - but by reaching out for it I might get somewhere close to having a fulfilled and worthwhile existence on this planet, and, thankfully, I think I do.


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