We had the good fortune of connecting with Chioma Ikoku and we’ve shared our conversation below.

Hi Chioma, what was your thought process behind starting your own business?
In this age of never-ending Pinterest boards and Instagram feeds, a lot of pressure has been put on young homeowners to make every corner of their homes “picture perfect.”

When The Great Pause happened and people were spending more time at home than ever before, it became evident that ‘home’ is more than just a backdrop for pictures. ‘Home’ is a sanctuary that you can design in a way that supports good habits, connects people, and opens up avenues for creativity.

I started Casa Diem Life as a way to spread the message that home is as much a part of your story as the clothes you wear and the food you eat. I use a slow, intentional approach to decorating, encouraging my clients first set an intention for their space. When the purpose of each area of the house is established, it’s so much easier to declutter and organize because we know that the only things that belong in that space are the things that align with that space’s purpose. From there we move into decorating, making sure that the design feels right instead of just looking good.

I’ve been organizing and decorating with this approach for years, but starting an official business has challenged me to streamline my processes, create new packages for people who want quick decor solutions, and remain consistent in my messaging. That message is that a home tells the story of the people who live inside, and so we have to put people first, always.

Alright, so let’s move onto what keeps you busy professionally?
As a decorator I focus on two equally important elements in my design – sentimentality and practicality.

When listening to my clients describe their ideal space, it’s easy to tell when they’ve made the shift from describing what they like to see to talking about what lights them up.

For example, I spoke to a young mother of three who was interested in a very glamorous home. She talked about gilded mirrors, crystal chandeliers and a white and gold color scheme. She then sighed and said she realized that wasn’t likely to happen, and I asked her why. She started to talk about her three boys and how active and energetic they were… but as she talked her eyes were bright and she couldn’t stop smiling. She told me about the games she played with them, and all their favorite activities, and how one of them was a budding magician. You could tell she loved to have FUN with her boys.

After a solid ten minutes she realized she had been talking about her boys non-stop and tried to apologize about it. I explained to her that she had given me exactly what I needed.

I was able to tell her about little-boy-resistant upholstery that would repel water and stains, and stay white for years. We talked about creating dedicated play spaces in three different areas of the house, with hidden storage in white and gold (to hide the boy’s rainbow colored toys and gadgets).

We discussed tempered glass and gorilla glass. Washable rugs. Wipeable paint. Ceramic tile that looked exactly like wood floors. We even designed an outdoor “Disaster Zone” where they boys could throw and bat and jump and run to their heart’s content, without the danger of damaging any crystals.

At the end of the design process, she got her ultra-glam house and was still able to be the fun loving mom she wanted to be. These are the types of wins that matter to me. My main goal is to honor the people who live inside the home.

I design for a lot of young families, and I prioritize low-maintenance decor. The last thing I want is for my tired mamas to spend hours a day cleaning and dusting and rearranging their homes.

As such, while constantly improving on my design skills, I’ve also had to learn a lot about organizing, childhood development, and materials science. I spend many hours each week studying for different certifications, so that I feel confident in the solutions I offer my beautiful families.

It’s exhausting to say the least, and I have to be very disciplined with the hours that I have. My social life has become non-existent, but it’s so worth it to see the difference in how my clients are keeping up with their homes.

One lesson that was hard for me to learn though, was that not everyone wants a 360 degree solution. The idea that home takes time (and intention) is not a popular one. Quite a lot of people just want their home to look nice, and they want it to happen in a week.

I’ve got to give the people what they want, so recently I added an e-design option to my business. This is a fully remote design option, where we work through pictures, mood boards and online communication to design a space in very little time. It was something I was very unsure about at first, but it’s been a very effective model and I’m able to reach many more clients outside of the Houston area.

If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
I love the outdoors and I love to eat, so I’d take anyone visiting Houston to eat at Brenner’s on the Bayou and spend time out at the Botanical Gardens.

My husband and I are frequent visitors to the Hobby Center, so I would definitely recommend a live show in the Theater District. I’d also try to catch a sporting event. There are so many great teams to support locally that there’s always fun to be had.

For anyone visiting with children, time should definitely be spent in the Museum District. The Children’s Museum and The Butterfly Center at the Museum of Natural Science are our two favorites spots, along with the Houston Zoo. West of Houston is Blessington Farms, which offers hours of outdoor fun for the entire family.

Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I’m dedicating this shoutout to my mom tribe across the globe. You all give so much of yourselves every single day, and if no one has said it yet, YOU are an inspiration! I see you, I applaud you, and I thank you for the endless support on those days when it feels like everything is impossible.

Website: www.casadiemlife.com

Instagram: @casadiemlife

Other: email: Chioma@casadiemlife.com

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