Lorna was pregnant with her third child when she began interior design correspondence courses at The Chicago School of Design. The year was 1958, and the cost of tuition was $100 for 52 lessons for which she received and returned assignments through the mail. For Lorna, interior design began as way to express herself.
“I always wanted to live in a beautiful home. Art and I both loved design.” Together Lorna and her husband, Art, designed and built the houses where their growing family would live for the next 20 years.
The correspondence classes became the foundation for her 60+ year career in interior design.
“I learned there are elements of principles of design, and one doesn’t just choose something because they like the color, or it’s the latest thing. I learned about light and line, color and form, balance and rhythm, emphasis and proportion, repetition and variety. I learned that form follows function. I learned to trust myself to do something I had never seen before.”
The classes didn’t just help her design her own home; in 1969 “Sikkema Furniture” was established in an old warehouse she and her husband renovated with carpet, paneled walls, and large front windows. Lorna designed the room arrangements and attended furniture shows. Their store expanded from selling just sofas and chairs, to end tables, bedroom sets, appliances, paint, carpet and floor coverings, and kitchen cabinets.
Throughout this time, Lorna had been selling window treatments. She soon did so well, that her business sold more window treatments than the store sold furniture. Her success led her to owning a franchise of the window treatment company, Decorating Den.
Between 1983-1988, Lorna took many business trips and attended several conventions selling window coverings for Decorating Den. She learned how to market herself and her business and develop relationships with clients and industry professionals. In 1988, she was asked to move to the home office in Bethesda, Maryland and take on the position of Divisional Coordinator where she would teach and advise regional directors around the country.
Toward the end of her career with Decorating Den, Lorna accepted a position within the company to teach American design classes in Japan. She spent three months in the country, teaching 15 students all she knew about selling, marketing, and designing.
Lorna eventually moved to Grand Rapids, Michigan to live near her children. Between 1993-1999 she worked for Expressions Furniture where she frequently earned the highest sales of the designers, and met one of her beloved clients, Chuck Bobeldyk, with whom she helped to design his home and cottage, the old ice house on Goshorn Lake.
In 1999, Lorna began working for Via Design. For nearly 20 years, she has managed the resource library and the many product representatives who visit. She has trained several of our current interior designers from their start as library interns and maintained her faithful following of clients that she has worked for, from Illinois to New York.
The highlight of her career? The personal recognition that she could support herself as a professional designer.
“But watching my kids turn into neat adults and their families grow and succeed is the biggest thing. The lasting moment.”
Lorna has been able to stay close to her family–working alongside her at Via Design is daughter Valerie Schmieder, Founder and Principal Designer; son Scott Sikkema, CFO; and grandson Adam Schmieder, Interior Designer.
“My mother has been an amazing inspiration and support to not only her family members, but countless designers over the years. Her passion for design is infectious and has materialized into her current ‘family of design.’ We owe her for finding design to be our passion as well.” – Valerie Schmieder
Last year, Lorna published her memoir, Lorna June: A Memoir of My First 80 Years. In her book, she chronicles each birth, death, marriage, divorce, love and heartache. She describes her successes and her failures, and the dreams she has for her family.
When asked what advice she would give to an entry level designer, Lorna’s response is simple and sincere: “Go to school. Get as much education as you possibly can. Never stop learning. The design world is always changing. You must be willing to always learn and adapt.”
“I have never stopped studying interior design. I now learn from my daughter Valerie, and all of the other talented designers that work at Via Design.”