Earlier this month, founding KBDi Member, recently retired KBDi Board Member and long-time industry advocate, Elizabeth Luke, was recognised for her outstanding industry contribution with a KBDi Life Membership.
Elizabeth has enjoyed – and continues to enjoy – a wonderfully progressive journey in the field of design, and we’re sharing a ‘short version’ of her inspiring story here.
Elizabeth established Luke Interiors over thirty years ago, after a series of personal events set her out on a brave adventure in an all-new career.
Trained in early childhood education, Elizabeth was formerly a teacher. When she found herself on her own in the early eighties, with two very young children to support, she knew she would need greater opportunities (and slightly more income) than the teaching profession would allow.
Having always had an interest in home interiors, Elizabeth took on work in a local decorating business. She soon learned all the tricks of the trade in soft furnishings, but found herself increasingly frustrated playing with fluffy cushions and window coverings in a room that she innately knew needed a full redesign.
Study was the obvious answer, but correspondence courses were few and far between in Australia at that time. Determined to pursue further learning, Elizabeth commenced an interior design course with an institute based in London. In this pre-computer era, Elizabeth’s assessments were submitted via snail mail, and in a testament to her tenacity, she was a very proud graduate four years later.
With a qualification behind her, Elizabeth found work in commission-based bathroom design. She valued this opportunity, and considered it an apprenticeship of sorts as she worked her way through ‘real-life’ renovation projects.
She was soon collecting awards for her work, and with a growing reputation as a talented designer, was invited to participate in some committees. It was at this time that she learned of the value in industry accreditation, and ventured full steam ahead into a certification program, becoming a Certified Kitchen and Bathroom Designer.
This well-earned industry respect didn’t always stretch to the building site, however, and Elizabeth sometimes found herself being quietly belittled by builders and trades. Determined to level the playing field, she committed to a building course, adding a building licence to her growing list of achievements.
It was around this time that Elizabeth began working with a small group of visionaries determined to create an industry group that would support the kitchen and bathroom design niche. In 2006, she became a founding member of the Kitchen and Bathroom Designers Institute of Australia.
With her children now grown and spread out across the countryside, Elizabeth decided to fulfil her lifelong dream of living on the land, purchasing a farm in western New South Wales and settling into rural life. She didn’t give away her designing, though, shifting her focus to working with rural and regional clients across the state, and furthering her commitment to the industry with even more vigour.
As logistically isolated clients yearned for full house renovations, Elizabeth knew a greater understanding of building design would be helpful. Earlier this year she was very proud to complete a Diploma of Building Design, and is relishing the challenges associated with ‘big picture’ design.
With her widespread clients, she’s driving many hundreds of kilometres each month. Given what you’ve read above, you won’t be surprised to learn that Elizabeth is now looking for a solution to this problem, and is enrolled in pilot training!
Elizabeth Luke is truly an inspiration to our industry, and a well-deserved recipient of KBDi Life Membership. On behalf of all of our Members, we thank Elizabeth for her service and commitment, and look forward to sharing future adventures as she soars to new heights in her design career.