23 February 2024Written by Emma Woodward

Styling Multi-Million Dollar Properties with Michelle Oliver

Michelle Oliver graduated from ISCD in 2023. Now she’s the Design and Renovation Co-Ordinator at RSL Art Union, preparing multi-million dollar beachfront properties that will be raffled off to raise funds for veteran support.

You get up before dawn and drive for hours to meet with your team of trades on the beautiful Gold Coast. Together you go through the plans, carefully plotting the details that will transform this construction site into a luxurious beachfront property with ocean views.  

By six o’clock that night, you’re home again, and after a full day, you’re satisfied that the project is on track. This isn’t every day for Michelle Oliver in her work for the Property, Development and Acquisition team at RSL Art Union, but then, when you work in interior design, no two days are ever really the same. 

“I have a lot of projects on the go at any one time,” Michelle says.

“We have prize homes on the Gold Coast and also on the Sunshine Coast, so I do travel. It’s pretty full on. I get up at 4am and jump in the car at five and drive down to the Gold Coast. It’s only one day a week and I love what I do, so I don’t really care. I get home at six o’clock at night, but I feel like I’ve accomplished something.”

The projects that Michelle works on would be a dream come true for many designers, and it’s Michelle’s job to make sure these dream homes meet, and even exceed, the expectations of those who dream about winning them. 

“We bring to market ten properties a year. They’re multi-million dollar properties. The properties that we bring to market have… VIEWS!”


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“At the end of the day, these amazing properties, the funds go towards helping veterans and their families, so for me it was a no-brainer. It was a connection to purpose.” 

Michelle’s passion for her work is clear. Not only is she renovating and overseeing the construction of outstanding properties, but that sense of connection to purpose is something that was missing before she came to work for RSL Art Union. 

In her former work in the fashion industry, Michelle became increasingly frustrated with the unsustainable nature of fast fashion. She wanted to have control over the projects she worked on, to choose materials and practices that were sustainable. She also wanted to do work that was meaningful, and with a veteran husband, Michelle connected immediately to RSL Queensland’s mission to provide support and assistance to current and former Australian Defence Forces members and their families. 

“I love it. Every day is different, it’s challenging. You have to think outside the box, which is what design is all about.”   

Selling the Dream

A lot of Michelle’s work is focused on selling the dream. In order to get people buying those tickets to potentially win a property, each home has to have definite wow-factor. 

“Within the RSL team, I’m responsible for working with marketing who bring each game to the masses. We bring marketing in once we have confirmed the completed design for construction and renovations and then walk them through the final projects. They’ll come through, we’ll walk them through and we’ll give them the ideas of shots that they can take.”

“Right from the get go, from acquisition, we’re always looking at what the view shots are going to be, what our customers want to see, and then we renovate according to that.”


“These are multi-million dollar properties, so when people walk into them they want to feel like it is a multi-million dollar property. It’s just one of those things that you have to be really mindful of.”

“It’s all about making sure that we’re bringing these properties to life, so with your client, you’ll talk them through what they want, but, with my day job with RSL, it’s, what do our customers want? What’s going to be aspirational? What do they want to see in our properties other than, you know, ocean views and beautiful furnishings? What are the other things that we can do?” 

It’s a key part of Michelle’s job to make sure she can back up that beautiful marketing with a home of substance. Yes, the idea is to impress someone as soon as they see the property, but what will they find after that first impression wears off? How can value be added to an already valuable space? 


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“During my course with ISCD there was a lot of thinking outside the box. A lot of the projects that we had to do you were given a space that you had to give a refresh to, or you had a client brief, and that really helped me with this one particular project.”

“So we had just this nothing little room in the hallway… this time, we had the budget, so we did a full overhaul of that room, and now, you can see that view straight through that window, and it goes straight out to the ocean. 

“So, keeping in mind with marketing, giving them different view shots; that actually added another view shot for them, so they could actually stand in that hallway and instead of it being dark and dingy, they could actually see straight through that room, straight through to the ocean. It actually made that hallway really light filled as well, which was brilliant. There were so many benefits to actually doing that space, and that meant the apartment also got a media room, so you could close the door and watch movies and things. That actually came off really well, the business was really happy with the renovations and I was super excited too to show everybody what we’d done.”

Studying for Success

Michelle was already working for RSL Queensland (in a separate role) when she began her studies with ISCD, and although juggling work and full-time studies was a challenge, Michelle ultimately found that what she was learning in her Diploma of Interior Design was helping her in her work, especially as she moved into her new role.

“Studying is an essential part of developing your skill. I’m really appreciative of everything that I learnt at ISCD. I worked full-time whilst I was doing it, it was challenging at times, and time management is everything.” 

Michelle was particularly grateful for the support of ISCD education manager, Gabrielle Rosenfeld, and for the way ISCD educators prepare their students for life in the industry as their studies draw to a close.

“The team are really good if you communicate with them. Gabby and I communicated quite a bit during the last year of my diploma.”

Although Michelle’s course prepared her well to step into a new career, as an interior designer you never stop learning. 

“On the job training is also beneficial – watching videos on YouTube, listening to podcasts and utilising LinkedIn Learning as well, and another one that I found is MasterClass. So even though they may not be to do with interior design, you may pick up some other things along the way.” 

Michelle Oliver ISCD Student Work Diploma of Interior Design

An example of Michelle’s student work at ISCD

Michelle also believes it’s important to learn from and build relationships with others in the industry.

“Work with suppliers to gain first-to-market product discounts and supply. So, that’s again really important to build those relationships with suppliers. I work quite closely with Globe West, and they’re amazing to work with. So we do quite a lot of business with them. But there’s also other smaller, niche artisans that we also work with. We’re looking more and more at bringing more and more artisans onboard that we can actually single out in our promotions, and it also helps them as well, so it’s a reciprocal relationship.” 

So if you’ve ever dreamed of styling incredible properties in idyllic locations, why not follow Michelle’s example? Find a path you’re passionate about, get some study behind you, and don’t be afraid to take on the challenges.  

ISCD has a 40-year proven track record of producing leading Australian interior designers. We know design intimately, from colour theory, to furniture selection to the latest industry trends.

Are you interested in studying interior design or decoration? Do you want to know more about our online courses and where a career in interior design could take you? Connect with us today to learn more about our Diploma of Interior Design, the Certificate IV in Interior Decoration or any of our industry-focused microcredentials.

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