Sonia Nicolson, ARB, FHEA, SBID


first off, I’ll tell you who I’m not…

I’m not one of those super-smart students who dreamt of becoming an Architect from day one. In reality, I struggled through high school and went to college to study Interior Spatial Design. I worked my butt off to get into, and graduate from, Architecture School - in fact, I was awarded a scholarship for ‘Academic Excellence’ and finished my Post Graduate studies in Japan, studying under influential Architects such as Shinichi Ogawa. 

Returning to the UK, I accepted a job in an architecture firm and completed my chartered exams, becoming a member of the (ARB) Architects Registration Board. 

I learned a heck of a lot along the way and I’m here to share it with you because you can do it too.




Teaching Fellow, Higher Education Academy (FHEA) 2015

Academic Member, Society of British + International Design (SBID) 2014

Architects Registration Board (ARB) 2009

RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects) - Chartered Member

PG Dip Architecture 2007 - (Japan 2008)

BA (Hons) Architecture 2004

Advanced Diploma, Interior Spatial Design 2002



2009 | …But my story really began when the 2008 recession hit

I was 29, freshly registered as a British chartered Architect when life sent me on a challenging yet rewarding journey from Architecture into Academia, and from the UK to India, where I helped set up and run a new campus for a Singaporean design school.

Working as Academic Director and Head of Department, I taught Interior & Architectural Design. The culturally diverse environment opened my mind and introduced me to the idea of entrepreneurship. I wanted somewhere of my own to share my passion for design and education so I started a blog (Layoutlines). 



2012 | Returning to the UK

I made the difficult decision to move back to the UK and stayed in Academia, taking up the position of Head of 1st year Interior Architecture at a leading Arts University. I worked with students introducing them to the basic principles of design, drawing, and communication. Working with an average of 40 students a year, I led these young designers through the design process for Residential, Commercial, Sustainable, and Cultural Studio Projects.

Teaching is a true passion of mine, helping spark creativity and inspiration in young designers is incredibly rewarding. I also had the opportunity to work with the International Recruitment team in India, Thailand, and Nepal, and later with the British Council as an Academic Representative promoting Higher Education in India. 


2014 | I was at the height of my academic career…and hit burnout

It all sounds exciting but I was exhausted. My weekends were spent marking, with endless admin, jet-lagged from international trips - I knew something needed to change. I flew home to Edinburgh to join a friend’s hen weekend and on that fateful night, I met a Viking named Ingimar.



“Sonia’s optimism and enthusiasm inspire others to reach their full potential. She has helped and guided me on a wide range of Interior Design and Architecture projects, and enriched my work through her innovative design thinking and creativity.”

Katie, Design Director @ktmdesignltd



2015 | I followed my heart, in Iceland

Millions of messages and many Facetime calls later, I chose to trust in fate, take the leap, and go with it. I moved to Iceland. I left my full-time position as a Senior Lecturer and really started to focus on my own thing. I’d experienced some incredible achievements in my career so far, now was the time to build my own business.


2016 | Building My Own Empire

I picked up my camera and started documenting my new life in Iceland, filming clips. I taught myself how to edit and started uploading vlogs to YouTube.

Exploring my new city, I carried a small sketchbook and started to sketch the buildings around me. I quickly filled pages with corrugated iron-clad, colourful Scandinavia-style houses. I shared them on Instagram with the hashtag #ReykjavikSketcher and people started asking if I was selling them. I began offering commissions and designed a range of prints inspired by my life in Iceland. 

This website grew in content and focus. My aim was to share my knowledge, education, and experience I could help students and creative entrepreneurs successfully design and build their own careers and side hustles…whilst living a life they love.



“Sonia is a great teacher who has given me the opportunity to develop not just as a Designer but as a person. Her teaching skills were perfect for my transition from Art Foundation to BA. She is truly inspirational.”

Trisha Ghosh, Student



2017 | Online education, my own Courses

So I did what I knew, I wrote the curriculum for a course. My own course. An online course for students anywhere to access in their own time. I built a course to help Art & Design students create a Portfolio for application to Art School or University. I also created the FREE Resources Library filled with downloads and templates to help support these students.

Ingimar and I got married, surrounded by family and friends from all over the world

2018 | Motherhood

I became a Mother, Mia Elisabet (2018)


2020 | Business Growth

I launched my second online course, a step-by-step class teaching beginners how to hand draw an interior floor plan using a real example to refer to.

2021 | The Self-Employed Mum Life Juggle

Being a full-time entrepreneur is hard work but it’s so worth it. Building your own empire, juggling clients, creating content and passive streams, shipping orders - it’s what has allowed me to spend more time doing what I love, with those I love, and ultimately be there to enjoy motherhood to the fullest.

Our family is complete, Angus Óðinn (2021)

2022 | Finding my new normal

Wholesale catalog was created, and prints were stocked in Litla Hönnunar Búðin (Hafnafjordur), Iceland

It’s been a wild couple of years for us all but I continue to build my empire whilst baby naps and leave my legacy in the best way I can whilst creating some joy in all the uncertainty life throws at us.



“Throughout my University Degree, Sonia always supported my style of working and ideas, no matter how crazy they were. She always knew the right things to say to motivate and inspire you.”

Will De Liefde-Foote, Designer, Craftwood Interiors



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work with Sonia

Sonia is always open to new opportunities. Her zone of genius is of course firmly rooted in her love of drawing, architecture, and design education. As a result, Sonia aims to share her experiences and expertise in architecture, design education, marketing, personal branding, and being an entrepreneur. She welcomes the following:

  • Podcast interview

  • Publication

  • Keynote speaker

  • Guest lecture, visiting tutor

  • Eternal examiner

  • Influencer, affiliate marketing



get in touch

Whether it’s about a design project or booking me for a speaking engagement, Let’s chat