Kathleen Moore said 2012 has been the happiest year of her life. The Brighton resident had a comfortable job as associate provost at the University of Rochester when, in September 2011, she decided to take a risk and focus on her  architectural rendering business, CastleView 3D.

Kathleen Moore said 2012 has been the happiest year of her life. The Brighton resident had a comfortable job as associate provost at the University of Rochester when, in September 2011, she decided to take a risk and focus on her  architectural rendering business, CastleView 3D.

The business had been a side project until that point, but one year later, that leap has paid off. Architects, homeowners and contractors from all over the world contact Moore when they want their concepts modeled in photorealistic 3D, and she gets to do it all from the comfort of her own home through CastleView3D.com.

"What they say is true," Moore said, "I highly recommend finding your passion."

The Post sat down with Moore to talk about the upswing of her home business and how it works.

What is CastleView 3D?
Castleview 3D is a company that does 3D architectural renderings. Basically, if someone is building a home or remodeling, I can build a 3D model of their home and show them how everything will look when it's done before they even start. It's a very valuable and super-exciting thing to be involved in. People have these dreams of what they want their homes to look like, and I can show them almost as realistically as if they were standing in it.

How does it work?
I create the model in one software, but then I use a different software to do the photorealistic rendering. It's all absolutely physics-based, so all the materials have the properties they would have in real life. That's what makes it look so real. If somebody doesn't have a plan yet, I can model their home the way it is and then make the changes they'd like to see.

How did you get into this sort of work?
About five years ago, my husband bought me a simple little program called "Better Homes and Gardens, Interior Designer" for my birthday. I loved it so much I would spend hours and hours with it. Time just stopped when I was doing this stuff. I kept running into software limitations and I'd upgrade to the next highest level, and within about six months I was at the professional-level software called "Chief Architect."

I put up a website and put it out there in a couple places and work started coming in, but I had a regular full-time job at the U of R, so I just did this on the side.

What motivated you to leave that job?
I was associate provost there for nine years, so it was not just any little day job. It was a significant job, but I loved this so much that I would come home from work and spend the evening doing this other work that I loved.

Finally, a little over a year ago, I did some serious thinking. My boss, the provost, sent me to a seminar that was supposed to help you decide on your career direction and your next step. The thing that kept coming up over and over again was that I wanted to be doing my business. I was like "No! That's not what you're here for! This is supposed to be about higher education!" But it just became clearer and clearer that it was where my heart was.

I talked it over with my husband and we did a lot of planning, and about a year ago, September of last year, I left the U of R, took the leap, and decided to do this full-time. It's been steady and wonderful ever since. I can easily say it's been the happiest year of my life.

What made it such a good year?
My time is totally my own. I get up when I want, I go to bed when I want, I don't have to be in an office. I have deadlines for projects, but they're basically not hard and fast. I can schedule my work and work whenever I feel like it, which is most of the time. If I did want to take a day or an afternoon to go for a walk or go to a movie, I can do that. My life feels so authentic. It's just me driving it. It's hard to describe.

How has the market treated you?
Because I can work worldwide, my work has been very steady. People are always building something, and if you get a reputation as someone who does a good job and has a good relationship with clients, then people are going to seek you out. I have work to do every day, and so far I'm not out pounding the pavement.

What's your favorite thing about the work?
I get my own thrill from producing it, but watching people's reactions, it's like they have these dreams in their heads, and I've suddenly shown them a photo of it. It gives me goosebumps to talk about it.

Have you come across any notable difficulties?
When I left my day job, my biggest concern was that, by working from home, I would turn into a total slacker. That has not happened.

The most frustrating thing has ended up being the isolation. You don't have colleagues around to talk to all day long. Luckily, I have some good virtual colleagues, and Facebook is always there, so it helps a little bit, but higher education is very social. There are always things going on, and I do miss that part of it, but it's worth it.

Do you have any tips for people who may be inspired to make the leap themselves?
Be prepared to make sacrifices, do your planning, and make sure you have health care somewhere.

Luckily, my husband was very supportive. He was a little taken aback, because being retired and on a fixed income, having a high-earning wife was a nice thing. We've only been married about three years, so for me to suddenly say, 'Dear, I'm thinking of leaving my job," was kind of scary, but he was supportive.

We looked at our finances and figured out where we could cut back. My part of the bargain was to agree to an austerity budget. We cut out travel, cut out buying stuff for the house, and set up a $50 per month entertainment budget. That's for two people and includes restaurants, movies, whatever. We have been very good to sticking to that, and it's totally doable. If you have this other priority, you can make sacrifices.

I tell all my friends that if you have an idea in your head, and you've tested it and done the planning, then even though it's scary, it's so worth it to make that leap. Do what your heart is telling you to do. That's the big takeaway for me. I've had great jobs all my life, but none of them really were "It." It wasn't something I would do if they weren't paying me. Now I do something I would do anyway, and people pay me to do it. How fantastic is that?