Archive for August, 2015
Pet owners know that our furry, feathered, or scaled friends are a part of our family. Most pets, however, make their way into more than just our hearts. Dogs chew feather pillows, cats scratch new leather couches, and small animals like guinea pigs or iguanas get lost in the walls.
Help your clients balance their homes and their animals by creating a pet-friendly space. Making their pets feel safe and comfortable is important for both their wellbeing and that of your clients’ furniture!
1. Eliminating risks
Simple things like the string on the blinds or the cord for the TV might not pose a threat to your clients, but they certainly can to their pets. Tall dogs and cats who like to chase things can get tangled in the looped string, which can be a strangling hazard. Cats, rabbits, and other small animals might chew through the plastic around the TV cord, exposing them to electrocution. Shorten or cut the loop in the blind string or choose blinds with no string at all. Keep electrical cords hidden or covered by having the TV stand against the wall or feeding cords into a box that animals can’t open. Look out for similar risks and account for those as well.
2. Indoor plants
Indoor plants are nice, but they can be dangerous for animals. Avoid decorating the space with plants unless you know that they’re animal-friendly. Cats, rabbits, and even some dogs just can’t resist the free snack! Good quality artificial pants are a pretty and safe alternative. If your clients want real greenery but you’re still concerned, research decorative options that are safe, or perhaps even intended, for animal consumption. Tolerating teeth marks in the leaves is easier than having a very sick pet.
3. Staying safe
Fencing the back yard is essential for homes with dogs. Not only do fences prevent the dogs from running away, they also protect them from other animals. Fences also keep wandering children from run-ins with territorial dogs. Animal runs keep other pets safe in a similar way. Setting up a solid, safe cat run in the back yard lets Mittens enjoy the outdoors without running away, being attacked, or hurting anyone. Runs benefit rabbits, lizards, and guinea pigs as well, both inside and outside the house. If your clients take their eye off their pet for a moment while they’re outside the house or their pen, disaster is far less likely if you’ve designed a space with a safe animal run. Some runs are extremely creative and blend with the overall décor of the house!
4. Tight spaces
Do your best to create a space that is free of small, unsafe places animals might wriggle into. Building cubby shelves for cats to curl up in is a great idea, but leaving a hole in the basement wall uncovered could result in the disappearance of your clients’ rabbit. Animal-friendly spaces are free of places where pets might become lost or stuck without access to food and water.
5. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner
The best food situation keeps your clients’ home clean but allows their pets to eat comfortably. Consider bowls that are raised off the ground on stands to keep the food more contained and discourage bugs or rodents searching for crumbs. Alternatively, slip cute placemats under the bowls. A plastic placemat is easier to clean than the floor, but the pets won’t have to eat in the garage. Are clutter and over-eating an issue? Transform a drawer in the bottom of the kitchen island into a pull-out feeding station that can be wiped and closed between meals (but remember to keep water accessible at all times).
6. Play time
Store pet toys throughout the house or incorporate pet play stations into the décor. Attach trendy colored shelves for cats to climb above their scratching post. Build clear hamster runs (with fastened doors along the side in case of emergency) down the hall between the kids’ rooms. Designate a toy box in the playroom for Scruffy’s toys and teach him to fetch those instead of the kids’ toys. Making pet playtime easy keeps them from chewing your clients’ shoes instead.
7. Caution: Fragile
Dogs wag their tails, cats jump high, and birds land on things. Create a space that doesn’t put breakables at risk while pets go about their day. Strategically position picture frames, figurines, and so on above Scruffy’s tail or in a pretty cabinet where Mittens can’t swat them. You don’t want to remove all décor from your clients’ home, just make sure that if something is within reach of Tweety’s wings, it’s not the heirloom wedding china.
8. Bed time
Most pets like to be with their humans. Help your clients enjoy their pets’ company without having to vacuum fur from the expensive couch every day. Incorporating beds into the décor of several rooms avoids extra chores and keeps pets feeling safe. Customize a shelf in the TV stand with cushions and toys so Mittens can curl up with the family without sitting on the leather sectional. Build stairs at the end of the bed so Scruffy can sleep with your clients even if he is too small or too old to make the jump by himself. Do your clients want him in the room but not in the bed? Transform the cupboard of their bedside table into a doggy bed.
9. The great outdoors
Not all pets are safe outside, but that doesn’t mean they can’t enjoy some sunshine. Build a seat by the window so Mittens can curl up in the sun, give Tweety a good view of the birds in the yard, and make sure Scruffy has lots of light while your clients are at work. Giving your clients’ pets a bright, happy place to spend their day while also keeping them safe is ideal.
10. Bathroom breaks
Easy bathroom access means less mess for your clients to clean up! If Mittens can’t find the litter box or isn’t comfortable with that spot, she might leave an unpleasant surprise in your clients’ slippers. Make sure she can reach her litter from anywhere in the house, but keep it private enough that everyone feels comfortable with her using it there. You can increase Scruffy’s bathroom access too. A safe doggy door that can be locked at night or when your clients aren’t home lets him get in and out when he needs to without badgering your client to open the door over and over.
If your clients are enthusiastic animal lovers who want their whole home to reflect their pets, get creative and build a pet haven with beds and play structures all around. If your clients just want to ensure that their animals are safe and happy, however, customizing the space they have so it considers their pets’ wellbeing and comfort is the best approach.
Do you have other unique suggestions for designing a pet-friendly space? Tell us about them in the comments below!
The ability to describe your interior decorating skills is essential, but it might not convince every client. For many, pictures of your work will make the difference between considering your services and actually hiring you. Your portfolio is one of your most important tools, so investing time in taking high quality pictures that display your very best work is well worth the effort.
Design portfolio pictures should show your work in good resolution, displaying details and colors as closely to reality as possible. This doesn’t necessarily mean, however, that you need to hire an expensive photographer when you’re first starting out. If you take the time to learn a few basic elements of photography, you can take good portfolio pictures yourself.
Check out these tips for taking great pictures that will help your portfolio stand out!
1. Learn to work with what you’ve got
Taking your design portfolio pictures on your cell phone might not be the best idea, but if it’s all you have access to then learn how to do it well. Investigate your phone camera settings and practice taking quality shots. Some modern phones feature very high quality cameras. If you have a camera, familiarize yourself with its features and how it works before you choose any shots. Practice thoroughly whether your camera is a small “point and shoot” or a professional grade DSLR. Higher quality cameras can mean higher quality pictures, but only if you use them properly.
2. Pay attention to positioning
You want your work to be the focus of the picture, so be careful about where you place it in the frame. If you’re trying to show clients the ornate details on a chandelier, make sure those details are actually visible. If you take the picture from too far away, your client won’t get the insight into your tastes that you’re hoping for. If you take the picture with the chandelier far off to one side and the rest of the picture is an empty space, your client’s attention will be drawn away from the detail and over to the blank space instead.
3. Good lighting is essential
If you don’t have access to professional lighting equipment, photograph your work in natural daylight. Natural light keeps the colors looking balanced and true to reality. If the space you’re photographing doesn’t have enough daylight, use a lamp containing a daylight bulb, which mimics the effect. Light up the end table or wall mural you’re photographing to get the best color and definition in the shot. Pay attention to how you angle your light. Straight-on light eliminates distracting shadows.
4. Stay focused
Most cameras have auto-focus features, meaning they’ll automatically adjust to get the clearest image. Sometimes, however, autofocus fails, giving you a blurry picture. Clearly, these aren’t fit for your portfolio. Learn how to focus your camera manually and pay attention to how clear and sharp the image is before you click the shutter. You want the picture to be as detailed and high definition as possible.
5. Pay attention to your backdrop
Naturally, most of your attention while you’re taking a picture will be on the object that you want as the focal point of the photograph. Even so, make sure that you pay attention to what’s in the background. Are there bright colors that clash with what you’re photographing? A plain or muted background is best so your client’s eye doesn’t stray from the central focus of the picture. Did the dog wander into the background? Take a new photo. Remember that your clients are expecting professional quality pictures.
6. The bigger picture
Some of your portfolio pictures should showcase the entire room. Pay attention to the sharpness of each color, whether each element of the picture is in focus, where the objects in the room are positioned, and whether the whole scene is well lit. Adjust the angle of both your camera and your lighting to rid the picture of shadows. Is the real focal point of the room the vintage chaise lounge in the center? Make sure your clients can see that by where you position the camera.
7. The finer details
To balance the shots of the entire room, photograph some of your stylistic details. Choose ones that truly showcase your ability to provide unique décor services. Simply photographing the wall paper pattern on an otherwise blank wall might not be the best way to show the client how you coordinate colors and patterns. Instead, consider a close up shot of how the modern clock you hung on that wall offsets the large vintage mirror, or how the sleek black framing of the photos compliments the bold red geometric pattern of the wall paper.
8. Use a tripod
If you’re holding a heavy DSLR while you try to take a picture, you might have trouble holding the camera still. Camera movement decreases the quality of your pictures. Invest in a tripod that you can attach your camera to for very still photographs. Tripods come in different heights and sizes and you don’t need an expensive one to start. The steadier your camera is during the picture, the sharper the details will be. A tripod will help keep your camera in focus.
9. Consider a shutter release cable
A shutter release cable is a cord that plugs into your camera and has an extra shutter button at the end. They usually work with quality “point and shoot” cameras and professional DSLRs. When you plug the cord in, you can push the button at the end rather than the button on the camera itself to take the picture. Shutter release cables help you avoid touching the camera, letting it stay as still and as focused as possible while you photograph. They’re not an absolute requirement, but they are often affordable and can help you get clearer, sharper pictures.
10. Learn basic editing techniques
Learning how to edit your pictures doesn’t require you to be a Photoshop master. Most computers provide basic setting adjustments when you upload pictures to your computer, and these should be sufficient for photos that were taken well. Learn how to adjust the color contrast, shadows, saturation, and sharpness of your images to maximize the quality of the picture. Keep in mind that you’re simply fixing the pictures to display your designs effectively. You don’t want to edit them so heavily that they look obviously touched up. Clients want to see your actual work, not work that has been created digitally.
The ability to photograph your own work well is a valuable skill for design professionals. Your work is a visual art and your clients will love being able to see your style and expertise rather than just hearing about it. Practice each of these techniques to the best of your ability and strive to showcase your work professionally.
Do you have any tips for taking good portfolio pictures that aren’t listed here? Tell us about them in a comment below!
Taking advantage of closet space is a great way to keep a room looking clean and uncluttered. What happens, though, if the closet itself becomes over-stuffed and disorganized? We’ve all experienced the dreaded closet avalanche—opening the doors and being caught in an explosion of clothing, shoes, and accessories. Professional organizers can save their clients from such a fate with these ten tips for organizing closets of any size!
Choose an organizational scheme
If the closet is disorganized but not bursting at the seams, the solution might be simple. Choosing a scheme for hanging clothes can help your client find things easily and put them away in the right spot.
Sorting schemes can be the difference between an organized closet and a cluttered one. Hang clothes by type and then by color. Hang shirts on one side, dresses and skirts in the middle, and pants at the end. Next, organize each section by color. Your client will know exactly where to find things and where to put them back.
Rotate according to season
Odds are your client won’t need her thickest wooly sweater in the middle of August or her sun dresses near Christmas.
Avoid wasting space by showing her how to rotate clothes by season. Separate clothing she’ll wear in the summer from things she’ll need in the snow. Put the clothes for the current season back into her closet and fold the others carefully into bins or vacuum sealed bags. Store the out-of-season clothing under the bed or on a safe shelf in the basement.
When the seasons change, your client can unpack what she needs and store what she doesn’t.
Upgrade from a closet space to a closet system
Most closets feature a single clothing rod, but this isn’t always enough. Consider adding an additional tension rod below so you can hang a second row of clothing. Make sure the garments on the lower rod don’t drag along the floor.
Include stackable storage bins or drawers, door hooks, and vertical shelves for shoes, accessories, or folded sweatshirts. The more places there are to put things, the easier it is to keep the space tidy.
Clear the clutter
Once your client’s new closet system is installed, go through every item to be stored and take out things that your client no longer wears or uses. There’s no point in organizing items that your client will never use again! Encourage her to de-clutter for the sake of her new wardrobe space. If she needs more motivation, tell her that donating old clothes makes room for buying new things!
Sometimes, no matter how you organize the closet, the space isn’t big enough.
Consider a free-standing organizer like a clothing rack or an armoire. Though keep in mind, these might not be best for clients with very small apartments, as they take up floor space. If you can fit a rack or armoire in the room, however, they’re a great solution for reducing closet clutter.
Armoires can store more than clothing, such as linens or books. They’re also more contained than clothing racks, which leave clothing visible. Clothing racks, however, are easier to move and take up less space.
If a free-standing solution to closet clutter is an option, analyze the room with your client to decide which kind is preferable.
Purses, belts, scarves, hats, and other accessories pile up in the back or bottom of closets and create storage problems. A space-efficient set of stacking drawers or a vertical shelf of storage bins can stop accessories from wasting space that could be used to hang clothing or place shoes.
Bins and drawers
If the closet is very small, building a whole closet system inside of it can take up space that could be used to hang up clothing. Instead, de-clutter the closet and even drawers by setting up stacking bins or drawers elsewhere in the room.
These structures are space efficient because they stand vertically. Use them to store accessories and small clothing that won’t wrinkle sitting in a drawer. If you move your client’s underwear, socks, scarves, and hats into storage bins, you can move things into the dresser space you’ve cleared, making room for more clothing in the closet.
De-cluttering tricks outside the closet
Like storage bins, other organizational tricks outside the closet can help you de-clutter the space. One trick is to fill an empty drawer with pieces of a wide PVC pipe cut short enough to stand on end but still let the drawer close. Choose things like scarves or t-shirts that won’t wrinkle if you roll them smoothly instead of folding them and place each roll in a piece of PVC tubing, then close the drawer.
Use every inch of space
Just because the closet contains only a single clothing rod doesn’t mean you’re limited to that space. Do the doors swing out so you can access the inside of them? Extra hooks that fasten over the top of the door provide more hanging space for scarves, belts, handbags, and so on. As long as you can still close the door properly, almost any blank spot can become extra storage.
Maximize your hangers
Taking full advantage of hangers doesn’t just mean buying more.
Try using cascading hooks: these allow you to stack hangers in tiers, doubling or tripling the number of garments you can hang without needing more space along the actual clothing rod.
Using closet space efficiently can completely change a room. Professional organizers can show their clients the power of hooks, drawers, tension rods and storage bins to de-clutter not just the closet, but the rest of the room as well.
Are you obsessed with keeping closets and other areas organized? A career as a professional organizer might be right for you! Check out QC’s Professional Organizing course to learn more!
Picture this: you sit down for a client consultation meeting with brand new clients. They just moved into a newly built home and they want you to completely design their bedroom. You know that they want a unique design with a very different style, color scheme, floorplan, and atmosphere than they had in their previous home. The clients seem eager to get started, but you quickly realize that they have no idea what they want. How do you handle the situation?
Before the meeting
Believe it or not, you can prepare beforehand for clients who don’t know exactly what they want. Enter the client consultation meeting ready to guide clients through the process of choosing colors, styles, and floorplans. This will help you stay calm and organized if you’re met with a blank stare.
Start by asking yourself a few questions:
- What do you already know about the clients?
- What can you ask them to learn more about their needs and tastes?
- What can you ask them to get the information you actually need to begin?
- Precisely what information do you need to determine whether you can work well with them?
You’ll encounter many clients throughout your career who come to you with little or no ideas. The consultation meeting can still be productive for everyone. Use it as an opportunity to figure out what they like, what designs meets their needs, and whether you and those clients might work well together.
Gather what you do know
Analyze what you already know about these potential clients. Even before the consultation, your initial interactions can inform which concepts you propose first. Think about:
- Their age
- Whether they’ve mentioned kids or family
- Where their house is located
- The size of the space
- Any likes or dislikes they’ve mentioned
Even basic details can set you on the right track for thinking of a design concept. Gathering the details you already have gives you something to work with in case the potential clients have no idea what they expect from you.
Outline what you need to know
You can only go so far with basic details. The consultation meeting is your chance to learn what else you need to move forward. Before the meeting starts, think about the kind of information you’ll need to get from the client in order to consider entering into a contract with them.
Quote a price
Most consultation meetings range between an hour and two hours in length. Clients are charged by the hour, but you should give them an idea beforehand of how long the meeting should take. If the space is simple and small, allot an hour and quote them the price, but let them know that additional fees will apply if they go overtime with you. If the space is large, complicated, or you’re looking at multiple design projects at once, quote the clients two hours.
During the consultation
The design client consultation is an opportunity to exchange information. Some professionals conduct their meetings at their office and set up a separate time to view the space, for example, if it is still in construction. This way, they can concentrate on determining some details without distraction.
Other professionals choose to visit the clients in their home so they can conduct a walk-through of the space as part of the consultation. Viewing the space while you discuss ideas can help you decide whether you and the clients are a good fit for each other, and whether the project is within your scope. It also helps the clients visualize your suggestions, especially if they don’t know what they want yet.
Ask clear, constructive questions
Asking questions that are direct and to the point helps the clients focus on their wants and needs rather than just agreeing with your suggestions. You want to learn about them but you probably don’t have time to listen to their life’s story, so your questions should be friendly but concise.
Find out the budget right away. You won’t be able to move forward if you don’t know what the clients can afford.
Ask questions about:
- Colors they like or dislike
- What their careers are
- What their other passions are
- What makes them feel inspired
- Whether anything (ex. a color, a painting, a piece of furniture they saw somewhere, etc.) has given them ideas.
- Elements of other rooms they like or dislike
- If they’re not sure what they do want, is there anything they absolutely don’t want?
- What did they like and dislike about the design in their previous space?
Make sure the questions are about the clients and what they want. Keep in mind that learning about their dislikes and the things they don’t need can be almost as useful as learning about the things they do like or need, especially if they’re unsure of what they want.
As you learn more about the clients, let the details jog your creativity. Help them get a clearer picture of what they like, or at least what they don’t like, by using pictures. Visual aids help clients communicate things they’re having trouble describing. Look at catalogues and photos on blogs. Show clients a mix of trendy styles and classic elements and make note of what catches their eye.
Create lists to keep track of progress made throughout the meeting. Make them for:
- Things the clients absolutely want or need
- Things they absolutely don’t want or can’t have
- Potential ideas that develop throughout the meeting
For now, don’t worry if these ideas are vague. Any material is better than what you had when the meeting started! You’ll define ideas further if you choose to work together.
Special considerations can be anything your clients require that other clients might not. Inquire whether there are particular things the clients absolutely need so you can think about how to incorporate those into the design. For example, if one client uses a wheel chair, you’ll have to take accessibility into account.
Make suggestions with confidence
If you choose to work together, the clients have the final say about what the design looks like. That doesn’t mean, however, that you should sit quietly until they’ve made a decision. A large part of your job is anticipating what they’ll like based on what you know from the consultation meeting.
Try not to throw out random suggestions without thinking them through, but be comfortable bringing up ideas during the meeting. In fact, clients will appreciate your suggestions if they’re feeling stuck. Your ideas might help them with decisions and suggestions of their own.
After the meeting
Ideally, you should have all the information you need to move forward by the end of the consultation meeting. You should have an idea of:
- What the clients are like
- What they need
- What they want
- What they don’t like, want, or need
Analyze the information you have and consider the budget. Think about your experience with the clients in the meeting. Ask yourself:
- Is the project feasible within their budget?
- Is the project within the scope of your skills and services?
- Do the clients seem ready to move forward following your meeting?
- Did you feel like you could communicate easily and effectively with them?
- Did they take your advice into consideration?
- Did they provide you with the information you needed and cooperate with your consultation process, answering your questions to the best of their ability?
- Can you see any potential problems or roadblocks to working with these clients?
- Do you feel like you and the clients meshed well enough to complete a project together?
When you’ve come to a decision about whether you’re ready to work with these clients, contact them. A phone call is best unless they tell you they prefer email.
If you decide to work with them, let them know that you’d like to take on their project. If they would also like to move forward, set up another meeting time to discuss the terms of your contract and sign it.
If you decide that working together isn’t the best idea, kindly explain that their project is not within your scope and wish them the best of luck. If you know another design professional who you think might be a better fit, speak with them about the project. If your colleague is open to meeting with the clients, recommend them to the clients in your phone call or email.
Trust your instincts
When it comes to both making design suggestions and choosing whether to work with a client after the consultation, trust your gut feeling. The more experience you gain, the easier you’ll be able to read what people want based on facts and designer’s intuition. Imagine how impressed clients will be if you lay out the perfect idea before they’ve even realized that’s what they want!
Have you ever had an experience where your client didn’t know what they wanted? Share you experience in a comment below!
Designing a unique children’s bedroom can be as fun for you to do as it is for the kids to enjoy afterwards. Children’s rooms are a whole new ball game for colors, shapes, storage ideas, and furnishings. Coming up with creative ways to include the practical elements of a bedroom is a fun challenge for design professionals. You might even see how excited the children are when it’s finished, making the project rewarding. Here are ten tips for designing a room that has everything a kid could want, but also everything they need. The more innovatively you can combine fun and function, the better!
1. A happy place
A child’s bedroom should make them feel content. Think bright colors, icons from their favorite stories, and reminders that they are loved and cared for. Don’t go overboard on a character or color theme, especially because kids change their minds about what they like often. Including some colors and images that make kids happy, however, will make them feel comfortable and positive when they spend time in their room, making bedtimes and mornings easier.
2. A fun place
Kid’s bedrooms are for more than just bedtime! Their rooms should be fun as well. Turn the space itself into an exciting place to be, rather than just a room containing a few fun things. Set their mattresses in bed frames shaped like race cars, pirate ships, or princess carriages. Build an indoor tree house that they can climb a ladder to get into. Paint their desk with chalkboard paint so they can show off their art skills. Giving kids a creative space encourages them to be imaginative and think outside the box. Parents lives will also be much easier at night if the kids really enjoy being in their own rooms!
3. A practical place
A kids’ bedroom should be a fun place, but it should also be practical so it doesn’t turn into chaos. Toys and tree houses are great ideas, but include ways to keep the toys organized so the tree house doesn’t become a junk closet. Just because storage is a practical necessity, however, doesn’t mean that it can’t have a fun look. Colorful stacked bins, shelves of different shapes and sizes, and drawers placed in the stairs leading to a loft bed can look cool, reduce clutter, and increase space efficiency without taking away from the fun atmosphere. The easier kids can access storage, and the cooler the storage is, the more likely they are to use it. Coming up with creative places to put books, art supplies, clothes, and toys encourages kids to keep a tidier room.
4. A calming place
Sometimes kids need to de-stress, calm down, or rest. Balance colors and creative activities with curtains that give the room privacy or twinkly lights that make the room glow comfortably. Giving parents the option to transform the room into a calming place rather than an energetic one is helpful at bedtime, during afternoon naps, or at “time out.” Soothing elements in the room help kids think about the room as a safe place to go when they’re upset, angry, or tired.
5. A quiet place
Having a cozy spot to go to for down time outside of naps and time outs is also good for kids. Reading nooks filled with squishy pillows or built into walls and window seats, and movie corners with deep rocking chairs are great escapes for kids who are in the mood for a quiet afternoon. Parents will know that silence during the day doesn’t have to mean disaster and kids will learn the value of taking it easy and enjoying some alone time.
6. A safe place
Even with play areas that let kids climb the walls and sit up high near the ceiling, the room should still be safe. Make sure that weight bearing structures like ladders and lofts are built well and anchored solidly. Recommend that clients have things professionally installed rather than letting Dad do it. Don’t scare parents out of fun active ideas, but ensure that out-of-the-box designs won’t result in injury. Additionally, design a room that is age-appropriate. Is it very small and intended for toddlers? Maybe the rock climbing wall isn’t a good idea just yet.
7. A personal place
Kids will love the idea of having a place that is just for them. Customizing and personalizing their bedrooms makes them feel confident and gives them a sense of belonging. Brainstorm creative ways to include the kids’ names or initials in the décor. Consider chairs or pillows with embroidered names, wall murals featuring their initials, or erasable door hangings where kids can leave messages for visitors. Kids will be comforted by the thought of their own private place, but they’ll enjoy showing it off to friends and family too.
8. A clean place
Good storage might keep things neat and tidy, but you can also design with cleanliness in mind. You’re designing for kids, and kids make messes. Avoid fabrics that can’t be washed, light colors that stain, expensive rugs, or soft woods that mark easily. You want the space to look nice and be furnished well, but you don’t want to waste clients’ money and set kids up to ruin things just by being kids.
9. A friendly place
Even though a child’s bedroom is their own space, it’s also place for socializing. Kids invite friends and family to join them for movies, stories, and games, so they’ll need space for their guests. This doesn’t mean that a small bedroom won’t make a good children’s room. Consider where parents or grandparents might sit at story time or where a friend who sleeps over might stay for the night. Loft and bunk beds are space efficient and fun, and so is a reading corner with comfortable chairs, body pillows, or bean bags.
10. Make it versatile
Versatility is great when it comes to style and color, but it should be part of the room in other ways as well. Kids grow fast and two years from now they might not want the same princess themed door decals they were desperate for yesterday. Design a room that is age-appropriate but can change with their tastes over the years. Incorporating their favorite color is a safe choice, but they might not want super heroes painted across the wall when they’re 16. Consult parents about whether they’re willing to face redoing the entire room, or whether they’d prefer a design that evolves easily. The art corner with the chalkboard desk can be transformed into a study corner and computer desk for high school, and the tree house might make great extra storage for an expanding shoe collection.
Care to learn more?
Creative options for designing children’s bedrooms are endless. They’re a fun opportunity to combine your classic design knowledge with your ability to think outside the box.
Would you like to learn more about designing spaces for different people? Check out the courses here at QC Design School!
In any industry, attending tradeshows is a great idea. They are an opportunity to network with other professionals, discover new vendors and suppliers, keep up with the latest trends, and advance your training. They can also be a lot of fun! Tradeshows are a break from the norm that educate and inspire design professionals.
Attending local tradeshows stimulates the local industry and encourages healthy competition and better support between colleagues. Attending tradeshows nationally and internationally provides insight into how things are done elsewhere and how you might adjust your own design strategies to benefit your clients. It also sheds light on what you’re doing right. Finally, international tradeshows are an amazing travel opportunity! Here are some tradeshows from around the world that exemplify how different and exciting design showcases can be.
Interior Design Show West, Vancouver
The Interior Design Show West, based in Vancouver, Canada showcases vendors, ideas, and trends from around the world, with emphasis on North America and the Vancouver industry itself. The show displays vendors that provide high quality products, well-known figures within the local and international industry, and even a few celebrity guests. Vendors use the show as an opportunity to unveil exclusive looks at their latest products, giving professionals a peek of upcoming trends before they hit the market. Attendees can also learn from leading experts during a variety of lectures and presentations. This annual tradeshow is designed specifically for professional attendees.
The London Design Festival, London
The London Design Festival in London, England, is an annual festival designed to show the world what the London industry is capable of. Open to professionals from all over the world, the festival offers a series of lectures, product showcases, and artistic installments created by local designers. Attendees are encouraged to experience rather than observe. While vendors and professionals from around the world are invited to take part, the emphasis of the show is to let people see the talent and innovation stemming from London specifically. Attendees are encouraged to network and conduct business, but an air of celebration is maintained throughout. Featuring award presentations, lectures, project showcases, and business events put on by hundreds of partners, this show is a great opportunity for design professionals to expose themselves to how diverse, innovative, and influential the people around them can be.
Own Home, Helsinki
The Own Home tradeshow in Helsinki, Finland, is one of the biggest and most diverse tradeshows in the area. The show focuses on homebuilding and renovation, letting an audience of industry professionals and public attendees discover expert methods of remaking and rejuvenating their spaces. Attendees are encouraged to learn from notable guest speakers and suppliers and to share knowledge with each other in order to improve everyone’s renovation and homebuilding experiences.
Room + Style, Dresden
The Room + Style show in Dresden, Germany is an annual, publicly accessible event intended to showcase how fashion, lifestyle, and interior design are related. The show is exceptionally stylish, with exhibitors displaying products related to fashion, interior decoration, home accessorizing, and general wellbeing and lifestyle. Regardless of whether they are professionals in the industry or merely curious homeowners, attendees are given insight into upcoming trends that might influence their personal, professional, and home lifestyles throughout the year. They are also provided with great deals on furniture and accessories from suppliers that might not otherwise sell directly to the public. Design professionals can benefit both personally and professionally at this show by paying attention to what the people around them are most impressed by.
The Mobitex showcase in Brno, Czech Republic is an annual international fair that showcases furniture styles and design techniques from around the world. Suppliers of furniture and home furnishing products travel from international locations to exhibit their goods, and Czech vendors are included to give foreign attendees a taste of the local style and talent. The tradeshow is accessible to the public as well as professionals, encouraging networking and education. Professionals can gain an international perspective on upcoming trends while public attendees become informed about their home furnishing options from a very professional source.
IFFT interiorlifestyleliving, Tokyo
The IFFT interiorlifestyle living tradeshow in Tokyo, Japan is an annual event thrown specifically for design professionals. It is Tokyo’s largest event of its kind, boasting innovative and design-oriented exhibitions that introduce professionals to new trends from around the world. Suppliers showcase their most unique products for interior decoration, accessorizing, and lifestyle, presenting options and ideas for both indoor and outdoor design. Professionals are encouraged to network with representatives from retail chains, wholesalers, and boutiques that they might not otherwise have the opportunity to interact with so closely.
Salone di Firenze, Florence
The Salone di Firenze exhibition in Florence, Italy is an annual showcase that is open to public and professional visitors alike. It focuses on presenting both modern and classic furniture styles and ways to accessorize spaces according to the furnishings. Additionally, exhibitors are encouraged to show products that serve a functional purpose in the home rather than just a decorative one, including the latest trends in lighting and flooring. To make sure visitors balance work and leisure, this tradeshow also boasts specialty food tastings, free workshops on design related topics (as well as some fun ones that aren’t directly related), contemporary art exhibitions, and performances by musical guests. Visitors benefit from the professional development opportunities while still making time to enjoy the local Italian culture.
Boutique Design New York, New York
Based in New York City, Boutique Design New York is an annual fair that focuses on design aspects of the hospitality and leisure industry. It features boutique spaces created from the latest and most innovative design styles, as well as galleries displaying current trends in artwork, accessories, bathroom spaces, fabrics and furnishings, lighting and wall coverings, and flooring and carpet options. Public and professional attendees are invited to observe and experience the design elements that make hotels, restaurants, and cruise ships impressive and appealing. They’re also encouraged to network with the innovators behind each unique piece and style. When they’re finished networking for the day, guests can kick back and socialize in sitting areas of all styles, created by local design visionaries.
World of Furniture, Sofia
The World of Furniture showcase in Sofia, Bulgaria is an annual tradeshow that welcomes professional and public visitors to witness innovative furniture designs created by Bulgarians, as well as other exhibitors from around the world. The intent of the show is to provide local design professionals and homeowners the opportunity to interact with suppliers from both Bulgaria and elsewhere. Hotel and restaurant owners also take part, as the exhibitions showcase interior decorating and design elements that will interest all types of clients and businesses.
National Women’s Show, Ottawa
The National Women’s Show in Ottawa, Canada is a biannual fair that welcomes professionals and public audiences. This exhibition is actually intended to showcase products and services that might specifically interest women or relate to their professional endeavors, so it boasts content related to far more than just the design industry. Even so, it’s a great opportunity for local and foreign professionals who want a particular insight into what interests women today. The show exemplifies how interior decorating and design elements relate closely to other aspects of clients’ lives, as well as their likes and dislikes. Besides interior decorating and home furnishings, attendees can check out displays about cooking, fashion, beauty, and health and wellness.
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Seasonal trends influence interior decorators like any other creative professional. The colors, styles, and accents your clients prefer will change from year to year, or even from season to season. The metallic gold details that were popular last year might not be as highly requested a few months later. Instead, your clients might be interested in calming shades of blue and green like the pictures they found on Instagram while they were browsing décor hashtags. Clients will be happiest with a look that is unique and exciting but also keeps up with the latest craze. Keeping up with new trends, or even staying ahead of them, is a success tactic for interior decorators.
Design professionals have many resources to help them coordinate spaces that are stylish and unique. These keep you up to date on which accents, statement pieces, colors, and furniture styles are ‘hot’ right now, which ones are passé, and which could be the up and coming thing for next season.
Blogs, web pages, online ‘pin boards’, and social networks can help you keep track of interior decorating trends. These resources are convenient because you can access them anywhere that you have a data connection or wireless on your computer, smart phone, or tablet. Online resources are also often one of the most useful tools for seeking inspiration.
Many online resources have notification or subscription settings. These allow you to track posts related to specific trends, styles, or decorating elements. Is there a particular theme or aesthetic you’ve noticed rising in popularity? Subscribe to posts containing specific key words or turn on notifications for posts about that particular theme. You can also use hashtags to search design elements and see which ones are ‘in’ or to gather new ideas. Many online resources even let you make lists or save posts so you can access pictures and articles quickly. Check out the online resources below and think about how they might be useful for design professionals who want to stay ahead of trends.
Online ‘pin boards’ like Pinterest or Pearltrees are very useful for keeping track of trends, organizing your ideas, and finding inspiration. Search functions let you look at which design elements are posted about most often, which gives you an idea of what’s ‘in style’. The ability to browse links and pictures lets you see examples of other designs, which can introduce you to new ideas or help you avoid trends that have been overdone. Pin boards also let you group similar posts together in categories or create lists. Keep in mind, however, that online pin boards themselves are quite trendy right now, so some of the ideas there have been recycled many times. Just because it’s popular in a Pinterest search doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most current or innovative idea.
Check out this pin about bathroom color palettes by The 36th Avenue to see how Pinterest and other online pin boards can give you an idea about the latest trends. Would you rather compare many ideas at once? Try searching an entire pin board like this one by Style Caster, filled with unique décor solutions designed to inspire new ideas.
Countless design blogs exist, many of which are very reputable. Reading a reliable blog can help you track which trends other design professionals have tried and which ones they liked or disliked. Pay attention to which elements are posted about often, which ones are rarely posted about, and which ideas or trends are rising in popularity. When you search blogs, make sure to double check what you read in each post against other sources. Keep in mind that anyone can write a blog, whether they’re professional or not.
Do a search for design blogs and see how many are at your finger tips. While you’re at it, check out The Peak of Chic and Designtripper to see how interior decorating blogs can differ but still provide inspiration and a good idea of what’s trending!
Online design and décor magazines are accessible from almost anywhere. As long as you have a wireless or data connection, you can gather ideas and track trends from all over the world. You might find a neat trend that is popular in Eastern Europe but hasn’t caught on in North America quite yet. Many well-known print magazines also release online issues for your electronic devices. Keep in mind, however, that online magazine subscriptions cost money.
Check out the online content posted by Style at Home magazine. You can see how an online magazine subscription can help you easily track popular trends.
Facebook groups and décor forums
Social networking platforms and forums can be very useful for seeking feedback from, or exchanging ideas with, other professionals. You might consider suggesting a trendy DIY décor project to a client but then see a post in a forum where another professional who tried it recommends against it. Social networks are interactive, letting you engage with that person to learn why their experience was negative. Networking with other professionals online helps you make informed decisions. Facebook groups and other networking tools also let you seek advice and support about staying inspired and keeping ahead of trends, or provide support to others.
Local newspapers and magazines
Magazines and newspapers from your local area give you perspective about trends that are popular in your community. You can assess which styles and design elements your clients might be interested in based on their neighbours’ homes and decide what you can do to make their space unique. Printed magazines are available on an international scale, but they cost money to subscribe to and ship. Local publications might be available for free and will give you a “home grown” point of view.
Workshops and conferences
Some of the best networking opportunities for design professionals take place at industry workshops and conferences. You’ll be able to network with other décor specialists, learn where they seek inspiration, and discuss how to deal with rapidly changing trends. Workshops and conferences are a chance for you to learn and improve your skills.
Tradeshows are a great opportunity to network with vendors from your area or around the world. You can browse the different products and services offered by design and décor vendors and gather new ideas based on their most up to date merchandise. If you are the only design professional in your area who attends a tradeshow, you might be the first to try something new!
Spaces near and far
The best design professionals seek inspiration wherever they go. You can gather ideas, tips, and tricks in your daily life or when you visit new places. Which parts of a space are interesting and make you feel inspired? Do you see variations on a popular trend that you enjoy? Are there elements of the overall décor that you’d avoid? You can learn something new from every space you visit, whether it’s an interesting color scheme in your dentist’s office or a vintage framing style in the historical manor home you saw on holiday.
If you keep an open mind about where design inspiration can come from, you’ll find it just about everywhere you go! This outlook, combined with a good idea of current trends, will help you stay creative in your design process.