In most cases, interior decoration is a collaborative art. You’re the one whose skills turn ideas into reality, but each design you create has to please you and the client. This makes effective communication one of your most important skills as an interior decorator.
Good communication avoids:
- Mix ups and mistakes that could have been easily prevented
- Unhappy clients
- Bad reviews of your skills and services
- Time wasted having to redo and restart
As you communicate with clients, your goals should be to:
- Clearly let them know your expectations
- Get a concrete idea of theirs
- Form a plan and come to an agreement that makes everyone happy
Here are nine useful tips for communicating well with décor clients!
1. Keep it direct
Good communicators get right to the point. There are many things to consider when you’re planning a new interior décor scheme for any space, so get down to business without wasting time or trailing off topic. You can still speak kindly and casually, and even engage in small talk, without losing the purpose of your conversation.
Go into each conversation prepared and ready to get the information you need. Asking them good, direct questions lets you plan the new interior décor easily without feeling confused and starting out with the wrong information.
2. Give them time to ask questions
You want to make sure that they’re completely comfortable with your ideas and plan before you move forward. Answer any questions they have to the best of your ability and clarify anything that confuses them.
Some clients are shy and won’t feel comfortable speaking up if they don’t understand or have issues with your plan. If they don’t have any questions for you, you can ask them subtle questions to ensure they understand fully.
3. If you need clarification, get it
If you feel unclear about the details of the new décor or your requirements, ask for clarification right away. Of course, you don’t want to ask the same thing too many times because it looks unprofessional, so listen carefully from the beginning.
It’s better to ask questions, however, than it is to make assumptions and have to fix problems or worse, leave a client dissatisfied.
4. Listen well
Listen carefully to what your client tells you, asks of you, and expects of you. You should also listen well to their input and give their opinions thought while you work. You’re the expert, but it’s essential to listen to what your clients want and need if you’re going to work together successfully.
5. Avoid jargon
For the most part, your clients won’t be other interior decorators. Many won’t know the proper terms or slang words for your vendors, products, or designs. Make sure you use accessible language while you work so that your clients fully understand what you’re doing and why.
6. Use examples and visuals
Because not every client understands interior décor as well as you do, use examples and pictures whenever possible so they can actually see what you mean. Encourage clients to bring inspiration pictures with them as well so you have a clear idea of what they’re looking for.
7. Always keep it professional
Even if you know the client and have worked with them many times, you should speak and write professionally and politely during each interaction. How you conduct yourself with clients during every contract you do will contribute to your professional reputation.
Remember: You should always be present when you communicate with clients. Avoid distractions (including your smart phone!) and dedicate yourself to that conversation. This lets each client know that they matter to you.
Communicating through various mediums
Different clients prefer to be contacted in different ways. You need to speak well with them verbally and in writing. Check out these tips for dealing with interior décor clients through different mediums!
Take care with your appearance and be polite. You want to come off as professional but approachable. Make eye contact with your clients so they know you’re paying attention, and listen carefully while they speak. Try not to distract them with nervous habits like biting your nails, playing with your hair, or checking your cell phone.
Always use correct grammar and sentence structure when emailing clients, and always remember to spell check before you click send! No matter how good a decorator you are, your clients will think less of your professionalism if you send them emails full of spelling mistakes and Internet shorthand.
Reply to client emails within 24-28 hours unless you’ve told them that you’ll need more time for any reason. Read very carefully and reread if necessary. Organize emails into client folders so you don’t lose important details and keep all your emails unless you are absolutely sure you don’t need that information anymore.
Many clients prefer email as their primary form of contract, but it’s easy to mistake the details in writing if you’re not careful.
On the phone
Avoid having clients mishear you over the hone by speaking slowly (but now too slowly!) and clearly. Talking on the phone makes some people uncomfortable, so keep the conversation to the point. Clients will also appreciate concise conversation because it won’t waste their cell phone minutes.
Invest in a cell phone and an office phone if necessary, and set up voicemail. If you leave a voice message for a client, speak very clearly, briefly explain why you’re calling, and let them know in detail how they can contact you back.
Via social media
Remember that social media aspects like tweets or picture comments on Facebook and Instagram are public. Never discuss personal information on a public forum. Keep comments as short as possible and avoid the urge to use Internet shorthand, even if you would on your personal social networks.
Keep in mind that people use social media for convenience and will expect you to answer quickly. If a client sends you a personal message, follow the same etiquette as you would for an email.
The better you are at communicating with clients, the easier a time you’ll have working with them. Interior decorators who practice speaking in a friendly but professional manner to their clients no matter how they’re getting in contact provide a more pleasant experience for everyone involved.
Do you have other tips for good client communication that you don’t see here? Tell us about them in a comment!
It’s official- you’re a certified interior decorator! You’ve learned theories and techniques, practiced in your own space, and you’re ready to start your professional career!
Many beginner interior decorators feel apprehensive about how to spark their career once they’re finished training. How can you start building a client base? What steps should you take in your first year?
Turning your training into practical work experience doesn’t happen overnight. Here are 7 steps you can take to get the ball rolling!
1. Start networking
Interacting with other design professionals, or even just décor enthusiasts, will do wonders for getting your name out there. The professionals who trained you might connect you with job opportunities. Fellow designers might know of clients they can’t take but whom they’d be willing to refer you to.
Network online in forums and on social networks, interact with other interior decorators at conventions, or seek out other professionals who might need interior decorating services, like real estate agents.
Pro tip: While the Internet is a great way to make new contacts, nothing beats a face-to-face interaction! Don’t rely solely on Facebook. Take the time to meet key influencers in person!
2. Become a brand rep
Some qualified decorators look at becoming a representative for a brand as being a step down from working their independent contracts. Many interior decorators prefer to concentrate on freelance decorating that could lead to establishing their own business, or to working with design companies. In reality, becoming a brand rep can support these other jobs.
Especially during your first year in the industry, representing and selling a particular decorative brand can be both an educational and a networking opportunity. By selling décor as well as designing interior spaces, you’ll secure yourself a secondary source of income, either between or during other contracts.
3. Become an assistant
There’s no shame in starting at the bottom of the corporate ladder when starting out in a new industry. Shadowing a more experienced interior decorator is an amazing opportunity to refine your skills and learn through hands-on work. That decorator’s clients might even recommend you to others if they like what you do!
Shadowing someone with more experience lets you see what successful designers do right and how they handle it when things go wrong. Assistantships are a great transition between your training and your professional career. They’ll prepare you for making your own way in the industry.
4. Volunteer work
Just because you’re a beginner doesn’t mean you should give your services away for free. Doing too much work for no pay devalues your skills. Potential clients might think that you work for free because you’re not very good. In your first year, however, certain volunteer work can be beneficial. Volunteering is a great opportunity to practice while you network. Contact local retirement homes, new small businesses, or charitable foundations and donate your time in exchange for experience and a chance to help people.
5. Keep applying
During their first year in the industry, many interior decorators struggle with inconsistency between contracts and jobs. Don’t let this discourage you from taking temporary contracts or applying for jobs with design companies.
Not hearing back from potential employers is no reason to stop distributing your portfolio and resume. Think about it this way: the more resumes you submit, the more potential clients or employers will be introduced to your name. In the time it takes for one of them to call you, submit more applications, work small contracts, take volunteer opportunities, or shadow more experienced professionals.
The things you do between big contracts keep you in practice, teach you new things, and build your resume. It also looks more impressive to potential clients and employers if you’re active between jobs, rather than disappearing from the industry.
6. Build your brand
One of the smartest things a beginner interior decorator can do in their first year is build their brand and establish a solid presence online and in their local industry.
When you’re not volunteering or assisting, work on building a quality website, starting a blog, and creating a professional portfolio. The stronger your branding platforms are, the more easily potential clients and employers can see the quality of your work, making them more likely to hire you.
Need help to get started? Check this out: Building Your Website: What You Need to Know
7. Offer lessons, workshops, or parties
If you find that you have space between work opportunities, do something about it! Try not to sit back and wait until something falls into your lap. Interior decorating is one of the few industries where professionals can create work for themselves.
Between jobs, tell your friends and past clients that you’re available for things like instructional workshops and décor parties where guests learn about decorating techniques and have the chance to purchase decorative pieces. Even one-time jobs like these support your resume, and they also show potential clients and employers that you’re pro-active about your career.
Keep it up!
Your first year working as a professional interior decorator might be a challenge, but there are ways to help yourself. Don’t let feelings of uncertainty stop you from taking steps towards an active career and a solid client base. New decorators who show initiative and drive during their first year in the industry will spark a successful career for themselves.
How are you planning on starting your career in design? Let us know in a comment!
For many people, becoming an interior decorator is something they choose to do as soon as they discover their passion for style, design, and coordination. For others, the choice comes later on, after other career paths and years of consideration.
The beautiful thing about interior decorating is that it’s never too early or too late to begin learning professional techniques. As long as you have an eye for style, can work time efficiently, are prepared to think outside the box, and are always willing to learn, you’ll be prepared to take the first steps toward professional interior decorating at any age.
“Am I too young to become an interior decorator?”
When it comes to learning basic interior decorating techniques and building a good foundation for professional training, you are never too young!
Any person with a passion for coordinating details and celebrating style and expression should begin practicing whenever they can. In fact, the younger you start decorating your own spaces (or even the spaces in your family’s home), the more time you have to improve and explore your skills.
It is true that many interior decorating programs or colleges require you to be at least 18 to enroll. There are some, however, that understand how the passion for décor can start at a younger age. Some programs accept students as young as 16, as long as a parent or legal guardian is willing to sign a consent form giving them permission to enroll.
In most places, interior decorating is an unregulated profession. If you wish to branch out into interior design and actually change the physical structure of a room, however, you’ll be required to complete additional training and become legally licensed. This doesn’t mean you can’t train as an interior decorator or begin developing your décor skills earlier to gain experience until you’re old enough to train and consider licensing.
If your local area doesn’t permit training until you’re 18, don’t be discouraged! Use online resources to help you begin practicing, or at least thinking about, basic décor skills. Google interior décor blogs or vlogs and read planning magazines to introduce yourself to themes, styles, trends, and decorating strategies. Use reputable resources as a research guide.
The best thing you can do is practice. Help your mom re-coordinate the furniture layout in her home office or give your best friend’s bedroom a complete decorative makeover. You can even build a small portfolio to present to the programs you apply to later. People might not pay you for the first few spaces you decorate, but your friends and family make great practice clients if they’re willing. The more experience you have before training, the higher your chances of being accepted into the program of your choice when you’re old enough.
“Am I too old to become an interior decorator?”
As long as you’re passionate about style and décor and willing to learn new things, you’re never too old to become an interior decorator. In fact, many decorators start their careers after years of working in other industries, raising children, or debating whether they’re ready to commit.
For some, a later start is actually beneficial because they’ve already achieved goals and reached personal or professional milestones. Many older decorators are prepared to devote their full attention to interior decorating. They’ve also had a chance to gain relevant life experience that might make them attractive candidates for training programs and potential clients.
Interior decorating programs and colleges have no age limit for seeking professional training. As long as you’re able to complete the tasks required by the decorating process, you are not cut off from training as an interior decorator just because you’ve reached a certain age.
Getting your first clients
No matter what age you are when you begin your interior decorating career, attracting your first clients can be intimidating. You can make it easier by knowing where your target market lies, which can be influenced by your age.
In the public’s eye, a young interior decorator might appear trendy, fashionable, and up to date on the latest social and pop culture trends. This doesn’t mean that older decorators can’t be these things too! It simply means that younger decorators might have better luck targeting a younger crowd of potential clients than they would with more mature groups.
For example, a young, single professional buying her first condo in the city might be more attracted to decorators that are closer to her age. Mature decorators are just as capable of planning chic, trendy spaces, but clients often like to work with decorators they can identify with. A 23 year old might be more excited to work with someone closer to her age who probably likes the same things as her.
Mature decorators often have the best luck working with clients in a similar demographic to their own age as well. An elderly married couple looking for help updating their living room will probably feel more comfortable hiring a mature planner with more life experience than they will hiring someone very young who perhaps hasn’t owned a home of their own yet. Once again, this isn’t because young planners can’t coordinate traditionally stylish spaces for older generations! Clients might simply see themselves reflected in the experiences of a planner closer to their own demographic.
Identifying your target market is a crucial step to building a client base in any business. Interior decorators are no exception. Don’t restrict who you’ll work with simply because of your age, but keep in mind which groups might be most keen to work with you. Who will identify with your experience and style?
A trendy young decorator could very easily be hired by an elderly lady looking for a fun, colorful new kitchen design and an older decorator might be hired by a young couple who want elegance and class in their master bedroom and see that capability in the decorator’s maturity. Don’t let yourself stress over whether or not you’re too young or too old to find clients. Instead, use your age to your advantage and market yourself to clients who will value your life experience!
Regardless of your age, pursuing your passion for interior decorating is worth the time and effort. You should never be discouraged by other people questioning whether you are too young or too old to become an interior decorator. Professional decorating is the type of industry where you are constantly learning and growing, no matter your age or experience level. If you have the dedication to develop your skills from basic to advanced, then you have the potential to excel at any point.
Would you like to learn more about becoming a professional interior decorator? Check out the courses here at QC Design School!
Nearly every parent that hires you to design a baby nursery will have an idea of how they’d like it to look. More parents are choosing nurseries that look like they would suit a little boy and a little girl. Parents like gender neutral rooms for many different reasons. Some people:
- Want to keep the baby’s gender a surprise until it’s born
- Design nurseries during the adoption process, before they know the gender of the baby they’ll adopt
- Want the nursery to suit future babies too
- Choose gender neutrality on purpose so their kids don’t have to feel too girly or too boyish if they don’t want to.
Your goal will be to detach the idea of a baby nursery from the stereotype that “blue is for boys” and “pink is for girls”. There are many other ways to coordinate a gorgeous space for bedtime, nap time, and changing time without designing specifically with boys or girls in mind.
Here are seven tips for designing stylish gender neutral nurseries that will appeal to anyone!
1. Shapes and patterns
Shapes, patterns, and lines can be just as cute and decorative as colors and characters. If you balance pretty, ornate designs (which appear more feminine) with simple, streamlined ones (which appear more masculine), you’ll create a comfortable, neutral atmosphere. Consider shapes like stars or geometric patterns and determine how feminine, masculine, or neutral you make them look with the colors you use.
Incorporating human characters from books or movies can be difficult in a gender neutral room because most people have a visible gender. For example, if you design a room that is Dora the Explorer themed, people will assume that the room belongs to a little girl. If you want to include living characters to liven up the space, get wall stickers, paintings, figurines, or plush toys shaped like animals instead. These bring life to the décor without gearing the atmosphere toward either boys or girls, and they’re also adorable.
3. Boys and girls
Designing a gender neutral space doesn’t mean that you have to avoid clear gender markers at all costs! Why not make the room friendly for boys and girls by including things that both groups might like? Feature a combination of colors that are stereotypically “boy colors” and “girl colors” or balance pictures of sports gear with ballet shoes. Making sure femininity and masculinity are both included in the room can be just as effective for creating a gender neutral space as leaving them out. Visitors walking into the room will understand that the space is meant for any baby.
4. Adventure themes
One of the best strategies for a gender neutral nursery is to concentrate on theme rather than purposely including or avoiding gender. To choose a theme, think about things like the adventures all little kids would love to go on. Decorating the room to look as though you’re in space, in the jungle, or under the sea creates a fun atmosphere. Of course, it’s true that some little girls would love a hockey themed room and some little boys would love a room full of flowers, but your goal is to balance the theme somewhere in the middle. Nature and space are just a couple great options for hitting that balance.
5. Stylistic details
If themes and characters aren’t your clients’ thing, build the gender neutral atmosphere in the small details. Try to strike a balance between things that are decorative and things that are functional. Fancy furniture with ornate details tends to look feminine, while functional furniture with a more streamlined look appears more masculine. In a nursery, you’ll need to balance practicality with comforting décor, and details like furniture and lighting are the perfect tool for that.
6. Learning themes
Like adventure themes, décor that concentrates on fun learning makes for the perfect gender neutral atmosphere. Whether your clients’ bring the new baby home in a pink or blue blanket, they’ll feel comfortable and happy in a room full of letters, numbers, crayons, and other fun learning themes. Later on, your clients’ can even turn that nursery into a bedroom or play room with the same theme because it’s appropriate for a range of ages.
7. Food themes
Everyone loves food! No matter the gender of your clients’ baby, cartoon fruits and vegetables in the form of stickers and stuffed toys bring character and color to the room without getting too gender-specific. Take the style of the theme in different directions by considering brightly colored cartoon character fruits with friendly smiles or rustic farm veggies in more subdued, vintage-looking hues.
Don’t let the idea of gender neutrality intimidate you. Whether your clients are choosing a neutral style because it’s trendy or because they’re waiting until they meet their bundle of joy, you should be able to give them a gorgeous space. Design with all babies in mind, rather than just little girls or little boys, and find creative ways to include all the classic elements of a nursery without getting gender-specific.
Do you have other creative ideas for gender neutral nurseries? Tell us about them in the comments!
Are you the kind of person who loves to keep things neat and tidy? Do you take neatness a step further to create efficiencies wherever you can? You probably have what it takes to be a professional organizer! In fact, if you find yourself itching to organize not just your own stuff, but your friends’ stuff too, you might be perfect for the job.
The professional organizing industry is booming. People are taking on more jobs and projects, giving them less time to stay organized at home. Television shows like “Hoarders” have also made hiring a professional organizer realistic and even kind of trendy (but fingers crossed that you won’t have to wade your way through 100 years of newspapers to shake your client’s hand)! Starting a professional organizing career has never been so lucrative and it’s not expected to slow down anytime soon.
Besides being a trendy, solid, and profitable career choice, here are the top five perks of becoming a professional organizer!
1. Do something you’re passionate about
Do you genuinely enjoy keeping things neat and tidy in your spare time? Do you find yourself itching to organize public places better? As much as people might tease you about your cleanliness, you can actually build a successful career based on your organizational habits.
The best careers are ones that concentrate on what you’re already passionate about, and your love for coordination might be the perfect motivation to start profiting from what you actually love doing.
2. Help other people
Lack of organization can actually consume a person’s life and limit what they achieve in their day to day routine. Whether it’s their home, their finances, or simply their shoe closet, regaining control is often stressful and time consuming without some guidance.
This is where professional organizers can save the day. You can do more for a person than just organize their closet nicely or help them get a few financial records in order. In extreme cases, you might actually save someone from becoming so overwhelmed by disorganization that their job or personal relationships suffer. Teach your financially struggling client a better way to organize his credit card statements so that due dates are met and interest charges aren’t incurred. Your advice might help him climb out of debt. Help a client with a set of twins and a set of triplets under the age of 5 develop a system to color code, wash, dry, fold, sort, and store her family’s laundry efficiently so it doesn’t overwhelm her home and consume her entire week. Professional organizers do more than just make things look tidy; you will actually make a difference in people’s lives.
3. Do fulfilling work
When you play a role in pulling someone out of disorganization, you do more than just help them. You’re also helping yourself feel fulfilled by your career. No matter what kind of client you work with, you’ll feel rewarded at the end of each contract because you’ll see noticeable results. That basement is now a working home office rather than the alarming cave of mysteries it was a week ago.
Professional organizers take action and achieve things. Even if your goal that day is simply to get the closet under control before you move onto the dressers, you’ll always have something to work towards.
4. Gain useful skills
Professional organizers are problem solvers. You’ll be presented with a new set of hurdles each time you start a contract. Your challenge will be to adapt your skills to meet that client’s needs. Contracts that use your past experiences but require some adjustment will teach you the most because this is where you’ll evolve your knowledge and develop new tricks and techniques.
Perhaps there’s a space efficient but “out of the box” way to store the bottles of vintage wine your client has left sitting in heavy, dusty crates for the past 30 years? Your skills are also helpful outside of your work day. The better you become at coordinating objects and information, the more organized you’ll be able to keep your own life and space.
5. Control over your career
Professional organizers can work their jobs in different ways. If you like order and working as part of a team, for example, you might work for a company that specializes in interior decor and design services. Other design professionals might be experienced in making the space look gorgeous, but you’ll help make it functional as well.
If you are willing to risk less structure in order to take more direct control of your career, you might work as a freelancer or small business owner. Evaluate your needs when it comes to scheduling and consider whether you have the necessary skills to provide independent services that will turn a profit.
Professional organizing is the kind of career that teaches you valuable life skills while you help others and make a living. It’s also a satisfying option for people who enjoy problem solving, achieving goals, and taking full advantage of the space around them.
Do you think a career in Professional Organizing might be right for you? Visit QC Design School to learn about professional training that will get you started on the right foot!
Whether you’re an interior decorator, a professional organizer, or a home stager, design professionals are responsible for more than just making a space look aesthetically pleasing. You are also obligated to consider what your clients need within that space to stay safe. In most places, there are certain codes and regulations that your designs must comply with.
Don’t let the idea of safety regulations overwhelm you! As long as you do your research and stay alert while you develop your plan, you’ll create a space that both pleases your client and meets all of the safety requirements they need.
Design professionals are responsible for considering things like:
- Fire codes
- Building codes
- Accessibility regulations
- Health guidelines
- Environmental issues
In addition to your clients’ wants and tastes, you should also think about their:
- Needs and safety
- Mental and physical health
- Physical and emotional wellbeing
Here’s a quick breakdown of how safety needs and regulations in your area can influence how you alter private homes, workplaces, and public spaces.
Fire and building codes
To comply with fire and building codes, pay attention to where you place furniture and décor. Avoid blocking entry ways, safety exists, and high traffic areas like hallways. In the event of a fire or emergency, these key areas will be used by panicked people trying to get out, and/or by emergency crews trying to get in (sometimes with large equipment). Make sure everyone can move comfortably around the space, even in a hurry.
Fire codes also influence which materials are safe to purchase when it comes to carpets, furniture, and curtains. In the case of a fire, people are actually in more danger of being harmed by inhaling toxic fumes released into the air when certain materials burn than they are of being hurt by the flames. Research the fire codes in your area and avoid high risk materials.
Particularly in workplaces and public places, the spaces you design should be accessible to everyone. You’ll be responsible for ensuring that people living with disabilities can move about the space and reach things properly, even if they use a mobility device.
In the United States, accessibility is governed by the Americans with Disabilities Act. Public buildings must meet the ADA standards and accommodate persons with disabilities. Accessibility guidelines vary from place to place but they are regulated almost everywhere. While you’re considering the needs of your clients, research the regulations in your area, especially if you’re working with a business or public building.
Health and Safety
Consider the health and safety of everyone who uses the space. Does your client have pets? If so, avoid decorating the space with plants that are poisonous to animals when consumed. There aren’t many cats that can resist chewing on the leaves of a new house plant.
Will small children be in the space frequently? Try not to decorate with small objects that might present a choking hazard. Little figurines placed low enough for small hands to reach can be swallowed easily. Curtains with long, looped tassels hanging down are a strangulation risk for children and animals alike, because their necks might be level with the loops.
Shelves that aren’t anchored to the wall might be climbed and tipped. Open storage for risky products or tools might be too easy to get into. Evaluate the space and your plan very carefully. Part of addressing health and safety concerns is to pet- and child-proof the space reasonably, without getting carried away and bubble wrapping the room.
Consider more than just the physical safety of your clients in your design. You should also design with their mental and emotional wellbeing in mind. Make sure there’s enough natural light, give them enough space to move and adjust, and choose a decorative and color scheme that helps to reduce stress rather than contributing to it.
As you transform a space, choose products and services that are environmentally friendly whenever you can. Use materials that aren’t toxic, avoid products that create pollutants, and generally try not to waste resources. Check your local building codes because some cities include guidelines and standards in order to reduce that area’s “global footprint”.
Lighting and acoustics
Especially in the workplace, adequate lighting is important and can even be a safety issue. Many building codes actually regulate the amount of lighting required in workplaces and public buildings. Good lighting helps your clients avoid eye strain, reduces the frequency of accidents, and is essential in the event of an emergency.
You should also be aware of the acoustics in the space. Will that noisy ceiling fan annoy everyone in the office? Perhaps you should skip it. Don’t underestimate the importance of your clients’ ability to see and hear comfortably while they go about their day. This contributes to their overall wellbeing.
What if the client won’t co-operate?
Some clients already know what they want and talking them out of it can be difficult. If that idea presents a blatant health or safety hazard, however, you’ll need to convince them to choose something else. Your responsibility is to negotiate what the client wants and what meets mandatory health and safety requirements. Steer them towards an option that has a similar style but isn’t as risky. If your client insists that the office should be organized according to their self-taught feng shui ideas, claiming that the best place to put the office desk is right in front of the fire exit, you’ll need to gently guide them towards a safer floor plan.
You might need to help clients rethink what they want even when their idea doesn’t threaten formal building regulations. For example, the client who wants to include a floating staircase as part of the chic new daycare perhaps doesn’t realize the danger this presents. Floating staircases have spaces between each step and can extremely dangerous design for small children, and you should respectfully help them understand why a different style of staircase should be used instead. Remember to keep in mind that a floating staircase (with more than three steps) that has no railings is against safety requirements! Your goal isn’t to scare your clients with stories of things gone wrong, but rather to help them see why another design is safer.
Aim for balance
Navigating safety regulations while you’re trying to design with style can be a challenge, but it’s essential to coordinating a great space. If you design with safety in mind, the space will meet codes and regulations while also making your clients comfortable. Don’t forget to take your own safety into account as well! If you’ve got a design element in mind that is outside your scope and ability, speak with your clients and contract a professional to get the job done right!
Have you ever encountered a blatant safety violation in a public space? We’d love to hear your stories! Share them in a comment!
Getting a raise is exciting no matter your career. Design professionals can actually create ways of increasing their salary. Even if you don’t see immediate profit, professionals of every level can do things to benefit their salaries over time.
Assess your skills
Trying to increase your design salary in too many ways at once can be overwhelming. Choose methods that will improve what you do. Ask yourself:
- Where your strengths lie
- Where you could improve
- What you realistically have time for
Assessing your abilities helps you decide which course of action to take. Choose one that will let you profit and thrive.
Ways to improve your design salary
Options that are good for experienced design professionals aren’t necessarily the same for new professionals, and vice versa. Any designer with confidence and a good work ethic should take whatever steps they’re comfortable with for improvement.
New professionals might consider:
- Additional training
Experienced professionals might consider:
- Secondary revenue streams
- Diversifying their skills
You might also try:
- Networking for new opportunities
- Improving your portfolio
- Adjusting your attitude
Choose a strategy
Design professionals who are willing to invest time and effort into improving are already on track to increased salaries. Check out these other strategies!
Some design professionals become certified if their local industry is regulated. It is also, however, quite experienced-based. Skills develop during your studies and evolve during hands-on work.
You can also study to specialize in other areas of design and décor. For some professionals, returning to school is the ideal way to increase their design salary. You might not see immediate profit, but it is a solid investment in your career.
Professionals with qualifications and real-world experience build a solid foundation of skill. The better your qualifications and experience, the more people are willing to pay.
Classrooms aren’t ideal for everyone. Professional programs can also be lengthy and expensive. If you’re already licensed or working in an unregulated area, there are other ways to become a more qualified design professional.
Some experienced professionals hire assistants. Working for a reputable designer or decorator is a great way to learn tricks of the trade. You’ll work closely with a professional, picking up on what they do well and absorbing how they deal with mistakes and emergencies.
Assistantships might not sound glamorous, but they help you become a more qualified design professional. If you train under the most prestigious interior decorator in the country, clients will be willing to pay higher prices than they would otherwise.
Networking with potential clients and other professionals is a great way to find new opportunities that can help you work towards a higher salary.
Learning to network online and in person is important. Design professionals use Facebook groups or website forums to discuss industry related topics and advise each other on problem solving techniques. Perhaps another design professional is looking for a partner for a prestigious contract? Maybe they know of an upcoming position at the company they worked at before branching out? Networking with design professionals that you respect you at tradeshows and events might result in new contracts or recommendations.
Improving your portfolio
A professional portfolio is the design professional’s best tool. For some people, reading or hearing about your work is fine, but pictures of your amazing designs will convince them to hire you.
If you don’t have a portfolio, invest time in creating one. If you have one, make it better! Build an electronic version to send to prospective clients and employers. Put together a physical portfolio to bring to and from meetings. Create a brief online portfolio to give website viewers a taste of your skill.
Well organized, professionally displayed photos of your best work shows preparedness. Prospective clients and employers pay more for the services of someone with an impressive portfolio than someone who expects to be hired without proof of their skill.
If you’re looking for ways to improve, you’ve already got the right idea. A positive attitude won’t immediately increase your design salary, but it plays a role in reaching your goals.
Your attitude influences how clients and employers view your professionalism. If you are egotistical, unfriendly, or easily defeated, you won’t be hired as often. Being positive, passionate, and approachable shows others how much effort you invest in your work. Clients and employers pay according to your work ethic.
Secondary revenue streams
Experienced design professionals supplement their income with secondary revenue streams. This means more responsibility, but it can also mean higher profit. You’ll continue taking contracts, but you’ll offer additional services as well.
Makeup artists have a wide range of options for supplementing their income.
- Product representation: Many design professionals become representatives for products and services that they use regularly during their decorating process. They might sell the product at events or tradeshows or suggest it to their clients while they work on contracts.
- Workshops and seminars: Between contracts, give seminars, guest-speak at events, or host workshops. Also consider online webinars, tutorials, and consultations. Experienced design professionals are often paid to share their expertise with other professionals or advise clients who want to learn about making over their own interior spaces.
- Expand your services and diversify your skills: If you are a professional organizer, take advantage of the skills you already have to branch into another area of expertise. Seek extra training and expand your skills and services to include interior decorating, adjusting your prices accordingly.
Being pro-active about your career sets you apart from the competition. Waiting passively for an opportunity won’t benefit you. Find ways to make it happen! Have confidence in your plan of action and take pride in the fact that your profit is based on your own hard work.
Design professionals are familiar with how quickly trends can change. Each year, interior décor is influenced by fashion, society, and popular culture. As a result, the colors, patterns, and furniture that were popular last fall might not be the “in” thing this year.
Trends don’t mean the designs you create for your clients this fall will be unfashionable in a year. Design trends evolve from one another and grow from what was stylish before. You can help your clients update their space in simple ways, like adding throw pillows in a trendy color or updating the light fixtures for a new finish.
Whether you’re updating a space or giving the room a complete face lift, here are some trends to consider for fall 2015!
1. Neutral tones
Neutral tones are always a part of the fall season, but this year calls for them especially. Warm, inviting spaces are what’s “in” for 2015 and smooth, calming colors like beige, taupe, sandstone, and olive are the perfect palette for creating that comfortable atmosphere. Research décor colors that were popular in the 1960s and let those be a loose inspiration for this fall (but without quite so much orange)!
2. Color mixing
Are your clients bright, colorful people whose style doesn’t quite fit a neutral palette? Colors are always in style, even when neutrals are the height of popularity. Simply choose from the colors that are trending most. For 2015, the hottest looks are vivid shades of pink, purple, green, aqua, and turquoise, particularly when they’re mixed in bold combinations. If your clients prefer something louder than a simple mix of colors, try combining a color with a bold but complimentary pattern. Of course, you should always be careful with bright colors and patterns. Clashing isn’t in!
3. White on white
If neither vivid colors nor neutral tones are the right choice, try something simpler and more visually clean. For bright, spacious rooms, white on white is the fall trend. Place a white sofa on a clean white carpet or compliment the stark white kitchen island with a row of angular white hydraulic stools. Using white as the base color for a room lets you accessorize with colors, patterns, and tones that might clash otherwise.
4. Wall collages
Fall 2015 is a time for personalization. One of the best ways to add a personal touch to a room is with a photo collage. We’re not talking a small, collage-style frame hanging in the corner! Help your clients choose images that make them feel inspired and dedicate an entire wall to creating a bold, uplifting collage. Keep the frames subtle, because they’re not the focus. Instead, play with the size and shape of the collage and the brightness of the images inside. Consider including your clients’ art, pictures of their family, scenery from of places they love, or shots of people and things they love in pop culture.
5. Flea market finds
If you’ve ever been to a flea market, you know that the style of what you’ll find there is a little different than what you might see at a grand antique sale. Think about rustic kitsch style and household wares from periods past, like you might find in your grandmother’s kitchen. Choose pieces that have style and a vintage air about them, rather than objects that look old, worn, or outdated. Incorporate pieces that contribute to the atmosphere you want into the room’s décor in whatever creative ways you can!
6. Incorporate collections
Perhaps a picture collage in the family room isn’t quite personalized enough for your clients. One of the most interesting trends of the season is to include your clients’ collection in their home décor. Of course, this trend might not be the best choice if your clients have spent the last 15 years collecting superhero-themed underpants. Proudly displaying their collection of vintage 45” records as a wall mural, however, is stylish, tasteful and creates an atmosphere.
7. Big, comfy sections
We’ve all sat on chilly modern sofas made of straight lines and shiny materials. These are appealing in certain spaces, but they’re not what are trending for the home this fall. When it comes to seating in the family area, fall 2015 is a time for comfort and warmth. Help your clients choose a soft sectional that they can stretch out on and sink into, no matter the style or color scheme.
8. Dine with old and new
This fall’s trendiest kitchen space combines old and new styles for a comfortable but refreshing look. Take advantage of big spaces to pair large, rustic-looking wooden tables with chairs that feature sleek lines and modern metals or materials. If there are other accent pieces in the room, choose colors and styles for the chairs that coordinate. The contrast between sleek, modern elements and classic older piece creates balance in the room.
9. Vintage style bath tubs
Have you ever visited an old hotel with a grand claw footed bathtub sitting separately from the wall? This vintage style tub is back in fashion for fall 2015. Of course, the claw feet aren’t a necessity if they’re not what your clients are into! You can even draw the rest of the décor in the bathroom together by choosing a colored tub instead of the classic ivory look. Further establish style with tap handles and shower heads in different shapes and finishes. Choose clean silver metal and sleek, straight handles to modernize the tub, or a golden tap with ornate fixtures to hit the vintage theme home.
10. Four poster beds
Perhaps the grandest trend in bedroom furniture history is back in style. Suggest a tall four poster bed for your clients’ master bedroom. Choose warm, neutral tones for the curtains (which you can change later for a light summer material). Help your clients choose a wooden finish that makes the room feel comfortable. Wood with a slightly worn driftwood finish is particularly “in”, and large pieces are easily reflected across the room with things like driftwood-style picture frames or end tables.
At the end of this season, take a look back at the beautiful designs you’ve created throughout the fall. Look at the colors, furniture styles, and patterns that you incorporated this year and keep an eye on them. Knowing what was in style last season can prepare you for seasons to come!
Have you discovered other up and coming fall home décor trends for 2015? Tell us about them in the comments!
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.