Archive for the ‘Design’ Category

October 27, 2015 7:00 am

Top 7 Decorating Blogs to Follow

The world of home decorating is ever-changing with new trends popping up on a regular basis, and old ones being left by the wayside. Decorators take up the challenge of transforming homes through decor and organization, but every now and then they need a push in the right direction. If you are looking to get inspired for an upcoming project, here are seven of the best blogs that you should start following right now!

Making decorating blog

1. Better Living Through Design

Looking for new products to incorporate into your decor plan? Look no further, because this blog scours the internet to find the best and most exciting things that can be purchased online. If you are looking for unique pieces or tools to make your job easier, this is the blog that does all of the work for you.

2. Nesting Place

This blog started in November 2007 and has been gaining popularity ever since. The Nester’s catchphrase is “It doesn’t have to be perfect to be beautiful.” In these posts you’ll find full-scale home DIY projects that this blogger has taken on, as well as small design ideas to add a little extra beauty to any room in a home.

3. Simply Grove

Kirsten Grove shares her favorite design and decor from all over the world. See some of Kirsten’s own work as an Interior Stylist to give you a fresh look on design. She also shares some of her favorite international styles that you can add to your own ideas to mix them up!

4. Smart Happy Organized

Home décor is about more than just decorating. It’s also about helping your clients get organized so that their homes are comfortable and functional. Take your organizational skills to the next level with tips and ideas from this great blog.

5. The Inspired Room

This blog has been the winner of Better Homes and Gardens magazine’s Reader’s Favorite Decorating Blogger for two years in a row, and it’s not hard to see why! The Inspired Room blog offers information and ideas on how to make your home your own. It includes posts on decorating, organizing, and ways to help you stay inspired. Everything you need to keep your creativity in tiptop shape!

6. Vintage Revivals

For those of you who like designs that are a little more outside of the box, this one’s for you. Mandi brings new life to vintage pieces, shares some of her favorite DIY projects, and overhauls living spaces with her unique and vibrant ideas. She refers to her style as “fearless” and that’s the perfect description for what she produces!

7. Young House Love

This blog follows Sherry and John through seven years of transforming different homes through various DIY projects. Sadly, this blog is no longer active, but some of the designs within are timeless and well worth taking a look at.

With so many amazing blogs about decor out there it was hard to just choose seven, but these ones are a great starting point for any decorator! Take some time to take a look at the other blogs that can be found and keep an eye on the ones that you like best. You never know when you’ll need to get out of a slump, and spending some time looking through some blog posts might be just the push you need.

Want more decorating inspiration and advice? Check out more from QC Design School!


Updating your home can be a perfect refresher when the seasons change or you’re feeling restless. That might sound like lots of work, but renewing a room doesn’t have to mean completely redecorating.

You can help your clients give their rooms a new lease on life by making simple, tasteful changes. If you’re very thrifty and creative, you might give their whole house a simple makeover that leaves them happier than ever.

Here are 15 simple ways to update just about any room!

1. Wallpaper one wall

There are no rules when it comes to wallpaper! Papering a single wall, part of a wall, or even just cut-out patterns across one surface is a great way to create a statement. If your clients are willing, and as long as it complements existing décor, choose a fun new color or pattern to give the space a quick facelift!

Wallpaper simple decorating tricks

2. A gallery wall

Turning one wall into a statement collage is a great way to refresh any room. Your clients might even like this idea in multiple rooms, with each collage portraying different things. In fun frames, create a gallery displaying pictures they’ve taken, places they’ve been, places they’d like to go, family portraits, or even just pictures and quotes they find inspiring.

3. New dishes

Are your clients tired of their same old kitchen with the same chipped dishes they’ve had since college? Help them choose new plates, bowls, glasses, cutlery, and cookware that match the room’s color scheme or contrast surrounding décor in interesting ways. Even something this simple can inject some style into a stale space.

4. Bathroom accents

Bathrooms have a surprising number of easily updated elements that will change the whole atmosphere. Leave the walls as they are and choose new mats, curtains, towels, and toilet seats covers to match or contrast the scheme in a new way. For a more dramatic (but still very simple) change, switch out the old mirror for one with a new shape, different frame, or alternative style.

5. Throw pillows and blankets

New throw pillows and throw blankets are a great way to change up a space, but they’re also a great way to get crafty and recycle! Do your clients have an old blanket or set of curtains they don’t need? Show them how to repurpose that spare material into pillow covers for the throw pillows they already have. They’ll give their room a new look without having to spend any money.

Throw pillows to simple decorating tricks

6. Patterned shelves

Remember how we said wallpaper has no rules? Give your client’s office a fun new feel by papering the back panel of their big book shelf! Choose wallpaper in their favorite color or a fun pattern that might be too bold to dedicate a whole wall to. The peek-a-boo effect will give the space a whole new feel.

7. Painting (but just a little bit)

Painting an entire room is a big commitment and it might be more time consuming than your clients are prepared for. Help them choose one spot in the room to draw attention to and transform just that part. Depending on the color, that wall will enhance the current color scheme, contrast it, or build an actual scheme in a room that was monotonous before. Are they hesitant to paint the whole wall? Try painting just one half or even angular sections to boost the room’s style.

8. Staining or painting old furniture

Sometimes the space itself is fine but the things filling that space are out of date. Don’t get rid of them! Furniture can use a new lease on life occasionally, just like a room. Try painting or staining some of your client’s older pieces to change the focus and feel of the space. Just make sure that chair isn’t an antique heirloom before you start with the trendy mint colored paint!

9. New lighting

Lighting is a key factor in building an atmosphere. Perhaps your client’s dissatisfaction with their master bedroom comes from the placement and type of light the house came with? Try adjusting the feel of things with a central chandelier that features a softer light than the fluorescent ceiling lighting they’re used to. If that’s too fancy, help them choose a set of lamps with shades that contribute to their current aesthetic.

Lighting for simply decorating tricks

10. Mirrors

Nothing helps widen the appearance of a very small room like a nice mirror! Help your clients transform that tiny spare bedroom with a mirror on perpendicular walls to give the illusion of more space. Choose mirrors in angular shapes if the décor is modern or ones with elaborate frames if you’d rather create a vintage feel.

11. Get organized

This suggestion is a little less exciting but it’s very effective for renewing a room. Remember when we said that the problem might be the stuff and not the room? Too much stuff can take over a perfectly good space. Get out the donation boxes and convince your clients to pay forward what they no longer need. Organize what’s left to reclaim the space!

12. Indoor plants

Using plants and flowers to refresh a room is literally refreshing. Help your clients choose indoor plants that suit their décor and show them where to put each one so it thrives. Plants bring a little life to any space, so put one or two potted plants wherever your client’s home needs a pick-me-up.

Plants for simple decorating tricks

13. New linens

This one sounds simple, but sometimes clients overlook solutions that seem too easy. Particularly if your clients have lived in the home for a very long time, they’re probably in the habit of rotating the same few sets of sheets and duvet cover. Help them change up their style with an array of new linens that look nothing like their old ones!

14. One word: rearrange

It really can be that simple! An entire room can be transformed for the better by rearranging the furniture and décor. This process doesn’t have to be complicated and it doesn’t mean you have to start from scratch. Work with your clients to create a better floorplan and rearrange the things they already have until the whole room looks more like what they want.

15. Don’t forget about the outside

Okay, so your client’s porch isn’t technically a room. That doesn’t mean you should ignore the outside of the house while you refresh things! Improve first impression for visitors by helping your clients choose a new porch swing or lounge chair, a unique doormat, and a fresh color to paint the front door.

It’s all in the details

There are unlimited ways for you to update any room in your client’s home if you’re creative! Pay attention to the small details and don’t overlook their power to change how things look and feel. Even things as small as light switch and outlet covers, the color of the window frame, the type of floor mat, and the frames on your client’s pictures can create major change with a fresh new look!

Would you like to learn more about simple decorating tricks to bring new life to a room? Check out the courses here at QC Design School!


October 19, 2015 8:00 am

Best Practices for Client Communication

Design Best Practices for Client Communication by Phone

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.

Design Best Practices for Client Communication Give clients time to ask questions

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.

Design Best Practices for Client Communication Use Examples and Visuals

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!

In person

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.

By email

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.

Design Best Practices for Client Communication By Email

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.

Get talking!

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!


October 14, 2015 8:00 am

You’re Certified! …Now What?

Design Blog- Certified Interior Decorator- Certified

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!

…Now what?

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!

Design Blog- Certified Interior Decorator- Start Networking with Professionals

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.

Design Blog- Youre ceritifed now what- Become a brand rep

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.

Design Blog- Youre certified now what- become an assistant

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.

Design Blog- Certified Interior Decorator- volunteer

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.

Design Blog- Certified Interior Decorator- Keep Applying for Jobs

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

Design Blog- Certified Interior Decorator- Build your brand

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.

Design Blog- Certified Interior Decorator- offer lessons

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.

Design Blog- Certified Interior Decorator

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.

Interior decorator drawing

“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.

Young aspiring interior decorator

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.

Mature Interior Decorator at work

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!

Get practicing!

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!


October 5, 2015 8:00 am

How to Design Gender Neutral Nurseries

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.

Design Gender Neutral Nurseries Shapes and Patterns

2. Characters

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.

Design Gender Neutral Nurseries Characters

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.

Design Gender Neutral Nurseries Boys and Girls

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.

Design Gender Neutral Nurseries Stylistic Details

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.

Design Gender Neutral Nurseries Learning Themes

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.

Get designing!

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.

Design Gender Neutral Nurseries Get Designing

Do you have other creative ideas for gender neutral nurseries? Tell us about them in the comments!


September 24, 2015 10:22 am

Safety 101 for the Design Professional

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 Safety 101 Designer at Work

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.

Design Safety 101 Fire Hazard


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.

Design Safety 101 Stair Lift Accessibility

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.

Design Safety 101 Hazards for Children


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.

Design Safety 101 Natural Lighting for Good 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.

Design Safety 101 Floating Staircase

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!


September 17, 2015 12:56 pm

Ways to Increase Your Design Salary

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.

Design Professional Assessing Skills to Increase Design Salary

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
  • Assistantships

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!

Additional training

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.

Design Professional Additional Design Training to Increase Design Salary


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.

Design Assistantship to Increase Design Salary


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.

Professional Design Networking to Increase Design Salary

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.

Creating Design Portfolio to Increase Design Salary

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.

Your attitude

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.

Positive Attitude to Increase Design Salary

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.

Be proactive to increase Design Salary

Be pro-active!

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.


September 15, 2015 8:00 am

Trendy Fall Home Décor Ideas

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.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Earth Tones

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!

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Color Mix

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.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas White on White

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.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Collections

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.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Bathtub

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.

Trendy Fall Home QC Design Decor Ideas Four Poster Bed

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!


Meet Chantal! She’s a QC Design School graduate of the Home Staging & Redesign program and owner of Narrative Interiors. We caught up with Chantal to talk about her journey so far, what the future holds for her, and to get some advice for current students!

Let us a little bit about yourself and your business.

It all started with a dream, ambition and a journal. As an Educational Assistant, I worked for our local school board for many years but always felt like I was working for the benefits and not towards fulfilling what I love to do. Knowing that my true passion was interior design and decorating, I took a leap of faith and decided to leave my secure position to start my business. I recorded every step of the process and little did I know that my journal was going to become a story of courage, strength, success, fears, failures, obstacles and doubts.

I started my journey by completing correspondence courses through QC Design School and helping friends and family decorate their homes. After a full year of preparation, I launched Narrative Interiors. I stayed committed to my goal while facing many challenges but accepted that loving what I do also needed to become valuable and profitable.

Room design by QC Design School Graduate

Narrative Interiors is a home staging and interior decorating/design business that focuses on reaching out to all budgets, tastes and lifestyles.

What first motivated you to get into the design industry?

When my two university bound daughters were unsure as to what their future was going to hold, I encouraged them to do what they love and the rest would take care of itself. To my surprise, they challenged me and asked me why I wasn’t pursuing what I loved to do. My initial answer was “because we have to pay for two kids in University” but then after a bit of reflection, I quickly realized that I would always have an excuse. I loved decorating and I knew that I had a talent that needed to be nurtured and explored.

How did you choose QC Design School? What did you like most about your studies?

I did some research online about different programs that were available and was very pleased with the information package I received from QC. I signed up and started my courses while I was still working full-time.

I enjoyed the feedback from the instructor and the flexibility of the course schedule. Seeing that I had a very busy life, I loved the fact that I could do the assignments at my pace. I also enjoyed that the course kit had everything I needed.

Can you tell us a little bit about how you got to where you are today?

I am where I am today because of extreme determination. The first six months were the hardest of them all. I spent many sleepless nights questioning my decision to quit my job to pursue a staging business and I feared that no one would buy the concept of staging and decorating. I would have risked it all simply for “pursuing a passion” and that was a lot of weight to carry. However, project by project I was able to create a demand for NI’s services. Within the first year I grew out of my home-based office and opened up my own studio to accommodate the increasing demands. I truly believe that NI’s success thus far has been because of the amazing team that I work with. I trust and have earned the trust of the many contractors, vendors, and suppliers I work with and for that I am extremely grateful.

What do you find most rewarding about your career?

The most rewarding part of my career is most definitely the amazing people I have met along the way. In our business we don’t sell a product, we sell a lifestyle. So in order to know what my clients need, I have to really get to know them. The relationships that develop during design and decorating projects are by far more rewarding than the successful end result. Also, working with a team of amazing contractors and tradesmen who are exceptional at their skills continuously amaze me. I CANNOT do it without them.

Many of our students have dreams of owning their own business as well. Do you have any advice for those who are just starting out in the design industry?

It is by far the most difficult thing you will ever do. Starting and owning a business is like the scariest roller coaster ride you’ll ever be on except it doesn’t only last a few minutes. The anticipation, the dips, the turns, the fear and the excitement will leave you exasperated at times but will mostly leave you excited. Passion alone doesn’t pay the bills so I would strongly recommend to first build a solid business plan, to get to know the basics of bookkeeping and to develop processes from the onset because the clients WILL be there… Just make sure you’re ready for them when they all come at once (which they will). Surround yourself with positive people and walk away from any negative comments that don’t support your vision. It’s a lot of work and a lot of hours but worth every minute of it when you get to love what you do.

Bathroom design by QC Design School Graduate

The whole office is buzzing about your amazing portfolio. Where do usually you find inspiration for your designs?

Wow… Thank you!! That means a lot to me. 🙂

I’m a big Sarah Richardson fan and I love her style. I try to infuse that fresh look in every project. I sometimes struggle when my clients like dark colours but I do my best to lighten up their space. I don’t have time to watch TV so magazines and fabrics are my biggest sources of inspiration.

We love your business name and logo! Can you tell us a little bit about how you came up with the name?

I can’t take any credit for the name. My close friend had a huge part of the process and I also hired someone from Toronto to come up with the concept. I did not want my name on the business so that at any time I could sell it, grow it or reinvent it without my personal name being attached to it. He knew that I loved being a part of my book club and he took it from there. His idea was “that every home tells a story.” Homes have every element of a great story such as a plot, theme, setting, characters, style, point of view etc. Initially I was worried that the name was too long, too many chances of incorrect spelling, too difficult to say in French, but I took a leap of faith because I loved it! I find it is still too long especially when I have to give my email address but I try to focus on the brand and logo of NI instead.

What does the future hold for you?

That’s a loaded question! My “if I had no limitations” goals for Narrative Interiors would be to see NI become a national name brand. I do not want to be the face behind the business… I want the business to have its own identity. I would like to hire decorators in outside communities as sub-contractors so they would get to do what they love but under NI’s leadership. Somewhat like Decorating Den but a modified version. Technology has allowed us to reach out to as many people as possible so why not share the passion with thousands instead of hundreds! 🙂

My personal goal is to encourage women to pursue their passion and I don’t sugar coat “pursue your passion” because it’s HARD work!!! I’ve had many women approach me or email me to tell me that I’ve inspired them which I find ironic because they are the ones who inspire me to share my story! Until I reach those goals, my future holds many more home renovations along with many more exciting adventures.

Check out some more of Chantal’s work!

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

QC Design School Graduate Work Sample

Is interior decorating and home staging your passion? Follow your dreams and start doing something you love like Chantal did! Check out the selection of courses offered here at QC Design School.