Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

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 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!


Micro-living might be trendy right now, but some college dorms take the idea of living in a small space to a whole new level! Are your clients stressed about how their daughter will adjust to staying organized when she has to live, sleep, and do her schoolwork in a single room? Is the daughter worried about how she’ll fit her impressive shoe collective in a bedroom the size of her current closet? What if she has a roommate? Depending on the college, that single room might be all the space she has to share with another person and their stuff!

You can help your clients and their daughter stay calm by advising them on how to maximize the potential of a very small living space. Just because her room is little doesn’t mean she’ll have to leave everything she owns behind. Reassure your clients and their daughter by recommending strategies like these!

College dorm storage for student

1. Use the space under the bed

When you’re short on space, there isn’t a nook or cranny that should be wasted. What’s better than free space that can be hidden easily? The space under the dorm’s bed is the perfect spot for storing out of season clothing, spare linens, and bulky school supplies. Recommend plastic tubs of various sizes with lids that seal well so things don’t get dusty.

2. Use blank wall space

Remember the golden rule: waste no space! A few simple shelves can make a huge difference when your clients’ daughter starts organizing her course books, schools supplies, or makeup. Rather than just getting creative with the storage space she has available, simple shelving actually creates space. It even gives her a nice, safe spot for some picture frames so she doesn’t feel homesick.

3. Use closet space efficiently

Transforming the inside of the closet can change the whole room. Your clients’ daughter will probably find a single rod in a small, shallow closet with no shelving. Advise her to get a thin hanging shoe rack or hanging shelf and a tension rod so she can hang more clothing half way down. As long as she doesn’t overload these things to the point that they fall down, she’ll have double the storage space in her closet.

4. Keep the desk organized

If your clients’ daughter loses control of her desk right away, she might have trouble catching up when the homework starts. Set her off on the right foot by recommending little, space-efficient storage solutions. She can keep all her pens in one place in a jar and the papers for each class in divided file folders so she doesn’t lose important information. Recommend good desk lamps that keep the space well lit but also have storage around the base for things like staplers, scissors, and sticky notes. Putting small supplies here frees up drawer space.

College dorm storage for desk

5. Hooks and hanging racks

Nothing will help your clients’ daughter keep her dorm clutter-free like having plenty of space to hang things. Recommend hooks and hanging racks that hang over the top of closet and bathroom doors, and hooks of all sizes that stick to the wall without falling down or wrecking the paint. These hooks are perfect for hanging jackets, bath robes, schools bags, or most importantly, wet towels that will get musty if they’re thrown on the floor!

6. Dirty laundry

A laundry hamper is absolutely necessary! Without one, your clients’ daughter will end up with worn clothing all over the floor. This will be a problem when she has limited floor space to begin with. The hamper itself should also be space efficient and easy for her to haul to the laundry room and back. Suggest hanging a medium sized laundry bag on a hook over her closet door. When the bag is full, it’s time to wash and dry!

7. Power

Just thinking about the number of things college students have to plug in can feel disorganized! Make sure your clients’ send their daughter with a quality extension cord and a good, safe power bar to maximize the limited outlets in her dorm, especially if she has a roommate. Sugget that she use colored tape to code each end of her cords so she doesn’t get them mixed up or tangled. Make sure she has enough space for her laptop, desk light, cell phone charger, hair dryer, and so on, but also make sure she knows the dangers of overloading outlets.

Extension cord for college dorm storage

8. Vanity station

Chances are your clients’ daughter won’t be willing to part with all of her beauty supplies, even if they convince her to leave some things behind. College dorms, however, don’t often boast well lit mirrors and makeup tables. Advise that she takes a mirror that can be hung from a stick-on hook, and recommend space efficient stacking drawers for her makeup, hair products, and styling tools. Some good makeup mirrors event come with a light built in so she won’t have to stand near the window!

9. Stacking hangers

Are your clients’ worried that their daughter still won’t have enough room in her closet for all that clothing? Recommend stacking hangers to double the number of things she can hang without ruining things. Of course, she’ll need to make sure the rod in her closet is sturdy first. Stacking hangers have hooks at the neck that another hanger can be hung on to store clothing in two rows. If she can’t find these, she can even use metal pop can tabs looped over the neck of one hanger to hang a second one.

10. A theme

Never underestimate the power of simplicity when it comes to decorating a small space. Your clients’ daughter won’t have room for wall murals or decorative end tables, but she’ll still want the place to look well put together. Advise her to pick a central color and an accent color or pattern, and then stick with that idea when she buys what she needs for the dorm. Storage bins, desk lamps, calendars, and laundry hampers come in all sorts of colors and styles. When there’s no room for frivolous décor, filling the room with bright, cheerful essentials can be enough. Dorms are the perfect space to combine function and aesthetic.

The more organized students are when they move away for college, the more their families can relax. Help your clients prepare their kids the best they can by designing a space that’s perfect for both study and fun.

Do you have other great tips for surviving college dorm living? Tell us about them in the comments!


August 27, 2015 8:00 am

Taking Good Portfolio Pictures

Design Tips: Taking Good Portfolio Pictures Photographer

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.

Design Tips: Taking Good Portfolio Pictures The Bigger Picture

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.

Design Tips: Taking Good Portfolio Pictures Fine Details

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.

Taking Good Portfolio Pictures Photo Editing

The ability to photograph your own work well is a valuable skill for design professionals. Your work is a visual art and your clients will love being able to see your style and expertise rather than just hearing about it. Practice each of these techniques to the best of your ability and strive to showcase your work professionally.

Do you have any tips for taking good portfolio pictures that aren’t listed here? Tell us about them in a comment below!


Seasonal trends influence interior decorators like any other creative professional. The colors, styles, and accents your clients prefer will change from year to year, or even from season to season. The metallic gold details that were popular last year might not be as highly requested a few months later. Instead, your clients might be interested in calming shades of blue and green like the pictures they found on Instagram while they were browsing décor hashtags. Clients will be happiest with a look that is unique and exciting but also keeps up with the latest craze. Keeping up with new trends, or even staying ahead of them, is a success tactic for interior decorators.

Design professionals have many resources to help them coordinate spaces that are stylish and unique. These keep you up to date on which accents, statement pieces, colors, and furniture styles are ‘hot’ right now, which ones are passé, and which could be the up and coming thing for next season.

Online resources

Home Decorating Trends

Blogs, web pages, online ‘pin boards’, and social networks can help you keep track of interior decorating trends. These resources are convenient because you can access them anywhere that you have a data connection or wireless on your computer, smart phone, or tablet. Online resources are also often one of the most useful tools for seeking inspiration.

Many online resources have notification or subscription settings. These allow you to track posts related to specific trends, styles, or decorating elements. Is there a particular theme or aesthetic you’ve noticed rising in popularity? Subscribe to posts containing specific key words or turn on notifications for posts about that particular theme. You can also use hashtags to search design elements and see which ones are ‘in’ or to gather new ideas. Many online resources even let you make lists or save posts so you can access pictures and articles quickly. Check out the online resources below and think about how they might be useful for design professionals who want to stay ahead of trends.

Pinterest

Online ‘pin boards’ like Pinterest or Pearltrees are very useful for keeping track of trends, organizing your ideas, and finding inspiration. Search functions let you look at which design elements are posted about most often, which gives you an idea of what’s ‘in style’. The ability to browse links and pictures lets you see examples of other designs, which can introduce you to new ideas or help you avoid trends that have been overdone. Pin boards also let you group similar posts together in categories or create lists. Keep in mind, however, that online pin boards themselves are quite trendy right now, so some of the ideas there have been recycled many times. Just because it’s popular in a Pinterest search doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most current or innovative idea.

Check out this pin about bathroom color palettes by The 36th Avenue to see how Pinterest and other online pin boards can give you an idea about the latest trends. Would you rather compare many ideas at once? Try searching an entire pin board like this one by Style Caster, filled with unique décor solutions designed to inspire new ideas.

Blogs

Countless design blogs exist, many of which are very reputable. Reading a reliable blog can help you track which trends other design professionals have tried and which ones they liked or disliked. Pay attention to which elements are posted about often, which ones are rarely posted about, and which ideas or trends are rising in popularity. When you search blogs, make sure to double check what you read in each post against other sources. Keep in mind that anyone can write a blog, whether they’re professional or not.

Do a search for design blogs and see how many are at your finger tips. While you’re at it, check out The Peak of Chic and Designtripper to see how interior decorating blogs can differ but still provide inspiration and a good idea of what’s trending!

Searching Decorating Trends Blogs

Online magazines

Online design and décor magazines are accessible from almost anywhere. As long as you have a wireless or data connection, you can gather ideas and track trends from all over the world. You might find a neat trend that is popular in Eastern Europe but hasn’t caught on in North America quite yet. Many well-known print magazines also release online issues for your electronic devices. Keep in mind, however, that online magazine subscriptions cost money.

Check out the online content posted by Style at Home magazine. You can see how an online magazine subscription can help you easily track popular trends.

Facebook groups and décor forums

Social networking platforms and forums can be very useful for seeking feedback from, or exchanging ideas with, other professionals. You might consider suggesting a trendy DIY décor project to a client but then see a post in a forum where another professional who tried it recommends against it. Social networks are interactive, letting you engage with that person to learn why their experience was negative. Networking with other professionals online helps you make informed decisions. Facebook groups and other networking tools also let you seek advice and support about staying inspired and keeping ahead of trends, or provide support to others.

Print resources

Local newspapers and magazines

Magazines and newspapers from your local area give you perspective about trends that are popular in your community. You can assess which styles and design elements your clients might be interested in based on their neighbours’ homes and decide what you can do to make their space unique. Printed magazines are available on an international scale, but they cost money to subscribe to and ship. Local publications might be available for free and will give you a “home grown” point of view.

Networking resources

Workshops and conferences

Some of the best networking opportunities for design professionals take place at industry workshops and conferences. You’ll be able to network with other décor specialists, learn where they seek inspiration, and discuss how to deal with rapidly changing trends. Workshops and conferences are a chance for you to learn and improve your skills.

Home Decorating Trends Workshop

Tradeshows

Tradeshows are a great opportunity to network with vendors from your area or around the world. You can browse the different products and services offered by design and décor vendors and gather new ideas based on their most up to date merchandise. If you are the only design professional in your area who attends a tradeshow, you might be the first to try something new!

Practical resources

Spaces near and far

The best design professionals seek inspiration wherever they go. You can gather ideas, tips, and tricks in your daily life or when you visit new places. Which parts of a space are interesting and make you feel inspired? Do you see variations on a popular trend that you enjoy? Are there elements of the overall décor that you’d avoid? You can learn something new from every space you visit, whether it’s an interesting color scheme in your dentist’s office or a vintage framing style in the historical manor home you saw on holiday.

Anywhere!

If you keep an open mind about where design inspiration can come from, you’ll find it just about everywhere you go! This outlook, combined with a good idea of current trends, will help you stay creative in your design process.

Would you like to learn more about design trends and gathering inspiration? Check out the courses at QC Design School and see which one is best for you!


July 16, 2015 7:46 am

How to Choose a School of Feng Shui

Choosing a school of Feng Shui can seem to be a daunting task. With so many options and such a wide variety of routes to take, it can be overwhelming to try and settle on a specific school. How are you supposed to know which one is best for your career? Which one is most in demand? And most importantly, which one will you enjoy and be interested in? Some schools are thousands of years old while others are relatively new. It is always important to do your research before making any solid decision however below is a quick resource that might make your decision a little bit easier.

Gold coins for school of feng shui

To begin, let’s examine one of the oldest forms of Feng Shui – Classical or Traditional Feng Shui Design

Classical Feng Shui

Classical Feng Shui originated from ancient China and dates back thousands of years. It was used in a variety of different ways in the ancient cities for temples, palaces, and even gravesites! Individuals use the energy of the natural world to create the best possible flow in the desired area. Within Classical Feng Shui there is two different schools.

  1. The Form School (Landscape School) – This school is the more widely practice method of Feng Shui. The Form School focuses primarily on analysing the natural world such as trees, rivers, mountains, and more! It can also be applied to a more urban setting as well, focusing on arranging and placing objects to achieve an optimal balance of Ch’i flow in homes and offices. It does not use the direction of the compass and tries to balance the natural world around us.
  2. The Compass School – This is exactly as the name suggests. It uses tools such as the Lou Pan or Feng Shui compass as well as various calculations when applying these techniques to any home or space. For more information check out the “Love to Know” page on different types of Chinese Feng Shui

Feng Shui compass

Modern Feng Shui

The next type of Feng Shui is the modern style of Feng Shui Design. Modern Feng Shui is based off of modern housing styles and business layouts. The idea is to arrange furniture in an area to maximize the flow of the space. Again the Modern Feng Shui Design is broken down into different schools.

  1. The Life Aspirations School of Feng Shui – This is the idea that each of life’s aspiration for example family & health, wealth, marriage (etc.), has a colour, element, and direction associated with it.
  2. The Pyramid School of Feng Shui – This is a contemporary version of the ancient Chinese Feng Shui and incorporates different elements for how an individual experiences the natural environment. Elements such as biology, psychology, anthropology and more. The individual is at the center of the entire process and you need to customize it to them making it very personal. Feel free to do more research by checking out “Healing Environments” blog page!

Bagua Map for Black Hat School of Feng Shui

Black Hat Feng Shui

Black Sect Tantric Buddhism School (BTB or Black Hat) – This is a relatively new school of Feng Shui from the 1980s. This has many elements of the classical Feng Shui with a new modern spin. Instead of using a compass, the use of the Bagua map is relied heavily upon in this school of Feng Shui. It focuses on the energy that you can control around you. Buddhist principles are also featured throughout this contemporary version of Feng Shui. It is a way to provide a high level of balance and Ch’i into a space without any costly commitments or impractical suggestions. About Home online has a great description and other related articles regarding Feng Shui!

Choosing a School of Feng Shui

A very important aspect to keep in mind is whether you want to work with a compass tool or not. Understanding how the compass tools work is important when deciding which school you would like to focus on. It is important to understand what type of clientele you hope to have as well before making a firm decision. When working with homes, a compass may be difficult because you cannot simply change the direction of a home if it does not work with the Ch’i or energy. However, if you build outdoor spaces, a compass may be extremely useful and handy. Check out the “Ms. Feng Shui” blog for more details.

Understanding exactly how you want to take your Feng Shui career and what you want to specialize in are very important to consider when deciding on a school of Feng Shui. Many institutions that provide Feng Shui courses often mix many different schools and styles in their teachings to give students a wide range of knowledge. Feng Shui design is an exciting field to get into and understanding exactly what you’re hoping to learn should be the first step before choosing a school!

QC Design School offers a Feng Shui Design course that teaches the principals of the Form School with some elements of Black Hat. If you’re interested in learning how to apply Feng Shui practices in residential homes and corporate offices, check out our course here!


Drawing up a professional floorplan can be an intimidating task. Let’s face it, it’s a difficult thing to get the hang of! But learning how to draw a floorplan by hand is essential to understanding all the elements that go into a professional floorplan and how scale really works. Once you’ve mastered the drawing aspect, you can take that knowledge to properly use a floorplanning software (which will save you time and energy when you’re a working interior decorator, home stager, professional organizer, or feng shui specialist). You have to learn how to walk before you can run, right? So today we’re sharing our top tips for drawing a professional level floorplan to master this important skill.

1. Sketch the room

How to draw a floorplan sketch

The very first thing you want to do before even taking measurements of the room is to sketch it. This does not have to be accurate in scale and you don’t need to use a ruler. Simply draw the same shape of the room on a piece of paper from bird’s eye view. Make note of any doors, windows, or other significant architectural features you’ll represent in your professional floorplan.

Once you’ve completed sketching the space, measure and record the necessary dimensions of each element of the room. Be sure to measure the entire length of the walls, doors, windows, closets, fireplaces, etc. Where there is a door or window, you must also measure the distance of the separated wall areas.

2. Study your architect ruler

Before you begin to draw your professional floorplan, you should carefully study your architect ruler. This will be your best friend throughout the process, so get to know it! You’ll mostly be using either ¼” scale or ½” scale when drawing a floorplan, which are both represented on your ruler.

Sometimes it’s hard to wrap your head around the fact that each notch on your ruler represents 1 foot in real life, so study your ruler carefully while thinking about this concept to really get your mind accustomed to this fact. If you need a little more help with understanding scale, read How to Calculate Scale.

Architect ruler

3. Use your architect ruler

This one’s a no-brainer. You should always use your architect ruler because it will make your life so much easier! Now that you’ve studied it and have accepted the fact that 1 foot in real life will be represented by either ¼ or ½ of an inch, you’re ready to unleash its power.

I hope at this stage that you’ve noticed the tiny notches before the 0. These are used to draw a line that is, for example, not perfectly 4 feet, but maybe 4 feet and 5 inches (4′-5″). So instead of dragging your pencil from 0 to 4 feet, start at 4 feet and keep your pencil going past 0, until you reach 5 inches. Like this:

how to draw a floorplan

4. Use a pencil

There’s just simply no excuse to not use a pencil when drawing a floorplan because we even give you one in your course materials! You receive everything you need to draw a professional floorplan, right down to a pencil.

Once you’ve drawn your floorplan with a pencil, take your black art pen (also in your floorplanning kit) and go over all of your lines.

5. Don’t rely on graph paper

While using graph paper is absolutely fine for practicing and getting familiar with scale, professional floorplans should never be presented on graph paper. If you rely entirely on the grid to help you draw plans and don’t use your architect ruler, it will be next to impossible to draw a professional floorplan on grid-free paper.

6. Draw wall thickness

How to draw a floorplan wall

Wall thickness is an important part of your professional floorplan and should be represented differently based on whether it is an interior or exterior wall. So, what’s the difference you ask?

An exterior wall is a wall that is on the outside of the house (if you were to hypothetically take down the wall, you’d be staring at the great outdoors!). An interior wall, on the other hand, is a wall inside the house that if you were to take down, would open up into another room.

Exterior walls are generally 8 to 10 inches thick while interior walls are about 5 inches thick. These should be represented on your floorplan accordingly. When drawing wall thickness on your floorplan, measure away from the room. If you add wall thickness to the inside of your lines, you’ll throw off your dimensions.

Be sure to color in your wall thickness, using your black art pen.

7. Depict door swing

When drawing a floorplan, many people forget the door swing. It’s important to know which way the door opens so that when it comes time to space planning, you know where to leave room for the door to swing open. Door swing should be depicted as such:

How to draw a floorplan door

8. Use the furniture template

Another handy tool you’ll receive with your floorplanning kit is a ¼” furniture template. This little guy will make your life much easier as you’ll be able to easily trace furniture – like a stencil! Remember those from your kindergarten days? Of course, this stencil is a little more complicated, but a life-saver nonetheless.

9. Remember your north arrow and scale notation

Two important, and often forgotten, details to your professional floorplan is the north arrow and scale notation. Without them your “professional” floorplan is just simply a rough copy floorplan.

How to draw floorplan notations

A north arrow demonstrates the orientation of the room you’re drawing and the scale notation states the scale the floorplan was drawn in. There are a few different ways you can depict a north arrow and your scale notation, but here’s an example of the easiest way:

If you take these tips into consideration when practicing how to draw a floorplan, you’ll be a pro in no time!

We’d love to know! What are YOUR top tips for drawing a floorplan? Leave a comment below.


May 28, 2015 7:00 am

Organization Tips for Small Spaces

Keeping a small space organized is not always an easy task. As time goes on clutter tends to pile up but thankfully there are ways you can save yourself from getting buried in it! The great news is, you don’t have to be a professional organizer to climb your way out of the clutter. Here are some quick and easy tips you can use to reduce clutter and organize your small space.

Bedroom:

Professional organizing in the bedroom

Let’s start with the bedroom since it’s the room most prone to clutter. Bedrooms are typically kept private and we tend to fill them with personal decorations and statements that define who we are. It’s also the place where we shove away our clothes, accessories, and endless amounts of items we value as important. Looking at an unorganized bedroom can be incredibly discouraging, but not to worry! There are ways to turn a disaster-zone bedroom into an organized, beautiful sanctuary!

Baskets

Baskets are great for the bedroom. You can buy inexpensive, fancy, and decorative baskets in a variety of colors and materials to help store away extra clothes, blankets, and whatever else needs a new home. Baskets can be stored in the closet, on top of one another against the bedroom wall or even tucked away under the bed!

Drawers

You can put old or discarded dresser drawers under your bed to help store clothes and other items. You can simply slide them in and out or even put small wheels on them to help them move more freely. If your bed is too low for drawers, you can buy inexpensive risers to lift your bed to a better height and make it easier for you to slide away the clutter.

Rolling Rack

Some small bedrooms are not equipped with a closet. Thankfully, rolling racks for hanging clothes are an amazing feature that will help you organize your wardrobe without taking up too much space. Alternatively, you can purchase an inexpensive curtain rod and install it in your bedroom. Whatever you decide, having a place to hang your clothes will definitely help keep the clutter off the floor!

Living Room:

Professional organizing in living room

We all love our living rooms. It’s the room where we can throw our feet up after a long day or entertain guests on a Friday night. You want it to match your style while appearing organized and presentable. This doesn’t need to be a daunting task. You can quickly clean up the clutter with some fun projects that will help turn your living room into the organized space you’ve always wanted.

Floating Shelves

Shelves are a great way to save space in a living room. You can add pictures, decorations, and so much more without adding to the clutter of your space. They take no time to install and are an awesome option when looking to save space and organize your area.

Mirrors

Mirrors have the wonderful effect of making the room appear larger. They reflect light and disperse it around the room to give the appearance it is larger than it really is. Mirrors are not only a beautiful and decorative touch but they definitely increase the design element of a small space.

Book Cases

Book cases are not only for books. You can use the shelved areas to store extra clutter. You can add a beautiful basket to put in items that you’re struggling to find a place for. You can also use them as shelving by mixing books with decorative elements like statues or small framed artwork.

Bathroom:

Professional organizing in bathroom

We all want a clean bathroom. There’s nothing worse than trying to get ready in the morning and being overwhelmed by clutter and mess. Small bathrooms can be difficult to maintain and organize, especially if you’re sharing the space. Luckily, there are ways to avoid the clutter and that add to the design element of your bathroom.

Magnet board

Magnet boards are a really fun way to store your extra items. You can hang this up on your wall and use it to store things such as makeup, beauty products, etc. You can find magnets at the local dollar store and attach them with glue to your items. Then simply stick your items on your board and watch the clutter disappear.

Mason Jars

Mason jars are a fun way to store items that can normally take up a lot of space. Since mason jars are small, you can install a short shelf and line the mason jars on it. You can also line them along your counter if you have space, or under your sink. Mason jars are great for storing items such as cotton balls, cue-tips, toothbrushes, tooth paste, and the list goes on and on.

Hooks

Hooks are essential in a bathroom. You can find them in a variety of stores and they take no time to install. The wonderful thing is, hooks come in all different sizes and styles. You can pick a hook that will help both with clutter and add style to the bathroom! Many people install the hooks on their walls, the inside of cupboard doors and behind the bathroom door.

Kitchen:

Professional organizing for small kitchen

Finally, the kitchen. It is almost impossible to enjoy cooking a meal when you’re constantly tripping over clutter. The easiest way to enjoy cooking and to motivate yourself to do it more is to organize the space to make it easier to use!

Ceiling Rack

You can hang your pots and pans from the ceiling to free up limited cabinet or counter space. This keeps them out of the way and opens up the space for you to store other items. For anyone who’s handy, check out these great DIY ceiling racks from Bob Vila’s blog to give you some cool ideas on how to make your own!

Use a peg board

Peg boards are a great way to store extra kitchen necessities. From spatulas to small pots, you can hang them from the peg board. Keeping them off your counter and out of your drawers frees up that space for other things!

Use recycled items to hold cutlery

In my tiny apartment, I didn’t have the drawer space to store away all my forks and knives. So instead of letting them pile up, I cleaned out some old cans, painted them to my liking and used them to store my cutlery away on the counter. It was a fun project for the afternoon, let me infuse my personality into the space and added to the design element of my kitchen. Using recyclable items can be a great way to cut down on waste as well!

Baskets and Magnets

You can put magnets on baskets and stick them to the side of your fridge. You can use this to store spices, and other small food items that may be causing clutter around the kitchen. Putting them on the side of the fridge will keep it out of sight but still easy to reach.

Clutter doesn’t need to be scary or frustrating. See it as an opportunity to get creative! Organizing clutter can be quick and simple, and really help open up your house or apartment.

Wants to share these de-cluttering tips for small spaces with your friends or family? Use the icons below!


May 4, 2015 7:00 am

How to Set Up Your Home Office

Starting a home-based business? Congratulations – you’re living the dream! Who doesn’t want to work from the comfort of their own home? There’s no commute and if you don’t have any appointments, you can work in your pajamas!

On the flip-side, the responsibility of the home office design and set-up falls entirely on you. There’s a little more involved than just plopping a computer on a desk, putting up some motivational posters and calling it a day! To help you design a space that works for you and your clients check out the tips below.

Choose the Best Space

Your first task will be deciding where to set-up your home office. When choosing a space you need to imagine greeting clients at the front door and walking them down the path that’ll lead them to your office. What will they see along the way and how does that reflect on your business? If you have to walk them past your troll doll collection or a series of photographs featuring your poodle in costumes, you may want to make some changes!

It’s best to pick a space that is self-contained. Being able to shut the door at the end of your scheduled work day can help you maintain work-life balance. It also allows for privacy when you need to focus or have a meeting with clients.

Beautiful home office design

I definitely recommend trying the space before committing to it. Set up temporarily and give yourself at least a week in the space before painting or hanging artwork. There’s nothing worse than using your newly set-up office for the first time and realizing it’s not going to work. You may find that the room always runs cold or there’s a really distracting echo. You’ll want to survey the noise situation as well to ensure your space is quiet. There is a lot of potential for noise when working from home (ie. kids, pets, neighbors, traffic) which can be both distracting and unprofessional.

Invest in Comfortable Furniture

Back pain can lower your productivity and take a toll on your mind and body. A survey by the American Academy of Family Physicians revealed that 90% of adults experience back pain over their lifetime and 50% of working adults have back pain every year. Back pain can come from bad working posture and repetitive strain injuries.

Don’t risk your health to save a few bucks. Invest in an ergonomic chair with proper back support. If you don’t have enough funds for a quality office chair at least get yourself a lumbar support cushion! You may also want to consider wrist support (ie. for mousepads or keyboards) to avoid carpal tunnel syndrome.

Plan for Adequate Lighting

Good lighting is essential to your home office design. Lighting can brighten your space and make it more inviting. You’ll want a combination of natural lighting and task lighting. Make sure that any workspace you’ll be using frequently is well-lit with a desk or table lamp, preferably one that can be adjusted.

Proper lighting is beneficial for both your health and mood. It will help you avoid eye-strain and the productivity-hindering headaches that come with it. Additionally, research has been very clear that a lack of sunlight can cause lethargy, reduced cognitive function and depression, so keep those blinds open!

Natural lighting in home office

Create Visual Appeal

Unless you’re into the minimalist look you’ll want to decorate your office. This is where you get to have some fun and infuse the room with your own personal style! Before you buy anything you’ll want to decide on a color scheme. Think about how you want the room to feel and pick your colors accordingly. If you want the mood in your office to be calm you can go with earth tones or blues. Although yellow is a cheerful color, it’s been known to stimulate anxiety which may not be the mood you want to encourage in yourself or your clients!

Once you have a color scheme in place you can pick artwork, accessories and window treatments for your office. When you are choosing these pieces remember that this is a professional space. As beautiful as they can be, this would not be the appropriate setting for nude paintings!

Another way to boost visual interest is by bringing a touch of the outdoors into your space. Houseplants are a good choice because they are easy to care for. Plants are known to reduce stress-levels and improve air quality because they naturally filter the air. Having a vase of fresh flowers when you plan to meet with clients is a nice touch as well. Just keep in mind that fresh flowers don’t last as long and replenishing them will be more expensive over time.

Get Office Equipment

You will want to include office equipment in your home office design budget. I’d encourage you to invest in updated technology. In a home office, technology will either be your best friend or worst enemy. You’ll want to avoid the frustrations, interruptions and lost productivity that comes from frequent technical difficulties.

Once you have updated technology you’ll need to maintain it. Use computer antivirus software and get regular maintenance checks. You should also set up a schedule for backing up your information. If you don’t have your work backed-up it means you’re starting from scratch or paying for a system restore if your computer crashes on you.

You will want a separate phone line for your business but there are cost-effective ways of doing this. Do some research and save money by using a reliable soft-phone (ie. internet phone) or voice over IP Broadband phone system. For administrative tasks you can buy an all-in-one printer with copy/scan/fax capabilities. See if you can find a printer with refillable cartridges, to take advantage of cheap ink refilling services. You may even want to outsource large print jobs if a copy and print shop can give you a good price. Or, if you’re not ready to commit to anything, you can look into leasing office equipment like copiers and fax machines.

Set Up Storage Space

Organized home office design

It doesn’t take long for a well-used office to get messy. Think about what impression having a dirty or cluttered office would make on potential clients. I recommend you pick one day a week to devote to a full office cleaning (vacuuming, dusting, wiping surfaces, etc).

You need to make a home for everything and commit to staying organized. Use a filing cabinet or desk file organizer to store records as well as ingoing and outgoing paperwork. Keep a notepad close by for taking notes while on calls or with clients. A notepad is a better choice than scrap paper because your notes will be bound together instead of loose. If you’re not using computer software to track your finances you’ll want to use a ledger to record each transaction. You can store it in a portable organizer along with all of your receipts.

Don’t forget about waste disposal in your home office design plan. You’ll want a trash bin for general garbage as well as a recycle bin for your paper waste. Be sure to shred any documents that contain private or financial details before disposing of them.

We hope this helps you design a beautiful office space that’s comfortable and practical. Remember, this is the one office where you get to be both the boss and the worker bee! Take advantage of this unique opportunity to create a space you’ll enjoy using!

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