Archive for the ‘How To’ Category

Congratulations! You’ve just enrolled in a new online design course and you’re ready to take your education and training to the next level. It’s an exciting time and you want to do the best you possibly can! However, working on your own can take a lot of self-discipline. Learning to balance and manage your time isn’t always the easiest task. But not to worry! Thankfully, there are many tips and tricks on how you can balance your busy schedule, get your assignments done, and make the most out of your online course!

#1: Find a quiet study place

Life is filled with distractions. Trying to complete your work while balancing a busy lifestyle and hectic schedule can be challenging! When it comes time to sit down and do your work, try finding a quiet work space dedicated to your studies.

I like to clear off a small desk or table area to give myself enough room to study and work effectively. But all students are different! If a quiet study area just isn’t possible at home, try taking a trip to a local library or a nearby café or coffee shop – most of these places now have Wi-Fi that people can access freely!

Quiet Study Space

#2: Stay Organized

There are a lot of different ways for you to stay on top of your organization throughout your online course! Here are some suggestions:

    • A Calendar: This will become your best friend. Use it to stay on track with deadlines and goals you’ve set out for yourself!
    • Binders: Binders can also be incredibly useful! They’re a great way to keep your important papers all in one place and to store them away without making a mess.
    • Apps: If you’re person that prefers to keep all your information with you at all times then you’ll love apps for keeping on top of your studies! You’ll want to check out Class Manager which is a free online app to help students manage their assignments and plan out their studies. 24me and Quip are also great apps available to help you manage your to-do list and much more all at once! Browse this list of apps to find even more tools to help you stay organized!
  • #3: Review, Review, Review!

    One of the wonderful things about an online design course is that you’re not confined to a classroom. You have the possibility of re-watching and re-reading whatever material you feel necessary. Use this to your advantage! Grab a highlighter and underline whatever you feel might be important. Take notes whenever possible and do extra research on terms you may not understand. Always remember, you can ask as many questions as you need! Fully understanding your course work is what is going to give you the step ahead when it comes to success.

    Studying Habits

    #4: Set Realistic Goals

    The flexibility of an online course is a dream for anyone who is trying to fit their studies into a very busy schedule. But it can also be an added challenge when trying to stay on top of everything all on your own.

    Try setting small realistic goals and reward yourself when you achieve them! Small goals could be setting time aside to read a chapter or getting through one of your assignments. This will give you the extra motivation you need to continue through the course and to complete everything on your desired timeline! Every student is different, so always remember to make goals and timeframes that work for you.

    #5: Always use your Feedback!

    Most schools will have a system of grading that includes feedback from a tutor or instructor. Your feedback is a very valuable tool. It’s your way to really understand exactly what your tutor needs from you for future assignments. Applying your tutor’s suggestions will help you to grow as a student and probably improve your grades as well!

    Studies show that students who are able to use their feedback positively are more inclined for success. Often times there are hidden gems of advice within your feedback that you don’t want to miss! The feedback is there to help you succeed and is very relevant to the field you are trying to break into. Try taking notes when reviewing your feedback so that you can apply it to the next assignment. If you need clarification or just want to ask questions, remember you should always ask!

    #6: Use your Student Resources

    Your student resources can be an incredible help throughout your design course! Whether it be accessing electronic materials, a career center with job searching or resume building tools, or a student forum you can use to connect with your peers, using these tools can help you achieve success in more ways than one!

    Use your Online Resources

    I personally find it really helpful to make as many rough copies as I need for my assignments so that I can ensure things turn out exactly how I want them too! If you are able to print off multiple copies of your assignments or templates, I would recommend using that to your advantage! Always make sure to check out all the extra resources your school has to offer after you’ve enrolled in the course! You never know what might be available for you to use to make things easier throughout the course.

    #7: Don’t forget to ask questions!

    There’s never any harm in asking questions when you don’t fully understand something! Reach out to your school for the clarification you need; the extra help will really make a difference.
    Remember there is no such thing as a dumb question and taking that extra step might be just what you need to bump your grade up and to get the most out of your course!

    I hope these tips and tricks give you a better idea on how to get the most out of your online design courses! Remember everyone is different and it’s best to develop a schedule and routine that fits your lifestyle. If your course is self-paced then there is no rush to completing it, so take your time and do the best you can, but most importantly enjoy yourself every step of the way! Taking the plunge and enrolling in a design course online to pursue your dream is an amazing accomplishment and hopefully everything mentioned above helps achieve exactly what you set out to do!

    Did we miss anything? If you have your own tips and tricks for making the most of your online design courses, share them in a comment below!


    The tutors here at QC Design School are all design professionals currently working within the industry. They have years of experience and specialized knowledge and they use this to guide our students through their courses. Who better, then, to ask for tips on student success and improvement? We spoke to QC tutor and professional interior designer and decorator Tracy Campbell about which habits she sees her top students practicing and what she recommends for students who wish to improve their work.

    Think outside the box

    What are some habits of successful students?

    My most successful students:

    • Think outside-the-box. When presented with a problem, they come up with more than one solution.
    • Follow course instructions to a tee.
    • Submit detailed, typed notes.
    • Submit professional assignments.
  • What are some things that students can do to improve their feedback and become top students?

    Every student can be a top student if they apply themselves. I would encourage all students to:

    • Not only read, but also study and then apply what they’ve learned.
    • Don’t rush to complete the course. Instead, relax and enjoy the journey.
    • I repeat…follow course instructions to a tee. It’s the key to their success.
    • If students need clarification on any part of their unit, contact the school before they submit an assignment. We want students to succeed!
    • Submit one unit at a time. Each unit builds on the previous unit.
    • Submit typed notes.
    • Submit professional work.
  • What kind of attitudes do you find your most successful students have?

    The kind of attitude that makes for a successful student is one who:

    • Doesn’t make excuses as to why part of the unit may be missing.
    • Provides more content than what is required.
    • Submits detailed work.
    • Submits professional work.
  • Be professional

    Are there any specific bad habits that students who want to be successful should avoid?

    In order to succeed, students should follow these simple instructions:

    • Ensure submission folders are free of coffee and/or food stains.
    • Follow instructions to a tee. If asked to include the wall thickness of a room, then add the wall thickness. If asked to include a floor plan of a living room without furniture, don’t include a bedroom with furniture.
    • Double check to ensure their work is complete before submitting an assignment.
    • Submit typed notes with no spelling or grammatical errors. Never rely on spell check alone.
    • Use a ruler to draw all lines.
    • Use scissors to cut out magazine samples.
    • Use pinking shears to cut out fabric samples.
    • Place scotch tape under furniture templates and magazines samples.
    • Use a pencil and/or a black artist marker to draw floor plans.
    • Never use a ballpoint pen.
    • Center floor plans on the page.
    • Ensure templates are neatly affixed to floor plans.
    • When asked to paint, stay within the lines.
    • Don’t make excuses like “I can’t draw”. Instead, say, “I can draw”.
  • I CAN draw

    Getting Practical: Quick tips for drawing windows!

    Here’s an example of “how-to-draw” a square-shaped window with four glass panes:

    • Draw a square (with a ruler).
    • Draw another square around the first square that is a quarter-inch larger.
    • To create a mitered corner, draw a line from the outer left corner to the top of the inner left corner.
    • Draw three additional mitered corners.
    • Divide the inner square into four equal parts and draw a vertical line down the center.
    • Draw a horizontal line in the center of the window pane.
    • Violà—students can now draw a window!
  • A note from Tracy!

    Go the Extra Mile

    Go the extra mile. If you are asked to suggest storage solutions, take it one step further and search online for a visual, and then include the link. Most clients cannot visualize an idea unless they see an example. Here’s a wonderful closet organizing solution.

    So students, before you ‘erect the walls’ (submit each unit), read, study, and then submit only your best work. This will ensure you’re creating a solid foundation that will carry you into the exciting field of Interior Design and Decorating.

    Happy Studying,

    Tracy Campbell, IDDP, ISRP, AIOP, PCCTM

    Apply these habits!

    Following tips and tricks like the ones recommended by Tracy will help set you firmly on the path to success! Remember, there is always room for improvement and there is no shame in seeking help when you need it. Students who remain open to feedback and really apply the advice of their tutors are students who will really experience the rewards of their hard work!

    If you’d like to learn more about good study and work habits for new and learning design professionals, check out the courses here are QC Design School!

    A resume will NOT get you a dream job. But a good resume can help land you an interview for that dream job.

    Download Now - Resume Skills Ebook - QC Career School

    When looking for a new job, too many people will simply pull up a job board website and send the resume they wrote in high school to every single job posting that “kinda matches their skill set”. Guess what: most of these applicants will never hear from the employer.

    Thing is, when you apply for a job you should have a reasonable expectation of at least hearing back from the hiring manager for an interview. In order to do this, you need a resume and cover letter that sell YOU.

    Even if you don’t have all the skills the job might require, if you can show your enthusiasm and abilities via your resume and cover letter, you’ll probably hear back from someone at the company. Today, we’re going to focus on how you can write the perfect resume that will get you noticed!

    Download QC’s free ebook today to learn resume skills that will help you land an interview!


    December 10, 2014 9:00 am

    How to Deal with Overbooking

    If you are a small business owner or a self-employed freelancer, it is extremely important to keep a very organized schedule. Ensuring that you give each client the correct amount of time for your meeting, at an hour that works well for both you and them, is the foundation of your business. It’s what lets you determine their needs and perform services for them. Your ability to organize your schedule is one of your most important skills, but that doesn’t mean that things will always go smoothly. Overbooking is one of the most important traps for you to avoid. If you take on more clients, meetings or projects than you have time for, you might not be able to deliver the services that you promised each client to your usual standard. You’ll receive much less positive reviews and recommendations if clients can tell that your work is rushed or that your services are performed less thoroughly than usual because of overbooking, and they’ll also be displeased if bookings overlap. If you do find yourself in this situation, don’t panic! Staying calm and professional will help you keep on top of things. Here are some tactics to help you deal with overbooking!

    overbooking schedule

    Respect time

    If you’re worried that you might be overbooked, make sure that you are extra careful with both your clients’ time and yours. You’re already under pressure to conduct more meetings or complete more projects than you normally would, so there’s no room for small talk. You never want to be curt with your clients or hurry them without providing the proper level of service and care, but being overbooked calls for increased organization and efficiency. Be on time, stay on topic, and focus on being productive. You don’t want to waste your own time when you have so little of it. More importantly, you don’t want to waste your clients’ time by taking on projects or meetings and then keeping them waiting because you overbooked and were too busy with someone else to commit.

    overbooking keep informed

    Keep them informed

    You should be courteous enough to keep your clients updated on your progress. If you took on a project for someone but you overbooked and simply won’t have time to get their project done by the agreed upon date, tell them this as soon as you realize. If you have a meeting with a client, but overbooking might prevent you from arriving on time, let them know right away so that they can assess whether they’d like to keep the meeting or readjust their schedule. Don’t try to be the hero! As much as you don’t want to disappoint clients, it’s much better to contact them and tell them that overbooking might interfere with your business with them than it is to lead them on and say you’ve got it under control, but then have to retract that statement later. Your clients will be less disappointed if you practice full disclosure than they will if you fail to come through for them without warning.

    Ask for help

    If you have business partners, assistants, or colleagues that are able to help you in an overbooking situation, let them do so! You’re better off admitting when you need assistance than you are trying to take everything on yourself and failing to deliver for your clients. Of course, you must use your judgment and only hand clients on to other professionals that you know will take good care of them. Perhaps there’s someone who can come on to a project as an extra set of hands so that you can work more efficiently, rather than giving a project up entirely? Your clients will appreciate that you’re professional enough to assess the situation and adjust by getting help, rather than burning yourself out and giving them a negative experience.

    overbooking coworkers

    Re-evaluate, without cutting corners

    Is there a more time efficient way to do things than you usually do? Can things be re-arranged in your schedule to be more productive? Are there any adjustments you can make to your contingency plan for each meeting or project that will ease the pressure of being overbooked? Asking yourself questions like these can help you figure out whether there are any changes you can make to your original plans for each client that might help you reorganize overbooking to ensure that everyone is served as well as possible. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean taking short cuts! You want to serve your clients thoroughly, but also do it efficiently.

    Offer to reschedule

    Rescheduling can be an inconvenience for clients, but it’s less of a disappointment than you being late or not being able to come at all. If you’re overbooked on a particular day, your clients will appreciate your professionalism if you call them in advance and offer to reschedule their appointment to a time that works for them, rather than keeping them waiting.

    overbooking discount

    Offer a discount

    In situations where clients have had to deal with changes or rescheduling as a result of you being overbooked, offering a discount can be an effective consolation for their trouble. After all, it’s not their fault that you were overbooked! Discounts for hassles caused by overbooking are a good way to show the client that you really do care about their business and the experience that they have with you. A client who is displeased about being rescheduled might be discouraged from giving you a bad review if they receive a discount on your services as compensation for their troubles.

    Keep calm!

    Above all, make sure that you keep your composure! Being overbooked can definitely be stressful, but there are ways to deal with it that benefit both your clients and you. Your clients will be much less disappointed about things like rescheduling if you are still courteous and well organized even when you are overwhelmed.

    Have you ever experienced overbooking issues? How did you deal with them? Let us know in a comment!


    Navigating a social event with people that you work with can be an interesting experience. For some people, any party is a source of stress, let alone one where you might be seated with your boss! Just because someone is a work colleague, however, doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy interacting with them casually as well. As long as everyone conducts themselves appropriately, there is no reason that office parties can’t be fun! In case you’re still feeling nervous, here are some helpful tips and things to avoid at your workplace Christmas party!

    Xmas party wine

    Attend the party!

    You’re a part of the office community, which means you should actually go to the party! Don’t let tales of uncomfortable workplace events discourage you from socializing with your colleagues, particularly when your office has put effort into organizing something nice for everyone. If you skip every office party, you lose an opportunity to get to know the people you work with on another level. While your coworkers bond and build stronger relationships, which can be beneficial professionally, you might find that you start to feel out of the loop by not attending. These are people that you see almost every day so try not to treat them like strangers, especially around the holidays!

    Remember to RSVP

    Once you know whether you can attend the party, be courteous about responding to whoever is planning so that they can keep track of numbers. Try not to forget and leave your RSVP unanswered until the very last minute. Planners need responses as soon as possible so they can account for your attendance when organizing place settings, prizes, or food quantities. If the invite includes a date that they’d like you to respond by, make sure to respect it.


    Xmas party Santa

    Usually, office Christmas parties are open to guests. Your invitation should specify whether guests are encouraged or whether the event is for employees only. Similarly, the invitation should tell you whether it extends to your whole family or just one additional person. If you work for a small company that is hosting an afternoon crafting party with Santa, employees might be encouraged to bring their children along for the day. If, however, the event is a Friday night dinner with musical entertainment, you’ll likely be instructed to limit your guests to one adult. If you’re not sure, ask for clarification rather than assuming and doing the wrong thing! Also be sure to RSVP for guests when you respond for yourself, out of courtesy for the person planning.

    Check the dress code

    The expected dress code will be different for an afternoon tea in the company owner’s home than it will be for a fancy dinner at a hotel downtown. Make sure to check your invitation for a dress code so that both you and your guest can dress accordingly. If the invitation isn’t clear or you are unsure, ask the person planning what their expectation is. You want to avoid showing up to a formal event in your jeans, or a casual event in your Sunday’s best! Dressing to the same level as everyone else will let you feel more comfortable and give you one less thing to worry about during the party.

    Arrive on time

    Being a little bit early or fashionably late isn’t usually a big problem. The chances of having everyone arrive right on time are very low. This doesn’t mean, however, that you should actually plan to show up before or after the time on your invitation. Aim for the correct hour, and do your best to meet that time out of respect for your hosts. It won’t reflect well on you if you come in very late after speeches or activities have already started, or if you arrive so early that you’re in the way while the finishing touches are still being put on the event. Everyone understands that things happen, but do your best to arrive on time, just like you do for a regular day at work!

    Be social

    Work parties have a unique dynamic! You are suddenly in a social situation with people that you might have only been around professionally before. Don’t let that make you nervous! This is an opportunity for you to get to know the people around you, and vice versa! You can use this fun setting to meet new people, network, and settle into the office community a little more comfortably if you’re feeling shy. Try not to exclude yourself from conversations by hovering around the edges or avoiding your coworkers. Introduce yourself to people that you haven’t met yet and strike a balance between listening to people and contributing to conversation yourself. Chances are that you’ll forget your shyness in no time once the festivities are under way!

    Try participating

    Some office Christmas parties will feature fun games or friendly competitions for prizes. Even if you think it’s silly to have games at an adult party, you should consider participating. These things are meant for lightening the mood and bonding with the people around you. Particularly if you’re shy about conversation, taking part in games or activities gives you an opportunity to engage with the people around you, but with a focus that saves you from having to make small talk! Being an active part of the festivities can be a lot of fun, and participating helps you come off as personable. Did your office choose an ‘ugly Christmas sweater’ theme for your holiday party? Even if you feel silly wearing one, try using that as a chance to bond with your coworkers by getting the ugliest Christmas sweater you can find. If nothing else, it’ll be a good conversation piece!

    All things in moderation

    Christmas parties are full of great food, yummy deserts, and drinks to help you unwind. Remember, though, that moderation is the key. This is a social gathering and you’re supposed to have fun, but you’re still in the presence of your bosses and coworkers! They won’t be impressed if you take large greedy handfuls of food, regardless of whether other people have served themselves yet. Similarly, it won’t make the best impression if you have too much to drink. Having one or two glasses of wine with some food to relax and calm your nerves is acceptable, and maybe even encouraged, but don’t go overboard on the liquid courage! You’ll be less embarrassed later if coworkers noticed that you were a little shy at the party than you will if coworkers noticed that you fell down the stairs on the way to the bathroom. Remember, the purpose of the night is just to have fun!

    Xmas Party drunk

    Get home safely

    There’s nothing wrong with toasting a drink or two with your colleagues at the office Christmas party, but make sure that you can get home safely! Organize a carpool with a designated driver or take a taxi if you decide to enjoy the rum and eggnog. A great holiday party where nobody is hurt is the best kind of send off at the end of the year!

    Are you off to an upcoming Christmas party soon? How will you ensure you’ll behave yourself? Share your own tips in the comments below, we’d love to hear your ideas!


    November 24, 2014 8:00 am

    How to Study

    When I was in university, you could always tell when I had an upcoming deadline because that’s when the house would be spic-and-span and smell like freshly baked cakes or cookies. My younger brother loved final exam time. Needless to say I was the queen of procrastination.

    It isn’t until my senior year that I actually figured out how to study effectively without getting distracted. That’s a tall order. We’ve become a society of serial multitaskers! A lot of it has to do with your habits, yes, but it’s also about not fighting it too much. Just give yourself a fighting chance by creating a study situation that works for you.

    The Where

    Study Space

    I love libraries. They have an atmosphere that make you feel like you *should* be studying and that’s half the battle. If it’s nice out, a quiet local park or coffee shop can also work. If you have a chance to explore study spaces that aren’t in your own home, give them a try. It’s also a great way of separating your studies from your home life, which can help in reducing stress.

    Wherever you decide to study, make sure it’s in an area where you’ll be able to concentrate. Avoid your bedroom if you can. The bedroom should be a place to relax, not to work. If you can’t do this, you should have a separate desk or table where you can set yourself up for success.

    Try to set up your study space where distractions will be limited. Now, here’s the trick: “distractions” are different for everyone. Some people work at their best in a closed-in room, while for others this is the worst thing in the world. Experiment and find a spot that works for you.

    The Who

    Your best bet is likely to set yourself up in an area where you’ll be left alone.

    That doesn’t necessarily mean to lock yourself away from the world, but simply somewhere others will respect your space. If your study space is at home, make sure everyone in the house knows that when you are in that area you are not to be disturbed.

    If your family or roommates have trouble with this, you can print out a fun & quirky sign that gets the message across. Hang this sign on the door or, if you’re studying in a more public place, just hang it on your back. People will have a chuckle but they’ll also be more likely to respect your needs.

    That goes for your phone, too. Put it on silent mode and ideally leave it at least a good 10 paces away from you. If you have to physically stand up and walk a few steps every time you want to check your emails or text messages, you’ll do so far less often than if it’s in your pocket.

    If you’re using your computer for your studies, close that email window during study time. I know you’re an important person, but whatever email you receive, it can wait a few hours for a reply.

    The When

    Are you an early bird or a night owl?

    There’s likely a period of time in the day where you’re at your most productive. It can be first-thing in the morning, right after lunch, or at midnight. It all depends on your internal clock and the habits you formed at a young age.

    While you *can* train yourself to be productive at any time, my advice is not to fight it. Instead just try and figure out your daily “peek times” and try to schedule your studies around those times.

    I know you may not have the luxury of studying on your peek times. Especially if you have a family, and a full time job to boot. If that’s the case, then my best advice is to at least try not to schedule your studies when you know you’ll be exhausted. If you have a Monday-to-Friday job, for instance, maybe save your studies for the weekend, or at least on weeknights closer to the start of the week when you’ll be more refreshed.

    The What

    A few simple tools will help you make the most out of any study space:

    A comfy chair is a must

    Forget the couch, and don’t even think about the bed. Set yourself up on a chair that is comfortable and encourages you to keep a good posture. It will help you keep your energy levels up and will also help your mind stay focused.

    Studying on the couch

    Daylight is key

    That doesn’t mean you should only study during the day. Assuming you’re indoors, ensure the room is brightly lit. Try not to study by a desk lamp alone. If the room is somewhat dark your body will become tired much more quickly. Lights on, my friend. Your brain will thank you for it.

    Background noise required… probably

    Very few people do their best work in total silence. It might be good for meditation, but when it comes to working, it’s best to have some sort of background noise that will help you concentrate.

    Music is usually the first thing that comes to mind, and it works well for most people. If lyrics are distracting, try something instrumental.

    Another standard go-to is white noise. Something that literally just drowns out everything else. As I write this, I’m listening to a track of a thunderstorm I created on the site There are many free websites like this one out there where you can create custom sound tracks. From sounds of storms to a horse-drawn carriage on a snowy night, to Darth Vader playing tribal drums… if the sound helps you concentrate, go for it!

    Don’t be afraid to experiment with less-than-traditional forms of background noise, either. You may think I’m crazy but I do my best work while I’m listening to the Die Hard movies. A friend of mine writes more effectively while listening to old Abbott & Costello episodes. Embrace whatever works best for you.

    Computers not allowed

    Ok… that’s a bit harsh.

    But using a computer for your studies can be your greatest mistake. Sure it’s needed in some cases, but your computer is likely the greatest source of distraction you will face. Not to mention, staring at a computer screen will tire you out much more quickly than a piece of paper will.

    Try to avoid the computer if you can. Print out your study materials and read them on paper. Take notes with a good old fashioned pen and notebook. Write your first drafts of assignments by hand instead of typing them. You’d be surprised what a difference this can make.

    The How

    We’ve already talked about how to set up, now it’s time to quickly cover good habits to develop:

    1. Study in short bursts. Give yourself a 5-minute break every 20-30 minutes or so to allow your brain to refocus.
    2. Keep well hydrated. Your brain is working hard! Drink a lot of water. Many people overlook this step.
    3. Get some fresh air. Step outside for a few minutes every now and then and take a breather. Not only will it calm you down but it’s also good for your health.
    4. Set goals. Keep yourself motivated by setting realistic goals. Reward yourself when you accomplish them.
    5. Be well rested. We mentioned this earlier. Don’t try to study when you’re exhausted. It doesn’t work.
    6. Find the right temperature. Some people work best when it’s nice and hot in the room, others like it a bit cooler.
    7. Stay clean & organized. Starting out with a neat & tidy workspace will help you study more effectively and will limit distractions.


    The Why

    Not surprisingly, a better study environment will lead to a better educational experience. While most people are able to muddle through in less-than-ideal conditions and scrape by with a passing grade… is that really what you went back to school for? Why not spend some time finding the perfect study situation and get the most out of your courses?

    I hope the tips outlined above will help you study more effectively and, in turn, enjoy your school work even more!

    Do you have any unusual study habits that work for you? Let us know what they are in a comment!


    November 18, 2014 8:00 am

    How to Calculate Scale

    When it comes to interior decoration and other forms of design, it takes more than just an instinct for style to transform a room! Designers and decorators must also learn how to calculate scale, so they can create a floor plan. This ensures that the design they have in mind will work well with the physical layout of the room and the space that they have available. Professionals who master the art of calculating scale will save time and effort, letting them concentrate on things like the atmosphere they’d like to achieve with their décor, rather than shifting heavy furniture that doesn’t fit the way they’d hoped!

    Calculating the size of a room and converting it on a scale to make your floor plan takes practice. Once you’ve become familiar with this skill, however, you’ll find that it’s one of your most useful tools for every room you design! Not only does using a floor plan to scale help you with your design itself, it also helps you communicate your ideas to clients or team members in a way that lets them visualize your ideas! Here are some tips for both calculating scale and translating from one scale to another to complete your design!

    What is a Floor Plan and why is Scale Important?

    Floor Plan

    A floor plan is an aerial drawing of the room you’re working with. Instead of trying to think about your design in large, real-life proportions, you’ll draw a smaller representation of your room so that you can visualize your plan more clearly. If you simply draw a rough sketch of the room, however, you’ll find that your measurements will be off when you try to translate that floor plan back to the real thing. Furniture and wall hangings might not fit in the spaces you want them to, and you’ll have to re-evaluate.

    This is where calculating scale saves the day! By taking real measurements of the room and scaling them down so that they’re small enough to draw but are still proportional, you can create an accurate floor plan to create your design on. This way, when you translate the scale back into real-life measurements, your spacing should work!

    Measuring Your Space

    The first step to creating an accurate scale is taking measurements of the room. When you do this, make sure that you take your measurements in feet and inches, as this is the standard that most professional designers and decorators use. Remember to round all of your measurements up to the nearest inch. Rounding makes your scale much easier to calculate and translate. Measuring up saves you from realizing later that your furniture or wall hangings barely fit! For example, the height of a wall from floor to ceiling might be 7 feet and 7 ¾ inches, which you would write as 7’8”.


    Here are some key things to measure:

    Floor Space:

    Measure the lengths along the floor where it meets each wall. This gives you the general size of the room.


    Measure the height and length of each wall so you can draw the shape of the room in the correct proportions on your floor plan, to scale.


    Make sure you take note of where the windows are. Not only will you need these measurements if your design includes things like curtains, but you’ll also want to make sure none of the furniture you place blocks the window!


    Like windows, you’ll want to note the size and placement of your doors. This way, you can draw them to proper scale. First, measure the size of the door opening so you can make sure none of the furniture in your plan will block people from getting into the room. Next, if there is one, measure the door itself. If it’s the kind of door that swings into the room, note how far into your space it goes so that you don’t place anything where the door will hit it or be stopped from opening.

    Other Features:

    Take note of the size and placement of key features throughout the room. Remember that you’ll need to leave space for these or leave them accessible when you’re planning your furniture. Look for the following things:

    1. Floor vents
    2. Radiators or heaters
    3. Electrical outlets and telephone jacks
    4. Fireplaces
    5. Raised platforms/areas


    Calculating Your Scale

    Drawing a Floor Plan

    The easiest way to draw measurements to scale on a page is by using 1 inch (1”) to represent 1 foot (1’). This means that, in your floor plan, a table that is 3 feet by 2 foot (3’ x 2’) would be drawn as 3 inches by 2 inch (3” x 2”). It helps to translate your scale using a ratio.

    Take our scale of 1” = 1’, for example. There are 12 inches in a foot, so you would write your ratio as 1:12. 1 inch on your page represents 12 inches in real life (or 1 foot).

    Graph Paper

    Some designers choose to use scaled graph paper to create floor plans. This makes calculating your scale very easy, because each square on the paper can represent one foot. To draw your 3’ x 2’ table, you would simply count 3 squares across and 2 squares deep. As long as you are consistent with keeping to that scale, your floor plan should translate well to your actual space.

    Try it out!

    By scaling down measurements like this, you are able to organize a plan for the room that works well in the space. Staying consistent with you scale means that your measurements stay properly proportioned and can translate back into the real life space. Scaling lets you try different furniture and decorative options within the space without the ordeal of moving the furniture repeatedly!

    Scaling is easy to practice! Grab some graph paper and try drawing a floor plan for the room you’re in!

    For more helpful information about skills like calculating scale, check out QC’s Online Design Courses!


    November 3, 2014 3:28 pm

    How to Handle Bad Reviews

    While I hope this never happens to you… the reality is every business, at one point or another, is going to receive poor reviews or negative comments from less-than-satisfied customers.

    If you’re a good and reputable business, this shouldn’t happen very often. But still, your heart can sink when you see that negativity from a past customer. If you know how to deal with it, you can at least minimize the effect this has on your business.

    Monitor your Brand Mentions

    Before you can respond to any negative review, you need to know they exist. Be sure you monitor all your websites and social media accounts… and have alerts set up for brand mentions outside your website!

    You can use Google Alerts to notify you when a specific term is used on ANY website, anywhere. This is a FREE service from Google. Just make sure you put your brand in quotation marks otherwise you’ll get tons of notices of unrelated content.

    Don’t Panic

    Let me say that again: Don’t Panic!

    Once you’re alerted of a bad review or negative comment about your site, you will likely become very angry and defensive. Hey, it’s only natural! You’re proud of what you offer and for someone to come along and slag it off… WHO ARE THEY TO BADMOUTH YOU!?!?!?!

    But the reality is, that’s not a productive attitude. So take care.

    If you need to vent, do it privately. Go make use of a punching bag at the gym or scream into a pillow if you need to… but don’t let your colleagues and/or partners – and CERATINLY not the public – see you sweat.

    Just Breathe


    Once you’re over your initial reaction of frustration, take a bit of time to look into the matter objectively. Remember, being defensive doesn’t help you here. You need to approach the situation with the understanding that you very well may have done something wrong. And you need to be accepting of that possibility.

    Learn as much as you can about the person who’s making the complaint. Is she a past or current client of yours? If so, you should have records of all dealings with her. If there were any incidents that could have led to this review, I hope you took careful notes during the fact. These will come in handy now.

    Uncover the Facts


    If the person is not a direct client (past or current), then you need to learn a little more about them. Without being creepy, check them out on social media and try to figure out what their beef is with your brand. Are they someone who simply likes to complain in order to get free stuff? Or did you truly offend them in a way that requires an apology?

    Note: Often times, if a non-customer complains about you it will have something to do with your marketing. They could be offended by something you’ve posted on Social Media, or about an ad you put out in front of your store, etc. In this case, it’s important to remember that for every person who complains, there are probably a hundred others who were equally offended but didn’t bother letting you know about it!


    Once you have enough information, it’s time to respond. Ideally this is done very quickly, before the fire has a chance to spread too far. In a perfect world, you’ll respond to a negative review within hours of it being posted. At the worst… 24-48 hours, tops.

    When you respond, first take a deep breath, and go back to my second point: DON’T PANIC!

    Never respond to a review when you’re angry. Your anger will inevitably pour into your response… whether you mean it to or not.

    Be polite and courteous. Always start out by thanking the reviewer for his or her comments. Whether you agree with it or not, they took the time to inform you of what they consider a serious problem, so you should acknowledge that.

    How you structure the rest of your response depends on whether it’s a legitimate complaint or not. But either way…

    Be professional, but be authentic. There’s nothing worse than a corporate, boilerplate, rehearsed response to negativity these days. People see right through them. Take the time to write something from the heart and be sincere. Trust me, people can tell the difference!

    If it was an honest and fair review

    Acknowledge it and explain how you plan on taking the necessary actions to remedy the situation. Apologise directly to the reviewer, and if there’s anything you can do to help them further, offer that as well. Your goal here should be to turn this complainer into an advocate of your brand through exceptional customer service.

    You don’t have to shell out money!

    Many people think the best way to shut a complainer up is to offer them a refund. While this is true and likely the easiest method, it’s not always the best tactic because it doesn’t show that you truly care. Instead, try offering the customer a sincere explanation, and perhaps a revisit once the issue has been resolved.

    Time for an example. Say a client took to your social media account and complained that you, as a makeup artist, didn’t listen to what they wanted out of a makeup trial. You agree that the client left looking disappointed, but during the trial she didn’t really speak up about what she wanted. Your reply could be something like this:

    Hi [Client] and thank you so much for your feedback. I’m terribly sorry that you didn’t like your makeup after our trial run. I always strive to give people what they want but unfortunately sometimes I can get carried away, especially if the client doesn’t explicitly mention what she likes or don’t like about my work. While I thought your makeup looked amazing, I did notice that you weren’t thrilled when you left my studio and I should have tried a little harder to get a critique from you. I really do care and I hope that all clients leave my studio happy!

    I’d love to have you come back in for another trial (my treat!) and I’ll do my very best to ask for your feedback throughout the process. I hope we can work together to get you that perfect makeup look this time around! Please let me know if you would be willing to give me another chance!

    Either way, thank you for reminding me that just because a client doesn’t say anything negative, doesn’t mean they love my work. I promise I’ll do a better job at getting honest feedback from all my clients, good and bad!

    Now imagine if you just happened to see this complaint on another makeup artist’s social media account, along with this reply. Would the MUA come off as sincere and caring? After reading this thread would you be more likely to check out their services on your own? If this is the case, then it’s a good response!

    If the Review was Unfounded

    Sometimes clients will make a negative review out of frustration even though they have no basis for the accusation. This can happen especially if there are additional fees for the services you provided, or if something unexpected took place that was beyond your control.

    Even if you don’t agree with the negative review, you must still remember the key elements discussed above. Don’t remember them? Let me refresh your memory:

    • Don’t Panic!
    • Never respond when you’re angry!
    • Be polite and courteous.
    • Be professional, but authentic.

    Here’s where things differ. If you received an unfair, negative review, you are allowed to tell your side of the story.

    Apologise to the client for his/her reaction, but DON’T apologise for your actions if you did nothing wrong. Instead, address it in a cordial but firm way.

    Here’s another example. Say you’re an event planner and a client is unhappy about a surcharge that appeared on her final invoice because she changed her mind last-minute on the caterer, for instance. This is a fee that you both agreed to, in writing (you have an email trail). Your response could be:

    Hi [Client] and thank you for your feedback. I’m very sorry you were unhappy at the caterer surcharge. As you’ll recall, when you decided to change caterers only a few weeks before the event, I explained that there would two additional fees: one to cancel the original caterer last-minute, and another to rush the new caterer into meeting our deadline.

    You agreed to these additional fees via an email conversation between the two of us. I am happy to send you a transcript of this email conversation if you do not have it on file.

    As you know, we always strive to keep our clients in the loop on exactly what’s going on with their events, including all fees that their decisions incur. While we are highly flexible and strive to give you exactly the event you want, we also do explain that occasionally there are additional fees that come with our clients’ decisions. When such situations occur, we do our best to get you the best price, and inform you fully of all the fees before we get your go-ahead. This is exactly the procedure we followed in this case.

    Again I’m very sorry that you were unhappy with the additional fees, but at the same time I understand you were extremely satisfied with the caterer at the event so I hope you’ll consider it par for the course.

    If you would like to discuss this matter further, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly. I am always happy to hear from you and will make myself available to explain the details once more if that will help alleviate your concerns.

    In the case above, notice how the event planner was able to tell her side of the story, not be insulting to the customer, but still stick to her guns that she did nothing wrong.

    Again, put yourself in an objective position. If you came upon this review on an event planning website and then read the response, would it seem like the event planner handled the situation with grace and decorum? Would you feel like she was in the right?

    Again, if the answer is “yes”, then it’s a good response!

    Always Respond Publicly

    If a customer makes a complaint or posts a bad review in a public manner, then respond in the same way. Don’t resort to a generic “Thank you for your feedback. We have replied to you privately to discuss the situation”. That type of response doesn’t benefit you one bit when it comes to others who might read the review.

    At the same time, just be mindful of privacy concerns. Never give out a customer’s private information when responding to a review… and try to avoid giving specifics such as the exact amount they paid, names of third parties, etc.

    Like Button

    If a Reviewer Starts a War

    Whether they’re in the right or not, there are some nuts out there who just want attention. If the client continues to harass you once you’ve responded and dealt with the situation, then it’s time to take further action. You can warn them that their behavior is unacceptable and if you need to, you can get a lawyer involved. 99% of you will never experience this type of negativity… but if you do, just remember: the absolute WORST thing you can do, is to get into a fight with a client over a bad review. Regardless of how much the person grinds your gears, always remain polite, courteous, and objective. Trust me. I’m doing you a favor here!

    Have you ever had to deal with a bad review from a client? How did you deal with it? Let us know in a comment!


    October 21, 2014 10:29 am

    Decorating Your Place for Halloween

    Come October first, I start looking for that perfect pumpkin. Fall decorations adorn the kitchen, living room and front porch.

    But, have you ever come across a house that just overdoes the Halloween decorations? I’m talking about that house that has ten singing ghosts and skeletons on the front lawn… and just wait to see what’s inside!

    There are tricks for making the most out of your Halloween decorations without spending a fortune or becoming that house with the crazy Halloweenies.

    Pick one theme and stick to it

    You can go with a lot of different angles with Halloween: Spooky, Classy, Funny, Cool… you can go for witches, ghosts, zombies, fall-themes… but the key is to not go for all of them at the same time. If you decide your house will have a creepy graveyard theme for Halloween, then stick to it. Forget about the cool dancing witch decoration… it doesn’t fit.
    And on that note…

    Think about your audience

    What type of people will be visiting your house for Halloween? Do you have many young children in your area? If so, you might want to avoid scary decorations. I’m sure the last thing you want to do is upset your friends or neighbors by traumatising their kids!

    Stay away from using strobe lights to enhance your decorations. All it takes is one epileptic trick-or-treater to make you regret that decision for the rest of your life!

    Halloween trick-or-treaters

    Avoid noisy decorations

    Things that sing or make other noises when people walk by can be fun… but less is more. You shouldn’t have more than one or two of these pieces in your house or yard, and think about how other people will perceive them.

    Be courteous: While it’s perfectly okay (and expected!) to have decorations that “boo!” when people walk by… save them for Halloween night itself. Don’t turn them on come October 10th and leave them on for three weeks. There, I said it. You’re welcome, neighbors.

    Respect your Lawn!

    While lawn decorations can be super fun, use them in moderation and be aware of the negative impact they can have on your grass. Having pieces on the lawn for long periods of time can kill patches of grass, so it’s best to set these up a day or two before Halloween and to take them down quickly thereafter.

    There’s also a safety concern with any decoration that’s on the ground: Make sure they’re in an area where trick-or-treaters won’t trip over them!

    Try not to be offensive

    Decorations should be fun for everyone. Though you might think hanging a dummy by the neck from the tree in your front yard is a good idea, it could seriously upset someone who’s had a personal tragedy of that type. Same with any type of political messaging in your decorations… while you might think it’s clever or funny to incorporate a message about the upcoming elections in your graveyard theme… others might not.

    Finally, avoid any form of racial innuendos, scenes that might be a little too subjective, or any type of scene that portrays real-life violence. Bottom line: be smart and use common sense!

    You can’t go wrong with the pumpkin!

    No matter what your Halloween décor is like… a cleverly-carved pumpkin is always appreciated. Be creative and have some fun! While Halloween decorations should be used in moderation… you really can never have too many pumpkins. And here’s a tip: If you don’t like the idea of lighting your pumpkin with a candle, use those battery-operated tealight candles from the dollar store. They’re cheap and much safer than a real flame.

    Pumpkins halloween

    How do you decorate for Halloween? Let us know in a comment!


    The interior decorating & design industry is one of the fastest-changing ones out there. As a professional, it’s your job to stay on top of the most current industry standards and trends. After all, your clients come to you for your expertise and you certainly don’t want them to know more about your industry than you do!

    So how can you make sure to stay on top of what’s going on?

    Read, Watch & Listen

    The Internet isn’t just there for you to advertise your services. It also contains a horde of information that can be valuable for your business. So set aside 30-45 minutes every day to scour the Internet for the latest and greatest!

    Follow influential industry leaders on social media

    There have to be a few people out there whom you truly admire for their design and decorating work, right? Taking the time to follow these people on Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest and Instagram means they’ll become a source of content curation for you. If you have similar interest to these industry leaders, they’ll recommend articles to read and videos to watch that will keep you well informed!

    That goes for YouTube, too!

    Those industry leaders we spoke of… they probably have YouTube channels. Subscribe to them and watch some of their videos. They can teach you something new or at least give you a few fresh ideas you can use to “wow” your clients!

    Read (or at least skim) the most popular design & decorating blogs

    Go ahead and Google “Top Decorating Blogs” and add a few from those top 10 lists to your daily repertoire. Sure you don’t have the time to read every single article posted every day (unless that’s your full time job), but skimming their headlines at least once a week will yield a few articles that are worth your time. Make it a habit to at least read a few of these articles every week.

    design trends reading blog

    Subscribe to popular design & decorating newsletters

    Some manufacturers, vendors and suppliers are more well-known than others, and strive to keep their brands relevant in new industry trends. As such, they’ll often send out weekly or monthly newsletters that talk about the latest and greatest for their brands. Sign up for these email lists and you’ll quickly find the few emails that are worth your time!

    Jack of all trades = master of none

    While you should have a general idea of what’s going on in the industry, you can’t be an expert in every topic… so don’t even try. Instead, pick and choose which trends your brand will be known for, and focus on those. If a client comes to you looking for a trend that isn’t in your wheelhouse, you should be ready to refer them to another professional who can provide that expertise.

    Ask your audience

    If you’re doing your business justice, you have a social media presence. Why not poll your audience and find out what trends they’re most excited about for the upcoming season? If you find out what your target market is excited about, you can endeavour to become more of an expert on that particular topic.

    design trends audience

    Find a gap in the local market

    As a savvy business owner, you should know what’s going on locally. Keep tabs on your competition and what trends they’re focusing on. If there’s a particular trend no one else is doing, make sure you gain some knowledge on that subject! This isn’t a golden rule… and you should always make sure to do what’s best for your brand… but this tactic can help set you apart from the competition and increase your market share.

    Start your own trends

    If you truly want to excel in the industry, you should endeavor to become a trendsetter yourself. Don’t be afraid to generate a bit of buzz and excitement over some of the work you’re currently doing. Set up your own social media accounts, blog and YouTube channel to talk about YOUR best practices and trends. This will not only set you apart from your competition, but will also impress your potential clients!

    Just do it!

    You might think it’s impossible to spend the better part of an hour each day just doing research, but it’s a good habit to get into… and it’s NOT a waste of time! Staying informed can mean the difference between getting new clients and being left out in the cold.

    Tell us! What are YOUR go-to sources for keeping up with the industry? Let us know in a comment!


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