Tammy Hart, I.D.D.P, CAPS a graduate and tutor of QC Design School’s Interior Decorating Course. She s a Certified Aging in Place Specialist from the National Association of Home Builders. Tammy is also the owner and award-winning designer for the Designer Chick Co., as well as the Past Director on the National Board for DDA (formerly CDECA).
As we move into 2021 and put 2020 behind us – because who doesn’t want to do that – many of QC’s Interior Decorating Course students will be working hard on their assignments and focusing on preparing for their new interior decorating journey that lies ahead.
Because we know that you’ll be working away like busy elves, we thought, what better gift to give our students than some GOLDEN NUGGET insider tips to help you pass your program with flying colors? So, without further ado, here are my top Do’s and Don’ts!
How to Ace Your Interior Decorating Course in 6 Easy Steps
DO: Read Everything Thoroughly!
This is a detail-oriented industry, and you’ll hear this repeated many times. The materials for the Interior Decorating Course are jam-packed full of knowledge, from real industry experts who are passing the torch over to you.
So, take the time to absorb this wealth of knowledge. Reread your textbooks if you have to, prior to doing your assignments. Tick off each task as you work your way throughout the unit.
Once you do get to your assignments, ensure to read through them thoroughly. We CAN’T stress this enough! Often, I find that students lose easy marks simply because they didn’t read the questions properly.
(This is especially the for Unit D. It’s the most detail-oriented unit. We’re not saying this is a blatant hint… but it’s also totally a blatant hint.)
We know you’re SO excited to start this new journey! Trust me, we’re just as excited for you!
But don’t rush through this experience.
Often, I hear from students in Unit A who state that they hope to finish their Interior Decorating Course within one month of starting. I’ll tell you right now, this is not the way to approach the program. If you rush, you’re guaranteed to sacrifice the quality of your education.
Your training process is not a race. This industry is a detail-oriented one (there it is again). It requires you to have patience so that you don’t miss important details. What better time to hone this critical skill than during your schooling Seriously, take your time.
Work through the quizzes, watch the videos, take before and after photos, and wait until you receive your feedback for each unit. Make sure to do all of this BEFORE moving onto your next unit. Consider this to be a marathon, not a sprint.
There are no additional points awarded to you for finishing within a month – and your future career may suffer the consequences of the decisions you make now.
DO: Listen to Your “Client”!
One of the best tips I can give you is to consider your tutor to be your client.
For example, in Unit A (Assignment 5), you will be working with two clients. Client #2 is looking for a bold palette – using specific colors – and wants to keep their furniture. Based on these parameters, you do NOT have the freedom to pick random colors or remove their furniture, replace, or reupholster it.
This is a detail-oriented industry (ding dong!) and you need to understand your client’s instructions. Failure to understand or outright ignore what your client is looking for is grounds for project failure or termination by your client.
Remember: this is not your home. This is your client’s home. When decorators and designers disagree with a client for valid reasons, there’s an opportunity there to create a business case for the disagreement. Present it to the client, gently educate them, and ask for their feedback. Ultimately, at the end of the day, because it is their home, they will ALWAYS get the final say.
DON’T: Use Short Forms!
This is a detail-oriented industry. (I swear, if I had a penny for every time I said that… Oh wait, we don’t have pennies in Canada anymore.)
Because you’re treating your tutor as if they are the client, you thereby need to treat your tutor like they don’t know anything about design or interior decorating. After all, most clients are hiring you because they don’t know. They will be relying on your expertise.
The minute you get into the habit of using short forms and other industry terms, you’ll start to lose them. This also goes for your team, your contractors, and your suppliers. Some common short forms to avoid include:
- BM (a.k.a. Benjamin Moore)
- SW (a.k.a. Sherwin-Williams)
- FB (a.k.a. Farrow & Ball)
- M (a.k.a. Magnolia)
- BR (a.k.a. Behr)
By using short forms, you’re causing a breakdown in communication and creating an opportunity for false assumption. Not picking on my own contractors – because they’re fab – but as an example, the minute my contractors innocently gain an opening for making a decision that may go against a plan, that’s when a project can start to go awry.
So, starting from Unit A, do not use short forms. Take the two extra seconds to type your brands out in full.
DO: Use the Interior Decorating Course as an Opportunity to Build Your Professional Portfolio!
It has been proven time and again: students who use their training as an opportunity to do the work and actually build their professional portfolio are almost always guaranteed to graduate with higher marks.
In every unit, you will have an opportunity to build a Pinterest vision board. This is done to walk you through the process of working with a client to develop a “before” and “after” for a project. Often, students will opt not to do before and after boards. But this doesn’t help them at all in the long run!
If you’re paying for an education, why not make the most of it and take full advantage of the training provided to you? My recommendation is to do these Pinterest boards. Choose a room, remove the furniture, take a picture, and then reset the furniture using the knowledge you’ve gained. Once you’ve done that, take another picture.
Boom! There is your before and after photos for your design portfolio.
Another way to build your portfolio and gain experience with clients while taking the Interior Decorating Course is to put a call out to your Facebook friends. Tell them you have a school project and that you’re looking for volunteers to act as “clients” for your assignments.
There are great opportunities for this is in the following unit assignments:
- Unit A, Assignments 2 and 3
- Unit B, Assignment 1
- Unit C, Assignment 5
- Unit D, Assignments 4 and 6
- Unit E, Assignment 4
- All of Unit F
You may get many people taking interest. Even when you’ve done your unit, you should still take those interested up on your offer. Don’t think of this as unpaid work – think of this as an internship opportunity with hands-on learning experience!
Also, regardless of whether you want to start your own business or work for someone else, I strongly recommend completing Unit G. Period. The business information taught in this unit will help you build your portfolio of both partners and suppliers.
DON’T: Be Afraid to Ask Questions!
Here’s the thing: we’re so excited for you and your new career. We want to help set you up for success in the design industry, and we want to arm you with as much knowledge as possible.
So, if you don’t understand a question in any of your Interior Decorating Course assignments, please know that your tutor and the QC Student Support Team are always here to answer those questions. There’s also an entire community of fellow students and grads who can help answer your inquiries over in the Virtual Classroom on Facebook!
If you’re looking for additional information regarding feedback from the tutoring team? Ask! If you have a burning question about the industry itself? Ask!
We all know what it was like starting out as a professional designer, and trying to navigate all of the ins and outs. Personally, I had just as many questions as you probably do. This is why we’re here to support you as you make a very exciting transition into this creative and challenging industry!
I hope these insightful hints and tips will help you ace your assignments and ultimately complete your Interior Decorating Course with flying colors! From your team of tutors here at QC Design School, we wish each and every one of you a very merry holiday and a happy New Year!