WHAT TOOLS DO YOU NEED TO SET UP AN INTERIOR DESIGN BUSINESS?
Starting up a business can be expensive. In most businesses the overheads can soon stack up: premises, council tax, rates, and of course stock. Start-up costs can be so expensive that it puts many people off from starting.
However, the age of the internet has made it more accessible than ever to start your own business, and the once-prohibitive costs are becoming increasingly less.
So what do you need to get going?
I always recommend that people complete some form of training in interior design. Even if you have a knack for design and an “eye for it” there is so much more to learn, about how to manage clients, how to advertise your business and how to maximise your profits for example.
2. Tech Tools
Quite simply, I mean a phone and a computer. As well as being the main tool you will use to create your designs, a computer will enable you to have a website, run your social media and to manage initial consultations from clients. A mobile phone allows you to speak to clients directly, which allows you to build rapport.
3. A Web Presence
Whether you are a techy or not, the first place that people will go to find out about you and your business is the internet. You need to have a “shop front” on the internet; at least a Facebook page but more ideally a website with examples of your work. Using social media to attract clients is a key tool, and something that I teach in my monthly membership.
4. A portfolio
And talking about examples of your work, most potential clients will want to see a portfolio of your work. If you have studied with me, this is not a problem because you build a portfolio as you complete the work. You can also use images of rooms that you have decorated in your own home.
You don’t start your own business unless you have a certain level of confidence about your skills and what you are doing. Now don’t worry if you don’t have that to begin with. Through your studies, you will begin to gain confidence about your skill level, and by joining our supportive community you get access to advice and trainings to help you with client questions, as well as business and marketing questions.
If you’d like to train with The Home Design School, >>click here<<.
If you’d like to join our membership site, >>click here<<
I recently attended a careers’ evening at my daughter’s secondary school, and I was blown away by the number of different career options that were available to her. There were stalls from companies in all sorts of walks of life, and so much choice.
It made me think back to the careers’ guidance I’d had at school which was woefully lacking, and how I’d had no idea what direction to take my life in. I ended up going to university and coming out with a foreign language degree before eventually training as a teacher.
It wasn’t until much later in life that I realised my passion for interior design, and then later still that I was bold enough to make a change.
In fact, I was in my mid thirties by the time I came to study interior design, rejecting every career move I had made before then!
But you see, the funny thing is, I wasn’t the oldest on my course. And for the students that come to study with me in The Home Design School, most people are in their forties, fifties and beyond.
Some people question whether it really is possible to change career later in life, and I’m here to tell you that it is indeed possible, and I’m here to support you through the process. You see, it’s not age that’s the barrier, it’s the mindset.
Once you get your head around the fact that you’re never too old to change your path in life, a whole new wonderful world can open up to you.
At The Home Design School, we are running our first ever accredited ceritficate course starting on May 1st 2018, and the doors are open now for registration. This will give you the qualification you need to forge a new career in interior design.
And not only that, once you’ve finished your studies, you can then join our monthly membership to get help and support in how to set up and run your own business.
If you’d like to dip your toe in the water and see if this is for you, why not head on over to our Facebook group to ask me all about it.
Before I became an interior designer, there were so many clues that this was what I was meant to be doing with my life that I now can’t believe it took me so long for the penny to drop. You see, not everyone is as mad passionate about interior design and good looking homes as I am, and I had no idea that this was something I should pay attention to.
It seems glaringly obvious in retrospect, but not at the time.
So here are some of the tell-tale signs that I should have spotted beforehand. which were staring at me square in the face. How many of these can you relate to?
1. THE VISITOR QUESTION
When visitors come to your house for the first time, they often ask, “Are you an interior designer?” or at the very least they comment upon how lovely your home is. This is not normal! Most people do not have gorgeous homes. If people say this to you, it should be ringing some bells for you.
2. YOUR PINTEREST BOARDS
Your Pinterest boards are full of photos of gorgeous rooms, and possibly the odd colour scheme thrown in. Oh yes. In fact it wasn’t until I was looking at my friend’s Pinterest board that I realised this. Hers was full of cats! Until that moment, I had no idea that Pinterest could be used for anything other than interior design pictures.
3. YOU NOTICE RESTAURANT DECOR
Whenever you go out to restaurants or nice hotels, the first thing that you notice is the decor. Again, this isn’t particularly normal. If you do this, pay attention to why this might be!
4. YOU CAN’T WATCH A COSTUME DRAMA
Similarly, if you are watching a costume drama (or in fact any other programme on the TV) you are more interested in the design of the houses and the backdrops of the stately homes rather than the costumes the actors are wearing.
5. YOUR FACEBOOK FEED
Your facebook feed is full of blogs and comments from interior design bloggers, DIY and decor groups.
6. INTERIOR DESIGN PROGRAMMES
You get excited when you realise that the next season of The Great British Interior Design Challenge is about to start (even though most of the designs are a bit iffy to say the least).
7. YOU ARE OBSESSED WITH DECORATING YOUR HOME
If your partner groans that you want to decorate yet another room- again- and your idea of a fun day out involves looking at the haberdashery in John Lewis and the paint aisle in B&Q you sure as hell need to listen to this. Most people get their homes to an acceptable standard and then stop. Not us!
How many of those could you relate to?
If, like me, you are starting to get some alarm bells ringing, and you would like to dip your toe in the water and see whether interior design could be the start of a new career for you, why not come and start your journey by joining us for our level 2 qualification starting in Spring 2018?
Back in 2010 I was working as a school teacher in a local primary school. I was teaching classes of 30+ children, I was a member of the Senior Leadership Team with a responsibility for curriculum development and quite frankly, I was as miserable as sin.
I loved teaching, and of course I loved the children I taught. Unlike most teachers, it wasn’t just the constant bashing from Ofsted, the long hours and the tonnes of paperwork that were dragging me down, but a nagging sense that I wasn’t doing with my life what I was meant to be doing.
Can you relate?
For well-meaning reasons, I’d taken up this career, but I had always felt as though there was something else I was meant to be doing with my life. The trouble was, I didn’t know what that was!
I knew that I wanted greater flexibility in my life, and I also knew that I loved teaching. I had a mad passion for interior design, I was a whizz with computers and I had a supportive husband who just wanted to see me happy.
Combining my strengths and passions
What I hadn’t realised at the time was that I could combine my strengths and passions and carve out a career for myself in a different direction.
It had never occurred to me that I could start a whole new career in my late 30s, that seemingly had no bearing on what I’d done before!
For me, I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to step out of teaching and spend some time working out what I wanted to do.
Initially I signed up for a few different short courses to ‘dip my toe in the water’, but it was the interior design course that really caught my imagination. By taking the time to study a short course, I knew that this was something I wanted to do.
And so I took on the full interior design course, and gained my qualification. I then started to offer design consultations, I started a blog and I learned a whole load of stuff about marketing.
And sure enough, but by bit, my business began to grow, and I was delighted when I was able to start offering courses, training other people in my passion, interior design. It was the marriage of my skills and passions all in one bundle.
Fast forward to today…
Fast forward to today and I now run an interior design school, which seeks to take the mystery out of interior design, and help people just like you to discover a whole new career and a whole new way of living.
Did it take a lot of courage?
But it’s also the best thing I’ve ever done.
My journey started by committing to some studies, and this is a great way to find out whether this is a good fit for you.
If you are toying with the idea of a career change into interior design, but you’re not yet ready to take the leap, why not come and join me for my diploma course, starting in the Spring. You get my help and support throughout the course, a bunch of other students to bounce ideas off, and you come away with a UK recognised qualification.
For further details and to get on the waiting list, click >>here<<
You would have thought that choosing window dressings for your home would be an easy task. Curtains or blinds, job done, right? It’s not until you start looking into it that you realise there are a dizzy array of options. So which should you choose, and why?
Image Via Blinds2Go
Curtains are great for general living rooms, and bedrooms. They add sound protection from the outside, ideal if you live on a busy road, as well as the obvious benefit of light reduction, which can be enhanced with black out linings and interlinings.
However, in rooms where you have a lot of moisture in the air (bathrooms and kitchens) curtains are not the most hygienic or long-lasting choice. The moisture can make the curtains decompose and shorten their life.
2. Voiles and Nets
Although net curtains are a bit ‘old hat’, placing a voile at the window gives a degree of privacy and creates a wafty, romantic feel in the room.
There are a huge range of blinds, for a range of different purposes.
Roman blinds are usually made from fabric, which means they are ideal for living rooms and bedrooms. They are a neat option if you like clean lines, because they tuck away tidily behind the fold when they are up.
Venetian blinds are usually made from wood or plastic. They have the advantage of offering privacy when they are down, either by being fully closed, or by having the slats tilted so that light can come in, but people cannot see into the room. One downside is that they can be dust traps, although you can buy special dusters for this purpose.
Roller blinds are again a neat option, and they often come in waterproof fabrics so that they can be used in bathrooms and kitchens.
Image via Blinds2Go
Shutters are a modern and popular way of covering windows. Traditionally used on the outside of houses, plantation style shutters for the inside of windows are becoming increasingly popular. They look fantastic within a bay window in a no-fuss scheme. They look great in modern and coastal schemes, as well as adding a contemporary twist to a traditional scheme, as above.
Layer up your options
Image via English Blinds
To create a well dressed room, layering your window dressings is a great option. Use roman blinds and full length curtains, or a double track with a voile and curtain, giving a sumptuous glam look. Having double window dressings also allows you to anchor a colour scheme in the room. The yellow in the room above wouldn’t look so impactful without the blinds, and the room would look less cohesive as a result.
The curtain header is the top part of your curtain, and there are several different types of headers style to choose from. Choosing a heading is really a matter of personal preference, but it is important to know what you are looking for before you begin.
Image via Originals Interiors
Most curtain headers involve using hooks which attach to a track or pole. Pencil pleats are one of the most common types of header. They create even folds at the top of the fabric, although they can sometimes look messy. Neater options are pleated headings, where the curtains are gathered and sewn into defined pleats: double, triple or goblet. These tend to be used in more formal settings, and are a must in a modern country scheme.
Some headings allow the curtain to be attached directly to the pole. They can either have a rod pocket, where the rod is inserted, or the curtain can be attached to the pole via tab tops, eyelet curtains or tie-tops, where the fabric is actually tied to the pole. Eyelets are a sleek, modern solution, whereas tie-top curtains are for more cottage style interiors.
2. FABRIC LENGTH
How long should your curtains be? Again, the length of your curtain is personal preference, although most designers shy away from using short curtains unless really necessary.
These curtains are just short of the floor, keeping them clean, and clear of any dirt.
Some people like to have curtains that finish just short of the floor. This prevents the curtain from gathered dust and dirt from the floor, and keeps the curtain running smoothly. Many people however prefer the curtain to just skim the ground, which means that no light escapes, and the curtain hangs well. This is best if you want more tailored look. The final alternative is to have an over-long curtain, which pools onto the floor. This gives the impression of luxury, and it can also offer quite a laid-back look too.
Most curtains benefit from being lined. Unless you are looking for a sheer piece of fabric to waft at the window, a lining is usually required. Linings add weight to a curtain, which helps it to hang better, as well as helping to reduce light fade in the face fabric.
Curtains can be lined with any materials, including a co-ordinating fabric, although a plain cotton is a usual choice. Blackout linings are also avaialble, which are a perfect choice for children’s bedrooms, as well as bedrooms which receive morning light, such as east-facing bedrooms.
For a sumptuous look, curtains can also be interlined, where a layer of thick, soft material (or “bump”) is placed between the face fabric and the lining. This adds weight to the curtain, making it fall better, and it also looks very sumptuous.
The pattern used for your curtains has to co-ordinate with the other patterns in your room. If you have a room which already has a busy pattern, then consider using plain curtains to calm the scheme down. And vice versa, if your room is looking a little plain, then a patterned fabric can inject some interest into the space.
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Patterns come in all sorts: from simple stripes to spots, paisley, check, tartan, floral, geometric and more. Again, this is largely personal preference although certain design styles suggest certain fabrics: for example, you might use a stag fabric in a country scheme, and a geometric fabric in a mid-century modern scheme.
As with pattern, the colours you choose for your curtains need to coordinate with the rest of the room. Curtains are a great place to start when decorating a room, especially if you have a busy pattern. Taking a multi-coloured patterned fabric allows you to draw out key colours with which to decorate the rest of the room.
Remember that different strengths of sunlight will also affect how the colour of your curtains appear. In sunny, south facing rooms, a yellow curtain will bathe your room in warm yellow light, and blue curtains in a north facing room will create a cool feel in the space.
If you want to learn more about how to decorate, check out our courses page >>here<<.
A while ago, I wrote a blog post about “themed” rooms – the sorts of rooms that you used to see on corny decorating programmes from the 1990s, where a big room reveal would display a pirate themed room, or an Arabian nights themed room or something along those lines.
As you can imagine, I’m not a fan of themed rooms. In fact I think they are naff and clichéd. Unless you are decorating a young child’s bedroom, or decorating for a party, a theme should be avoided at all cost. Themes are for parties, not for your home.
Recently we have been talking about how to bring your style preferences into your home, and it’s important to be able to do that, without it tipping over into the realms of “theme”.
So what is the difference between Style and Theme?
Some themes are pretty obvious. If you’re thinking of decorating your room like a circus big top, a medieval dinner hall (when you live in a 1930s semi) or a forest walk, that’s a theme.
A Roald Dahl themed bedroom. Perfect for a child’s room, but that’s where it should stay!
But what about if you like something like a coastal style? At what point does it turn from style into theme?
In my style workshops, I teach my students how to identify the key design elements that they are drawn to within each style, rather than blindly following a traditional label such as “coastal”.
If you like the coastal style, for example, you need to dig a little deeper to find out what that means for you. Is it the light and airy colours you like? Is the blue and white colour scheme? Is it the natural materials used for knots?
Identifying your unique home décor style is about knowing the colour schemes you are drawn to, the intensity of colours, the mood you create, the feelings you evoke. It’s about knowing the style of furniture, the types of fabrics that you like to surround yourself with.Distilling what’s at the heart of your design preferences helps you to create a scheme which encapsulates the parts of a design style you like, without becoming themed or clichéd.
In last week’s post, we looked at all of the different decorating styles that are out there. We learned about the key elements in styles like shabby chic, farmhouse, mid-century modern and more.
Undoubtedly, there will be certain styles that you are more drawn to and that appeal to you than others. Perhaps you like the comfort of country style, and minimalism leaves you feeling cold. Perhaps you find a glamorous look a bit too ‘buttoned up’ and you prefer a more laid back, perhaps industrial scheme.
We’re all different, and that’s great!
Different styles suit different people, and getting to know your preferred style is a great start.
So when it comes to decorating our homes, we should just pick one of the styles we are drawn to and copy it in our homes, right?
Choosing one of these styles and just importing it into your home is invariably a recipe for disaster!
By selecting one style and trying to replicate everything about that style in your home, you will probably find that you end up disatisfied with the results. Getting to know your own style preferences is a great place to start, but it certainly isn’t the whole story.
Different interpretations of style
As we saw in last week’s style descriptions, there are key elements which make up each design style.
Let’s use “country” style as an example. Country style tends to be defined by elements such as log baskets, checkered throws and painted wooden furniture. However, some people who like the country style may like uncluttered, simple design, whereas other people who like country might like their rooms to be full of accessories, animal busts and wall art of the local hunt.
There are so many interpretations of what “country” means. There is a French Country, Modern Country, Traditional Country, Farmhouse Country and more. Using the term “Country” isn’t specific enough.
What country means to one person will mean something completely different to someone else.
So choosing one style is not the end of the process. More work needs to be done!
It’s not bespoke enough
When we choose a design style for our home, we need it to reflect who we are as a person. Our homes are a reflection of our personalities, a place for us to express who we are.
The famous interior designer, Kelly Hoppen knows all about tailoring your home to fit you uniquely:
Although we can identify some of the key elements of a particular style, that’s not the whole story. There will be certain parts of a style that you love, and other parts that you’re not so wild about. You can’t just import a whole style into your home. It won’t quite fit you right.
You home decorating style needs to be tailored to you, and as unique as you are. It’s rare to identify exactly and exclusively with one type of style.
You like more than one style
Let me use a food analogy here. In the same way that most of us like a variety of different cuisines, some of us like Chinese food as well as Indian food as well as Italian food, most of us have more than one preference when it comes to what we like in our homes too.
Most of us like one of the design styles, but also enjoy other styles too.
If you restrict yourself to just one design style, what do you do about the other elements that you like?
If you like traditional classic design, does that mean that you can’t have something modern and funky in your space too?
If you stick slavishly to one design style, then yes!
It does mean that you have straight-jacketed yourself to one look.
In reality, most of us like a mixture of different styles.
Creating a Bespoke Style
The key to creating a home which reflects you personally, includes all of your preferences and allows you to express your personality, is to get clear about your own unique, personal design style. What’s YOUR vibe? What are YOUR quirks? What is unique about YOU and YOUR taste?
How did you get on with last week’s home decorating style quiz? If you haven’t taken it yet, be sure to take the quiz before reading on:
The first step in your journey to creating a cohesive home is about defining the decorating style you want to use.
In the same way that we all have preferences about what we like to eat and drink, and the entertainment we enjoy, we all have a decorating style that we are drawn to, even if we don’t immediately know what that it.
In actual fact, most of us like a mixture of different styles, and different parts of different styles.
We might like a little bit of industrial mixed with a bit of country and the odd contemporary piece thrown in for contrast. Or we might like some really traditional pieces but with something more wacky thrown in too.
That’s all good!
But as a starting point, we need to know what ‘styles’ are out there, so that we can begin to piece together a complete picture of what we like.
Here’s a glossary of the 10 most common design styles to get you thinking about which elements you like in your own home:
1. Country Style
Country style is one of the most popular decorating design styles. Country schemes focus on comfort, and so we see fabrics made from natural materials such as wools, and chunky knits, Colour schemes are often pared-back muted greens, creams and browns. A roaring log fire is a must in a country home, and cosy is key. Country style is further split into sub-categories, such as French country (see shabby chic), farmhouse (see below), and modern, where some of the more rustic elements are replaced with neat painted wooden furniture.
2. Farmhouse Style
More rustic than country, farmhouse has been popular for many years now. This style is characterised by rough hewn wood and repurposed metallic objects (farm machinery used as wall art for example). Vintage and mis-matched furniture is key to achieving this look. Scour flea markets and reclamation yards for authentic pieces.
3. Shabby Chic Style
A pretty take on the Country theme. Shabby chic tends to focus on an all-white colour scheme, with painted wooden furniture and lace table coverings, which also crosses over with the ‘French country’ design style too. Called shabby for a reason, the more worn the furniture the better, and upcycling and vintage finds are perfect for this look.
4. Scandi Style
Scandinavian design has exploded into the main stream in recent years. Characterised by simple, unfussy design, Scandi is a fusion of practicality and comfort. Colour schemes are usually white, or pale grey, and softness is brought in through animal furs and sheepskin. There is a real focus on practicality, but in Scandi schemes, form and function usually marry together well.
5. Coastal Style
Like country, coastal is a popular look too. It usually comprises a white and blue colour scheme with splashed of red, with ticking stripes and natural fabrics used in abundance. In more predictable designs, stereotypical seaside paraphernalia such as fisherman’s knots, life rings and lighthouses are included, but more modern coastal designs steer away from these predictable accessories and focus instead on creating light and breezy spaces.
6. Industrial Style
Industrial design draws inspiration from utilitarian buildings such as factories and warehouses, and hails back to the days of New York loft living. Think bare bricks, worn leather sofas and exposed industrial pipes. Concrete surfaces and vintage furniture fit right in here.
7. Mid-Century Modern Style
Inspired by the interior design of the 1930-1960s, mid-century modern design is as popular today as it was back then. It’s characterised by both geometric and organic shapes and patterns, simple framed furniture and bold colour schemes. Iconic designers of this period gave us design classics such as the Eames chair and Andy Warhol artwork.
8. Bohemian (Boho) Style
Boho is a good look for people who want to live relaxed, freely and with lots of cultural references. Boho style is colourful and eclectic, full of ethnic fabrics, patterned rugs and tie-died cloths, moroccan lanterns and plenty of houseplants.
9. Minimalist Style
For those who dislike clutter, and enjoy a clean and ordered life, minimalism could be for you. Some people think of minimalism as cold and hard, but it doesn’t have to be. Inspired by Japanese interiors, minimalist spaces use the bare essentials, but what is included is beautiful and makes a statement.
10. Eclectic Style
The polar opposite of minimalist style, eclectic schemes are difficult to categorise, as they comprise so many elements. Bringing together many disparate elements is actually quite tricky to pull off, but choosing items in a consistent colour theme helps to unite the room. Ideal for rule breakers, the eclectic style really lets you express yourself in your home.
So now we’ve covered some of the main styles, next week we dive into looking at why choosing just one of these styles is a big mistake- and what you should be doing instead!
If you haven’t yet taken the style quiz, click below.