The Bramwell Brown Blog

How to Learn to Decorate Your Home

House with nice interior design

Though interior designers go through a lot of training, education and practice in their trade, there are a few ways you can pick up some skills to help you decorate your home. You can take a class, connect with other designers, take an internship or keep consuming a lot of visuals. Keep in mind what you’re trying to accomplish, whether it’s the beginning of a decorator career or a DIY project that you’ve been meaning to tackle and find opportunities that allow you to move in that direction.

1. Education in Decorating

Certified Interior Decorators is a comprehensive way to start into the world of decor and design. You can participate in an online program that both teaches and certifies so that you can tackle any decorating project successfully. The course, which costs US$895, teaches students about how to choose and plan floors, furniture, windows, colours, lights and accessories. You also learn a bit of business, like how to set fees and avoid legal issues. One such issue that could arise is the difference between an interior decorator and interior designer--a designer has college-education in interior design while a decorator has completed training via a program. This program gives a lot of the same knowledge and access to the home and business interior industry.

Of course, there are a lot of options depending on how deep you want to dive into design or decorating. You can take specific courses in order to do a smaller DIY project in your home. Most continuing education programs offer courses for a few weeks or months to help you learn and build skills essential to a successful project. Home improvement stores typically have days where a certain set of skills might be covered, such as caulking or drain repair, which are handy tricks to have as a homeowner, let alone a designer.

2. Connecting with Experts

Reaching out to interior designers to get some practical advice on how to go about learning design and decor can also be a great spot to start. You can explore what ways they learned their trade and how they find inspiration. With that knowledge, you can guide your own journey toward decorating your home. If the designer is open to it, asking questions about your own home and how they could see it being styled might be a way to find specific ideas that you can run with. 

Making contact can be a challenge though, so consider offering something in return. Maybe it’s just a cup of coffee for an informational interview. Try approaching many interior designers, because you never know who will respond and who will have some great advice for you. One efficient way is browsing LinkedIn profiles of interior designers or looking up designers and firms in your area. 

3. Think About an Internship

Depending on the amount of time and dedication you want to put forward, and if you’re really thinking about a career in design, going for an internship could be a great way to get into the industry. You’ll be getting a hands-on education in design and decorating and you’ll make some helpful contacts along the way as you interact with more professionals in the industry. Doing an internship can help you learn the ins and outs of the design world. You’ll be able to find out where furniture is sourced, what materials work best where and develop a rapport with various wholesalers who may learn your style and preselect some pieces that could be your favourites. 

4. Grow Your Skills

An interior designer doesn’t just look at a space and have ideas pop up fully formed. There is typically some inspiration and some rough ideas of how to design a space, but ultimately in order to turn those designs into reality, you’ll need to present them in a way that’s accessible for other professionals. Learning some commonly-used design software is a wonderful way to give yourself an edge and also plan out some of the more nuanced aspects of your interior.

A few examples of computer-aided design may be worth exploring. AutoCAD is a free software that has a bit of a learning curve but can be used to map out interiors that you can later fill. 3D Home Planner is an online software that lets you render a floor plan and furniture layout; there’s a 3D option so you can truly visualise it. Chief Architect has a simple interface so you can pick it up quickly and design your home in 3D with the tools provided.

5. Consume a lot of Visual Material

Inspiration is less about waiting for the moment to surprise you and more about cultivating moments for ideas to bloom. By taking in everything that you can, you can expand your design and decorating sense by looking at examples of what others have done. Going through professional interior decoration portfolios can give you a good idea of styles and current trends. Appreciating art in all forms, whether in theatres, cinemas, museums or simply outdoors, finding beauty in nature, can help build a palette for you to draw upon when you’re looking for inspiration. Consider subscribing to an interior design magazine to be up-to-date on the latest trends, big designers and to flip through when you’re feeling low on ideas.

While there is no right or wrong way to learn how to decorate your home or get into interior design, there are varying degrees of effort and time in deciding what you learn. If you’re looking to complete a simple DIY project, signing up for a course could be a good idea. If you want to start a career, consider an internship. If you’re looking to spruce up your home, look at other designers, get tips and expand your repertoire with magazines.

At the end of the day, decorating your home is a fun (and sometimes frustrating) process that allows you to express your personal style in your little corner of the world. You’re only limited by what you can imagine and execute, and that leaves a lot of room for wonderful things.

Here are some Instagram accounts to follow for inspiration:

  • Justina Blakeney - Los Angeles designer and artist, who’s also the author of NY Times Bestseller The New Bohemians: Cool and Collected Homes.
  • Malena Batelier - works from an inspired place to create a vast array of collections, including paintings, claywork and bespoke carpets.
  • Emily Handerson - After winning HGTV’s Design Star, Emily Henderson’s career was launched into the design world with her own show Secrets from a Stylist.
  • Corey Damen - has quite a few accolades in his design career, including front covers of shelter magazines.
  • Orlando Soria - shakes up traditional gender roles with his Hommemaker blog that emphasizes and celebrates male domesticity. Accessible to all, but focused on breaking down these barriers, Soria’s blog Hommemaker (a tongue-in-cheek play on “homemaker” and “homme” meaning man), strives to be inclusive, humourous, and eco-friendly with encouraging finding great style pieces from flea-markets, antique shops and second-hand. 


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