How to Become a Better Designer

Our Work | May 24, 2011

image via Design Sponge
Last week my cute cousin emailed me because she was having a hard time picking fabrics in her home and she asked me for some advice on how to become better at Interior Design. I thought this was an interesting question. It caused me to think, how does one become a better designer? 
There are so many talented women who aren’t “designers” by title but yet they still have a desire to make their homes beautiful. Although I am sure there are many many different ways you can broaden your design horizons here are the tips I gave to her. 
It is fascinating to me how design blogs are changing the world of design. New and amazing projects and ideas are posted each day. The inspiration is never ending! You can learn almost anything from how to pick paint colors, how to build a headboard, what are the current trends, what are the bad trends, how to place rugs etc. etc. The list goes on and on. 
I get so much inspiration from etsy shops! Quite often when searching for a fabric or a pillow I’ll come across the most beautiful fabric combinations. This is actually where some of my favorite fabric combinations have come from. I’ll see how people put together pillows in their shops and it gets my mind going! 
It helps me see fabrics in a way I didn’t see them before. 
One of my boards from college.
I got a degree in Interior Design but there are many many successful designers that don’t. However, classes are super helpful. I would say if you have the time and the resources to sign up for a few Interior Design classes do it! Color Theory and Space Planing would be good places to start. 
Gone are the days when you had to fork over hundreds of dollars each year to shelter magazines. I still believe in the beauty of opening up a glossy magazine and I subscribe to quite a few. But if you don’t have the budget to invest in magazine subscriptions give online magazines a try! There are SO many great ones out there now.  It seems like new ones are popping up each month. 
image via Lonny
Spend some good time each month pouring over these magazines. How yourself questions like, “what do I like about this image?” “What is working?” “What is not working?” “How can I create this look in my home?” These magazines are amazing and are free for you to read! 
Some of my favorites are:
I believe one of the biggest influences on my design style was my experience working at Alice Lane. When I first started working there I was very limited on my design exposure. But after a few months I started to see design in a whole new light. I loved being surrounded by truly well designed pieces. Unique and inspiring furniture opened my eyes to what great design really was. I started seeing that a sofa is more than just a sofa. It can be a work of art if done correctly. This also helped me train my eye to see bad design. I hadn’t really noticed it as much before. But after the seeing the way a piece could look I understood when something hadn’t been designed well. 
via Alice Lane Home Collection
Expose yourself to great design!
 Browse expensive stores and catalogs. Don’t worry that you can’t afford the items. Your designer eye will strengthen as you learn to see truly beautiful pieces. You might start to realize that there is more out there than just what you can find at Pottery Barn. 
via Oly Studio
Knowing what is good design vs. bad design has helped me try and replicate the feeling of well-designed rooms for my clients.
photo by Jessica Kettle Photography
My last bit of advice is to hire a designer. This one may seem contradictory. However, I’ve noticed that by the time I’m done working with my clients they are far better designers than they were when I started. A designer will help open your eyes to so many things. I act as a teacher much of the time with my clients. I explain why things do and don’t work. I show them what to look for when they are out shopping for products. I teach them how to avoid making mistakes in their homes. I love seeing how my clients gain so much confidence in their decorating skills while I am working with them. Even if you just hire a designer to help you pick fabrics you will learn so much!  I offer one-hour consultations for people if they are just needing some general advice in their homes. I think this is a great way for me to pass on some of my knowledge to them.
A designer has already made a lot of the mistakes that you are making and they can help you stop making those mistakes. It is well worth your money to hire a designer to teach you the skills you need in decorating your home. 
Anyway, those are the things that have helped me. If you any of you have any other advice please share!