As a self-taught professional decorator, my experience decorating the three homes I’ve owned is what attracted my first clients. They wanted my help with their space, but I think I got the better end of the deal.
By serving my clients I learned the number one thing it takes to decorate better for myself. It was glaringly obvious, but I didn’t see it for a long time.
When I designed spaces for clients, I couldn’t just give them a list of things to buy. I had to explain why. Why that sofa. Why those three vases. Why that rug with that coffee table. Why that color. Why that pattern.
I spent more time explaining my choices, than making them. Part of it was my natural desire to educate my clients to help them pull off the room. The other part was feeling I owed that to them. That if I couldn’t explain why I was recommending they buy something or make something, then I shouldn’t recommend it.
For every furniture of decor selection, I required myself to explain things like:
- how it relates to everything else in the room
- how it reinforces the use of a certain shape, pattern, or texture
- how it fits into the story I want the room to tell
For example, in the office design below I recommended an accent table by the sofa. I could have recommended many different tables. So why did I choose the ceramic stool (#9)? Well, because the subtle theme in this office is aviation, because my client and her husband fly as a hobby. I chose this ceramic stool, because the angular shape reminded me of a folded paper airplane.
Explaining myself made me a better decorator for my clients, but even more powerfully it made me a better decorator for myself. It is how I stopped bringing home things I didn’t love or need, because I couldn’t explain why. It’s what stopped me from doing DIY projects, because I couldn’t explain why. It’s what made everything in my home more meaningful and every decorating decision easier.