When I transferred from Texas A&M – Corpus Christi to Michigan Tech (I know, quite the change), I had a 4.0 GPA in Biological Sciences. That’s two years into my degree, and after taking some super hard classes like Organic Chemistry. I maintained the 4.0 up until I got a little lazy on the 8am classes my senior year (curse you, early morning Anatomy!).
I don’t bring up my GPA to brag. I actually want to point out that I was not the smartest student in the class…far from it. I was just more diligent than most of the students.
I studied an unhealthy amount. I used every learning device known to man. I remember nights of rewriting the same flashcards over three times to help internalize the words. I made up mnemonic devices to remember processes. I took all the practice quizzes in my textbooks. I called my genius brother (a year ahead of me at Michigan Tech) and his roommate over at all hours of the night to explain Physics problems to me.
I used every tool that was available to me to learn the material and ace the test. I even volunteered to lead study groups, because I knew I would learn better if I had to know the material well enough to explain it to someone else. Little did I know that my intensive study habits would someday lead to my most meaningful work.
Flash forward to several years later, when I was a wife, young mother, and second-time homeowner about to give up on having a house that felt like me. Then, we decided to move and I panicked about having to start the decorating trial and error all over again in a new home.
So I went back to what I know how to do best. I studied. I became a student of decorating. In the process, I created a whole slew of decorating devices, or learning aids. They were just little tricks and tips I gathered, tested, and refined to make decorating my home easier. I turned ideas and inspirations into formulas, rules, and guidelines to make the decorating process repeatable. It’s like I was creating my own decorating cheat sheet, if you will.
Then, I started a blog to share what I was learning. It was like leading a study group. If I can explain what I’m doing and why to other people, I can learn it better myself. Somewhere along the way it started helping other people too.
I remember how odd it felt when two strangers on the same day asked if they could hire me to help with rooms in their homes. I agreed to help, but for free. I wanted to see if my decorating devices could really work for other people. Long story short, in the year and a half following those first two pro bono clients, I designed rooms for over 150 clients and proved over and over again my decorating devices worked. I could predictably design a beautiful room that was also personalized.
One of my decorating devices that has helped hundreds of people, is my seven steps to create a whole house color scheme, with an encore on choosing accent colors. The inputs to that process are always different (as unique as the people that use it), but the outcome is always the same…a cohesive home with a color story uniquely personalized to the person that created it.
Another example is my no fail formula for mixing and matching patterns. You can see the basic version of it in the video here which covers mixing three patterns, but I also have an extended formula with extra variables so you can mix five or more patterns without worrying about clashing. The formulas take away the fear of mixing fabrics.
I’ve often doubted my own decorating skills, because I don’t consider myself creative, but I think that turned out to be my greatest asset as a decorator.
Because I don’t have an eye for design, I have to apply my mind for design.
My lack of creativity led me to find decorating shortcuts and cheats—what I call my decorating devices—to make decorating doable and repeatable.
Over the last year, I’ve created 15 full length video classes on decorating—packaging up all the decorating devices I use in my own home and that helped me design for my clients. My favorite part of being a good student is passing along what I learn. That’s why I created Décorography to give you all my best shortcuts so you can create a home that feels like you fast. I’ll be opening the doors to new students in a few weeks. I hope to see you in the classroom. (And you should know, I’m the kind of teacher that makes cheat sheets for her students and thinks real-world application is the best way to learn.)