Become a Decorating Pro



By Suzanne Barker

Become a Decorating Pro

By Suzanne Barker



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Get my free 25-page manual to accompany this course.

This manual is based on all the lessons outlined in this course and has been designed to easily and practically guide you as you carry out your decorating project.

It will help you create a killer strategy and keep you on track to success.

Don’t miss this essential Pro Decorator’s companion!

Download it here: http://bit.ly/INhzrKh


[] Table of Contents



Table of Contents


The Five Elements of a Well Designed Room

Why You Need to Discover Your Style

Get Ready For Success with Inspiration

The Floor Plan. Think You Can Skip This? Think Again

Colour for the Hesitant

Bringing the Elements Together

Reject Design that is Safe or Boring

Make a Real Home Not a Show Home

Being a Decorating Pro is So Much More than Having a Good Eye


About the Author




[][] Introduction


I have to tell you, before we dive in deep, that you aren’t receiving your typical decorating advice. This free course is about TURNING PRO. Straight up. So we are going to work together to end thinking like an Amateur and start thinking like a Pro.

I’m going to be all-up-in-ya’-face about what TURNING PRO means as a decorator and I’m going to be blunt and a little bit bossy about exactly how to do it so your home doesn’t become a dull Hot Mess.

Are you ready?

I’m going to share with you EXACTLY how to use my Pro method. I follow this method step-by-step to decorate my client’s rooms every day and it really works.

In this course we’re going to talk about PREPARATION and PLANNING. A lot. This is the key to success.

 My no. 1 Rule to Become a Decorating Pro:

You need to plan your decorating project from start to finish before you even set foot in a physical shop.

I cannot stress this enough.

You CANNOT decorate successfully without serious preparation.


Five reasons why decorating your home on the fly does not work:

You don’t understand what your style is so your design suffers an identity crisis.

You don’t have an overall vision so your purchases aren’t targeted.

You haven’t evaluated your floor plan so you buy furniture to simply fill a space.

You use what you already own to guide your next purchases without considering if you really love these items and they are still suitable.


You aren’t shopping purposefully so colours and textures don’t work well together.

All these choices compound your inability to Turn Pro.

Let me ask you one thing:

Do you love to decorate because you really just love to shop?

I promised I’d be blunt here: If you can’t stand the thought of having to plan your shopping experience then this is probably not the course for you.

But if you want to change your habit of whipping your wallet out on a whim and commit to decorating properly once and for all, then I’m so with you.

I’m going to show you exactly how to do that in this email course. No mucking around with pretty pictures, just cold hard advice you can use NOW

So, are you ready?



[][] The Five Elements of a Well Designed Room


What makes a well designed room really WORK?

Of all the homes featured in magazines you’ll notice that the exceptional ones are either owned by an interior designer or the owner has engaged an interior designer. The rest tend to miss the mark on one, or many levels. They lack a certain “je ne sais quoi”.

 If you study exceptionally well designed rooms, they may be entirely different but they ALL SHARE THESE FIVE ELEMENTS:

Distinct style


Considered use of space

Layers of colour and pattern

  • Unpredictable*

Let’s break it down. I’ll explain how each of these areas directly contributes to how great your home can become.

[* *]

But first – let me share this with you.

I’ve never been to a school to study interior design. Don’t get me wrong – I really, really wanted to but the market for interior designers is so tiny where I live. We just DIY the crap out of EVERYTHING!

I am a creative-go-getter and I have done it all!

I’ve been a photographer (my major at art school), a writer as well as a picture editor for a weekly tabloid. I’ve spent several years working in property development on high-end new-builds and several more years as a trade mark manager. But through the years I have never stopped feeding the interior design fire burning inside me!

I have a tendency to scrutinize interior design images to death. I critique them and I do it deeply. I am harsh in my opinions and I ruthlessly reject those designs that don’t meet my exacting eye.   

Even with, what I thought was, a design eye honed like a chisel, I struggled in the early days to pull together great designs. They didn’t come close to meeting my own tough standards. I doubted I had any ability at all.

But when I decided to really “get serious” about my interior design business, I opened my eyes and started considering the EXACT elements that make up a well designed room.

When I identified these, suddenly my designs jumped a notch above AWESOME and I was on the road to being a sassy finger snappin’ Design Boss.

I can guarantee you that these five areas are what will make your home stand out, and if you can master them in your designs, you will be a Decorating Pro among the best. Let’s get to it!


Distinct style

We’ve got an entire lesson dedicated to this coming up next, but for now let me say this: Without a style your room has no identity. Like a child with no name. It’s neither here nor there.

You need to go forth and decorate with purpose and your style gives you that purpose.

I’m not trying to force a label on you, I promise. I am going to teach you how to create a style that is entirely uniquely your own. The style of your home doesn’t have to be neatly categorized into French Country if you don’t want it to! 

[* *]


Cohesion is so important to your design that I have dedicated Lesson 7 to it. Without cohesion your design simply WILL NOT WORK. Period.

What is cohesion?

A cohesive room brings together elements that belong together, like each segment of an orange placed together to create a perfect whole. Elements that belong together look a million times better together than they ever will on their own.

When you place items together that belong together, the space just feels right. Your room gives you that warm, pleasing feeling when you walk in because everything sits well together within the space.

Can you see the potential of using cohesion to really ramp up the awesomeness of your room!

How do you know if your room has cohesion?

You have achieved cohesion when the eye is able to naturally move around the room without impediment. Take notice of how your eye moves next time you see an image of a room that you love. Your eye will move fluidly, looking at all the elements, capturing all the little details.

If the size of an item in your room is out of proportion or the colour doesn’t work with your scheme, it is going to bug the hell out of you because your eye is going to sit on it and that item is going to yell at you “I don’t belong, get me outta here!”


Sit tight because we are going to dive deep into this topic a bit later and you will learn how to create cohesion like a PRO.


Considered Use of Space

The glaringly obvious problem with a room designed by an amateur is when the room is too empty to convey any warmth and personality. Much less often, but also a classic rookie mistake, is when the room is too full and chaotic to allow for relaxation.

You need to hit the sweet spot with the quantity of furniture and accessories in your room so it feels ORDERLY AND HOMELY.

Orderly = Relaxed

Homely = Warm

Amateurs have a serious habit of under-decorating. And it usually occurs for these three reasons:

They stop once the basics are in place and the room is functional. I wouldn’t even call this decorating, would you?  

They simply decide that the decorating is complete without any visual analysis

The cost becomes too great to continue

To avoid this, you must OVER-DECORATE THEN ELIMINATE.

Okay, I’m hearing you: “Suzanne, this is not a savvy move! Who wants to go out and buy a whole bunch of stuff only to get rid of it again!?”

You are so right! Let’s look at it like this:

Have you done any one of these three things?

Stopped decorating once the basics are in place

Stopped decorating before doing a visual analysis

Stopped decorating to stop spending

Let’s be honest, if you’ve done any of these things you have a tendency to under-decorate your home.

You need to add more items to your design than what you would naturally feel comfortable doing. Push yourself that little bit further and you will reach that sweet spot. You are very unlikely to need to eliminate anything.

Don’t risk creating a cold home. Push yourself a bit further with your design and you will achieve a warm home no one will want to leave.

You will be surprised how little, if anything, you will eliminate before the sweet spot is reached. 

For those hoarders out there (you know who you are), this is not the method for you. JUST ELIMINATE!

Layers of colour and pattern

We have become so daunted by colour that we are deeply entrenched in a love affair with neutral, beige and gray. Can I get a Whah Whah Whah!

I concede that it is no easy task to find the right colour combination for your home, mainly because there are so many options that it is just so confusing. I know!

But using colour in your home is the most effective way to create warmth. If you want to turn Pro you need to confront colour and build the confidence to use it so your home isn’t left wallowing in dull self pity.

Colour is such a huge complicated can of worms so we’ll be getting into this more in a dedicated lesson later on.


Pattern tells me if a Pro designed the room

Pattern is what brings me the most joy in home decorating. I just can’t get enough of it.

Like colour, you can’t avoid integrating pattern into your design. It is simply essential to making your room really look special.

Pattern is notoriously difficult to combine well but it is what gives a room its final sparkle and personality. If you can successfully incorporate pattern, your room will most certainly rise above Amateur and sit firmly with the Pro’s.    

To get it right with pattern follow these rules:

Your patterns must have a common colour palette (i.e. if blue and white is your colour theme, you can use a pattern where blue is present but not necessarily the prevalent colour)

p<>{color:#222;}. Never put the same pattern size beside each other (i.e. two large geometric patterns are not friends but a small floral and large geometric certainly are!)

p<>{color:#222;}. Aim for at least one small and one medium sized pattern on your sofa cushions

p<>{color:#222;}. Avoid using more than four different patterns in a room but limit yourself to just one large-scale pattern. Large-scale pattern demands attention. Having two in your room is just too much!

p<>{color:#222;}. Don’t use the same type of pattern for your medium pattern size as your large-scale pattern (i.e. if your large-scale pattern is floral you should not use floral for your medium pattern size. Instead use plaid or a geometric). You can get away with a large-scale floral and a small-scale floral though because the large variation in size make them distinctly different.


  • Unpredictable*

A well designed room should be inspiring and interesting to look at. We don’t want to be disappointed by the lack of interest. I find so very often I am though. Harsh I know!

Rooky designers forget the unpredictable factor of a design because they are so caught up in getting the fundamentals right. Don’t be that person.

So when you add your final layers of decor, accessories and personal mementos, walk through this little narrative to help you crush the boring and bring your design to life:

What is going to capture the eye and draw someone into the room?

Once they are in the room where do you want their attention to land?

What are you going to use to keep them lingering?

What elements around the room are going to capture their imagination?


Let’s quickly recap:

The five most important elements of a well designed room are:

1. Distinct Style

Find your room’s identity and use it to guide you in your choices.

2. Cohesion

Make all the elements sing together like they were always meant to be together.

3. Considered Use of Space

Fill your room up so you hit the sweet spot with the quantity of furniture and accessories. Make your room feel orderly and homely.

4. Layers of Colour and Pattern

You need to embrace colour and pattern for your design to sit firmly with the Pro’s.

5. Unpredictable

Share yourself and make your room inspiring not disappointing.

Start designing like the Pro you want to be and mastery will be waiting for you just around the corner.



[][] Why You Need to Discover Your Style

[* *]

You don’t want to be pigeonholed. I know. I get it. But I’ve really got to INSIST that you need a style. And I’m not trying to pigeonhole you, I promise.

I am going to teach you how to create a style that is entirely uniquely your own. Your home doesn’t have to be neatly categorized into French Country if you don’t want it to! 

[* *]

Why you need a style:

 Think of your style as a reflection of who you are. You are stamping your distinct personality on your home.

Once your style is firmly in place and clear in your mind, decisions will become so much easier from that point on. You will be decisive and able to look at items and consider if it fulfils your style. That can only be a good thing, right? 

It’s time to start decorating with serious purpose.

I have identified six different decorating styles that I loosely use to help me and my clients find a style direction (emphasis on loosely):  








Now let’s delve into each one a bit deeper:

Classic – Also known as traditional, it is relaxed but slightly more formal. Featuring dark wood, upholstered furniture, luxe shiny accents of metal and glass.

Coastal – A very relaxed bright, bright and breezy style. Surround yourself with light weathered woods, crisp whites, creams, blues and cool colours.

French – A rustic casualness featuring shapely classic furniture, distressed finishes, a minimal colour palette of whites and soft pastels, faded floral fabrics and vintage style wallpaper.

Industrial – Hard-edged furnishings, rough metals, wooden elements and brown leather. A worn down recycled look with cool gray and dark moody colours.

Modern – This is the minimalist look. Clean and sleek style inspired by art-deco and mid-century design, straight lines, lacquer finishes and solid block statement colours infused with white.

Rustic – Inspired by nature, you want to achieve a cosy, inviting style. Embrace exposed woods, natural organic features and warm earthy colours.


I have Pinterest boards of all these styles for specific rooms in your home.  You should go and check these out right here and then come back.


I promised to teach you how to create a style that is entirely uniquely your own. Now that we have the basics down, let’s dive into this now:

These six decorating styles have multiple natural partners that combine beautifully. 

Use the right combination of styles and you have a unique yet defining style that is right for you.


The benefits of combining styles:

p<>{color:#000;}. You are able to integrate certain elements of one style that you like and leave behind the rest (i.e. you like industrial edgy wrought iron legs on furniture but you don’t want to be weighed down by heavy charcoal colours on the walls).

p<>{color:#000;}. You may be in love with two styles and you simply don’t want to choose just one.

p<>{color:#000;}. You have a real affinity with one particular style but you want to soften the look or make a ‘edgier’ version of it.

p<>{color:#000;}. You are maintaining a clear “measuring stick” to base your decisions on without having very rigid parameters to work within.


I want to give you an understanding of how each style can be diversified to suit your tastes and what each style’s perfect partners are:



Classic combinations maintain a homely feel with upholstered furniture and a lighter colour palette but can go more relaxed with organic features or more formal with sleek straight lines.

Natural classic partners:

Classic & Coastal

Classic & French

Classic & Modern


COASTAL COMBOS | Coastal combinations feature a lighter colour palette and can vary between natural and organic to a more refined look.

Natural coastal partners:

Coastal & Classic

Coastal & French

Coastal & Rustic


FRENCH COMBOS | The French style is extremely versatile. If you like a few elements of the French look but another style is your preference, this may be a good combo for you.

Natural French partners:

French & Classic

French & Coastal

French & Industrial

French & Rustic


INDUSTRIAL COMBOS | Industrial combinations are useful if you like the industrial look but don’t want to go ‘all out’. It all depends on if you want to bring in more organic elements, sleek items or shapely white furniture.

Natural Industrial partners:

Industrial & Rustic

Industrial & Modern

Industrial & French


MODERN COMBOS | Because the Modern style is very distinct, combinations are limited. You can either soften the modern look or make it more edgy.

Natural Modern partners:

Modern & Classic

Modern & Industrial


RUSTIC COMBOS | Rustic combinations can easily be determined on if you want to feature Coastal blues, French pastels or Industrial charcoals in your natural brown and earthy palette.

Natural Rustic partners:

Rustic & Coastal

Rustic & French

Rustic & Industrial


You can see that these combinations of styles give you lots of scope to move in one direction or another to suit your tastes.

If you’ve already got your perfect style combo chosen, you’re Awesome! If not, don’t rush! This is all about a process of elimination so start by ruling out half of the general six styles first if you can. 

Take your time and look at lots of images to find out what you are naturally drawn to and don’t just rely on the descriptions that I have given you.


Seek out ‘visual clues’ to guide you.

Look closely at the images you like and see if there are elements of another style that is featured (i.e. perhaps you are looking at the Coastal style and an image you love features a Rustic brown leather sofa that you are drawn to)


If you want to decorate one room in your home:  Focus on the Pinterest board that is relevant to your room.

If you are looking for an overall style for your home: Make sure you look at the boards for each room to see how the styles are interpreted in different environments.

Remember, you should aim to maintain one cohesive style throughout your home as much as possible.


If you are stumped on this lesson, don’t worry. Keep on reading! The next chapter will build on the knowledge you have already acquired today and help you conquer your style!


Get ready for the next lesson which is all about how to GUARANTEE SUCCESS with your decorating. We all want that right?!



[][] Get Ready For Success with Inspiration


All artists, including the seriously talented ones, seek out inspiration before they begin a creative endeavour. This was ingrained in me at art school and it has become an essential part of my creative life since.

I wouldn’t do ANYTHING creative without inspiration by my side and you shouldn’t contemplate decorating your home without inspiration either!

And the reason is this:

Your inspiration is going to GUARANTEE that the end result will work

That’s pretty important, huh?

I am in no doubt that you definitely want to be sure that the sweat and money you are going to hurl at your home is going to produce a seriously awesome result. Am I right?!

Having inspiration is like having all the answers to your end-of-year exam!

So do I have you convinced? Good.

Success with this lesson requires that you find only one or two special images to act as your inspiration. If you have too many images acting as your inspiration, you will battle with too many ideas. This will leave you unfocused, decisions will be difficult to make, and a lack of cohesion will appear in your final design. This entirely defeats the purpose of having inspiration in the first place!

One or two images, no more, is essential.

Pinterest is the perfect place to research and discover your inspiration because of its great searching and editing abilities as well as its HUGE database of amazing home decor images!

You should set up a board dedicated to the room you are working on and start your search with a generic search for your room. Start saving to your board and then analyse what you have saved to see if a style trend is emerging.

It is important to keep adding, reviewing and eliminating until you have honed down what you are really drawn to. Eventually you will discover your one or two favourites.

Don’t dedicate huge swathes of time to this process.

You can easily get sucked into this process for weeks or months even and get no further with your project. Set a timer for no more than 30 minutes for each session and be ruthless with deciding when enough is enough and it is time to move forward!


If you need help to navigate Pinterest to find your ultimate inspiration with ease, download the manual that accompanies this course. You’ll find a step-by-step process to follow to get the job done!

Download it here: http://bit.ly/INhzrKh


Here’s the other essential thing:

You need to understand how to USE your inspiration for success

You need to analyse your inspirational image on every level.

If you spend the time analysing it deeply enough it will give you all your decorating decisions.

You need to specifically discover what you like about your inspiration and how you can appropriately apply what you like in your room.

Here are some guiding questions for you:

Floor: Is the flooring material integral to the success of this design? If so, can I achieve it in my home? Can I integrate a similar rug?

Walls: Are there wall features such as panelling, wallpaper, plaster or a chair rail that is integral to this design? Does this contribute to the success of the design? Is this what I am really drawn to? Can I achieve this in my home?

Ceiling: Does the ceiling have beams or is it detailed on other ways? What colour is the ceiling? Am I drawn to the detail on the ceiling? What lighting is there on the ceiling? Do I want to integrate a similar style of lighting?

Colours: What colours do I specifically like in this image? Do I want to use the same wall colour? Will the predominant colour work in my room, considering size of my room and the amount of natural light it gets?

Pattern: Where is pattern used? Do I like the types and colours of the patterns? Can I integrate these patterns in the same way? Would I change anything with the patterns?

Texture: Where is texture present in the room? Are there shiny or matte items that are features of the design? Is there texture on the walls? Is there texture in the accessories that I particularly like?

Furniture: What specific furniture do I love? Will the size and shape work in my room? Can I integrate specific furniture I already own and how will that impact on how well the design will work? What colours and materials is the furniture in the design? Is this a major draw card for me?

Layout: Is the layout of the room integral to what I love about this design? Can I use a similar layout or is there a way I can take inspiration from the layout for my room?  

Accessories: What accessories am I drawn to? What is it about the accessories that I like? How do these accessories impact the design and are they integral to the success? Will the accessories I have integrate successfully?

Art: Is there specific art work that I love in this design? Do I want to integrate something similar? Would the scale of art in the design work in my room? Are the colours in the art significant in what I like about it? How would the art that I already have integrate into the design?



Get on Pinterest and find your ultimate inspirational image for a room in your home. Analyse it to death and write notes. Review your notes and see how you can apply what you like in your own room.



[][] The Floor Plan. Think You Can Skip This? Think Again


Are you sure your furniture is in the best position? Did you consider other options?

Tell me you didn’t just position your furniture in the same place as the last person who lived there?! You know who you are. Hang your head in shame, won’t ya!

I know the floor plan is what everyone loves to skip. Hey, I know, I was that person too. But here’s one of the reasons why it is so important:

Creating a floor plan gets you out of your room and into an abstract version of it so you can see the space for what it really is.

And here’s another:

Before you buy anything, work out the ideal combination of furniture in your room so you have an overall plan.

And one more for good measure:

More than ever, we are buying furniture online sight unseen, so you need to guarantee the size is right for your space.


Now let’s get down to some serious floor planning biz:

About three times now I’ve bought a piece of furniture online and gasped when it turned out to be about half the size I envisioned it was in my mind. These items were so TINY all I could do was giggle so I wouldn’t cry!

Why did I not learn my lesson the first time? Because I cut corners and didn’t do my homework.

I REALLY don’t want you to make the same mistake!


Pro Rule: You must not buy ANY furniture until your floor plan is complete.


I ALWAYS draw up a digital floor plan when specifying furniture for clients. I’ll input the measurements of a chest of drawers and then check the room out as a 3D image. Often I’m like “Nooooo, that ain’t gonna work”.


3D rendering is some awesome powerful stuff. Keep reading to quickly learn just how easy and fun it is! You might just get a little bit addicted to it too.


The digital room planner I use every day:

There are a lot of room planners and home design software out there and I’ve checked them all out. My all-time favourite is RoomSketcher for its quick and easy interface. No mucking around, no huge learning curve, just immediate results!

I use RoomSketcker for all my clients and I still get super excited watching my high-resolution 3D image download. It always looks AWESOME!

You can create a free account and just leap right in, it is that intuitive. You can draw up your room’s floor plan quickly by clicking and dragging your cursor to draw walls. You can input the height of your ceiling, choose flooring and select colours for your walls.

Then you can drag and drop in furniture. RoomSketcher has a library of thousands of generic furniture items to choose from so all you need to do is select an item that is similar to what you would like to purchase and drag and drop it in place. You can then change the dimensions of the furniture.

The RoomSketcher software is not about putting the EXACT item of furniture you want to buy in your floor plan but is a generic approach. This is actually a good thing because it makes the planning process quick and easy. It also makes you focus on the scale and size of the items rather than the look which is what the floor plan is all about.

Upgrade for the good stuff

You can play around with RoomSketcher for free until your heart’s content but then you want to consider upgrading to the RoomSketcher Pro version to get the most out of it and generate 2D and 3D floor plans and 3D photos.

The cost for all this good stuff is USD 49 per year. This price includes 20 credits to spend.

(To give you a quick idea of cost: a project with 2D floor plans is 1 credit, a 3D floor plan is 2 credits, a 3D photo is 1 credit).

RoomSketcher has a panoramic 360 view so you can basically move through your room. This is a great tool to check for the amount of space around your furniture, a clear thoroughfare etc.


What you want to achieve with a floor planner:

Find the optimal position of furniture:

Place the largest item first, such as the bed, table or sofa. Move it around the room to consider and discount all possible options for its best position.

Add any existing furniture that you intend on keeping and move these items to fit around your largest item.

Insert additional furniture that you need to buy.

Find the optimal combination of furniture:

Play around with various shapes, sizes and combinations of furniture. Don’t have your ideas set in stone just yet.

If you have your mind set on buying a round dining table, at least insert a rectangular one and play around with dimensions to see how well it fits before discounting it.

Remember what we talked about back in Lesson 1 about considered use of space? Aim for a space that doesn’t feel too empty or too full.

Find the optimal proportions of furniture:

Now is a good time to use the panoramic 360 view and take a virtual walk through your room to check just how much space you have when moving around and if the dimensions of furniture need tweaking.


To summarise this lesson in one sentence:

Find the best possible position, combination and proportion of items for your room and you are on your way to Pro stardom!



[][] Colour for the Hesitant


Colour is fundamental in home decorating. Even the absence of colour makes us think of colour! Powerful stuff huh?!

Turning Pro requires you to embrace colour wholeheartedly. You will learn to love it if you don’t already, my friend.

I’m going to show you exactly how to pull together no-fail colour combos that suit you, your room and your room’s situation.

Let’s get stuck in, shall we!

Start thinking of colour as a tool rather than as decoration.

Colour can achieve many things for your room, including:

p<>{color:#000;}. Warm up a cold room

p<>{color:#000;}. Make a room more intimate or larger than it actually is

p<>{color:#000;}. Create a restful or energetic atmosphere

Here are some essential questions for you about colour, which you will be able to answer with ease. Once you have these answers your colour choices will dramatically decrease and you will have a better sense of where to head.

These two questions are essential to MOVE FORWARD WITH COLOUR. They need to be considered TOGETHER:  

p<>{color:#000;}. Is the natural light in your room chilly or warm?

p<>{color:#000;}. Do you want a relaxing or stimulating atmosphere in your room?

If you have a chilly room with little sun you need warm colours to warm it up. But you may also want a relaxing atmosphere and many warm colours are too stimulating to achieve relaxation. See where I’m going with this?

Warm colours are notoriously more difficult to work with than cool colours. Warm Colours connect with longer wavelengths of light so our eyes must adjust more to see them. That’s why red, orange and yellow jump out and stimulate us. They will also close a room in and make it smaller than it actually is. So be careful about how you use warm colours.

Let’s get specific about your best warm colour options:

(Because I’m all about hitting you up with EXACT advice):

Red will warm up a chilly room but it can over-stimulate.

Think of Pink as a lighter tone of red. It can also over-stimulate unless you use a very pale tone which isn’t going to give you enough warmth.

If you’re desperate to use orange think muted earthy tones again, like burnt orange or brick red.

Yellow is uplifting and cheerful but very hard to get right.

All these colours make great accents; while as background shades you should avoid painting a whole room in any of them. A feature wall of wallpaper including these colours can however be a really exciting option!

Better Choices:

A superior background choice, and slightly more unusual, than any of the usual suspects is a light earthy pink (emphasis on earthy) which is a great relaxing background colour minus the feminine tones.

Brown in all its varieties of depth or tone is a very versatile colour and because of its earthy timeless tint it is a shade that we can easily tolerate in large doses.

Neutral earthy mid tones are perfect options to warm up a room. Look at colours with names like biscuit, nougat, burnt umber and burnt sienna. A bland look is the main risk with these colours so bring it to life by sharpening it with black, freshening it with white or balancing it with a vivid colour.

If you are after a seriously cosy and intimate space use a deep rich red.

Note: No amount of pale tints or white will make chilly rooms appealing because of the cool and gray light.

Did you know that Green is the most restful colour of all because our eyes have to adjust the least to see it?

Green is the ultimate colour in my book. I love it in every way!

It is soothing, refreshing, and fundamental in your home because it is the perfect partner to so many other colours. Make sure you use it!

Think turquoise, deep forest green, sea green or elegant jade. There is a shade for every mood and every room, for the background, accent and feature.

Cool colours naturally enlarge your space and is a great background colour, particular for rooms with good natural light.

Blue has a homely quality and looks sensational with white. It is of course restful and can be used in large doses.

Violet can be very sophisticated if handled right. It combines well with yellow which sits opposite on the colour wheel. The cool violet and warm yellow complement each other well.

Now we’ve cleared that up, let’s get down to business with Colour Schemes:


Two Fail-Safe Colour Schemes:

There are many techniques to bringing a colour scheme together, some more tricky to pull off than others. Here are two that are pretty much fail-safe and will look fantastic to boot!

Harmonious Colour Scheme:

Use a combination of colours that lie close to each other on the colour wheel (such as blues, blue-greens and grays or terracotta, brown and cream). They are naturally harmonious and a successful result is almost guaranteed.

Single-Colour Colour Scheme:

If  you have a favourite colour and it fits the context of light in your room (for example your favourite colour is blue and your room is bright so it doesn’t need warm colours to take the chill off), base your scheme on different tones and shades of your favourite colour.

It is essential that you do these two things if you want to pull this off successfully:

Mix all three variations of your colour:

Tint – a lighter version of your colour

Shade – a darker version of your colour

Tone – a softer version of your colour

It is quite easy to incorporate tints and shades but the key is to not skip tonal variations of your colour otherwise your room will look like it walked straight off a paint manufacturers colour chart. We don’t want that!

An easy way to ensure you pull this off is to find your main colour on a paint manufacturers colour chart. Now look straight up from your colour to find your tint, look straight down from your colour to find your shade and look sideways both ways on your colour chart for your tone.

Offset your scheme with lots of neutral tones or white. 


Looking for a bit more Va Va Voom?

I like your grit! The Complementary Colour Scheme might be your thing. This needs some careful handling though.

A complementary scheme is made up of a pair of colours loosely opposite each other on the colour wheel. Think a beach vibe of aqua walls and canary yellow accessories or soft shell pink walls and sage green cushions.

Proportion is the key to pulling this off: one colour should be the main feature and use the other as an accent.

Whew. We are almost there.


But I can’t let you go until I share a few very important things about NEUTRALS with you:

Do you want to use one neutral colour throughout your home? (I know there are many of you and that’s okay)

Here’s what you need to do:

Vary its strength from room to room to cater for the different light qualities. Choose a darker tone in rooms with good natural light and a lighter tone in rooms with dim light. Most paint companies offer a colour in full, half, quarter and eighth strength so only the tone (light and dark variations) needs adjusting.

Accent with colourful accessories and mirrors to help your chosen colour live up to your expectation! Decorating with colourful accessories against a neutral backdrop is a great option, especially when you don’t feel confident using colour on a bigger scale.


Consider the paint finish: A very bright room may benefit from a matte paint finish to lessen the reflective glare and a very dim room, and hallways, may benefit from a low sheen or mid sheen paint finish to reflect what little light there is.


Okay, now we are done!

The next chapter is all about bringing the elements together. This is the very core of home decorating, so keep reading.



[][] Bringing the Elements Together


I just want to say right now that I am SUPER impressed with your commitment to becoming a Decorating Pro. If you’ve made it this far, you are Awesome! I know this is a lot of information, but I also know you have what it takes to turn Pro. Right, let’s get stuck into this juicy lesson, shall we?

Remember how we talked about cohesion way back in the first chapter? Seems so long ago, doesn’t it. We now need to explore this much deeper.

We need to finalise our PREPARATION and PLANNING by bring all our elements together in one place. You probably know this as creating a ‘mood board’ and you’d be right, but I just want to clear one thing up about the mood board:

The perception out there is that the mood board is used to convey inspiration for your room but that is wrong.

You need to create a mood board to see if all the elements work well together.There is little point in doing all the hard work up to this point and then skipping this process.

Do not skip this process.

You need to make sure that you are bringing perfect partners together in your room that make each other a hundred times better than if they were on their own. Seeing images of everything together in one place will really help you to work this out.


Here’s how to do it:

Snip images from the websites of all the items you have selected to buy for your room (I use the free Snipping Tool which comes with Microsoft Windows).

If you’ve got your eye on incorporating items you’ve found in a physical shop you should have gone all design-pro on me and taken photos and measured it up. Haven’t done that? Get your booty back out there!

You also want to photograph and include those items you already own and plan to integrate into the new design.

Now that you’ve gathered your hoard of gorgeousness, arrange all the images together so you can see them all at the same time. It doesn’t matter where you arrange them. Electronically in a Word document table is perfectly adequate or you may want to print the images out and arrange them on a table. Just make sure that the print quality is sufficient to analyse the colours well.

Be practical about how you arrange the images. They should be organized in a similar way to how they would be laid out in your room.

Imagine if you have found three different cushions, all from different suppliers, which you plan to put on your new sofa with a specific paint colour behind. Arrange images of all these in a group, don’t put one cushion way down the next page and expect to be able to decide if all the cushions look great together!

Now your mood board is in place, here’s how to analyse it:

Do my choices fit into my loosely chosen style?

Go back to your inspiration and assess if your chosen items fit the style and inspiration you were trying to achieve at the beginning of the project.

Perhaps your vision has developed and shifted since you began, and that is great! It means that you have naturally listened to your gut and developed a design that is truly uniquely your tastes. That is what great design is all about! Hurray to you!

If you are disappointed that your choices aren’t living up to your original vision, try to pin-point the items that fall outside the vision the most and be definite about replacing them.


Does any one thing say ‘Over here, look at me, look at me!’?

If it does, do you intend for it to be your WOW object in your room? If you don’t then you need to replace it with something less demanding on the eye. Find something else where the colour and/or details aren’t so loud. Remember, you are aiming to create a sense of progression and harmony so the eye is not jarred by a sudden change in tempo.

Having that one WOW object in your room is a great thing (imagine a striking painting above the fireplace mantel) BUT you don’t want it to demand so much of your attention that you miss all the other loveliness in the room.

Have your heart set on keeping that one thing that demands too much attention? Perhaps your painting has a lot of black in it which is too distracting for the rest of your room which is all soft whites, pink and turquoise. Level your room out by sprinkling that demanding thing (in this case more black) throughout your design: Add some black lamp shades, cushions with black accents, black and gold photo frames.


Are my colours working well together?

You don’t want to have too many colours that your room is so busy, nor too few colours that it is so matchy-matchy and predicable! So, what is the happy medium?

I think that five colours are about right.  For a fail-safe strategy, divide your colours into percentages:

60% of a dominant colour that unifies the room

30% of one or two secondary colours that provides the visual interest

10% of one or two accent colours which provides that little sparkle

Make sure all your colours are spread evenly around the room to carry your eye throughout.


Are my furniture choices unified?

Is your furniture loosely the same wood colour or fairly evenly divided among two wood colours?

Are metal features loosely the same colour?

Is your furniture similar in height to function well together?

Are the features similar (i.e. rounded arms or square arms)?

Are my pattern choices breaking any of the rules?


You do have pattern in your design, right? Pattern lifts your design above Amateur and positions it firmly with the Pro’s. 

Make sure your choice of patterns follow the pattern rules from back in chapter 1. Ensure that your design meets these rules and you have a no-fail design.


Rely on your gut instincts

 If something doesn’t quite sit well with you, but you don’t know why, go ahead and find a replacement to see if you can improve it.



[][] Reject Design that is Safe or Boring


Do you have a favourite fashion store that you always leave with that perfect something? Having that store is awesome, right?! Do you also have a favourite home store? I HOPE NOT!

Say whaaaat?!

Do not buy everything for your home in one place.

It doesn’t matter how awesome that store is, or how little time you have at your disposal. You’ve come this far so don’t do yourself a disservice by cutting corners now.

You must avoid creating a matchy-matchy home with zero character at all costs and that requires you to branch out.

It requires a lot of dedication to add character, but you need to be patient if your home is going to have any chance of being better than boring.

Sometimes this process will take more time than you hoped but with so many online home stores at your fingertips, it is all in the research rather than the waiting.

When I am hunting for that perfect item for a client, I will keep looking and looking and eventually after more time researching than I care to admit, that item is found and I am super happy I just looked a bit more.

Think outside the box. Consider having an item shipped from overseas. Go to auctions and second-hand shops. Look on Craigslist and Ebay.

I have one important thing to say about the ‘big wait’:

I am a big advocate for completing your home decorating efficiently. I want you to be able to sit back and lust after your handiwork ASAP not grovel in what is hopefully still to come.

When you can’t find that special item, you need to insert an image of your ideal item in your mood board so you know exactly what you are looking for. You can get the decorating underway in the meantime.


To guarantee that your home will not be safe and boring I have created a VERY SPECIFIC set of things that you can integrate into your design. If you really want to ramp up the success factor of your design you need to incorporate ALL the elements on this list.

You know I like to be super specific around here, because it’s all about me helping you get that Pro design action happening, baby!


THE TEMPTRESS works to draw you in to the room. It’s the thing that captures your eye from the adjoining room. Find the optimal location for your temptress so she can do her job well. It could be a stunning glass sculpture, a patterned rug or a sculptural coffee table.

THE WOW OBJECT is what you are drawn to first once you are in the room. It takes optimal position in your focal point and demands that you look at it. Imagine a striking painting above the fireplace mantel or patterned wallpaper on a feature wall.

THE COZY ITEM enticed you to stay. It’s that thing that says “Sit down my friend and take a load off”. A thick plush rug, a luxurious cashmere throw or a deep sofa or chair with lots of cushions speaks in those words.

THE EYE-RAISERS are the things that make you look up. This one is often left unchecked so make sure you don’t forget it! An over-arching floor lamp or an eye-catching pendant light is a classic to create height.

THE ODDBALL invites the eye to stop and look closer. It is the true conversation starter in your room, prompting your guests to ask about it. It might be that thing you got in Timbuktu or that crazy smiling fox sculpture!

THE LIVING ITEM brings nature inside. Flowers and indoor plants add texture and life to your room otherwise it will lack soul.

THE PERSONALS are your day-to-day items like books you’re reading, a basket of magazines and your candles. Sentimental items like family photos, and inherited objects should also be on full display.


The next chapter is arguably the most important lesson if you really want to fall in love with your home.



[][] Make a Real Home Not a Show Home


The final thing on your road to becoming a Decorating Pro is to make your home speak to you. A dull or lifeless room can really come alive with well selected and placed accessories and decorative items. But don’t make the mistake of adding accessories to purely dress up your home.

Accessories are the items that represent you, your family and your personality

They are your personal belongings on display.

You want your home to look like it is unmistakeable that you live there. It should give you that warm embrace when you walk through the door.

Of course your accessories should complement your design and add aesthetic value to your room, not work against it so make sure your accessories fit with your room’s style and colour scheme.

Look through your collections, mementos and other objects that you’ve acquired over the years. Along with essential family photos, they may include things like wall art, cushions or fabric that can be made into cushions, antiques, heirlooms, sculptures.

When you do come to buy accessories make sure they are things you can’t bear to walk away from.


The Art of Display

So you have a collection of little ceramic elephants? Don’t make the mistake of scattering your collection throughout your home. Small objects disappear in a room but grouping adds visual significance, so gather up your beloved collection and display them proudly and properly in a group.

Symmetry works well when it comes to lamp flanking a sofa but groupings of accessories in a symmetrical arrangement can look overworked, and generally give off a formal feel. Depending on the mood you want to evoke, group items in odd numbers for a more relaxed vibe.

Find a common relationship between the items you are grouping. Normally there is a colour theme but not always like in the case of the little elephants.

Sometimes less is more. Don’t feel you have to fill a space for it to work. There is no reason why you shouldn’t place a few carefully selected objects on one side of a mantelpiece only.

Group objects of differing heights. Begin by placing the largest item first then the next tallest. Step back often to assess the arrangement until you are satisfied with the arrangement.

Vary textures to create visual interest. For example, group a blue glass sculpture with a blue pottery jug and a blue shell, or put a jacquard throw pillow on a silk-upholstered armchair.

When it comes to art, buy one great piece that you really love rather than six mediocre ones. See it as a chance to express yourself not simply fill up the walls.

Move things around every few months to refresh the look and feel of your home



[][] Being a Decorating Pro is So Much More than Having a Good Eye


If you’ve made it this far, you have the [*drive, discipline, and motivation *]it will take to turn your home into one that belongs in a magazine. Thanks for sticking with me!

Let’s sum-up the things you’ve learned with Become a Decorating Pro.

You need to plan your decorating project from start to finish before you start spending money and that requires serious preparation.

A well designed room has five elements: a distinct style, cohesion, considered use of space, layers of colour and pattern and unpredictability.

Choose a combination of styles and you have a loose barrier to work within without it being so loose that you start walking into no-man’s land.

Find your inspiration, analyse it and let it guide you for a guaranteed successful end result

Create a floor plan to find the best possible position, combination and proportion of items for your room.

Think of colour as a tool to warm up a room, create a mood and perception of size. Be careful how you use warm colours.

Use a mood board to check if all the elements work well together and have cohesion.

Find ways to create an interesting home and strategically position items to pull you into a room, demand your attention, encourage you to stay and peak your interest.

Create a real home that evokes your personality wholeheartedly by arranging your personal belongings on display.


By now you know that I don’t have time for vague ideas and “pretty pictures”. I created Become a Decorating Pro to get some bona fide VERY SPECIFIC ADVICE out there that you can really use.

I hope that you have got immense value out of this e-book and I have achieved for you what I set out to.


One final thing to take away from this course:

Work your butt off preparing and planning to buy the right things and you will see how much it will really pay off in your designs.

Decorating your home so it looks like it was designed by a Pro, without hiring a Pro, is absolutely possible and you are now smarter and way more equipped to do that. I know you will pull it off so get to it with confidence!





Get my free 25-page manual to accompany this course.

This manual  is based on all the lessons outlined in this course and has been designed to easily and practically guide you as you carry out your decorating project.

It will help you create a killer strategy and keep you on track to success.

Don’t miss this essential Pro Decorator’s companion!

Download it here: http://bit.ly/INhzrKh



About the Author


Suzanne Barker is the founder and editor of the InHowzer blog where she helps people become savvy decorators so they can transform their home into one they love on their own terms.

She is also an online interior designer who creates bespoke decorating solutions for her clients so they can take control and decorate their own home with her professional guidance.


Catch up with Suzanne on Instagram or say hello on Twitter!



 P.S. If you appreciated this free e-book, I would be super excited if you were to review it and share it with your friends.  Thanks; you’re the best!

Become a Decorating Pro

All the vague interior design advice out there is NOT going to help you decorate successfully! If you want success you need to undertake some serious planning and preparation. And that means you need to approach your project like a Pro. You need to follow the right Method for success. I want to share with you my exact step-by-step Method I use to decorate for my clients. This e-book shows you exactly how to prepare and plan an interior design for your home that I guarantee you will love. I am not going to dish out your average decorating advice. This advice is not what you’ve read all over the place and it’s not what you find in decorating magazines. If you are ready to put a hold on your purchases and do your homework so you know you are spending your money in the right way and be sure that you are on the path to success then this course is for you. It’s time to designing like an Amateur and start learning how to decorate your home like a Pro! Suzanne Barker is the founder and editor of the InHowzer blog where she helps people become savvy decorators so they can transform their home into one they love on their own terms. She is also an online interior designer who creates bespoke decorating solutions for her clients so they can take control and decorate their own home with her professional guidance.

  • Author: Suzanne Barker
  • Published: 2016-03-02 05:40:10
  • Words: 9417
Become a Decorating Pro Become a Decorating Pro