I think our strength at How to Decorate and Stage brings to the table, is our ability to create easy to follow systems. For example, when I began teaching Interior Redesign 20 years ago, I spent a year analyzing spaces until I saw patterns emerge that resulted in a perfect room every time. Now let me show you our great Bookshelf Styling System-easy as V, X, Z.

1. First of all, determine the purpose of the shelves. Do they serve as a home library to showcase purely books, or is it a decorative and functional space composed of books and decorative elements. For our purpose, let’s talk about the latter. To start the process, just like redesigning a room, empty the shelves to work with a clean canvas. As you do so, sort so all the books are together, photos together, accessories together, etc.

2. Easy as A-B-C…well actually V-X-Z. Determine your anchor piece or pieces by placing largest items first. Create a V, X, or Z, either upright or inverted, with your anchor pieces and build from there. Your core anchor piece should be placed in the power zone area at about 54” from floor to center. The eye will be drawn here first.

Adjust shelf heights so you create an interesting composition. Create further interest by wallpapering or painting the back of your bookcase.  If you are unsure of something that permanent, cut foam core boards to size, then wrap or paint,  and pop in to create an interesting background. Make the foam core multi-purpose by making each side a different color or fabric to change with the seasons.


Watch for Part 2 for more ideas and insight.




The field of interior decorating and its various niches, such as Home Staging and Color Consultations, are in hot demand.  HGTV, DIY, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram and more have created an unprecedented interest in the art and science of decorating. As you watch today’s “Deco-lebrities” transform a room in an hour, it seems fun and exciting and can send a confusing message.  For any of you in the business, you know this is hard work…but so gratifying. It takes more than talent to grow a clientele and a successful business. Enjoy our tips that will help you go from aspiring to established.

1. Start building content on social media and a blog.
Even if you are still in the simply curious stages, start building online credibility with content.  When you are ready to launch your business, you will have pre-established your connection to the industy.  Credibility is important so your future clients feel like they can trust your abilities.

2. Find your trades people.
You will need access to multiple contractors, electricians, painters, and more.  Start building that list now by asking friends and family who they would suggest. Talk to your local building supplies store and ask them for references. Also, take the time to build relationships with them. I can’t tell you how many jobs I have scored over the years, that were referred by my painter or electrician.

3. Find Vendors.
When you begin, you may focus on retail shopping for your client. But as your business grows, you will want to acquire to the trade only and wholesale vendors. This will allow you to make more money and also provide your clients with unique resources. Subscribe to industry magazines like Furniture Today and Home Accents Today. If you have the opportunity attend a Trade Show like AmericasMart in Atlanta or Las Vegas Market.

4. Get Organized.
Face it…if you are a creative, there is a good chance that you are not very organized.  It is the nature of the beast. In the early years, I cheated myself out of money by losing receipts, not having an ordering and tracking system, and losing samples.  In today’s digital world, it is somewhat easier but there will still be a paper trail and samples that will need to be tracked.  Create a separate office area that doesn’t have to double as the dining room table, if possible.  Have places to store samples and use vinyl see through pouches to keep paint, fabric, and flooring samples for each client.  I actually placed them in a 3-ring binder alphabetically by client. 

 5. Remember, this is your business…but you work for them. 
Your job is to create beautiful rooms and if that was all…it would be so easy.  But you have to deal with people and that can be a challenge. You will have to adapt your conversation and presentation style to fit the client. Remember the old adage, God gave you 2 ears and 1 month, so listen twice as much as you talk. Often times our creative brains get in the way and the wheels start spinning.  In the process, we forget about that communication and connection with the client.  Really hear what they say and create a room that delights them…this isn’t about you. 

6.  Don’t be afraid to fire a client. 
Watch for red flags that could signal a tough client. Don’t let the seduction of being paid for a job get in the way of your peace of mind.