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When a team of decorators suggested hanging heavy silk drapery over a window in Tammy Berry’s Fort Lee, New Jersey, luxury condo that provided a spectacular view of the New York City skyline, Berry decided to test her own design instincts. Her husband, a professional athlete, was slightly skeptical but supportive and pleasantly surprised when he returned home. Their guests were also impressed and began asking Berry for her assistance — which she gladly gave.
Berry, 38, says her interest in decorating was nurtured by her mother, who currently owns Carrie’s Consulting and Design in Danville, Virginia.
Berry, who works as a realtor, has been helping others decorate their homes for nearly 10 years. She has spent over $200,000 decorating her homes over the years and says she has run out of decorating space in her current residence, a 17,000-square-foot mansion in Saddle River, New Jersey. Neither is size restrictive to Berry, who designs spaces as small as studio apartments.
Berry, who gains most of her clients through word of mouth, four years ago, formed Tammy’s Touch. She prides herself on being attentive to the budgetary and style needs of her clients. “Everybody has an idea of what they want,” says Berry. “But they often get overwhelmed or don’t have the knowledge to do it.” Her biggest thrill is seeing the finished product. “It doesn’t feel like work,” she offers.
Know the terms. Katie Thomas of the American Society of Interior Designers says there’s a distinction between interior decorating and interior design. “Interior decorating is the application of finishes, i.e. wallpaper, fabrics, furniture,” says Thomas. “Designers are formally trained to prepare drawings and documents related to design of interior spaces.”
Take a course. Thomas suggests enrolling in an interior decorating course online or at a local school. Berry didn’t take classes, but worked as an apprentice under two decorators.
Go online. Check out FabJob.com (www.fabjob.com/tips197.html), which offers information and advice on becoming an interior decorator. It also includes information on portfolio preparation.