Friday, March 2, 2012

Interior Design: School vs. No School?

Hello my lovelies!  I hope your Friday has been going well so far.  I am so excited it's the weekend!  I couldn't be more thrilled to have a few days to relax, spend time with friends, and sleep in!  Today I am posing a question to you beauties- and I am hoping you will comment with your thoughts!  There are so many wonderful interior designers out there.  I know that some of you went to school and got a degree in Interior Design, while some did not.   I know plenty of designers that have been successful going both routes.  Design is all in the details, and sometimes individuals just have that eye that can bring together a room nicely.


I posted here about my recent decision to pursue a Fine Arts Degree in Interior Design from the Art Institute of Houston.  I couldn't be more thrilled about this- mainly, because I am finally taking a step of faith and obeying my inner pull towards design!  I already have an undergraduate degree in Energy Management, a business degree, from the University of Oklahoma.  I graduated with this degree in the spring of 2010 and quickly went to work for an energy company in Houston, TX- where I reside today!  I am so grateful for my business degree and the knowledge and real-world experience I gained from interning with 2 companies and now working with another for close to 2 years.

{Graduation Day- May 2010, me, on the left, and my friend Grace}

I had no idea I had any sort of passion for interior design until after I graduated.  It only took decorating my first apartment to realize how much I truly enjoyed fusing different elements together to create an overall beautiful aesthetic.  Still, it took 2 years for me to really discover this was more than a hobby for me.  I have decided to get my degree because I want the confidence in understanding every element of design.  I will be taking classes in drawing, drafting, lighting, human elements, color fundamentals, architecture, and environmental and sustainable design.  Do I think I HAVE to take these classes to become an interior decorator?  No, not necessarily.  I realize bloggers do E-Design and are hired for residential projects without any interior design degree or background.  But for me, I feel it is important to take the time to understand the science of design and become more knowledgeable for future clients. 


But I want to hear your opinion- do you think I am making a mistake by going back to school?  Do you think it is unnecessary to spend thousands of dollars of my savings on an education?  Or do you think I am making the right decision?  I would love to hear your comments- and will take each one in to consideration.  I value your opinion! 


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59 comments:

  1. O girl, I think this is so awesome! You are definitely making the right choice, in my opinion. A little extra schooling never hurt anyone,especially when you are leaping into something new. It will most definitely help!! Best of luck to you :)

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  2. I am really impressed with your decision. I'm always on the look-out for an Interior Design class I could take in my spare time. Does the Art Institute of Houston let people audit classes? I think there is something to be said for having a good eye, but knowing the fundamentals also helps a lot to create good design.

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  3. I definitely think you need to obtain the RIGHT skills to be a successful interior designer, like how to hand draw a room in 1-point and 2-point perspective, how to computer draft a floor plan, how to read elevations and sections, how to create color and material boards and spec materials properly.

    And, you will be able to build your portfolio so you have something to show potential employers — it's a must, they are going to want to see if you've "got it" or not (which you do, but they don't know that yet!).

    Plus there's a big difference between a "decorator" and a "designer" and in order to be the later (certified, ASID) you need to have a degree (plus I think 2 years experience but perhaps that's changed since I've been in the biz).

    Lastly, I always feel that I need to be confident when I take something on that I actually know what I'm doing. I have no doubt that you are the same way, so knowing that you took the necessary steps and did all you can do, you won't feel like you're not prepared when you start looking for a full-time job. In the meantime, intern! You'll need the hands-on, every day skills too.

    You made the right choice because you are serious about your career path!!

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  4. If I were ever in the position to hire someone I'd want them to posses both. Having a good eye and understanding the basic elements of what makes a room work are things that cannot be taught. The ability to fix problem spaces and create complete transformations without the headache and money of trial and error are skills you will learn and extend to your clients. YOU my girl will have both up your sleeve! Even if you only ever use your knowledge to help style rooms and make spaces pretty you will never regret having that degree or skill set. You will only ever regret what you did not accomplish. That is advice from your older (but not by too much) blog friend!
    xoxox
    Julia

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  5. I think if you are looking for something beyond just the knowledge, I say go for it girl! Like you said, you want the confidence and learn the science behind interior design. This will make you that much more knowledgeable and you will make so many extra connections. Good for you, for pursuing your dream. It is scary!

    xoxo

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  6. hmm this is a tough one! I think that a lot of people do get hung up on credentials, so for someone just starting, the degree is an important step. I say at least take one semester of classes and see how much you get out of it. If there are things still to be learned, them continue, but if you feel like the knowledge is already something you have, then just dive right in!

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  7. Just found your blog and loving it! I agree with you, a good eye and talent for design are first and foremost, but too decided to get the degree so that I could know the science behind it and give clients the best possible value. I enjoyed learning the proper way to draw plans, and history of design and furniture. Little things that can make a big difference!

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  8. Hi! I don't think getting a degree in anything is ever a mistake. If you can afford it, I say go for it. As someone who has hired residential designers in the past, I always like to see what that individual's training actually is, whether its a degree or a really great internship, press or all three. I think this can only help you both in actual credentials and then later in networking. Good Luck and congrats!!!

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  9. I think youre very smart to continue with school. You dont want to regret NOT going to school. Not to mention you will learn so much more than you ever thought through the perspective of professionals and peers, an opportunity you could miss out on completely. As I'm sure you know from both your degrees, there's always something new to learn!

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  10. I received my degree and sure nothing really compares to hands on experience working on real projects with real clients, but school prepares you with all that technical stuff. Knowing how to read floor plans, drafting, etc. Getting your degree can only make you feel more confident.

    Good luck!

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  11. Good for you for pursuing the degree!!! You obviously have a passion and natural talent, but it can't hurt to educate yourself more!!! Good luck. xoxoox elizabeth

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  12. Hmm I'm not sure. It works out either way usually though. What a great plan!

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  13. Hi Sam! I absolutely think you're making the right decision! Good for you for going back to school after already having a degree in business. I know that must have been a difficult decision.

    I'm an interior designer and while I have my Diploma, not my Degree, I think it was pretty crucial to go through all of the courses, learn and absorb as much as you can. If you're planning on working for a firm, then you'll need some sort of educational background. If you work for yourself, maybe not so much, however, I think getting those BIG residential/commercial projects that all of us designers dream of, it always helps having an educational background to fall back on. That being said, you really don't get what design is all about until you're out in the working world and have experience with clients. I think you're first 2 years after you graduate are really important to hone your management and people skills. That's when you're dealing with peoples homes with REAL money and REAL deadlines!

    I worked at a firm before going out on my own and I needed that experience (even though there were more downs then ups) and it really gave me the confidence to work for myself and I wouldn't trade it for the world!
    I wish you all the best and good luck in school! Your blog is amazing and you're so lucky that you clearly have that natural talent! Feel free to email me if you ever get stuck.... amanda@twentyonetwo.ca

    Amanda

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  14. Hey lady :-) I def think it can only help you to get the degree. I have a degree in architecture but then transitioned to interior design and I wouldn't do anything to change that. The eye for design you are born with but working with scale, layout and balance can benefit from training. Go for it!

    xoxo
    eileen

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    Replies
    1. Hi Eileen.I am in a similar situation such as you but I have yet to decide on a masters finished my bachelors in architecture and now I'm thinking of either doing masters in interiors or furniture.do you think that it's worth doing a masters or one could just get into this speciality through work experience

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  15. I think Erika hit the nail on the head! I went to school for graphic design (similar to interior design) and could not have been more glad that I did. I learned more in those four years than I ever could have learned on my own. It makes all the difference in the world to be a studied scholar in your field, so I would encourage you to not question your decision.

    You will learn a lot from your peers and your professors, but it will also build your confidence when it comes to being an actual interior designer making day to day decisions : ) You'll have the knowledge to back up your already developed sense of style... just some thoughts!

    xoxo! AMK
    http://justmytypeblog.blogspot.com/

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  16. Going back to school isn't a mistake if you're into it and it strengthens your passion. I was in the interior design program at ASU for 2 years and left because it totally killed my passion. I feel like it was geared towards training commercial designers and those who wanted to work at an existing firm. I didn't want to do either. So, now I wish I'd used all that time and money to start my own thing.
    That said, I did learn a lot of good, technical stuff, just nothing I couldn't get out of a book/google.

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  17. First of all, I'm so excited for you that you're pursuing what you really love! It's a great inspiration for us all. Second, I really think you could be successful doing it either way. I think if you feel going to school is what you need, then that's what you should do! I think school vs. no school is a decision that is totally different for every individual. If you feel in your gut that it's right, then go for it!

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  18. Sam! I hope you are happy with the decision you made to go to school again for Interior Design. As a young woman who has wanted to be an interior designer since I was in middle school, I went into college saying I didn't want to have that as my major. After orientation was over in the summer before school started (I went in to orientation saying undecided), I immediately knew Interior Design was the right choice. Now, 2 and 1/2 years into the program, I have not once thought it was a mistake. As a reader commented above, if you can afford it, do it... FOR SURE. Like I told you a while back when I first emailed, I considered going to the Art Institute of Houston but my parents didn't want me to finish college where I am from. TCU's ID program is much much harder than where I was in U of Alabama so for that I am a lot more stressed but way greatful. Although I can't speak from a place of someone whose already graduated and gotten into the work force, I know that I will never think for a second that getting a degree in something I'm passionate about would be a mistake. Although it's tough that you didn't realize what you were really interested in in life until after you'd gotten your first degree, now you'll just be even more knowledgeable in a variety of subjects! You're going to succeed greatly with your major & I can't wait to see where it takes you :) Who knows, maybe we'll end up working at the same firm in Houston or something!! How fun would that be?! Best of luck (and happy weekend!) - Landi

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  19. I think you said it right: you don't HAVE to go to school to be an interior designer. Plenty of people are talented and driven enough to learn everything they need to know without school. I'm sure you could too, if you wanted. However, it seems clear that you WANT to go to school. If having an "official" education gives you more confidence as a designer, then I think it's completely worth the money. Personally, if I was going to make a career switch, I'd want to go to school for it.

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  20. As we would say here in Australia...Sammi...go for it, mate! : )

    All life is a long long lesson. Going back to school at your super young age is well worth it. I am 40 and I am still learning; I am currently doing a Diploma while simultaneously working as a full time artist...you could never waste an education.

    You have a good eye for design. I fully recommend you hone your skills to become a super-massive uber design talent. xo.

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  22. Hey girl! I am graduating right now with a undergrad degree in English, and am starting my degree in Interior Design next fall! To me, it will be completely worth it to learn everything needed. Also, where I live a degree is required to be a licensed designer. Having this licensed term allows us to legally make a lot of decisions about structural changes, etc. I think no education is a waste. Live and Learn!
    All the best to you. Happy to be going on the same adventure as a blogger I admire.
    Tiffany
    thedesignerlifestyle.blogspot.com

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  23. Sam! I think you are so inspiring for following your passion + making it a reality. I went back to complete my degree after working for a few years + it was the best thing I ever did as it opened up so many more opportunities for me than would have been possible having not had my degree. If you can afford it then absolutely, go for it! xx

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  24. I did the school route-while I'm glad I have the BFA, I'm not happy with the $72K I have in student loans (the Art Institutes are VERY expensive). If I had it to do all over again I probably would have just learned CAD and figured out another way in. Good luck!

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  25. Definitely a believer in a degree over here :) Of course eye for design, pattern, color, texture etc. is something that almost can't be taught, so it's important to have that God-given ability first! It's true, there are decorators who are super talented that never went to school, but there's something to be said for formal training, teaching and knowledge that would otherwise be forgone. Knowledge about lighting, sustainability, codes, requirements etc... There are so many things I've learned in school that I couldn't have learned elsewhere. Especially in this day, degrees are very important to get us jobs and have an edge on our competition :) Call me stuck up, but I also like that with a degree we can be called designers and not decorators :) So happy you're going to school for it- something you will never regret, I know it! :) xoxo

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  26. Yep, Michaela is 100% right! Maybe I'm biased because we're majoring in interior design together right now :) but I completely agree with everything she said. There are so many technical aspects of design that just have to be taught, and getting a degree is the best and most thorough way to do that! You will come out of school SO confident and happy with your decision. And your clients will trust you 10 times more knowing that you are formally trained. So that being said, congratulations to you on that decision, sooo exciting!! :)

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  27. How exciting!! This is definitely a dilemma that is worth a lot of thought and time, but I think you received some great feedback from everyone here! Someone i know here in Florida got her certificate in design from a community college to learn the fundamentals and was very successful in interior design and is extremely knowledgeable. Just another option to think about! I'm really excited for you girl! xoxo

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  28. You are not making a mistake at all...follow your heart, you certainly have a great eye. Paired with more knowledge, your creativity is just going to explode. Would love to cheer you on, on your journey!

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  29. i don't think you're making a mistake at all! some people really do have an innate talent and an eye for design (plus a passion for it), and i think it's a great idea to go to school and nurture it more. it is never a mistake to want something more for yourself and to want to better yourself. i admire you for going out there and pursuing your dream! :D

    <3, Mimi
    http://whatmimiwrites.blogspot.com/

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  30. Hi! Your blog is great and it is obvious this is a passion of yours. I work at an interior designer firm and never went to school for it; I went to University Of Maryland and studied Communications (graduated in 2009). I understand that this is a very important dilemma... so here is what I think. Of course, if money was no option, yes it would be great to further your education. However, school loans are no fun - I am paying them too - and the starting salary in the interior design world is not pretty. So, think long and hard about whether or not you want/can afford those payments on a mid thirty grand per year salary. Also, I have found that a lot of what you learn in college for design you either don't use or don't need. For example, the principal designer at my firm does not know how to do CAD and has never had to use it. Typically, there is a person or two at a firm who can do CAD and the other designers go to them when they need a floor plan drawn up. If you have natural talent, you can learn everything else you need to know along the way, as long as you work with people who are willing to take a few minutes to teach you now and then. Finally (sorry this is long! I only want to mention one more thing) you will find that there is SO much more to being a designer than learning to draw, CAD and what kind of fabrics there are. Working with clients is very personal because a home is a very intimate space. You have to be a great communicator, sometimes a therapist, and a million other things at once. Sometimes design itself is secondary. I really hope this helps! I know I was looking for help and advice before I got into design so you are lucky to get so much feedback on here. Good luck!

    xoxo
    www.styledesignlife.blogspot.com

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  31. I think it's a great idea to go back to school for interior design. Maybe you can do school part time and also intern at an interior design firm. I think it's very very veryyyyy important to also have experience as you come out of school. From school you'll learn the basis concept.. but from real life experience you'll learn the tips and tricks you can not get from school..

    but yea I think it's a great idea to go back. =) good luck. Let us know what you decide.

    bloglovetherapy.blogspot.com

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  32. Two years ago, I was more or less in the exact same situation you are in now. I ended up deciding to go back to school and definitely don't regret it. Yes, it's expensive. And yes, there were moments in school where I found myself wondering what the hell I was doing there. But in hindsight, it's amazing how much I didn't know before going back to school for interior design. I had the passion but very little by way of the technical skills. I also think there is something to be said for being in a creative, collaborative environment. I was pushed to be better than I thought I could be and a lot of that had to do with my classmates, whose ideas were sometimes seriously inspiring. It also opened my eyes to styles of design and architecture that I previously didn't appreciate all that much.

    Another commenter made a really good point about being a decorator vs. a designer. If you have a good eye, great sense of space, know where to shop and most importantly, have people that want to pay you to decorate their homes, you might be able to get away with not going to school. But to be a designer means that you have the ability to not just read but to also produce construction documents. And more than that, they need to make sense to contractors, architects, engineers, etc. Yes, there are designers out there who hire other certified designers or architects to do their drawings but personally, I wouldn't want to give up that much control of my projects. You should also check out what laws are in your state dealing with being NCIDQ certified. Essentially, if you are certified, you don't need architects or engineers to sign off on your drawings before they go for approval before the city. But I've heard passing the exam is rigorous at best and focuses entirely on building code and demonstrating that you understand the technical elements of design. It also requires that you work under another NCIDQ designer for a minimum number of hours (a lot of hours). I would imagine those jobs are difficult to secure without having the design education on your resume. There's a story about Kelly Wearstler losing a huge job in Las Vegas because she isn't NCIDQ and the state of Nevada requires it (CA doesn't).

    All that being said, I also interned and then worked part-time with design firms while in school and can say without a doubt that I learned things in those positions I never learned in a classroom. The biggest thing probably being resources. Being able to tap into an established designers resources is invaluable. So I would really recommend interning or working part-time while in school if you can. And truthfully, I'm not sure if having just the education on my resume would've gotten me the job I wanted out of school without the work experience to compliment it.

    I hope this helped and good luck! :)

    -Jennifer

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  33. A big thank you to everyone who has taken time to leave a comment with your thoughts, experiences, etc. I cannot tell you how appreciate I am of you all!

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  34. Hi Sam! Sorry we are getting to this a little late- we don't have great advice on this subject because truthfully we know NOTHING about design so unfortunately we don't feel like we would be the best people to give you advice. But, we can say to follow your heart with what you think is the right thing to do and we are sure you will end up in the right spot! Best of luck to you! xo

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  35. Definitely follow your dream and go with the design, but I would get a degree. It will give you a leg up with clients and give you more confidence. Can't wait to hear all about it!!

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  36. Sam, I think you definitely made the right choice by going back to school, not only you're going to learn a lot, but you'll enjoy it and that's very important. I know that there are a lot of people with great success that never went to school, but I think that having a degree definitely opens more doors than not having one.

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  37. Sam! I didn't know you went to OU! I graduated from OSU in 2009 and I am sure we have tons of mutual friends! So fun :)

    My story is actually really similar to yours. I got a degree in marketing and had no idea I wanted to pursue interior design until after college. I have just started taking classes but I am going the community college route. We actually have a really good design program at college in KC and it is so inexpensive. I am not going to get the full degree but take all of the classes to prepare for the certification exam. I totally agree with everything you said about having more knowledge for clients, etc. Best of luck to you!!

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  38. this is such a tough question.. real world experience is important, but having that degree is something you can always put on a resume! plus, if you're passionate about school, you should do it! "you can never be overdressed or overeducated!" -oscar wilde

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  39. Kudos to you sister for following your heart, your talents, and your passion. I am in kind of a similar situation, studying something that has NO interest to me anymore. I work in a hospital, yet hate it, and wish I could be blogging 24/7 or mastering up design spreads for a magazine. In the process of trying to figure out what I am supposed to do, but mainly and most importantly, what God wants me to do.

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  40. Hi Sam! I have my Bachelors degree in Interior Design. I would say if it is something you really have your heart set on, then go for it. An interior design degree is not easy, it is a lot of hard work and more goes into it that picking out color and materials. You will definitely have a lot of long nights working on projects. I know most Universities gear their design programs toward commercial design. After graduating, I must say that I learned more on the job than I did in school. I am currently a Commercial Interior Designer, but I do Residential on the side. School is a great way to be creative and do crazy things with your design work. You should definitely look for internships because that will help you tremendously and give you a leg up. Blogging is a great way to network, and use your creativity as well. Good luck to you! Feel free to contact me anytime if you have any questions.

    xo,

    Kristy

    www.idesignlove.com

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  41. Yes, I am Impressing with your post, fashion schools about Interior Design course is absolutely a great field in which a talented individual, with a lot of imagination, must activate. This field is extremely aggressive and more fashionable. Together with the choices in relation to Interior Design school & college studies, you can learn skills to assist you be successful

    ReplyDelete
  42. What a great post, Sam! I'm not a professional (by ANY means) so I can't say that I know how valuable a degree in interior design could be... but my guess would be VERY. As everyone else has said, it would teach you the ins and outs and details about design, not to mention probably help you network in the field. I think it's a fabulous idea! You should touch base with Courtney Lake over at Courtney Out Loud- he recently did a career change and is now going back to school for interior design. You could probably learn a lot from him!! Tell him I said hi! : ) Best of luck to you!

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  43. Hi honey! I haven't had time to properly respond to this post. I am going through the SAME thing! I have lots to talk about, but little time. I will try to e-mail soon. Hang in there! XO

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  44. Though formal education is important, one have to have practical experience to become an expert. Education alone, can not make you expert.

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  45. Interior design school vs no school is discussed here. Useful post
    Wall Coverings

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  46. One of the greatest obstacles the reasons people cannot obtain a accredited online degree programs is the fact that people do not have the time, money and energy to go to a University. However, every thing changed since the presence of the internet. Now, it is rather much possible to keep your career and at the same time frame study in order to get yourself a bachelor's degree. Precisely how? by taking the opportunity of understanding through online bachelor's degree programs . With online education one can operate and at the same time study while in the comfort of his home or office. This does not just mean conveinece of obtaining education but also ease. Keep in mind that obtaining a bachelors degree through on the internet education does not necessarily mean traveling to and fro the school college instead one can gain access to the educational supplies online- virtually anywhere the student wishes.

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  47. nice article on degree on interior designs from online it is interesting to know, it will be helpful for the people who love the interior designs.
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    ReplyDelete
  48. Hi, you given good description on interior designs. I am an Interior designers in Hyderabad . I impressed very much by reading your post.
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    ReplyDelete
  49. nice post on interior designs they are looking beautiful, thanks for the post.
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    ReplyDelete
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    ReplyDelete
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  52. You have given great information which helps people to think about interior designing and upcoming trends in this field. I am an interior designers in kukatpally . Please make updates so that we gain more knowledge. Thank you

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  54. Interior designing is a good career planning

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