Laurie Morris has always had a keen eye for home décor, but it wasn’t until she studied Interior Decorating at Yorkville University that she gained the confidence-boosting insight into her chosen career to really hone her skills.
For more than 20 years, the recently named valedictorian of the Interior Design program worked alongside her husband at his home building business, Acron Construction, assisting clients draft their house plans and choose their finishings.
“Lots of times, my husband would have clients ask him to help with things like finish selections and so forth, but because he’s colour blind, he’d always say, ‘Go see my wife.’ So, I kind of got pushed into it, but I loved it anyhow and it just kind of evolved from there,” explained the self-described Sarah Richardson fan and Kootenay, BC native.
“But even though I have a natural ability, you always second guess yourself, because you don’t really know the rules or the reasons behind the things you do…And so I thought it would be really, really cool to be able to go to school and finally learn the science behind it all.”
After deciding to take the plunge in 2017, Morris said she began researching interior design courses she could take online – the only option available, given that she and her husband were undertaking a move to Spirit Bay, BC at the time.
In Yorkville’s “rigorous” two-year Interior Decorating Associate Diploma program, Morris not only found the flexibility she needed, but also the resulting credentials she was looking for.
“I didn’t want a fluffy course that taught you a little bit, but didn’t really give you anything that was recognized by the interior decorating industry. I wanted a program that was accredited,” she said, noting that she found that in Yorkville’s program, which is recognized by the Decorators & Designers Association of Canada (DDA).
While Morris was initially a bit skeptical about the value of some of her courses, she said those notions were quickly dispelled by Yorkville’s staff of industry-connected faculty.
“When I first started taking some of the classes, I thought, ‘What is the benefit of this particular subject?’ But as I would get into each course, I could see the value in it. The teachers were really, really helpful…and were always willing to put up with all my questions and assist me in any way they were able to,” she said.
“I love learning, so I really enjoyed the variety of stuff that we covered – whether it was home staging, or drafting, or you name it. I felt it was a well-rounded program that covered a lot of areas.”
Since graduating with her Interior Decorating Associate Diploma from Yorkville in March 2019, Morris said she’s been busy working with her husband to design, build, and decorate their own new home – a task made all the more easier, given her new expertise.
“I found that a lot of what I learned in school, I was able to incorporate into the house that we built and are living in right now,” she said, noting that she and her husband are also using their new house as a model home of sorts for prospective new clients.
“Because potential clients have been able to come into our home, they not only get to see my husband’s building work…but our house also gets to be a showcase for people in this new development to see my design skills, too.”
While the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented Morris from soliciting new clients outside of those whose homes her husband has built, she has plans to expand her outreach just as soon as things return to normal.
“Going into Victoria and the surrounding areas has been a little more difficult, but I anticipate being able to branch out as things settle down,” she said.
“But really, right now I have all the work I need, and I’m getting jobs done so that I can build my portfolio.”