Exploring The Art Of Interior Design

There are those who say that good taste can’t be taught, but HL's former decor editor proves that it doesn’t hurt to enhance your interior design knowledge.

Graeme Wyllie, Supplied
Interior Design | House and Leisure
A room setting styled by Chrizanda Botha for House and Leisure's October 2017 issue.

Having spent the past four years as the decor editor of House and Leisure, Chrizanda Botha is well-versed in the art of interior design.

Her refined taste can be seen not only in the numerous decor shoots she has styled for the brand, but also in her personal aesthetic. 

Interior Design | House and Leisure
Chrizanda Botha.

Now Botha is taking all that she has learnt in the world of magazine publishing and using it to start her own business. But first, she is completing an online short course in interior design through GetSmarter to cement her decor knowledge. 

We chatted to Botha to find out more about the course, what she has learnt so far, and how she hopes it will help her take the next step in her career.

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Talking Interior Design With Chrizanda Botha

Tell us about yourself and your career experience so far.

I used to be in PR and marketing, but in 2016, I decided to change direction and do what I love, which brought me to House and Leisure. I had the best time at the magazine and, by working alongside a really creative and talented team – especially former editor Tiaan Nagel – I've learnt a lot.

I recently resigned and bought a shop called Summerhouse located in Cape Town’s Willowbridge Shopping Centre. Its core business is selling custom cushion covers and upholstery, as well as offering reupholstery services and curtain making. 

Who is your favourite interior designer?

I want to say Axel Vervoordt, but that's just too obvious, right? He’s simply amazing and everyone's favourite!

So instead I’ll say Sophie Ashby of Studio Ashby. Time after time, she manages to bring authenticity to a space. Her projects don't ever look 'decorated', but rather as if the homeowner has collected the pieces over time. She'll always include a few antiques and family heirlooms, giving her interiors a personal yet sophisticated feel. Ashby also has a real talent for selecting good colours and fantastic fabrics. Locally, the guys from Tonic Design also master this. 

Why did you choose to study interior design with UCT and GetSmarter?

I want to learn the facts of what I think I know. Does that make sense? I feel like my experience and interests have taught me a lot, but I’m not sure what is really correct according to the book and if I can actually give advice. So I’d like to learn that, and how to use SketchUp design software.

Tell us more about the course content and what you've been learning.

I’m only halfway through the course, but I think that everyone will get something out of it – be it the history of significant design periods and how some are still relevant today, or the psychology of colour. 

All of that is super interesting, but I find the hardworking parts of the course to be the most helpful. Like, how much paint do you need for a certain sized wall and which paint is better on what surface? Which flooring solution solutions are best for residential versus commercial properties? How do you tackle an interior design project: where do you start and what is expected of you? 

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What are you most enjoying about the course?

Even though this is only a 10-week course, it is really preparing us to become professionals in the field. 

I also appreciate how our assignments are assessed with feedback and advice on how to improve our answers. This is very helpful and valuable.  

And what has been the most challenging or surprising aspect of it?

The time I spend crafting a design. It’s this love-hate thing where you know you are way over the estimated 300 minutes this assignment should take, and you've done everything you can to perfect it, but you try to do even more because it's so rewarding. 

What really took me by surprise was how long it takes to learn how to render a design. I’ve Googled every SketchUp shortcut possible and watched endless Youtube videos, but I still feel like I'll have to practice SketchUp daily before I’m totally comfortable using it.

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By taking this course, what are you hoping it will do for your career?

I'm hoping for added confidence when giving advice to clients. As I said before, I want to learn if what I think I know is actually right, or if I should consider other elements as well. 

What's your top decor tip?

Don't ever lose 'you' when decorating a space. Authenticity and personality in a well-designed interior is king. 

Also, first formulate a complete design before attempting any decor project. By having a clear idea of your end goal, you can start small, room by room. 

Follow Chrizanda Botha on Instagram here.

Interested in a career in decor and design? Try an online short course in interior design, such as the one run by GetSmarter. To explore the range of courses available and get R2000 off the course of your choice, click here.