Interior Designer Teaches Function and
Beauty at MCCC This Summer


What if you suddenly found yourself with an empty room in your home - and a bottomless wallet. Would you know how to create the room of your dreams? Interior designer Joyce Kelleher of Lawrenceville helps people realize their home design dreams in a certificate program she developed in cooperation with MCCC's Center for Continuing Studies. Six noncredit classes taught by professional designers will be offered this summer, starting with Kelleher's "Basic Interior Design" from May 30 - July 18. (All classes may be taken on an individual basis.) Classes are held on MCCC's West Windsor campus at 1200 Old Trenton Road.

According to Kelleher, from the time she began teaching at Mercer almost three years ago, the community interest in interior decorating was evident. "The first course went well, and from then on, not only were classes full, there was a waiting list," she said.

Interior designer Joyce Kelleher presents
noncredit classes at Mercer that lead to a
certificate in interior design.

Summer classes begin May 30.

Generally participants seek out the classes for their personal home projects or because they are interested in starting an interior decorating business. Kelleher notes that the field has really taken off with the help of the HGTV network, home design reality shows, and design magazines.

Teaching is yet another facet of Kelleher's successful 30-year career. With a degree from Pratt Institute in New York City, she has spent most of her professional life as a hands-on designer, creating interiors for homes, small businesses and large corporations, including a position as director of interiors for a national architectural firm. Presently she is a designer for architects and residential clients.

The basic design class "hits the high points," says Kelleher, including topics such as the history of furniture and interiors, furniture layouts, window treatments, color schemes, and accessories. Additional summer classes will cover a wide range of design elements in more detail, including "Color and Lighting in Today's Interiors" from May 31 - June 21; "Principles of Design" from June 4 - June 18 and July 16 - July 30; "Basic Drafting and Design Studio I" from June 5 - Aug. 7; "Fabrics, Finishes and Window Treatments" from June 28 - July 19; and "Furniture and Wall Arrangements" from July 25 - Aug. 8. The interior design certificate program, which includes 11 classes in total, generally takes 12 to 18 months to complete. Participants must take four core courses and 45 additional classroom hours to earn the certificate.

As part of the introductory class, students complete their own design project, which Kelleher critiques along the way. "I ask them to establish a design concept, select furniture, arrange it in their room, and create a color scheme. At the end of the session, they present their designs to the class." Even students who are unsure of their tastes and preferences always manage to complete the project. "To identify tastes it's helpful to look at interior photos," Kelleher said. "My goal is to help participants envision a design that will work for them - one that is both beautiful and functional. I want them to be able to make design decisions with confidence."

For those interested in interior decorating as a career, Kelleher acknowledges "you have to have a natural interest and talent in design. You have to be able to relate to clients, and be ready to let them take you in a direction that suits their taste and lifestyle." A good designer also has reliable sources for furniture, fabric and accessories. "I encourage those interested in the field to work in a retail setting first to learn the business and how to deal with customers." She notes that interior decorators often gain new clients through word of mouth from other satisfied customers. The pleasing design of a room or even a single piece of furniture can lead to a job. "Part of starting out in the field is accepting even small jobs, which can often lead to larger projects," Kelleher said.

What's the style of the new century? According to Kelleher, the design of the times incorporates clean lines and a contemporary look, relying on earth tones such as beige and chocolate browns, with accents such as turquoise, blue and apricot. She notes, "These are not the muddy earth tones of the 1970s. These are soft, beautiful colors." But then again, Kelleher advises, just as in clothing, don't throw anything out. "If you wait long enough, it will come back in style."

To register for "Basic Interior Design" or other noncredit summer classes offered through MCCC's Continuing Education Division, call (609) 570-3311 or visit "noncredit courses."

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