No one knows everything, on that I believe we can all agree. The whole wide world is made up of areas of study, practice and expertise of which I know little or nothings, regardless of how interesting the field of study might appear. I look, with a bit of envy, at a friend who actually is a rocket scientist (he’s working on the unmanned mission to Mars) and whose work astounds me for its universal sized reach and for his deep knowledge of science, space and the universe as a whole. I feel I’ve accomplished something if I recall all the names of the planets. But in all fairness (to me) he says similar things when he accompanies me to antique auctions or sales. The history of furniture or art is a blank book in his mind and he sheepishly turns to me with wide eyed wonder as I converse about the provenance of this piece or that. Clearly we are masters of our own areas of expertise and our mutual respect for each other is the foundation of our friendship and of the many casual, educational moments we’ve shared.

But what if I wanted to actively educate myself on a subject in which I’d developed an interest but which I knew relatively little?

I’m asked this question by individuals interested in learning more about the worlds of design and decorating and my answer is simple; roll up your sleeves and become a student. That does not mean enrolling in a college level course (though that is an option in many urban areas) but it does mean understanding how you are wired to do your best and then discovering opportunities around you to learn.

Humans absorb new information in one of these Three Best Ways to Learn:

1. Auditory: If you are an auditory learner you learn by hearing and listening. You understand and remember things you have heard. You store information by the way it sounds, and you have an easier time understanding spoken instructions than written ones. If your field of learning is DIY design and decorating you might listen to books on tape, attend a lecture or participate in a webinar focused on design principles.

2. Visual: If you are a visual learner, you learn by reading or seeing pictures. You understand and remember things by sight. You can picture what you are learning in your head, and you learn best by using methods that are primarily visual. You like to see what you are learning. For the DIY design or decorating student this might mean attending museum lectures and tours, visiting antique and furniture dealers and traveling to architecturally important destinations might suit this type of learner very nicely.

3. Tactile: If you are a tactile learner, you learn by touching and doing. You understand and remember things through physical movement. You are a “hands-on” learner who prefers to touch, move, build, or draw what you learn, and you tend to learn better when some type of physical activity is involved. For the DIY student of design and decorating this might mean adding a floor-plan app to your iPhone or iPad and becoming proficient in its drawing and layout capabilities. This might also mean taking up weaving classes where the study of fabrics in key or it might mean a webinar or lecture on creating design boards filled with inspirational images, samples and sketches.

With the question of “how I learn” resolved you are free to explore all avenues of learning related to DIY design and decorating. There’s always something more to learn and there are many interesting and exciting avenues you can choose for self-education. Be a life-long student.