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NDA Diploma Student Spotlight: Belinda Musonza

To begin with, most NDA Interior Design Diploma students use their new found skills to improve their own homes. The focus of our latest Student Spotlight is no exception. Meet Belinda. Belinda used the skills she learnt on the Professional Diploma in Interior Design to help renovate her townhouse in the Cayman Islands. By Module 10, the house was ready for sale. It sold within 1 viewing! We caught up with Belinda to find out more….

From Midlife Crisis to Fulfilling Dreams

Several years ago, I used to watch a show homes program where 2 designers competed to transform the blank canvas of a show home into something spectacular. I always used to wish that I could be like one of these Interior Designers! It never ceased to amaze me how Interior Design could bring life, purpose, beauty, and functionality to a space that was almost considered ugly, obsolete or an eye sore.

Working full time plus financial commitments, I had no idea of how I could study Interior design and still keep my job. The desire was there but was just pushed to the back burner. I continued to watch the shows and read the Garden and Homes magazines as usual thinking one day….

After purchasing my 3 bed townhouse I had a rude awakening of how much I needed to do to make it more light, airy, and aesthetically pleasing to my taste. All the quotations for the design and renovations were far and above, and beyond my budget. Watching YouTube videos was not enough to equip me for the amount of work I needed to do. It was all overwhelming, and yet I was determined to transform this space on a budget.

Out of despair, at the age of 48, whilst surfing the web at midnight, wondering if I was going through a midlife crisis, I discovered the National Design Academy UK, and the flexible study options. Now that was an idea, I mean, I could really fit the Interior Design studies around my work schedule!

I signed up for the in-studio course, but the Pandemic changed all that, and I ended up studying online.

The Project

My 3 bed, 3 bath townhouse was 12 years old at the time of purchase. It was sold part furnished so I was stuck with furniture I didn’t even choose. I had 1907 square feet living space and no idea what to do with it! To get it ready to sell I needed to completely update every room without spending a fortune or getting other people in to do the work. 

The appliances were old, the furniture was outdated and bulky. The wall paint was dark. The kitchen cabinetry needed some TLC and no amount of elbow grease could bring the bathtubs back to their former glory.

All in all, the home lacked personality and character and I knew I would struggle to sell it as it was. 

The Process

The NDA’s online diploma course worked perfectly for me. As I covered every unit I tried to implement the theory into practice, be it on a small scale as a quick makeover or  more emphatically – I carried out an entire bathroom renovation!

The diploma course equipped and gave me the foundation knowledge on creating a scheme, all the way through to choosing materials, calculating and costing each project.

Because of the scale of the project, in the end there were some things that I had to get help on. The contractors and tradesman I approached quickly noticed that I had some background knowledge. which helped no end as I knew that I was getting the right advice. It also made it easier to ask for what I wanted as I had the technical knowledge. I became my own designer, and project manager from start to finish!

Sometimes the process was too stressful, and overwhelming but it was all worth it in the end. I couldn’t have been any happier with all I learnt on the course and the results in my home. It made my renovations so much more cost effective as I picked up so many tips like working with what you’ve got. For instance, the floor tiles in the bathroom were in great condition so i used that as a starting point and designed the scheme to match.

The Diploma Course

Going back to study was a steep learning curve, I made mistakes, and learnt from that too. I enjoyed every module even though I found some modules more challenging than others. Interior Design in Context was fascinating. The technical drawings were intimidating at the beginning but the VLS videos on are so helpful. It turned out I could draw too! I absolutely loved the technical drawing aspect of the course in the end!

It also turns out that I’m a big fan of lights. The lighting module enlightened me to the several layers of lighting  and different moods that can be achieved. Armed with that knowledge, I had my electrician install LED down lights in my main bedroom, and on-suite on a dimmer switch that I could operate from my phone.

The flooring module gave me the confidence to rip off the red tone laminate flooring in the main bedroom. Caribbean weather is prone to high humidity and we often get tropical storms so flooding is a risk so I installed luxury vinyl planks with a wood-effect which then complimented the existing floor in the bathroom.

It would be unfair not to mention soft furnishings for interior design! I love to sew and as an island that relies heavily on imports it was not easy to find the curtains of the right drop and fullness. being able to now choose and create my own window treatments will be a skill I can use for the rest of my life.


The Future

I have no plans to give up my day job in healthcare at the present. My current plans are to use the knowledge and skills I learnt to transform family, and friend’s homes into beautiful and functional spaces that reflect their personality.

For me to be able to renovate and transform this place using the knowledge from the NDA Interior Design Diploma, and then sell it, is a huge success! The course truly transformed my life.

I always thought I needed a huge space, but that all changed when the diploma course opened my eyes. I knew afterwards that I could make the most of even a smaller space! I have since downsized to a beautiful 1 bed condominium that I can now make my mark on with my own touch and personality.

Without the support of my tutor Ruth, the NDA staff, past and present NDA students whose work inspired me, my family and friends, I wouldn’t have achieved my goals. You all deserve a standing ovation!

I quote “Success is a progressive realization of a predetermined worthwhile goal “

If I can do it, anyone can do it even, if you feel like you are going through a midlife crisis!

The Journey of a Lifetime

Thank you and the NDA for walking with me on this journey. The course truly changed my life. A million thanks to all the NDA staff, all the way from the Cayman Islands!
Belinda Musonza
NDA Professional Interior Design Diploma

Specialists in Adult Learning

Going back to school doesn't have to be daunting! The NDA specialises in adult learning and we know how hard it is to juggle work, life and your studies. Our courses are all designed to fit in to a modern life. Access your course materials where and when it suits you. If you get stuck, we're always here to help!

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One Response

  1. Great staff. Very inspiring. It has given me a sense of reliving my life.

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