How To Become An Interior Designer Or Decorator

Posted October 11, 2016 by in Career
how to become an interior designer

If you’re able to go beyond appreciating beauty when you see it and offer suggestions that make a difference, then you definitely should think about becoming an interior designer.

As long as you can remember, you’ve been good at visual displays. You know what colors blend and what colors clash, what materials work better than others, and how to turn a drab room into something marvelous.

Understanding décor ideas and observing what works and what is just plain bad taste in your everyday jaunts around town is not something that just anybody can do. Your skills are valuable enough for people to pay you well for them.

How to Monetize Your Talent

If you are interested in interior designing but doing something else to earn a living, remember it’s not too late to change careers. Essentially, there are two routes open to you. The first is the formal route of going to school. This is probably the most direct way as you will learn what you need to be a recognized expert. What’s more, you will have the certification to prove that you know what you’re doing.

Essentially, there are three steps:

  • Step #1: Earn your degree as an interior designer.
  • Step #2: Pass the qualification exam set by the National Council for Interior Design.
  • Step #3: Accept some pro bono projects to build up your portfolio.

Once you get through these three steps, you can either join a firm or set up your own business.

There is also another way. It’s more indirect and it may take longer, but if you don’t have the time or the money to get a formal education as a designer, then it might work for you.

This route is to pursue a self-study course, do pro bono projects, and develop a portfolio that will impress potential clients. In this case, you’ll have to market yourself as an interior decorator.

What Happens Next?

Assuming you’ve either gone through a formal education or taken the DIY route and learned through trial and error, let’s discuss four ways to turn your knowledge into a lucrative career.

  1. Try out inspired ideas.

There are many things that you intuitively know might work. A custom wall mural might just turn a drab salon into a place that instantly inspires people. Identifying a central piece of furniture in a room as a visual focal point and building everything around it — in terms of color, materials, or style — might just create the unified look-and-feel that makes everything look harmonious. While there is much to be said for doing everything by the book, sometimes a dash of inspired thinking and experimentation might create that touch of magic a room needs to create a positive impression.

  1. Learn different styles

Another way of experimenting is to try out different styles. Choose a block of time that works for you to specialize in a style. It might be a month, 90 days, or 6 months. During that time, only work on projects that allow you to express that style. Thus, you can become an expert at the minimalist style, the classic style, or the rustic style. This exposure to different styles will allow you to develop your own unique blend of ideas. When people look at work you’ve done, it will be so distinctive that only you could have done it.

  1. Be open to inspiration

As an interior decorator, you’ll be surrounded by inspiration. You’ll talk to other designers and share interesting insights. You’ll be reading books and magazines just teeming with suggestions. And you’ll work in homes and small businesses where the owners have already created something remarkable and have just called you in to get feedback or to add some finishing touches.

  1. Become a professional idea collector

All of this inspiration is not going to do you much good if you just file it at the back of your mind and hope you recall some good ideas when the need arises. A much more proactive approach is to find a way to collect what has your attention in some kind of filing system. This can range from using software tools for collecting ideas to collecting pictures and jotting down and putting them in an idea file.

Once you’ve collected ideas, you can now process what your ideas mean at leisure. You’ll also be able to reorganize your ideas, putting them in the right categories. Naturally, you’ll also want to review your ideas frequently so you can act on them when you have a project.

Ultimately, you are in the business of collecting ideas and monetizing them. We’re not talking about rehashing ideas but getting inspired by ideas and adding your own spin to them. As an example, Picasso didn’t invent painting, but he invented Cubism. He did that by collecting enough ideas about painting to create something new in art. He didn’t invent different paint strokes, color combinations, etc. but he did express images in his mind’s eye in his own unique way.

Interior designing can be a fun, lucrative, and wonderful career. It’s a perfect career for an artistic soul. If you admire beautiful décor every time you step into a salon, restaurant, or trendy small business, you might just have what it takes to be an interior designer.

*This article was contributed.