What’s the difference between interior decorators and interior designers? In one word: education.
Literally anyone can become an interior decorator. Someone who loves playing with colors, fabrics and textiles can become a decorator by simply printing business cards and promoting themselves to clients. This is not necessarily a bad thing, but educational background is also important.
On the other hand, an interior designer must have an accredited education; an associate or bachelor’s degree is a requisite for working in the interior design field. Do you want to pursue an education, or jump immediately into the decorating world?
Interior Design Isn’t All Fabric and Fun
While fabrics, furniture and color may play a large role in interior design, there are plenty of other tasks that are required of interior designers — many of which may seem less like fun and more like work.
Interior designers need to be educated in the history of design, the structural integrity of buildings, building codes, ergonomics, spatial concepts, ethics, psychology, computer-aided drawing (CAD) and much more.
It might seem that interior designers are expected to be Jacks (or Jills) of all trades, doesn’t it? This broad range of skills is required because designers work with not only homeowners, but also builders, architects, government agencies and business owners. To become a successful interior designer, one needs to be educated and well-rounded.
You Need to Be a People Person
Ask interior designers to share their experiences, and they will surely relate some horror stories of past clients. People are finicky, especially when it comes to their homes. While some clients have clear goals in mind, others may think they know what they want only to discover that they hate the final product and are dissatisfied with your work.
A successful interior designer is a people pleaser and a mitigator (and sometimes a mind reader) — someone who can steer clients toward a favorable outcome while making them feel they are in full control of the design choices. Interior designers are constantly balancing their design decisions and their clients’ desires. It’s not a cakewalk, to say the least.
You Need to Develop a Portfolio
A picture says a thousand words, and this is definitely true when it comes to an interior designer portfolio. You can talk all day long about colors and textiles, but unless you have an outstanding portfolio that showcases your designs and projects, your successes will be few and far between.
If you are just coming out of school and are new to the job market, it may be necessary to offer your services for free or at a reduced rate. This is probably the best way to get a portfolio started; it’s also a great way to get to know local merchandisers and suppliers, and develop a rapport for future projects.
Everybody starts at the bottom. With some effort, experience and proper marketing, you can become a successful force in the interior design field.
It’s Not About Your Style, It’s About Theirs
While designers can offer their clients a wide range of design styles to choose from, it is important to remember that it is up to the clients to choose what style suits them best.
Just because designers are educated and have good taste does not make their choices superior to their clients. The interior designer’s job is to offer a variety of styles and direct the client toward the right design choice while allowing the client to feel in charge.
For example, you may work as an interior designer for years and never design a house that suits your personal tastes. It is all about the clients’ style — and you must put your own aside.
After reading all the pros and cons of becoming an interior designer, do you think it’s one you’d like to pursue? If you’re considering interior design as a career, then remember all 10 of the things mentioned above. The field may be competitive, but with a little hard work and a stellar portfolio, you can become a successful interior designer.