Ducks 'n a Row: Tips on Getting Started With a Career in Interior Design

15 March 2014

Tips on Getting Started With a Career in Interior Design

If you enjoy designing rooms in your home or helping friends decorate their spaces—and the results of your efforts are often met with a resounding “Wow!”—you may have what it takes to become an interior designer. As a professional, you can use your talents for color, detail and design to help people create beautiful and functional homes. To get started with a career in interior design, here are some things to think about and tips to follow.

Evaluate Your Skills
I'm calling this the first step, but it really applies at all stages of a design career. Part of being a professional in any field is to constantly learn and improve, and interior design is no exception. If you start thinking about your strengths and weaknesses early, you can learn more and start sharpening your skills. Here is a breakdown of some of the key skills that interior designers must have:
  • Good visualization skills. Most of interior design is visual, and being able to size up a space quickly by eye and visualize how different furnishings, artwork, and other pieces can be used to their greatest advantage is essential.
  • An eye for color. You need to be able to differentiate colors accurately and see their undertones, as well as choose colors that complement each other to create a pleasing palette.
  • Attention to detail. Good interior design depends on getting all of the details of a room right, not just the broad strokes.
  • Good organizational skills. An interior design project comprises many different components, all of which must come together at the right time in order to make the project successful. Combine this with the fact that most interior designers manage multiple projects simultaneously, and it’s a no-brainer that being well organized is vital.
  • Good communication skills. An interior designer works with a wide range of people over the course of a project, from clients to contractors to subs to vendors. In order to be a successful designer, it's not enough to visualize a new design; it has to be communicated clearly at every stage of the process.
  • Ability to work as a team. The designer must be able to work through problems with clients, contractors and others. Communication skills are necessary, but interior designers must be able to lead, follow, mediate and listen to everyone involved in a project in order to bring it to success.
Pursue Education
Depending on where you live, you may need to acquire a license in order to work as a professional interior designer. Check the requirements for your state to find out what kind of accreditation you will need.

Even aside from regulations and requirements, getting a great education in design principles will help you learn the craft more quickly, make contacts with other designers and professionals, and gain experience. Working with professors and other budding designers can help you identify your strengths and work on your weaknesses. Also, if you want to specialize in a certain design area, you need to learn about the particular requirements of those projects.

Practice Whenever You Can
Opportunities to learn and practice design are all around you. Your own home is your canvas, and family or friends may be more than willing to let you design their spaces. Don't be afraid to start small! Remember that attention to detail is important, and working on one small room or even a section of a room can be great training in learning how details matter.

Build a Portfolio and Make Contacts
Finally, as you start on your design career, you need to start building your portfolio of work. Along with providing a place to improve your design skills, working on your own home or friends’ homes can give you the foundation of a portfolio, which you can show to potential clients. To first find clients, it’s important to make contacts and build your network. Getting to know contractors and vendors is also beneficial; cultivating good relationships with other professionals will help you reach your own success.

Once you have these basics down, you can take your flair for aesthetics and turn it into a successful interior design career.

Jennifer Prugh Visosky grew up in Jackson Hole, Wyoming. Even as a little girl, Jen had an eye for interior design. Having been blessed with parents who were lenient with their rules on what she could do with her room, Jennifer changed it weekly. After many years of interior design and real estate development, Jen founded Grace Home Design, where she focuses on naturally dramatic and strong-willed interior design projects.

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Photo Credits:
Woman in the Park by adamr  Free Digital Photos
Pantone by bonvivant Stock Xchng
Luxe Plantation from Grace Home Design 
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