How to become an interior designer?

Interior design can be a real option for creative people who enjoy rearranging rooms, modifying and reworking furniture and decorative elements. Although education makes it easier to enter the world of decoration, it is a business open to all, provided that one's profile and skills meet the criteria for this job.

Some questions about the interior design profession.

What is the job of an interior designer?

To summarize in a simple way, interior decoration, consists for the decorators, in the reorganization of private or public interior spaces, by modifying the arrangement of the room, by playing on the aesthetics of the furniture and the objects of decoration, or by creating a design of space, using aesthetic codes according to the tastes or the needs of the customer. Interior design is however a wide field, and there are several specialties, and different crafts. If some will take care of projects of arrangement of a place from A to Z, others will prefer the Home Staging, which consists in decorating and arranging a house or an apartment at lower cost, by using existing pieces of furniture, and by adding some decorative elements, so that the property pleases the greatest number of people, with the aim of selling it thereafter. Others only wish to give their customers choices of arrangements, by proposing them blue prints, and by providing advice in interior decoration, so that they can use them later on by themselves, or by calling on qualified workers.

However, interior design should not be confused with the profession of interior architect. Indeed, the work of the interior architect consists, beyond the interior design of the house, to renovate it on the surface, or sometimes to realize the complete rehabilitation of the building, by modifying its structure. He/she acts as a creator of the future space, but also as a project manager, which requires technical skills that must be validated by a compulsory diploma. Interior design proposes to arrange or rearrange the client's interior, by shaping the room or the house, without constraints related to the original place.

Do I need to attend a school to become an interior decorator?

As we have seen, to work in interior design, it is necessary to go through a post-baccalaureate professional training, whether public or private. If it does not need to be approved by the State, it is however necessary to choose the course of study, preferably among the diploma courses recognized by a local Council of Interior Architects, such as the Ecole Boulle (France) for the most famous of them.

On the other hand, there are many ways to become an interior decorator or interior designer. If it is advisable to go through one of the many specialized training courses, or the equivalent of a bachelor in interior design, it is also possible to train in the arts in a more general way, and follow a training course in applied arts, such as at the École Nationale Supérieure des Beaux-Arts (France). Interior design training is also available through distance learning organizations such as the European Training Center.

It is true that going through a training program, such as those presented above, will allow you to specialize and obtain the technical knowledge required for this occupation, and will open up more opportunities for you than if you had a simple high school diploma. However, many people, especially in the context of a professional transition, or by passion, wish to become an interior decorator as their future career. If this is your case, you will need to be very resourceful, creative, and up to date with all the new interior design techniques, to catch up with the graduates, and to be able to break into the interior design industry. It is all the more true that it is an environment that calls more and more on technologies, and even if tools, like the graphic tablet, allow you to draw naturally, like on a sketchbook, on graphic software, with a sheet of paper, and with your own pencils, you will still have to master graphic representation software, to show the visuals of your future layouts that you will be able to propose to your clients, within the context of your job.

What salary can I expect if I become an interior decorator?

For interior decoration professionals, the salary can easily vary from simple to double. If a beginner working on a fixed-term or permanent contract, as a display decorator or in a decoration company, can hope to earn around 1500 €, it is also possible to work as a freelancer. Here, everything will depend on the services offered and the specialization you have chosen. Whether it is to give a simple advice in decoration for a room, with a visual of the global design to project yourself, or to realize a project of turnkey decoration of an interior space, from the choice of materials for the furniture, to the choice of colors, passing by the implementation and the follow-up of the building site, the hourly rate will not be the same. It is however generally accepted that the independent interior decorator is paid between 60 € and 100 € gross per hour.

Tips on how to become an interior decorator.

Make sure you have the right profile.

Before launching yourself into the field of interior design, especially if you have not gone through a specialized training center, it is important to know if you have the right profile for this mission. Indeed, to exercise the profession of interior decorator does not only require to have an aesthetic sense, and to know how to create atmospheres to arrange rooms with skill. The interior design field requires to be able to work often alone on projects, to show initiative, but also to know the different materials that you are likely to meet during your decoration projects, and the numerous safety standards, especially if you work in public places. Technical skills, such as drawing, and a great ability to listen, are also necessary to understand and propose solutions that meet the client's expectations.

Practice before you start.

The best way to make interior design your business is through experience. In order to perfect your skills before making it your professional career, it can be very interesting to practice on a design project, with friends, family, or acquaintances, who need to design and decorate their house or apartment. Beyond giving you the fundamentals of this business, and acquiring the necessary skills, it will also allow you to create a work portfolio, in order to present your creations to your future clients.

Master the proper tools.

Becoming an interior designer also requires mastering tools and skills. While it is necessary to know how to draw in order to make realistic sketches that illustrate your ideas, it is also necessary to be able to master interior design and space planning computer tools. If there are courses for complex software to use, there are other possibilities that allow you to create layouts and realistic illustrations in a quick and intuitive way. First of all, we can think of CAD (Computer Aided Design) software that allows you to draw your sketches digitally, and to color them quickly with a digital pencil stroke. For a simplified use, it is advised to use them with a drawing tablet, but these are sometimes complicated to use since the hand-eye coordination, between the screen and the drawing surface, is not very intuitive. That's why tools like the scanner tablet exist, and allow, like the ISKN Repaper, to sketch your interior design projects directly on a sheet of paper placed on the work surface. With the magnetic ring around your favorite pencil, transmitting movements and tilt, the drawing is reproduced instantly on the software interface. Since you have to work in people's homes, it is also interesting to be able to use your tablet on the go, and this is also possible, with the Repaper's built-in battery and memory allowing you to edit your drawings later on the computer. Other software such as Sketchup will allow you to shape your ideas in 3D, and are affordable to learn, although a good training for this type of software can be essential to use it fully.

Beginners, look for a job in a clever way.

The career of interior decorator is very popular among many creative people. As a freelancer, it is essential to create a company, first of all for legal reasons, but also to be able to deal and negotiate with suppliers of furniture, lighting, fabrics and textiles. For those looking for stability, with a regular salary, the first thing to do is to approach specialized companies. Unfortunately, the opportunities in this type of structures are quite limited, and finding a decorating agency looking for junior decorators can be challenging. However, there is an alternative, which consists of approaching large well known retail companies. Although the job of a merchandising decorator can be daunting at first, it can be a good start to enhance your portfolio, and gain experience in proposing and executing innovative installations that will catch the eye of the clients. This will maximize your chances of finding a job as an interior decorator in an interior design firm that is truly specialized in this field.

If you qualify, go for it.

Even if some peripherals make it easier to master the tools necessary to create decoration projects, becoming an interior designer requires a constant updating of one's skills and an accurate monitoring of new trends. Different professions exist in this field, but they all require creativity, initiative and the ability to listen to satisfy clients and meet their expectations.