I’m really good at decorating spaces in my home, do I have what it takes to be an interior designer?
You might! First, it is important for anyone to know the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer. These terms are often mistaken as being interchangeable, but they are completely different careers.
Choosing color schemes, selecting furniture and decorating a space are all very important tasks, but there is much more to interior design than just the aesthetics.
One of the main differences between the two professions is that an interior designer is required to have a formal education, where an interior decorator is not. In some states, NCIDQ certification is also required to be an interior designer. This test is administered by the Council for Interior Design Qualification and it covers design theory, space planning, construction drawings and code issues, such as universal accessibility and fire safety.
If you enjoy simply staging a home or space, interior decorating may be for you. If you are interested in understanding human behavior and needs, problem solving, budgeting, understanding construction standards and other organizational tasks, then interior design could be the career path for you!
What do you learn in an interior design program?
Interior design programs prepare future interior designers to “identify, research and creatively solve problems pertaining to the function and quality of the interior environment.” * Specifically, some of the skills and subjects taught in these programs include:
“A successful interior designer needs to be well organized as well as creative. We live in the left side of our brains as much as we do in the right.” – Marilee Smith
Once you’ve landed a job at an awesome firm after school/certification, what kind of work goes into making a space both beautiful and functional?
An interior designer has many responsibilities when taking on a project including client communication, producing construction documents and coordinating delivery/installation of furniture.
Research: Like many professions, knowing your client is a top priority. Whenever a new client is introduced, it is important to know what the client stands for, what their story is, etc. In addition to researching information on clients, it is imperative that an interior designer researches different finishes to see what materials will best suit the project, location and installation as well as any new products that may be used.
Communication: Most projects require effective and consistent communication whether it be with the other members of the design team, clients or vendors.
Organization: In the later stages of an interior design project, interior designers must track furniture, fabrics and other materials to ensure they arrive at the designated location and time.
Budgeting: One of the main goals an interior designer has is to stay within a client’s budget. Keeping track of all item costs in a project is crucial!
“Interior spaces don’t just need to be beautiful, they need to function. Design solves problems and fits needs. On the flip side, we don’t just make a space function, we make it function gracefully. It’s this constant push and pull between form and function. It takes both a logical and a creative mindset.” – Rachel Scott
Do interior designers act as the support team for architects?
Interior designers and architects often work together, but have very distinct responsibilities.
“They are both valuable members of a complete design team, with different training and knowledge. Interior designers are more focused on the experience of living or working in a building, while architects have the primary responsibility of figuring out how the structure of the building is put together. Both are concerned with aesthetics and function, and both are important.”
From the VCBO interior designers themselves: What makes being an interior designer so rewarding?
“Designing for people. Incorporating collective beliefs, traditions and aspirations of a society to help define and influence how individuals live. Truly great architecture and interiors transcends time and space. It shows genuine respect for the environment and for people. It captures and reflects the shared strengths of a community. It is about design that lasts, where function meets art in a building that is both timeless and memorable.” – Coreen Crouch
“It’s great to work with a team to come up with solutions that meet the client’s needs.” – Katie Christensen
“The biggest reward in interior design is seeing a finished project. Seeing the work that you did on paper transformed into an actual space is incredible, and when your client is happy with the end result, it’s worth all of the work that went into it.”—Marilee Smith
“Seeing how the project comes together in the end. All of the finish and furnishings in harmony. Seeing the client/public being able to use the building for how it was designed. Having people be inspired or feel important because of the building made for their use. These things are inspiring to me. Plus, when they think it’s beautiful, you feel justified/empowered to do it again.”
“Satisfied Happy Clients! That is the best, they are always so excited to move into new space!” –Nancy McKendrick
“The ultimate reward is watching a client walk through the space upon completion and be excited and happy with how things turned out. Often times they aren’t able to visualize the overall design vision so when they see how it all came together, even with things they didn’t love, (like fabrics, accessories or paint) they are able to connect with the space.” – Amy Sackley