Interior Designers conceptualize and produce aesthetic, functional and safe designs for interior spaces. They are employed by architectural and interior design firms, retail establishments, construction companies, hospitals, airlines, hotel and restaurant chains, and other establishments, or they may be self-employed.
Interior Designers are experts in the area of interior architecture, construction materials, and building codes. They may specialize in designing interiors for residential, commercial, institutional, cultural and industrial buildings, or for aircraft, ships or trains, trade shows, and exhibitions. On the other hand, Interior Decorators are known to specialize in decorating residential or commercial interior spaces, home staging, colour consulting and home organizing.
Here’s a non-exhaustive list of common tasks Interior Designers are required to complete.
- Consulting with clients to determine needs, preferences, safety requirements and purpose of space:
- Advising the client on the selection of colours, finishes and materials, floor and wall coverings, window treatments, interior and exterior lighting, furniture and other items;
- discussing and finalizing details with the client;
- keeping clients up to date throughout the entire process of the project; and
- overseeing multiple projects at varying stages of completion, if necessary.
- Developing innovative design concepts which are practical, aesthetic, safe and conducive to intended purposes and functions, being a reflection of the client’s goals and always keeping within the project’s budget:
- Transforming rooms or spaces in accordance with the client’s requirements, making the most of the available space;
- coordinating furniture, decorations, materials, etc. between clients and suppliers;
- taking into account ergonomic and occupational health standards, as well as building regulations and safety codes; and
- considering the environmental impact of the designs, thus, knowing about sustainability issues, taking personal responsibility for fostering a green workplace through sustainable work practices.
- Developing plans, producing sketches and making models:
- Developing detailed plans and making 3D models showing the arrangement of walls, dividers, displays, lighting, and other fixtures using computer-assisted design (CAD) software and graphics software applications in order to give the client a detailed insight into what the room will look like;
- developing plans, elevations, cross sections and detailed drawings; and
- preparing plans and specifications for the final interior designs in accordance with current practices and building codes.
- Organizing the procurement of necessary materials, such as ventilation equipment, coatings, fixtures, furnishings, furniture, artwork and decorative items.
- Overseeing the painting, decorating and interior construction work, while making sure that the project stays within the assigned budget and complies with the established deadline:
- Maintaining contact with other key project individuals for clarification, coordination, and negotiation of critical issues, if any;
- directing site work crews and subcontractors, if necessary;
- keeping the project on schedule; and
- preparing budgets and estimates by calculating costs and materials required to achieve the desired result.
- Being the liaison between construction professionals (e.g. architects, painters , electricians , decorators, engineers, and surveyors), real estate experts (in some cases), and the client:
- Providing support on both ends when necessary;
- maintaining positive client and staff relationships throughout the project; and
- advising the client on leasing, real estate, and marketing.
- Producing written documentation related to the project, including agreements, meeting documentation, payments, invoices, memos, etc.:
- Reviewing the aforementioned documents for compliance with building codes and regulations;
- ensuring project documentation and contracts are in compliance with the standards set by the board in charge of the project, if any;
- overseeing coordination and quality assurance of documents required to complete the project or one of its phases; and
- ensuring documents correspond with the design’s intent.
- Keeping up to date on current trends and recent developments in the interior design industry:
- Staying current on ground-breaking decorating techniques, new materials, and original tools.
- Consulting with clients to create the best design.
- Estimating costs and materials.
- Communicating with clients and construction staff in order to comply with the client’s needs in an established timeline and with an assigned budget.
- Developing plans and making models.
- Procuring the necessary materials.
- Overseeing all construction, decoration, and painting work.
- Keeping the client up to date throughout the entire project.
The average Interior Designer salary is $61,779 per year or $32 per hour. This is around 1.9 times more than the Median wage of the country. Entry level positions start at $43,000 while most experienced workers make up to $86,000. These results are based on 48 salaries extracted from job descriptions.
- Creativity and a strong artistic sense, always willing to try out new ideas.
- Interpersonal and communication skills:
- Communicating clearly, both verbally and in writing, in order to convey clear instructions, as well as having effective listening skills as to understand the client’s requests;
- displaying strong customer service skills, as well as leadership; and
- being able to work cohesively with architects and construction staff.
- Organizational and time management skills:
- Having strong multitasking skills; being able to work under pressure in a dynamic, fast-paced environment;
- having time management and prioritization skills in order to satisfy the client’s needs;
- being highly responsible, reliable, and organized; and
- being detail oriented and structured.
- Self-motivated and willing to work independently, as well as working within a multi-disciplinary team environment.
- Physical strength:
- Being able to sit, stand, walk, bend, crouch, and kneel for several hours; and
- rearranging furniture when necessary.
Aside from the skills listed above, in order to become a successful Interior Designer, a person needs to be creative, artistic, have good instincts, as well as having technical knowledge in the area. Although a person doesn’t necessarily need a degree to enter this profession, it’s highly advisable to complete a bachelor’s degree in Interior Design, Architecture, Spatial Design, Product Design, Fine Arts or other similar disciplines.
It’s also vital to gain sufficient work experience before applying for entry-level positions. Interior Designers are also required to be proficient in software designing tools including Adobe Suite, Revit, AutoCAD, Photoshop, InDesign, Illustrator, Sketch-up, and Office Suite, as well as having knowledge of tools like buildingSMART, Building Information Modeling (BIM), Integrated Project Delivery (IPD), and 3D Modeling software.
As it happens with other design professions, developing an extensive portfolio of work in a variety of settings and environments is an absolute must in order to build a long and successful career in this profession. Junior Interior Designers are required to have a minimum of 4 to 6 years of experience in the area, while Senior Interior Designers are required to have at least 10 years of experience. In Canada, being registered in the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) association is a definite asset.
In order to thrive in this industry, Interior Designers also need to build a reliable network of clients, making contacts and building their reputation, especially if they work as freelancers. Working on high-profile projects will begin to attract more business. Some Interior Designers specialize in a particular area of interior design and carve out a niche market for themselves.
Finally, most Interior Designers work on a nine-to-five basis. However, they’ll most likely be required to work extra hours in order to meet project deadlines. A major portion of an Interior Designer’s work will be carried out onsite and travelling around might also be a frequent requirement, especially in the commercial property sector.