Interior designers are tasked with designing, implementing and refurbishing interior spaces. These DIY dynamos transform rooms in accordance with their clients’ requirements, using their artistic flair and understanding of colour to design interior spaces that have the right aesthetic appeal and make the most of the available space.
Interior designers work across both the commercial and residential property sectors, focusing their efforts on structural design, colour schemes, lighting, ventilation, furniture and furnishings.
These creative professionals tend to work on a freelance basis or are employed permanently by interior design agencies. They are then contracted to work on a project basis by private residents, construction companies, property developers, hotels, government facilities and retail outlets.
If you enter this profession, your responsibilities will involve discussing and finalising client requirements and collaborating with other construction professionals, such as architects, painters, decorators, engineers and surveyors.
You’ll then be working your socks off to prepare detailed specifications of the interior design work that will be carried out, calculating the budget to achieve the desired result and producing sketches, making models and using computer-aided design (CAD) software to give your client a detailed insight into what the room will look like.
Furthermore, you’ll be responsible for organising the procurement of necessary materials, such as ventilation equipment, fixtures, furnishings, furniture and decorative items.
You’ll then be overseeing the hands-on painting, decorating and interior construction work, while making sure that the project stays within the assigned budget and is finished on time.
In order to thrive in this industry, you’ll spend a healthy chunk of your time conducting research and keeping up-to-date on current trends and recent developments in the interior design industry, such as decorating techniques, new-fangled materials and innovative tools.
Furthermore, many clients will require you to consider the environmental impact of your designs and thus you’ll need an up-to-date knowledge of sustainability issues.
Salary & benefits
Annual salaries for entry-level interior designers range between £20,000 and £27,000, increasing to between £28,000 and £80,000 as employees gain more experience and reach new levels of seniority.
Interior designers employed by large consultancy firms or property development companies can even earn up to £100,000 a year.
Self-employed interior designers usually charge their clients on an hourly basis, with rates ranging between £15 and £500.
Most interior designers work on a nine-to-five basis. However, you’ll most likely be required to work extra hours when you need to meet project deadlines.
Additionally, you may have to work late evenings from time to time in order to fit around your clients’ schedules.
Understandably, freelance interior designers can be more flexible with their working hours.
A major portion of your work will be carried out onsite and travelling around is also a frequent requirement, especially in the commercial property sector.
You don’t necessarily need a degree to enter this profession if you have bags of creative flair and a wealth of experience.
However, it’s highly advisable to obtain a degree in architecture, interior design, spatial design, product design, fine art or another similar discipline. It’s also vital that you gain sufficient work experience before applying for entry-level positions.
As with other design professions, developing an extensive portfolio of work in a variety of settings and environments is an absolute must if you want to build a long and successful career.
Training & progression
Established design agencies tend to provide supervised on-the-job training and in-house training sessions covering everything from computer-aided design and Photoshop to marketing and client relationships.
Obtaining membership from the Chartered Society of Designers (CSD) is useful for networking purposes and building your reputation in a competitive market. This organisation also offers courses that help interior designers to develop their skill-set and set up their own business.
Some interior designers specialise in a particular area of interior design and carve out a niche market for themselves. Understandably, many interior designers move into freelance work and may eventually even set up their own design agency.