How to Become an Interior Decorator in California

How to Become an Interior Decorator in California

Interior decorating is a growing industry in California, providing ambitious interior decorators with an exciting opportunity to build their businesses and demonstrate their creativity.

As an interior decorator, you assist clients in transforming their living spaces into attractive, practical, and comfortable environments that represent their own personality and style.

California’s real estate market is vast and diverse, and interior decorators play an essential role in helping homeowners and businesses create appealing interiors.

By offering your professional advice and services, you can assist clients in selecting the right colors, furniture, decor, and accessories that complement their living spaces.

So, how do you become an interior decorator in California?

Let’s approach this with the view of starting your own interior decorating business. Starting your own interior decorating firm in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, or any other city in California can be a challenge as there is already hot competition in the market, but that shouldn’t hold you back.

Tip: If you aren’t quite ready to start your own business then be sure to read our other guides on resume tips, how to find an interior decorating job, and our overview of interior decorating careers.

If you want to start a business in interior decorating in California the first step is to educate yourself about your local market and obtain an interior decorating certification.

Following that, you can set up your business, research local competition, and begin marketing activities.

Let’s explore each of these steps in greater detail…

Steps to becoming an interior decorator in California

Step 1: Sign up for an interior decorator certification course

Considering an interior decorator certification course in California? While not mandatory, it will help set you apart in the industry.

When selecting the right certification course, look no further than the online program offered right here at the Interior Decorating Institute.

Why should one consider getting an interior decorator certification? Here’s a few reasons why:

  • Credibility: Certification demonstrates your commitment and competence, instilling trust in clients and employers.
  • Expertise Acknowledgment: It officially recognizes you as an expert in the field, validating your skills and knowledge.
  • Competitive Edge: In a saturated market, certification sets you apart from non-certified decorators, giving you a competitive advantage.
  • Enhanced Skills: Certification courses provide in-depth training, expanding your skillset and keeping you updated on industry trends.
  • Career Opportunities: Many employers and clients prefer certified decorators, leading to better job prospects and project opportunities.
  • Personal Confidence: It boosts your confidence in your abilities, allowing you to take on more challenging projects.
  • Higher Earning Potential: Certified decorators often command higher fees for their services due to their recognized expertise.
  • Client Satisfaction: Clients often feel more secure working with certified professionals, leading to higher client satisfaction and referrals.

Overall, getting any certification will significantly benefit your career, offering credibility, improved opportunities, and a competitive edge.

Step 2: Understand the local market

To succeed in the field of interior design in California, it is essential to have a thorough awareness of the state’s real estate market.

Decorating a rural Californian home differs significantly from creating an urban loft in Los Angeles.

Moreover, suppose you are tasked with designing a home in an affluent area like Beverly Hills or San Francisco. In that case, you should be prepared to allocate a higher budget for the project than you would for a home in a more moderate-income community.

Step 3: Learn from other interior decorators in California

It’s important to conduct basic research by reviewing other interior decorating businesses in California and the current employment opportunities in the state.

To do this, all you need to do is spend some time on Google finding the competitors, then searching for job adverts on the likes of or Linkedin Jobs.

Focus your research on identifying areas where you may set yourself apart from the competition. Are they targeting specific niches or geographic areas, leaving others ripe for picking?

Perhaps they are marketing on Google Ads, leaving the door open for you to generate some cheap leads through this method.

Or perhaps you feel they are overpriced since there isn’t enough competition in the market. You can then swoop in and be slightly cheaper to grow your own business.

Step 4: Starting an interior decorating business in California

Almost every business needs some essentials, and starting an interior decorating business in California is no different.

  • Register your business (Here is a California resource on this topic)
  • Set up a business phone number (Your cellphone will be enough initially)
  • Set up a business email address (We use Google Workspace)
  • Set up a business mailing address
  • Open a business credit card and bank account
  • Get liability insurance
  • Set up the software to track income and expenses (Xero is a popular choice)
  • Trademark your company name and logo
  • Design a website (We recommend Squarespace or Wix)
  • Connect with service providers (storage and moving companies, furniture rental companies, etc.)

Step 5: Begin marketing your new company

To turn your love for interior decorating into a viable & profitable business, you need to generate a steady flow of inquiries and work.

Other than networking, we like to recommend two main forms of digital marketing – in particular Google Ads and search engine optimization (SEO).

Google Ads are when you pay to be listed at the top of Google for certain inquiries. For example, you might want your website to appear top of the list when someone searches “San Fransico interior decorators”.

As you see in the screenshot below, multiple interior decorating companies are paying to be listed at the top of the page when people search for this phrase – namely Studio BANAA and ODS Architecture.

Interior Decorator marketing in California

For this to happen, you’ll need to set a ‘bid’ of what you are willing to pay each time your advert is clicked. This cost is normally around $1.50 to $3.00 per click in the interior decorating industry.

We recommend Google Ads for new business as it can get you fresh inquiries nearly immediately.

For longer-term marketing, it’s good to work on your SEO. This process optimizes your website for Google so you’ll start to rank highly, without needing to pay Google for each click!

It’s a timely process, so the work you put into SEO today might only start to show results in 6 to 12 months from now. But in the long run, it is worth it!

Other facts about becoming an interior decorator in California

How much do interior decorators make in California?

The salary of interior decorators in California can vary widely depending on factors such as experience, location within the state, the types of projects they undertake, and their client base.

Our researchers have found that the general salary range for interior decorators in California variers based on the following experience levels:

  • Entry-Level Interior Decorators: Entry-level decorators may earn an annual salary ranging from $30,000 to $50,000.
  • Mid-Career Interior Decorators: Those with a few years of experience can expect to earn salaries between $50,000 and $80,000 per year.
  • Experienced and Established Interior Decorators: Highly experienced and well-established interior decorators may earn salaries exceeding $80,000 per year or even six-figure incomes.

Please keep in mind that these figures are approximate and can vary significantly. We’ve cross-referenced our data and compared these to other sources online. Here’s what they say:

  • “The average Entry Level Interior Decorator salary in California is $56,602” (Source:
  • “As of Sep 29, 2023, the average hourly pay for an Interior Decorator in California is $27.72 an hour” (Source:

To increase your income as an interior decorator, look at our complete guide exploring what factors influence what an interior decorator earns.

Do I need a license to become an Interior Decorator in California?

In California, there is no requirement to obtain a license to work as an interior decorator.

Unlike other vocations like engineering or accounting, no official agency regulates licensing in the interior decorating industry.

There are however certifications available for interior decorators, such as those provided here at the Interior Decorating Institute.

Even though obtaining a certification is not obligatory, taking part in an interior decorating course can be advantageous in minimizing the time spent on trial and error, and building trust & credibility.

Do you need a degree to become an Interior Decorator in California?

A degree is not mandatory to start a career in interior decorating in California, however committing to some form of interior decorating training is strongly recommended…especially if you are new to interior decorating.

Want to learn more about Interior Decorating?

Here at the Interior Decorating Institute we offer a range of interior decorating courses and an interior decorating certification.
If you’re ready to keep learning, but unsure what course to take, we’ve created our interior decorating course quiz to find out what course is right for you…

Confused about what interior decorating course to take?

We’ve created an interior decorating course quiz to find out what course is right for you…

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