How to Become an Interior Decorator

How to Become an Interior Decorator

Have you ever thought about a career in interior decorating, and wondered how to become an interior decorator?

Perhaps it’s always been your dream, or maybe your own home décor ideas are often complimented, bringing the idea of a new career path to mind.

It’s certainly an interesting and rewarding job that can command a high fee. But how do you get started on the road to becoming a professional interior decorator?

That’s our area of expertise! Read on to find out…

Note: As we often do, we’ve themed the images in this article. The theme is modern luxury, with off-white and teal details, and ample use of indoor plants.

Is becoming an interior decorator the right career for you?

Before you make a big decision, enroll in an online course, or give up your current job to pursue this new career, you need to do some serious thinking to decide if interior decorating really is the right career for you.

Let’s start by considering what makes a good interior decorator.

Do you have the right skills? Is this path well aligned with your own dreams and goals?

Questions to ask yourself…

  • Do you love to create and develop your own living spaces?
  • Are you passionate about home interiors?
  • Are you artistic?
  • Can you blend beauty with practicality?
  • Are you a great communicator?
  • Can you easily visualize your ideas in different spaces?
  • Do you keep up with the latest trends?
  • Are you good at working to a budget?
  • Do you have decent basic math skills?
  • Are you good at solving problems?

If you enthusiastically answer ‘Yes’ to most of these questions, then a career in interior decorating could be right for you! If you didn’t answer Yes to them all, but you still have the passion for interior decorating and the drive to become an interior decorator, then don’t worry, you can learn everything you need to begin your interior decorating career!

So, what’s next?

Step 1: Getting certified

An interior decorator with industry-related certification will always be taken seriously as a true professional, rather than being viewed as a hobbyist.

This, in turn, will allow you to command a higher fee for your services, and get more clients.

There are a few online courses available relating to interior decorating, and we offer both a Professional Interior Decorating and an Advanced Interior Decorating Course here at the Interior Decorating Institute.

Being a qualified interior decorator not only gives an excellent impression to potential clients, but you’ll also learn some beneficial skills along the way.

From the use of color, materials, and lighting, to sustainability and how to run your own interior decorating business.

This is valuable knowledge that will put you in good stead for your new career. 

Step 2: Gaining experience

Now you’ve fine-tuned your design skills, it’s time to start working, but it’s a catch-22 situation.

How can you get those first jobs when you don’t have past experience?

You can’t show photographs of your previous work to potential clients and you don’t have any reviews or testimonials for them to read.

This is when you need to get creative and perhaps invest in the future by offering your services to friends and family for free or for a reduced fee.

If you have a great eye for design, putting your interior decorating skills into practice needn’t be costly or too time-consuming.

A beautifully staged room can then be photographed for a portfolio to show to new clients or to share on your website or via social media.

By now you’ll have a wealth of knowledge that you can use alongside your natural design skills to create the most fabulous interiors, but that’s not enough.

To be a great interior decorator, it’s vital to keep on top of all the latest product releases and trends.

Your clients will want to have the very latest styles in their homes. If they have a favorite designer, you need to have an in-depth knowledge of their products, any new releases, and where to source them.

Spending time browsing the stores and the internet is all worthwhile research that will enhance your career. 

Here is how our team stays on top of the latest interior decorating trends:

  • Purchase interior decorating magazines – we like to pick up copies of Architectural Digest, Elle Decor, Luxe Interiors & Design, and Interior Design amongst others.
  • Following our favorite brands on social media. This includes local brands within the industry, and also other interior decorators from around the world to see what is trending in other countries.
  • Following interior design influencers. We suggest starting with @elliandflo, @littlehouseinlondon, @atnumberfourteen, and @atthelisles. Once you’ve followed these four influencers you’ll be suggested other influencers that you can also follow.
  • Browsing Pinterest. It can be a bit of a time-killer, but there is endless inspiration on Pinterest. Use their Pinterest Predicts page to see what trends are coming.

Step 4: Building a network of contacts

Get to know local tradespeople and suppliers.

Being able to quickly source a good tradesperson to move a cabinet or paper a feature wall will make you invaluable to clients who simply want their interior decorator to take care of every aspect of their room design and implementation.

Building a relationship with suppliers can also bring you discounts as you become a regular customer.

It can also be worthwhile networking with other interior decorators, designers, and home stagers, to share ideas and discuss the latest trends and industry developments.

Step 5: Continual professional development

Maintaining enthusiasm for your career and gaining new skills will keep you at the top of your game.

Also keep an eye out for new interior decorating courses to take. They don’t need to be expensive courses from a university, but short courses under $500 can teach you a lot of new skills.

Perhaps an art and design course to help you create more beautiful plans and mood boards, a photography course to capture the results of your design work, or a small business finance course to ensure you’re on the right track with managing your accounts.

Step 6: Joining a professional body

With qualifications and experience under your belt, you should be eligible to join a professional body for the interior decorating industry.

This is likely to incur a fee, and you may have to comply with a strict code of rules and regulations, but it can often be worth it as membership in such a body will bring credibility to your business, and an authoritative logo you can use on your website and correspondence.

Below are a few Interior Design Professional Associations that may be of interest:

Step 7: Showcasing and marketing your expertise

Word-of-mouth recommendations can only go so far.

To create a truly viable interior decorating business you’ll need to market your talents.

Gathering a portfolio of images is very important. As you know, they say a picture speaks a thousand words. So take photos of every design you create, even if it’s in your own home. If it is someone else’s home, remember to get their permission to share the images of any work you photograph.

Create a portfolio of beautiful pictures to show potential clients in person, and get those images out there, on your website, and your social media channels.

When a client is happy with your work, encourage them to write a testimonial or leave an online review. It will all help to build your reputation and grow your business.

How to Become an Interior Decorator

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I become an interior decorator without a degree?

Yes, you definitely can become an interior decorator without a degree.

While a degree is not necessary, it’s important to gain knowledge and skills in interior decorating, either through being self-taught or taking some other form of study.

Consider an interior decorating certification. While not necessary, obtaining certification can help demonstrate your expertise and credibility to potential clients.

How long does it take to become an interior decorator?

The time it takes to become an interior decorator can vary based on several factors. Individuals who opt for self-education could learn at their own pace, taking online courses or reading books, and practicing their skills.

In this case, the time required to gain sufficient knowledge and experience could vary depending on the individual’s dedication and available time and can take as little as 8 weeks.

Alternatively, if an individual chooses to pursue a formal education, such as a diploma program, it could take 12 months to 3 years.

How can I become an interior decorator online?

Becoming an interior decorator online is possible with the following steps:

  1. Research: Start by researching different online resources for interior decorating education, such as online courses, webinars, and tutorials.
  2. Learn: Enroll in online courses or programs that offer training in interior decorating. Look for courses that teach color theory, furniture styles, space planning, and materials.
  3. Practice: Practice your interior decorating skills by working on small projects, such as decorating a room in your own home or helping a friend with their home decor.
  4. Network: Join online groups and forums for interior decorators and designers to connect with others in the industry.

Becoming an interior decorator online requires self-motivation, dedication, and a willingness to learn and practice.

With the right resources and effort, it’s possible to become a successful interior decorator from anywhere in the world.

How do I become an interior decorator with no experience?

If you’re interested in becoming an interior decorator but have no prior experience, begin by building your knowledge and skills through reading books, taking online courses, or attending workshops or seminars.

Practice your skills by working on small projects, such as decorating a room in your own home or helping a friend with their home decor. Create a portfolio to showcase your work and style.

Consider gaining exposure and networking by offering your services to local businesses or non-profit organizations.

As you gain more experience, seek out feedback and continue to refine your skills to become a successful interior decorator.

How much does it cost to become an interior decorator?

The cost of becoming an interior decorator can vary depending on the path you choose…:

  1. Formal education: If you choose to pursue a diploma program, the cost can vary widely depending on the school and program. Some programs could cost several thousand dollars, or even over $10,000.
  2. Self-education: If you choose to learn through self-education, such as taking online interior decorating courses or purchasing books, the cost could range from a few hundred to a few thousand dollars, depending on the resources you choose. Our Professional Interior Decorating Course is $247, with a payment plan available.

Overall, the cost of becoming an interior decorator can vary widely depending on the path you choose and the resources you use.

It’s important to research and budget for these expenses to ensure you can achieve your goals without overextending yourself financially.

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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