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How To Become An Interior Designer


If you have a creative mind and an obsession with colour palettes and Pinterest boards, a career in interior design might be right up your street. With over 20,000 freelance designers estimated to be working in the UK[1], you would be joining a blossoming industry at a time when business is expected to boom, what with coronavirus and lockdown looking to be things of the past. Interior design is a constantly evolving industry, and there really is no better time than now to be joining the profession as interest and popularity are increasing at such a promising rate.

If you are interested in joining this ever-expanding career path and want some information about how to do it, have a read through of our advice and tips to get you started.

Interior Designing Broken Down

There are a few things you need to know about becoming an interior designer before you jump straight in. Here, we’ll answer some of the basic questions you may have about joining the industry so we can give you some advice on how to do just that.

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

In short, an interior designer creates functional, attractive and, most importantly, safe indoor spaces. They have to consider the space they are working with as well as ornamental aspects like lighting and colour and bring it all together to create a beautiful room optimised for its function.

To get the final result, the basic steps an interior designer will take are:

  1. Discuss the client’s needs
  2. Assess the space
  3. Create design plans
  4. Give an estimated timeline for the project
  5. Place orders for the materials
  6. Watch over the construction at every stage
  7. Visit once the project is complete to check that the client is happy

Clients can range from homeowners to huge companies and the spaces interior designers work with can be just as varied, and no matter the client or space, an interior designer must work to meet the specified needs while also creating an area that functions properly, looks appealing and makes the best use of its space.

The Sectors You Could Specialise In

Interior design is quite a broad term which can be broken down into a few different areas that one can choose to specialise in or switch to if their career needs a boost. Although being an interior designer is enough to work in most of these sectors, some people choose to specialise so they can play to their strengths and be specific when talking to clients. There isn’t a limit on what an interior designer can work on – you may find plenty of surprises waiting for you on your employment journey – but here are the most popular sectors that interior designers may choose to work in.

  • Residential – Residential interior design focuses on people’s homes, and the plans tend to be led with a specific theme from the client inspired by trends and images.
  • Hospitality – Interior design in hospitality includes working on any area of a hotel, including suites, lobbies and assembly halls. The scale of work here is bigger than with a residential client as there are more responsibilities and concerns to consider.
  • Restaurants – Restaurants are a big task for an interior designer as they have to be able to create a room that is on brand for the company, functions properly and is welcoming to the customer. Although this could be quite a challenge, designing a restaurant is a great way to make a mark either locally or on a bigger scale.
  • Retail – Every shop, no matter the size or company, needs to be well set out and easy to get around. Commercial understanding assists a designer here as their set up will help the company sell their products.
  • Workplace – The interior design of a workplace can make a huge difference to the employees who will be using it – a great design will not only encourage productivity but will also be accommodating and help staff engagement.
  • Education – Similarly, interior design for education – schools, colleges, universities and private education sectors – has to be comfortable and optimized for all students to better the learning experience.

You can find out more about the Interior Design sectors here.


Interior designers can look to make, on average, £18,000 to £45,000 a year[2]. This depends on their experience – as a beginner, you would be looking at £18,000 – £23,000[3] until you build your skills and reputation.

Becoming an Interior Designer

There isn’t really a specific path to take that will lead you into a cushy job in interior design, but there are several steps it’s important for you to take that will help you. Some of these may seem intimidating, but the end achievement will make the journey feel worth it, so stick with them as they will get you to where you want to be.


There are multiple courses you could take to becoming an interior designer. You can get into the industry through:

  • A college course – Many colleges provide a Level 3 Diploma in Interior Design or Art and Design, and both of these would help you on your journey to becoming an Interior Designer. To be accepted onto these courses, you’ll need 4-5 GCSEs at grades A* – C or 9-4.
  • A university course – You could complete a foundation degree, higher national diploma or undergraduate degree in a subject such as interior design, interior architecture or art and design. To enrol into these courses you will need 1 – 3 A Levels, depending on the course type.
  • An apprenticeship – Although not many apprenticeships specialise specifically in interior design, you could opt for a furniture design technician or a painter and decorator apprenticeship to help you get into the role. You’ll need 5 GCSEs at grades A* – C or 9-4 for an advanced apprenticeship, but an entry level apprenticeship may not call for these qualifications.
  • Working independently – If you find a job as a design assistant or a similar role, your employer may help you in getting the correct qualifications to becoming an interior designer.

Get the Skills

Interior design is not a career to stumble into – you need some skills and knowledge to thrive in the industry. You will be best fit for this job if you have:

  • A design background
  • Imagination & visualisation
  • Great attention to detail
  • Customer service skills
  • Determination
  • The ability to work well under pressure
  • The capacity to accept and apply constructive criticism
  • Knowledge of construction
  • Initiative
  • People skills
  • Technological knowledge

Understand the Industry

It’s vital that you understand the industry you are working in as it is ever changing, so you need to be too. You have to keep up with the news and the trends as clients will most likely be taking inspiration from what is relevant, so keep up on what is popular. A good way to stay in the know with the design world is buying magazines specializing in interior design, subscribing to newsletters and following influencers on social media that are in the business.

Some useful interior design blogs you could follow to get you started are:

  • The Beat That My Heart Skipped
  • Design Hunter
  • Swoonworthy
  • The Design Sheppard
  • Confessions Of A Design Geek
  • Fabric of My Life

Get Experience

The best way to get started in this kind of industry is to get experience in any way you can. As interior design is a creative industry, getting experience isn’t that limited – you have many options to showcase your budding skills. Some ways you can get the technical know-how include:

  • Getting a job in, or related to, the industry
  • Getting an apprenticeship or internship in a sector related to the industry
  • Redecorate your own house
  • Ask friends if you could redesign their homes for free
  • Use social media and spread the word that you’re offering your services. You could offer a design as a competition prize, for example
  • Go to interior design events to listen or to speak
  • Join interior design associations, like The Society of British & International Interior Design.

Getting experience is indispensable because you will also be gathering contacts and building your reputation. All design projects you complete should be gathered into a regularly updated portfolio that showcases your skills and can be used for job or degree applications.

Build Your Brand

Once you have the skills, qualifications and the experience, the best step to take next is to market yourself as best and as regularly as you can. There are quite a few ways for you to do this, especially with the internet at your fingertips. You could:

  • Find a niche – The interior design world can be hard to break into, so dedicating time to finding a niche style is important. Will you make use of reclaimed materials in your designs? Or will you use bold, exciting furniture like accent tub chairs into every home you work in? What will your signature style be?
  • Use social media – Make good use of platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Pinterest to bring a range of people onto your work, connect with potential clients, show off your capabilities and provide information about your designs and your contact details
  • Create a logo – Make your logo simple but eye catching and representative of your business.
  • Business cards – Put your new logo on some crisp business cards and hand these out at every opportunity
  • Make a website – Keep your website updated regularly with your projects and other content and make your contact details clear
  • Enter competitions – Keep your eye out for relevant competitions you could enter, such as the UK Interior Awards, that could boost your reputation and credibility
  • Don’t be shy – Tell people what you’re doing and market yourself through word of mouth



Although getting into your dream interior design job may be a struggle, all the hard work and determination you put into it will pay off. If you’re passionate and enjoy the job, all the work won’t seem so hard, which means you’re definitely going into the right business! Start with small steps and remain confident in yourself and your skills, and you’ll find yourself progressing in an ever-growing industry that will benefit you just as much as you will benefit it.

Have any other questions about becoming an interior designer? Let us know in the comments and we’ll see what we can do for you.





Anna Sharples

Office and marketing manager for Sloane & Sons Stylish Chairs, who sell a range of high-quality tub chairs, accent chairs and more.


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