How to Be an Interior Decorator: Master the Art

How to Be an Interior Decorator?

To become an interior decorator, the first step is to gain knowledge and education in the field.

While a degree is not necessary, it is preferable for better job prospects.

Accredited programs by organizations such as CID and IDS are recommended for education.

Additionally, developing skills in drawing and computer software is important.

Networking and joining professional organizations can provide valuable opportunities for learning and growth.

Building a portfolio is essential to showcase your work as an interior decorator.

Finally, staying updated with interior trends is crucial, which can be done by following color trends, reading trade magazines, and attending market and home shows.

Key Points:

  • Gain knowledge and education in the field of interior decorating
  • Preferably, obtain a degree for better job prospects
  • Consider enrolling in accredited programs such as CID and IDS
  • Develop skills in drawing and computer software
  • Network and join professional organizations for learning and growth opportunities
  • Build a portfolio to showcase work as an interior decorator
  • Stay updated with interior trends by following color trends, reading trade magazines, and attending market and home shows


Did You Know?

1. During the Renaissance period, interior decorators were often hired to create “phantasmagoric” rooms, which were designed to deceive and entertain guests. These rooms featured hidden doors, moving walls, and intricate illusions to create a fantastical experience.

2. The world’s oldest known interior decorator is believed to be Phyllis Harbinger, who began her career in the early 1900s. Her work was highly acclaimed and she was renowned for her ability to blend different architectural styles seamlessly.

3. In ancient Egypt, interior decorators played a vital role in constructing the famous pyramids. They not only focused on the design and aesthetics of the burial chambers but also utilized their knowledge of mathematics and engineering to ensure the structural integrity of the pyramids.

4. One of the most unusual interior decorating trends in history was the “zoomorphic” style popularized in the 19th century. This style involved incorporating animal forms and motifs into furniture, wallpapers, and other decorative elements, which often resulted in extravagant and whimsical designs.

5. The concept of Feng Shui, a Chinese philosophical system that aims to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment, has been a crucial aspect of interior decoration for centuries. Feng Shui principles, such as proper furniture placement and the use of specific colors, are believed to enhance the flow of positive energy and bring good fortune to the occupants of a space.

Interior Decorating Vs. Interior Design: Understanding The Difference

Interior decorating and interior design are related fields, but they have different focuses and responsibilities. Interior decorating primarily deals with the aesthetics and functionality of a space, while interior design involves more complex tasks such as architectural planning and structural considerations.

  • Interior decorators work with clients to select furnishings, fabrics, colors, and accessories to enhance the overall look and feel of a space. They focus on details like cabinet spacing, budget management, coordinating with contractors, and creating presentations.

  • Interior designers, on the other hand, often oversee the entire construction or renovation process. They collaborate with architects and contractors, create floor plans, and ensure compliance with building codes.

The key distinction between the two lies in the education requirement. Interior decorators do not require a degree, but having one can lead to better job prospects and provide credibility. In contrast, interior designers typically hold a degree in interior design and may be required to pass licensing exams.

However, the growing popularity of interior decorating as a profession has led to the emergence of accredited programs offered by organizations like the Certified Interior Decorators International (CID) and the Interior Design Society (IDS). These programs provide formal education specifically in interior decorating.

  • Interior decorating primarily deals with aesthetics and functionality
  • Interior design involves architectural planning and structural considerations
  • Interior decorators select furnishings, fabrics, colors, and accessories
  • Interior designers oversee the construction or renovation process
  • Interior decorators do not require a degree, but it can be beneficial
  • Interior designers usually have a degree and may need to pass licensing exams
  • Accredited programs are available for interior decorating education.

“Interior decorating and interior design are distinct fields with different focuses.”

Education And Accreditation: Choosing The Right Program

While a degree is not required for interior decorating, pursuing formal education from an accredited program can be highly beneficial. Accredited programs offer comprehensive training in areas such as color theory, space planning, textiles, and design principles. This formal education provides aspiring interior decorators with a solid foundation and can greatly enhance their skills and knowledge, giving them a competitive edge in the industry.

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Two well-respected organizations that accredit interior decorating programs are Certified Interior Decorators International (CID) and the Interior Design Society (IDS). Choosing an accredited program ensures that the education received aligns with industry standards and best practices. This accreditation also adds credibility to your qualifications and can greatly enhance your career prospects.

In addition to formal education, participating in internships or apprenticeships during your studies can provide invaluable hands-on experience and mentorship opportunities. These practical experiences allow you to apply the knowledge gained in the classroom to real-world situations, preparing you for the challenges you may face as an interior decorator.

Skills For Success: Artistic, Drawing, And Computer Skills

While artistic talent is not a prerequisite for becoming an interior decorator, it can greatly benefit professionals in visualizing and presenting ideas to clients. The ability to conceptualize a space and translate ideas into visually appealing designs is a valuable asset in this profession. However, even without natural artistic talent, you can develop these skills through practice, education, and experience.

In addition to inherent artistic talent, interior decorators must possess proficient drawing and computer skills. Hand-drawing skills are vital for creating sketches and rendering design ideas, while computer skills, including proficiency in design software such as AutoCAD, SketchUp, or Adobe Photoshop, are essential for creating digital presentations and 3D models. These skills allow decorators to effectively communicate their ideas to clients and collaborate with other professionals in the field.

  • Artistic talent is not essential, but it can be beneficial in interior decorating.
  • Developing skills through practice, education, and experience is possible.
  • Proficient drawing and computer skills are necessary for interior decorators.
  • Hand-drawing skills are important for creating sketches and rendering design ideas.
  • Computer skills, including design software proficiency, are essential for digital presentations and 3D models.

“The ability to conceptualize a space and translate ideas into visually appealing designs is a valuable asset in this profession.”

Professional Organizations: Networking And Educational Opportunities

Joining professional organizations in the field of interior design, such as the Interior Design Society (IDS) and Certified Interior Decorators International (CID), offers several benefits for decorators. These organizations regularly host conferences, workshops, and seminars, where industry professionals network and share knowledge. By participating in these events, decorators can stay updated with the latest trends, techniques, and technologies in the field.

Networking within these organizations can also provide valuable job opportunities and collaborations. By building relationships with fellow decorators, suppliers, and contractors, decorators can receive referrals and recommendations, which can enhance their reputation and expand their client base.

Moreover, these organizations often offer certification programs that validate decorators’ skills and expertise. Attaining these certifications showcases a decorator’s commitment to professional growth and sets them apart from their competitors.

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To summarize, joining professional organizations in interior design offers the following benefits:

  • Networking and educational opportunities
  • Access to industry conferences, workshops, and seminars
  • Potential job opportunities and collaborations
  • Referrals and recommendations
  • Validation of skills and expertise through certification programs

Career Opportunities: Exploring Different Paths In Interior Decorating

The field of interior decorating offers a wide array of career opportunities, catering to various interests within the industry. Depending on your preferences, you can choose to specialize in residential design, commercial design, or even crossover careers like interior design journalism.

Residential decorators work with homeowners to create functional and aesthetically pleasing living spaces that reflect their personal style. They consider factors such as space utilization, furniture selection, color schemes, and accessorizing.

Commercial decorators, on the other hand, focus on designing spaces such as offices, hotels, restaurants, and retail stores. Their responsibilities may include selecting durable and visually appealing materials, optimizing flow and functionality, and adhering to brand standards.

Some interior decorators find success in the retail industry, either working for home décor stores or starting their own home-based businesses. In the retail industry, decorators assist customers in selecting furniture, accessories, and décor items that suit their tastes and complement their homes. This career path offers the opportunity to earn commissions or a steady salary.

For those interested in combining their passion for design with writing, interior design journalism can be a rewarding career path. Interior design journalists write articles, features, and product reviews for print and online publications, sharing their expertise and insights with a wider audience.

Getting Started: Tips For Building A Portfolio And Gaining Experience

Building a strong portfolio is essential for showcasing your creativity, skills, and professionalism as an interior decorator. It serves as a visual representation of your capabilities and can significantly impact your chances of securing clients or employment opportunities.

Here are some tips for building a compelling portfolio:

  • Start with hands-on experience in your own home or with family and friends’ spaces. This allows you to experiment and showcase your abilities without the pressure of meeting clients’ expectations.
  • Offer to assist or shadow experienced decorators. This provides an opportunity to learn from their expertise, gain practical experience, and expand your network.
  • Reach out to local businesses, such as furniture stores or design studios, and inquire about internships or volunteer opportunities. Even if these positions are unpaid, they offer invaluable industry experience and the chance to build relationships with professionals in the field.
  • Connect with local suppliers and manufacturers. Establishing good relationships with these professionals can lead to discounts, referrals, and insider knowledge of the latest products and trends.

Remember, gaining experience and honing your skills is an ongoing process. Continuously seek opportunities to develop your portfolio, whether through paid assignments, pro bono work, or personal projects. The more diverse and comprehensive your portfolio, the better chance you have of impressing potential clients and employers.

In conclusion, becoming an interior decorator requires a combination of creativity, skills, and knowledge. While a degree is not essential, pursuing formal education and accreditations can provide a competitive edge and validate your expertise. Developing artistic, drawing, and computer skills is crucial for effective communication and visualization. Joining professional organizations offers networking and educational opportunities that can enhance your professional growth. Exploring various career paths within the interior decorating field allows you to find your niche and capitalize on your strengths. Finally, building a strong portfolio and gaining practical experience through internships and volunteer work are key steps towards establishing yourself as a successful interior decorator.

  • Start with hands-on experience in your own home or with family and friends’ spaces.
  • Offer to assist or shadow experienced decorators.
  • Reach out to local businesses for internships or volunteer opportunities.
  • Connect with local suppliers and manufacturers.
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Frequently Asked Questions

Is it hard to be an interior decorator?

Being an interior decorator can be challenging due to the required skills and knowledge. While it may seem similar to being an interior designer, there are distinct differences. Interior decorators typically do not have the same architectural design background as interior designers. This can make it harder for interior decorators to offer certain design services that require technical expertise in areas such as structural elements or building codes. However, with the right training and experience, interior decorators can still create stunning spaces by focusing on aesthetics, color schemes, and furniture selection, showcasing their unique talent for creating visually appealing and functional interiors.

What is the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

While both interior designers and interior decorators are involved in enhancing the aesthetics of a space, there is a fundamental difference between the two. Interior design goes beyond just decorating; it involves a deeper understanding of people’s behavior to optimize functionality within a building. Interior designers study human needs and preferences, considering aspects like traffic flow, space planning, and ergonomics to create functional spaces that align with the client’s requirements.

On the other hand, interior decorators focus primarily on the aesthetic aspects of a space. They specialize in selecting and arranging fashionable or beautiful objects and furnishings to enhance the visual appeal of a room. While interior decorators may have a keen sense of style and a knack for creating visually pleasing environments, their expertise typically does not extend to the technical and architectural aspects of interior design.

What qualifications do you need for interior design?

To pursue a career in interior design, obtaining the appropriate qualifications will provide a solid foundation for success. Several educational paths can lead to this profession, including foundation degrees, higher national diplomas, or degrees in relevant subjects such as interior design, art and design, or interior architecture. These programs equip students with the essential knowledge and skills required in the field of interior design, covering aspects like spatial planning, color theory, materials selection, and project management. Building proficiency in these areas enables individuals to create aesthetically pleasing and functional spaces that meet clients’ needs and preferences.

Moreover, obtaining qualifications in interior design also offers opportunities to explore various techniques, technology applications, and design principles. Students can learn how to use computer-aided design (CAD) software, develop drawing and rendering skills, and understand different interior styles and historical influences. Gaining experience through internships or practical projects during these programs further enhances one’s understanding of the profession and helps in building a strong portfolio to showcase their creative abilities. Overall, pursuing the right qualifications in interior design ensures individuals have the necessary expertise and knowledge to embark on a successful and fulfilling career in this creative field.

Is interior design a happy career?

Interior design can indeed be a happy career for those who have a passion for creativity and imagination. The satisfaction that comes from transforming spaces into beautiful and functional environments can bring immense joy and fulfillment to an interior designer. Moreover, the financial security provided by this profession adds an extra layer of contentment, as it allows individuals to pursue their creative passions while maintaining stability in their lives. Ultimately, interior design offers the perfect blend of artistic expression and financial stability, making it a truly happy career for those who choose to venture into it.

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