How To Become an Interior Designer

Posted on Jul 3, 2019

Being an interior designer is an extremely rewarding and exciting career. Think of it! The opportunity to help people fall even more deeply in love with their homes. The opportunity to exercise your creative mind while also using logic and practical problem-solving skills. The chance to get to know people’s unique sense of style and draw upon your encyclopedic knowledge of form, function, color, texture and spatial relationships to help their personality resonate all across their home.

It’s a challenging and infinitely gratifying way to make a living. No two days are ever the same. You get to work with a wide range of interesting people from all walks of life and best of all you get to see the look of surprise and joy on their faces when their home has been transformed. What’s more, when you’ve established a name for yourself and built a strong reputation, being an interior designer can be extremely lucrative. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the top 10% of interior designers make in excess of $130,000 a year. All while enjoying a sense of freedom and autonomy that you’d never be able to achieve while living the cubicle life.

Sound good? Thought so.

There are many of us who, at some point in our lives, have wondered...

How do I know if being an interior designer is for me?

The life of a top interior designer is understandably appealing. Interior designers enjoy a sense of freedom, independence and job satisfaction that most of us could only dream of, as well as getting to work with beautiful things and interesting people every day.

But, of course, if getting into interior design were easy, everybody would be doing it. It takes a certain disposition, a certain set of skills, passion, determination and a lot of experience before you can take your love of creating beautiful interiors to the professional arena.

Interior designers need to be able to draw on a vast pool of knowledge encompassing everything from color theory to psychology and even mathematics. An interior designer lives and thrives on the strength of their reputation, and as such they need to not only be consummate perfectionists but also to never stop learning new skills and finding new ways to improve upon themselves.

Do you think you have what it takes?

We hope so.

If you’re ready to break out of your comfort zone and take that bold first step out of the rat race and towards your dream job, we are here to help you to make the strongest possible start in your career. With that, we’ve compiled this guide to how to become an interior designer.

Understand the basic principles of interior design

Passion is great. Passion is what keeps you going when a project seems impossible or when a client just never quite seems to get excited about your ideas. But in order for that passion to translate into a successful career as an interior designer, it needs to be supplemented with theoretical and practical knowledge.

The great news is that you can start building on this knowledge right now. No matter how busy you are in your day job or how much you’re lacking in motivation when you come home, let your passion for interiors be the reason why you take the time to do the research necessary to make a strong start.

Understanding the basic principles of interior design is a great start…


Have you ever walked into a living space and noticed that everything looks and feels just… right? It’s likely because the interior designer had a great understanding of balance.

Balance helps to create a feeling of equilibrium. In interior design, balance is all about equalizing the visual “weight” of the different design elements in the living space. It’s about creating perfect attunement of colors, patterns, shapes and textures.

There are three different kinds of balance in interior design:

  • Symmetrical: Traditional design concept uses symmetrical balance. The space is evenly split into two sides that are an identical mirror of one another e.g. While it can be visually pleasing, it can also look a little formal and even, if you’re not careful, boring.
  • Asymmetrical: It’s possible to balance the visual weight of colors, patterns, lines, forms, and textures without the need for perfect symmetry. In fact, it can be more visually interesting and complex and help the space to look neat and pleasant yet relaxed.
  • Radial: This is achieved when a space has a central focal point with other elements radiating from or around it. Radial balance usually relies on a lot of repetition of form, texture, and color.


Rhythm is an important element of design just like in music. It’s all about creating repetitive patterns and using a contrast of colors, shapes, and textures to create visual interest. It’s all about encouraging the eye to move around the room. For instance, you can build a rhythm by using a certain color or pattern in your throw pillows, repeat it in some wall art and echo it again in your carpet or rug.


Harmony is an essential aspect of interior design. It’s about creating a sense of peace and restfulness through a unified design concept that ties all of the different elements of design together.


Sometimes, you want to add an element to a room that draws the eye and makes all the surrounding elements pop. A point of emphasis helps to ground your design concept and prevents it from becoming too repetitive or boring. A feature wall, stunning wall art, lighting feature, water feature or a statement furniture piece are all great examples of emphasis at work in interior design.

Proportion and Scale

Proportion is the ratio between the size of one design element to another, while scale is how the size of one object relates to another or the living space it occupies. The reason small but overstuffed spaces don’t work is because they are disproportionate and out of scale and so it looks visually jarring.

The ancient Greeks actually had a golden ratio for proportion:

The ratio of the smaller section to the larger section should be the same as that of the larger section to the overall space. It’s a principle that we see in nature all the time and is also present in many architectural styles

Everything you do as an interior designer will come back to these four principles, so start learning about them as soon as you can.

Understand what makes a great interior designer

As in any profession, the best interior designers are always improving and expanding upon their existing skills. If you’re going to be the kind of interior designer that consistently nets the highest profile (and highest paying) clients, you’ll need to identify and build the skills that will make you great;


The best interior designers are great communicators. They are able to understand their clients needs and communicate with them not just in their words but through the language of design. They pick up on the nuances of interpersonal communication to get a feel for the client’s taste and personality, building design concepts accordingly. They’re able to win the trust and respect of their clients and their vendors.

Creative problem solving

Interior design is just like construction and architecture. Every project is a set of unique problems that need to be solved. Every project will present an opportunity for you to use your creative problem solves (and demonstrate grace under pressure) when things go awry. Creative problem-solving abilities are absolutely essential and they only get stronger with practice.


Can you walk into an empty space and visualize the end result? This is actually much harder than most people think. It’s about more than imagination, it’s about implementing a system of practical solutions to get you from an empty room to the end result.

An eye for detail

Interior design isn’t just about creative flair. It’s about precision. Great interior designers need to be able to tie even the tiniest details together in order to create a unified design concept. They need to be able to understand every square inch of available space and understand that even the slightest inconsistency or compromise can undermine the entire design concept.

Experiment with friends and family members’ living spaces

Of course, theoretical knowledge will only get you so far. It needs to be combined with practical experience. You could read the instructions to open a jar of jam thoroughly and comprehensively… But that doesn’t mean you’d be able to open it when someone hands it to you.

The best way to get a feel for the realities of life as an interior designer is to experiment. Experiment in your own home. Offer your services (pro bono- of course) to friends and family. It’s a great way to put your growing knowledge into practice.

Find the right course for you

Can you find out everything you need to know about interior design on your own? In theory, yes. But the quest for knowledge is much, much easier when you know where to look. You can waste hours or even days of your life at the library or online burying yourself in knowledge that has no practical application (and won’t help you to break into the industry).

The great news is that you don’t need to quit your day job to enroll in an expensive and time-consuming course to learn how to be an interior designer. We offer a suite of courses designed to fit around your commitments and lifestyle.

Shadow interior designers

One of the best ways to apply your theoretical knowledge and turn it into great practice is by shadowing an accomplished interior designer. Watching them deal with clients and come up with creative solutions to different challenges can be a great way to gain a practical understanding of what you’ve learned while also seeing how an interior designer applies his or her own unique style to the task at hand.

Look for professional interior designers in your area and ask if you can shadow them for a week or two, or however long you have to spare. The experience you gain will be invaluable. What’s more, you will make a potentially useful contact within the industry. They may be prepared to offer you an internship or even a paid position on their team. They may provide a useful source of advice, guidance, and inspiration if you ever find yourself flummoxed by a project.

Whatever else they do for you, they can provide an extremely useful insight into what the life and work of an interior designer is actually like.

Build that portfolio

As we stated previously, an interior designer lives, thrives or fades into obscurity on the strength of their reputation. Your prospective clients need to know that their beloved properties are in safe hands when they hire you. In order to convince them, you’ll need to take the time to build a portfolio that wows potential clients and convinces them that you are the girl or guy for the job.

Never stop learning

Even when you break into the industry and work your way up to more prestigious and high-paying clients, you can never afford to rest on your laurels. The most in-demand interior designers are those who have a constant finger on the pulse. They’re always keeping up with the latest design trends while also learning from design trends of yesteryear (interior design, like fashion, is cyclical). They’re forever building upon their knowledge and consolidating existing skills even as they learn new ones.

How we can help

We provide accessible and affordable interior design courses that help you to make your dream of becoming an interior designer come true. Our courses have been written by an impressive collection of industry leaders, award-winning interior designers, and strategic business consultants. They can imbue you with a strong knowledge of interior design as well as the practical and business skills you’ll need to establish a strong presence in the field.

Our Instructors have been rigorously handpicked for their combination of unique skills, their professional successes and their ability to pass their knowledge onto others and nurture new talent.

Are you ready to take your first step forward?

Click here to get in touch with us today!