Could this be your new interior design office?
Hello and welcome to the exciting world of virtual interior design!
If you have a passion for interior decorating, creativity, and an eye for detail, then a career in virtual interior design might be the perfect fit for you. With the rise of remote work and online design services, becoming a virtual interior designer has never been more accessible. Not only can you turn your passion into a fulfilling career, but you can also do it from the comfort of your own home.
In this post, we’ll guide you through three ways to becoming a virtual interior designer, from the necessary skills and education needed to get started, to the best resources, communities and platforms to learn virtual interior design and grow your design business.
So, get ready to unleash your creativity and transform spaces from anywhere in the world!
What is Virtual Interior Design?
If you’re in the interior design, decorating or home staging business and just hearing about virtual interior design for the first time, take note.
It’s getting easier to conduct projects virtually, and although there are still some drawbacks to fully remote design projects, there are many benefits too.
If you are a design professional who finds yourself doing a lot of work remotely these days, you should know that moving aspects your business further online could be a really smart choice.
By streamlining and even automating much of the process of your interior design workflow with the help of dedicated virtual interior design software, you can spend less time on the tedious parts of the job and more on real design work.
A Short History of Virtual Design
Virtual interior design, also known as “E-design,” has gained widespread recognition in recent years. While the pandemic’s impact on the interior design industry in mid-2020 sparked a surge in popularity for remote interior design services, the concept has been around for much longer. In fact, some interior design professionals had already adopted the practice of distance design as early as 2008, similar to how the company “Zoom” had existed long before the pandemic made it popular.
However, it took some time for virtual interior design to gain recognition and appreciation as a viable option for many interior design professionals.
Virtual Interior Design for Solopreneurs
Virtual interior design is one of the fastest growing interior design professional tracks out there today and the barrier to entry is extremely low compared with the traditional interior design model.
Are you ready to get started as a virtual interior designer? Want to know what it takes and how to get there?
How to Get Started
Choose your time frame:
- Short track -You are already an interior design diploma graduate, you have worked in the industry, or you are a hobbyist with design skills. The first two ways apply to you!
- Standard track -You are really interested in interior design, but you don’t have any skills yet. Everyone starts somewhere. Of the three ways to become a virtual interior designer explained below, the third option might be your best bet.
What are the 3 routes to become a virtual interior designer?
Say goodbye to real color samples!
- Get a virtual job as a virtual designer! You will actually be working, but the idea here is that you can work from anywhere.
- Work for yourself as a virtual or e-designer solopreneur. Learn about the tools and what you will need to pull this off below.
- Start learning to become a virtual designer today. The road to a virtual design job or entrepreneurship is shorter than becoming a full-fledged interior designer offering full service interior design.
Trained Interior Designers
If you’re an educated interior designer, then you’re already well on your way to becoming a successful virtual interior designer. Your design education has provided you with the foundational knowledge and skills necessary to create beautiful and functional spaces, and virtual design simply requires a slight adjustment to the way you work.
The concept of virtual design is essentially a pared-down version of what you learned in design school, but with the added benefit of being fully online. With virtual interior design, you’ll still use your creativity, design principles, and knowledge of materials, colors, and textures to create beautiful and functional spaces. The only difference is that you’ll be working with clients remotely, communicating through online platforms and video conferencing.
When it comes to transitioning to virtual interior design, the main decision you’ll need to make is whether you want to work for an online interior design agency or work for yourself. Working for an online agency can be a great way to gain experience and build your portfolio, as they will likely have an existing network of clients and projects to work on. On the other hand, working for yourself as an independent virtual interior designer can provide you with more flexibility and control over your projects and pricing.
Regardless of which path you choose, the demand for virtual interior design services is only expected to grow in the coming years, making it an exciting and lucrative field for talented and creative interior designers.
Comparing Working for an Online Interior Design Agency vs. Working for Yourself
When it comes to working as a virtual interior designer, there are two main paths you can take, each with its own unique advantages and challenges. The first path is to work for an online interior design agency or firm, where you’ll focus solely on design and leave the business operations to someone else. This can be a great option if you prefer to focus exclusively on the creative aspects of interior design and don’t want to deal with the responsibilities and challenges of running your own business.
On the other hand, if you’re up for the challenge of being a design entrepreneur, now is a great time to start your own virtual interior design business. Running your own business can provide you with more freedom, control, and flexibility, allowing you to tailor your services to your own unique style and approach. However, it also means that you’ll need to handle all aspects of the business, from marketing and sales to finances and operations.
Ultimately, the choice between working for an online agency or starting your own virtual interior design business comes down to your personal goals and preferences. If you’re a talented designer who wants to focus solely on the creative aspects of interior design, working for an online agency may be the best option. However, if you’re a self-starter who is passionate about design and wants to build your own brand and business, starting your own virtual interior design business can be a rewarding and exciting path to pursue.
We’ve outlined some of the pros and cons you might consider when deciding which of these two options are right for you below.
Pros and Cons of Self Employment vs. Agency Work
|Agency pros||Agency cons||Self-employments pros||Self employment cons|
No need to find clients, the agency finds them for you
You might not get much say in what type of clients you get or what you work on
You can choose the clients you work with and take on the type of work that you want, IF you can afford to be picky
You will need to hustle to find your own clients
You will likely be provided with software for the job and given some training or instruction
You might not get a say in what software you will use or how your design process works
You can choose whatever software or application you want to work with for your design work
You will need to go through the process of choosing, buying and vetting your own software at your expense and time
It’s always great to collaborate with and learn from other designers.
You can get answers to questions, support and handle problems in real time.
Nothing to see here.
There really are more pros than cons on this point, but suffice it to say that it would be great if you like your company and coworkers.
If you don’t, you can always go elsewhere, or, hey, it’s virtual after all, you won’t have to interact as much as in a physical studio.
Perhaps an online community of like minded business people like yourself can help to fill the void that comes from doing everything yourself.
But maybe you like it that way.
You will have to build your own if you don’t already have a team.
If you are a solopreneur, you will have to be happy doing everything yourself and looking for help wherever you can. The buck stops with you.
Depending on the agency, you might get some base pay or it might be hourly or project based.
Nonetheless, with the stress of having to find clients left to the company, you just do what you do best with your time: design.
You are responsible for the work you agree to do and for finishing that work.
Depending on your agency, you may have to bid for jobs by putting out a free proposal and see if you “win” the job.
If you don’t, you may not make anything. Better luck next time.
Clients may be able to ask for several rounds of revisions, which can eat into your time and profits.
Make sure you plan for these factors.
You can take on as many or as few hours as you like.
All profits are yours.
Ultimately, as the solopreneur or head of the company, you are the one that has to pick up the slack if a project goes off the rails.
This means any extra work or hours are yours to pick up.
You might have the option of outsourcing some of your work to virtual design assistants at hourly rates.
This depends on your popularity as a designer and how efficiently you are able to work.
If you find a good virtual employer, you can likely make some money.
One benefit to large virtual design companies is that they can avail themselves of many trade discounts which lower costs for the client, making the cost of hiring and e-designer lower and more accessible.
You are paid by the hour or per project.
When it comes time to extend or renegotiate your work contract, you should try to get a raise, but keep in mind that if demand for work is higher than for designers, you don’t have much control.
Watch out for disreputable companies who shaft their designers.
As the boss, the sky’s the limit.
All profits are yours to keep and if you’re smart you will keep reinvesting into your company to grow it.
Don’t just be self employed, work on building something that can stand the test of time!
Remember that you have to keep on bringing the business in the door, so a fair bit of your time is going to be on lead generation and bidding.
If you aren’t good at this, and you only want to be a designer, the entrepreneurship path might not be for you.
Path to Virtual Designer – First way: Virtual Interior Design Job
Goal: Designer in pajama bottoms
How Do You Become a Designer with an Online Agency or Virtual Design Company?
If you’re interested in pursuing a career in virtual interior design, there are many online companies and platforms that are looking for talented designers to join their teams. A simple search on job websites such as Indeed or LinkedIn can yield a plethora of opportunities.
For example, Decorilla is an online interior design company that connects clients with remote designers to create personalized design plans. The company is based in New York City but has a virtual team of designers that work remotely from all over the world.
Havenly is another virtual interior design platform that matches clients with designers based on their style, budget, and preferences. The company has been featured in publications such as The New York Times and Elle Decor and has a growing team of remote designers.
Modsy is a technology-enabled interior design service that allows clients to see their virtual designs in 3D before making any changes to their real-life spaces. The company hires remote designers who work with clients to create custom designs that fit their specific needs and style.
Other online interior design companies that frequently have job openings for remote designers include Laurel & Wolf, Decorist, and eDesign Tribe.
Whether you’re just starting out in the interior design field or are a seasoned designer looking for a new challenge, there are many opportunities to work as a virtual interior designer for a range of companies and platforms. With the flexibility and convenience of remote work, you can pursue your passion for interior design from anywhere in the world.
Disclaimer: Design Baddie has no firsthand experience with any of the online employers listed here.
Links are provided for educational and information purposes only.
Online Interior Design Companies Hiring
Interested in knowing more about the virtual interior design process and job market? This article on Business of Home explains how virtual interior design companies work and hire in more detail.
Online Job Recruitment Agents with Virtual Interior Design Job Vacancies (400,000+ Jobs Advertised!)
It is also possible to work as a virtual interior design assistant if you are in design school and looking for some part time work!
What you will need to get started working for an agency:
- Computer skills
- Design skills
- A design portfolio
- Personal or laptop computer and internet connection
- Virtual design application or software
Be advised that every agency or online employer is different, these are only general common-sense guidelines.
Path to Virtual Designer – Second Way: Solopreneur
Goal: Boss designer in pajama bottoms or Zoom boss, also in pajamas
Here’s what you will need to get started working for yourself or starting your own company:
- Design skills
- Computer skills
- Potential customers or plans for getting them
- A brand name
- A design niche
- An online portfolio/services page
- Virtual design application or software
- A plan of action
Keep in mind that each entrepreneur is different and budgets may differ. These are only general common-sense guidelines.
Online e-Design business bare basics
- Learn the online design platform
- Understand the e-design market
- Understand the main focus points for setting up your own e-design business
- Get access to good resources for e-design, including marketing, invoicing, legal and project management templates
Path to Virtual Designer – Third way: Learn Decorating and the Virtual Interior Design System from Scratch
Goal: Zealous student in pajamas, soon to earn dollars in pajamas
How do you go about learning how to design virtually?
Your only option if you don’t know how to design, is to learn how to become a virtual interior designer. But don’t worry, learning interior design, whatever your current level and eventual goal, is a lot of fun! It can also all be done online and at minimal commitment and expense. Even for free, if you’re resourceful.
How Do You Become a Self-Employed Interior Designer or Virtual Design Entrepreneur from Scratch?
Becoming a self-employed interior designer or virtual design entrepreneur can be an exciting and rewarding career path, but it takes more than just design skills to succeed. Here are some steps you can take to start your own virtual interior design business from scratch:
- Gain Experience and Build Your Portfolio: Start small. If you don’t have a solid foundation of interior design knowledge and experience, begin by learning decorating or an interior design crash course. Consider working for an online interior design company or in a traditional design firm to gain experience and build your portfolio. You can also take on freelance projects or offer your services to friends and family members to gain real-world experience and start building your portfolio.
- Develop Your Business Plan: To start a successful virtual interior design business, you’ll need a solid business plan. This includes identifying your target audience, defining your services and pricing, setting goals and objectives, and developing a marketing strategy.
- Set Up Your Virtual Office: As a virtual interior designer, you’ll need to create a professional and functional virtual office. This includes setting up a website, creating a portfolio of your work, and establishing your social media presence. You’ll also need to invest in the right technology and software to ensure that you can provide top-quality design services to your clients.
- Market Your Business: One of the most important aspects of starting a virtual interior design business is marketing. You’ll need to build your brand and establish your online presence to attract potential clients. This can include social media marketing, email marketing, content marketing, and paid advertising.
- Provide Exceptional Customer Service: As a self-employed interior designer or virtual design entrepreneur, your reputation is everything. Make sure to provide exceptional customer service to your clients and go above and beyond to exceed their expectations. This will help you build a loyal client base and generate positive word-of-mouth referrals.
Becoming a self-employed interior designer or virtual design entrepreneur takes time, effort, and dedication, but it can be a rewarding and fulfilling career path. With the right skills, knowledge, and business plan, you can start your own successful virtual interior design business from scratch.
I personally wouldn’t recommend learning and doing at the same time, especially not if you want to rely on your e-design income for your personal income.
Rather, it would make sense to learn interior design skills and software before looking for a job doing virtual interior design or working for yourself.
How Long Will it Take to Learn How to Do Virtual Design?
I would say that, depending on how much time you had to actually study and how “good” you wanted to get at decorative design, you could learn enough to start doing virtual design in three to six months.
As a beginner it would make sense to start small and offer decorating services. Our best guess would be that you could learn the basics of decorating in about three months part time, if you were studying on your own, and then take a few months to learn the virtual interior design program and business model.
If you are taking a structured course go by the course recommendations.
Some advice on getting started learning virtual decorating or design:
-The more prior experience you have in the building or furniture industry or working on personal home projects (and the more you know about using design software!) the easier you will find learning virtual interior design.
-If you are seriously starting from scratch, I would recommend that you find a good A-Z course that will take you through everything you need to know to get started.
-Remember that learning interior decorating and design is separate to learning how to run a business.
-Decorating is your quickest bet, but depending on your future ambitions, you may want to focus on design as well as decorating, or even consider taking an accredited course.
If you are still unsure of what type of designer you want to be this article may be useful:
Are there any platforms out there that teach, decorating, design and the virtual design business model all in one?
Foyr is just one of many online platforms that can help aspiring virtual interior designers launch their own businesses. While Foyr does offer some basic training in design styles, it’s important to note that platforms like these are primarily designed to provide a software application that can be used as a platform to run an interior design e-business.
The application costs $49/monthly for basic, $49/mo yearly for standard and $149 for premium at the time of publishing.
However, there are other platforms that offer more comprehensive training in decorating, design, and the virtual design business model all in one. For example, Decorist, an online interior design company, not only offers virtual design services but also provides training for aspiring virtual interior designers through its Decorist Design School.
The Decorist Design School is an eight-week course that teaches the fundamentals of interior design, business development, and virtual design technologies. The course costs $2,400, but it provides a more in-depth education on the design and business aspects of virtual interior design.
Ultimately, whether you choose to use a platform like Foyr or enroll in a program like Decorist Design School, it’s important to research and evaluate your options to determine which platform or training program will best suit your needs and goals.
Resources for Learning Decorating Online:
Free or Super Low Commitment Interior Design Resources:
If you’re looking to cover the basics, this course is absolutely free.
Just free information, no sign ups necessary.
Same as above!
This website is a goldmine for interior design and decoating beginners, DIYers and rental apartment ideas.
Decorating, home decor, lifestyle, CAD, 3D rendering, 3D modeling, SketchUp
Get started for free, but you will need to sign up
Learn Virtual Design Online:
Rachel Simon Studio
Again, I have no experience with any of the above decorating or e-design courses. Information is for educational purposes only.
Need an easy virtual design platform and access to a helpful e-design community now?
I’ve been working with Design Files for years, and they have a great community of virtual designers using their virtual interior design platform.
The company started out as Olioboard back when I was a design student, and their tools were hands-down the best place on the web to create mood boards.
Their application included with libraries of real product images and made it a cinch to create 2D boards specifically for interior design.
I used them all the way through design school and I still use their SAAS (software as a service) membership services today!
If you need to create 3D rooms and renderings, I suggest E-Design Tribe.
The Design Files Virtual Interior Design Platform
Fast forward a few years and the Olioboard moodboard community has evolved.
The company, rebranded as Design Files has now turned their focus to serving interior designers who offer virtual services.
The Design Files designer platform offers a complete package for those wanting to get started with their own business, from basic client questionnaire, to examples of legal documents and tons of tools for client and project management.
The private Facebook community for Design Files has more than four thousand virtual and real world designers who make up an active and very helpful community.
If you are just starting out, you won’t have to work in 3D, as their 2D tools can create 3D-like shoppable virtual room boards, which are a cinch to put together.
The owners and ongoing developers of the cloud-based application offer support in close to real time and regularly poll the community about new features.
I can personally vouch for the fact that they are always improving their products and taking suggestions.
It’s been a pleasure working with them thus far.
Please note: I do not actually represent Design Files, I’m only telling you about my personal experience and what I use.
As a long-term designer on the Design Files platform, however, if you sign up through my affiliate link, below, I will receive a once off referral compensation at NO cost to you 🙂
I hope that this has helped to answer some of your questions of how to get started in virtual design.
If you’re looking for more information on becoming an interior designer and about your various options, check out some of my other relevant articles below.
As always, feel free to drop me a line personally if you have any questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
We are on a mission at Design Baddie to make basic interior design information accessible and free to all! We will be giving away our future introductory interior design e-books absolutely free.