If you’re a creative type who isn’t afraid of planning or working through fine details or if you simply find yourself drawn to interior design, there’s an excellent chance that you’d enjoy the journey of studying interior design.
Does this sound like you?
-You rearranged your room constantly as a child, or perhaps you’ve started recently and you feel like you have a million ideas
-You are no stranger to Apartment Therapy, Houzz, House Beautiful, Architectural Digest and possibly Design Aid and Decorilla
-You love reading interior design magazines in print, and these days you spend all your time on Pinterest looking at home decor.
-You’re the one your friends go to when they want opinions on the styling of their homes or rooms
-You know all of the major home decor and interior design shows on TV
-You know the Million Dollar Decorators by their first names
-YouTube continually recommends shows about renovation, DIY and decorating
-You stalk your favorite celebrity designers on Insta
-Perhaps you always enjoyed the energy of a construction site or have seen the value a well-designed space adds to real estate
-You see people working in the interior design industry and catch yourself thinking, “I wonder if I could do that?” or you simply wish you could.
If you can relate, then chances are, you’ve caught the design bug.
Learning Interior Design vs. Going (Back) to School
Learning, Studying or Dabbling?
Learning is a broad term which could range anywhere from “look into” and “find out more about” and all the way to “get a degree in interior design”.
The aim of this article is to help you figure out where you fall on that spectrum. Interior design might simply be a passing interest for you or a newfound hobby.
Your interest in interior design might also turn, as it did for me, into something of an obsession and a subsequent lifelong journey.
Although you don’t have to be a conventional artist or have special technical skills to get started in interior design, it helps if:
-You have a knack for tackling creative tasks
-You are open to learning about organization and processes
Computer skills are essential, and you will work with 2D and 3D image creation software.
Interior Design “Naturals”
So without further ado, the types of people who are a natural fit for getting into interior design are:
- Creative so-called left brainers, including self-professed and diagnosed ADD/ADHD types (read: people who are often easily bored when not working on something they find engaging)
- Aspiring and established artists
- People with a knack for building and those with good visual-spatial intelligence
- People working in home goods or furniture retail or those in the building or real estate industry who want to add to upskill their professional value and increase their potential revenue
- Design-oriented people who want to be their own boss
- Students who are interested in both the liberal arts and sciences
- People interested in a larger and more grandiose vision of shaping the future of built environments
We will discuss the 11 types in greater detail in our numbered list below:
1. Self-Identified Creative Types
The Creative Person’s Dilemma
Creative people are sometimes misunderstood.
When they succeed, they can be seen as geniuses, but when they bounce from one job to another, feeling uninspired with routine, they can seem like failures.
If you are this type of person, perhaps you can relate.
Creatives are sometimes called left brainers.
Although there is some disagreement over whether creative people actually use a different hemisphere of their brain, we can all agree that some people just think differently.
Creative types are more likely to feel bored when doing tasks that are too repetitive or which don’t seem to have a greater purpose.
Many people who have been labelled as ADD/ADHD types are actually just people who need more stimulation and who like to experiment more than others.
Creative people are actually less risk averse, which enables them to try new things and hit on new ways of doing things.
Interior Design as a Solution
Interior design is a wonderful career choice for creatives for many reasons.
The highlights are:
-More chance to be an entrepreneur and work for yourself
-A wide range of tasks to keep you hopping from thing to thing
-More reasons to get away from the computer and do physical and social tasks, such as seeing clients, site survey, visitation and furniture procurement
-A good mix of technical and creative tasks
In short, interior design can help creatives who have a lot of good ideas to learn the skills that will bring those creative ideas to fruition.
2. Aspiring Artists and Established Artists
Starving Artist No More
It’s an unfortunate fact, but aspiring artists often struggle with supporting themselves through their art alone.
Although there have been some positive developments to the artist’s landscape over the last decade (think teaching or showcasing on YouTube, Patreon, creating NFTs for digital artists, etc.) the challenges of how to make a good income still remains a reality for many.
This is where combining technical skills, such as those used in the interior design profession, can have a huge impact on the already-talented artist.
Learning Interior Design Helps You Up-Skill
The best part about ‘upskill-ing’ by adding some interior design computer skills (CAD) to your artist’s skill set, is that you still get to be creative, but get paid so much better for it.
If you are an established artist or you went to school for fine art or the visual arts, then you already have a leg up on those people who don’t know color theory, composition and art history.
You might just find interior design an easy, natural fit for you.
Plus, the types of clients who hire interior designers are often art lovers and collectors, which means you don’t necessarily need to give up creating your art.
You might end up finding new patrons for it!
3. People Who Have a Knack for Building or DIY
Expand Your Existing Skill Set
From carpenters and furniture makers to people who build their own decks and do their own landscaping, if you are a DIY-er you understand how to use materials and how to work from a plan.
If you are looking for a way to increase your skillset and make more money in the process, consider offering residential interior design renovation and fit-out services.
Interior Design Gives You the Tools to Grow
Since you already have a handle on different aspects of the practical side of interior design, all you need to learn is how to create the overarching plan that considers and incorporates color, styling and the aesthetic side of interior design.
Some basic interior design courses might just fit the bill here and get you started on an exciting new career path!
True, based on your current skill set, considerations like space planning and decorating might not be your natural forte, but by learning about these aspects of home design, you can greatly increase your existing value.
Once you find your own style (or if you already have one!), you can use this niche to help land you clients.
There is also the possibility for you to specialize in a certain area of interior design, such as kitchen remodels or bathroom design.
If you’re not sure about taking the plunge to learn design yourself, consider hooking up with an interior designer who is just starting out and see if you can’t team up on projects.
All you need is a good trade name, a business license, an eye catching website and some name cards and you are ready to rock and roll!
4. People with Good Natural Visual-Spatial Intelligence
Create, Don’t Just Consume
Hello, gamers! People who are naturally gifted with good visual-spatial intelligence can do really well with the technical aspects of being an interior designer, particularly the 3-D Computer Aided Design software part.
For some designers this is the hardest part of becoming an interior designer and getting started can be challenging.
Visual-spatial intelligence alone won’t make you a good designer, but there is no denying that it is fundamentally important to the job of being a full-fledged designer in the first place.
Designers are constantly working between computer programs and from two-dimensional plans to three-dimensional space, and vice versa.
In Your Element
Even when you don’t have your computer with you on a job site, you will often need to take visual inventory of spaces, work from photographs and drawings, as well as visualize things in three dimensions that may not even be there yet.
Having a good ‘working reference’ mentally and the ability to ‘read’ and remember the layouts of three dimensional spaces is a massive bonus to an up-and-coming designer.
All designers get good at this just from having to do it, but if you happen to be one of those people who are naturally gifted in this department, you have an early advantage, as well as the potential to really excel at it.
5. Home Goods and Furniture Retail Employees
Interior Design Products
If you happen to be one of those people who already spends a lot of time around the products that are the backbone of what interior designers specify for their projects, you already have an “in”.
Learning about material products, furniture and fittings is a huge part of what interior designers study in order to be able to make the right selections for their clients on projects.
If you already know a lot about some aspect of the trades which serve interior design, this could be your area of expertise. Like the DIY-er in number 3, all you would need to do is learn the supporting skills and gain the added knowledge to help you start designing.
Become a Master of Your Domain
Chances are that if you don’t hate your current job and actually enjoy furniture and doing stylistic arrangements, you could quite easily expand to learning about interior design.
One great advantage you have is that you are already used to dealing with the customers!
There are more than a few interior designers of some reputation who got started working in a furniture showroom or antique store.
It’s really not hard to see how that happens.
Stop doubting yourself and consider developing the skills to help yourself upskill to a design role today!
6. People Who Currently Work in the Construction Industry
Building is the Backbone of Interior Design’s Success
If this one seems like a stretch, it actually isn’t. It all comes down to what your present area of expertise is and what you could see yourself doing in a design role.
After all, part of the job of being an interior designer is actually putting out and awarding bids for construction projects, as well as managing and overseeing them.
As someone who knows a lot about construction, working in tandem with or working towards being able to do your own designing could be really lucrative for you.
Look into design-build companies and renovation type work.
New constructions and property developments are another great opportunity for those who are willing to handle the design side of a building project.
7. People Who Currently Work in the Real Estate Industry
Maximize and Leverage Your Property’s Potential
Any real estate developer or estate agent who hasn’t looked at a property that was in need of some fixing up and thought that they might have an idea of how to do that, probably hasn’t been in the industry that long.
People who work in real estate are on the front lines, and as such, get to find out a lot about what people like and what they will spend their hard-earned money on.
When it comes to developing property or just reselling, fixing up and putting the finishing touches on the interior of a home can help tremendously with its sale or resale value.
Consider Home Staging
In fact, good interior design makes so much sense in real estate that a whole industry has been built around just this concept: that of home staging.
If you are interested in interior design and coming out of a real estate background, consider combining your expertise with that of interior design.
Whether you work with an interior designer or switch over to becoming one yourself, this is a niche that is only going to grow and become more lucrative as time goes on.
8. People with Some Basic Design Knowledge Who Want to Upskill
Interior Design “Sister” Studies
Maybe you’re one of those artistically gifted people who has a “knack” for design.
Perhaps you’ve even dabbled in some design work.
Whether that be graphic design, fashion design, industrial design or interior design, there are undoubtably common threads where design is concerned.
The principles of design are fairly standard, but the elements will change depending on what you’re designing.
Do What You Love, Love What You Do
Many people who design as a hobby or a side hustle start out doing it because they truly enjoy it.
If that sounds like you, think about what it would be like to be able to make a living doing what you truly enjoy doing.
If you have a head for design or some raw, natural talent, it makes a lot of sense to invest in yourself and your future success by continuing to develop yourself as a designer.
Sound to good to be true?
Often all that stands between your talent and being able to monetize that talent is just some cold, hard skills.
The next hardest part is finding the confidence to promote yourself as a creative.
Level Up Your Design Skills
Whatever it is that you feel comfortable doing right now, think about what it would look like if you were able to level up your game.
What could you teach yourself or invest in learning that would change the game for you?
-If you’re using some free, crappy software because you haven’t wanted to invest in paying for something more professional, investing in the right software might be the first step you take in growing as a designer.
-If you’ve tried to learn a program but found it difficult, perhaps you need to invest in a short course or bootcamp to get you over that hump.
What are your weak areas when it comes to your passion or ‘dream job’?
If we’re honest with ourselves we often know exactly what it is that we’ve not been willing to do.
Find out what that is for you and determine that if being a designer is what you really want, that you are going to start investing in yourself and in your skill set.
Your future self will thank you!
9. Designers of Other Disciplines Who Want a Change or to Be Their Own Boss
Once a Designer, Always a Designer
Kelly Wearstler and Bruce Mau are two graphic designers I personally know of who later became interior designers.
It is not at all unheard of for designers trained in one specialty to move to another.
Whether it’s because their interests change as they grow or for purely practical reasons, I believe that once a designer, always a designer.
Designers, through their training, are taught to think and to work in a specific way, and it isn’t too hard to apply that design thinking to another skill set.
It does, however, take some commitment.
Hit the Ground Running
Let’s be honest. Interior design, as a profession, does require certain technical know-how.
It’s not the type of profession most of us just fall into.
For those who don’t have any experience in the construction or building industry or who don’t know a lot about the interior design industry, there will necessarily be a learning period.
While some programs might allow for previous qualifications in a different design field to count toward an interior design degree (say visual arts or architecture), the reality might be that you have to learn from scratch if you are hoping to work in the commercial sector.
Although embarking on a design education in a neighboring field may seem daunting, it will be a lot easier for you than for the person starting with no design background.
You might also really love your new design focus.
The Story of a Design Superstar
In my course we had a student who had an associate’s degree in architecture and he seemingly flew through the course, completing it in well under the usual time frame.
His work was also used as an example to other students of the quality that was possible.
He raised the bar for all of us.
If, instead of commercial design, you are looking to work in the residential sector, you might just need a short course to help you get your bearings.
All interior design students are “forced” to figure out graphic design with little to no actual training, so if this is where you are starting out from, know that presentation will be a whole lot easier for you.
And yes, there is a lot of visual presentation in interior design.
10. Students Who are Interested in Both the Liberal Arts and the Sciences
Designers Have the Best of Both Worlds
We often think of creatives and “nerds” as being mutually exclusive and at opposite ends of the pole from one another.
However, this is actually far from the truth, at least when it comes to the subject of design.
A quality design education gives a creative person the technical skills to enable them actually deliver on their creative ideas.
This is done by putting practical “landing gear” on those cool concepts creative people dream up, in order to bring their visions to reality.
Big Dreams and Big Plans
One of the things that personally attracted me to interior design is that it allows me to draw on all of my natural creative talent, while disciplining me and giving me the tools to plan, visualize and present my ideas to other people.
Yes, at times it can be tough for a creative to have to deal with so many little details and technicalities, but the other side of it for me is that I actually discovered that I enjoyed being able to organize my thinking and explain my creative reasoning.
Learning the language of design helped tremendously with that, as did learning the many processes and tools of the trade.
Rather than learning a purely theoretical science or alternatively taking up a fine arts course of study, interior design and architecture both enable “both sides of the brain”, the practical and the conceptual, to work in beautiful harmony.
Structure Can Guide Creativity
No one can be creative every moment of their lives, and as artists and creators we do need to take additional measures to support our creative endeavors.
Artists might have to learn business to succeed as artists, for example.
In the case of interior design, we can put the best of our creative energy and practical, reasoning skills all to excellent use.
I’ve actually found that for myself personally learning design theory has only helped me to be more creative.
Whether that’s painting, making music, teaching or even writing a play, design thinking is now a fundamental part of who I am and how I think .
So, in short, if you are a skilled person who wants to learn to be more creative or if you’re a creative person who wants to add some skills to their knowledge base, interior design just might be the ticket.
11. Those Who Want to Shape the Future of the Built Environment
Designers Shape the World
If you are the kind of person who thinks on a broad scale, architecture (or even urban planning)might be the best expression of this desire, but interior design is at least a close second.
I’ve explained how interior design humanizes architecture, and there is no question that good interior design has the power to change our moods, our habits and our perspectives.
Our built environments are often in states of flux or temporary “good enough” arrangements, and not every building or interior is ideal for the purposes for which it is actually used.
Interior design has the power to shape our thinking, our behavior and thus our lives.
When we see design that fails for that is lacking, it is an opportunity to ask why that is and what can be done better.
If you want to change the world in this very practical way, interior design is an awesome place to start.
Speaking of change…
People Who Thrive on Change Do Really Well in Interior Design
Movers and Shakers
The beauty of interior design as both hobby and profession is that the practice of interior design is quite broad in terms of how you might spend your time on a given day.
If you love researching, sketching, creating color and material palettes and mood boards and selecting fabrics, there will be days you’ll work on these types of jobs.
If, instead, you prefer the designing process and working on more technical tasks, there is computer-aided (CAD) 2D and 3D design, photography and presentation.
If you’re good with clients or like ordering products and handling installations, there are plenty of reasons to get out of the office.
There are designers who work from home and only actually “work” a few days a week.
Educator Chelsea Coryell of Design for a Living is a proponent of this type of design work lifestyle.
Room for Diversity
From the more decorative and artistic aspects of the job to the more technical and complex planning and documentation sides, there is a lot of nuance and specialization to the different jobs in the interior design industry.
If you would like to know more about the types of interior design jobs and what qualifications you would need for them, you might be interested in this article:
Interior Designers are Hustlers
Interior design is a constantly moving, changing creative field that continues to increase its scope as it evolves with technology.
-Fall in love with change, constant progression and real human-centered work.
-Fall in love with interior design and start learning interior design today!
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Happy design learning!