What does an interior designer do? (2024)

What is an Interior Designer?

An interior designer specializes in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing interior spaces for various settings, including homes, offices, retail stores, restaurants, and hotels. Interior designers work closely with clients to understand their needs, preferences, and budget constraints, translating their vision into well-designed spaces that meet both practical and aesthetic requirements. They utilize their expertise in space planning, color theory, furniture selection, lighting design, and material sourcing to create cohesive and harmonious interiors that enhance the quality of life and reflect the client's personality or brand identity.

Interior designers collaborate with architects, contractors, and other professionals to ensure that projects are completed according to specifications and within budget and timeline constraints. They create detailed drawings, renderings, and mood boards to communicate their design concepts effectively and provide guidance on furniture placement, decorative elements, and finishes. They also stay updated on industry trends, building codes, and sustainability practices to deliver innovative and environmentally conscious designs that meet the evolving needs of clients and society.

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What does an Interior Designer do?

What does an interior designer do? (1)

Duties and Responsibilities
The duties and responsibilities of an interior designer encompass a variety of tasks aimed at creating functional, aesthetically pleasing, and well-designed interior spaces. Here are some key responsibilities:

  • Client Consultation: Interior designers meet with clients to discuss their needs, preferences, and budget for the project. They assess the space to be designed, take measurements, and gather information to understand the client's vision and requirements.
  • Space Planning: Interior designers develop layout plans and floor plans to optimize the use of space and ensure efficient flow within the interior environment. They consider factors such as traffic flow, furniture placement, and functionality to create practical and ergonomic designs.
  • Concept Development: Interior designers conceptualize design ideas and themes based on the client's preferences, architectural style, and project requirements. They create mood boards, color schemes, and design concepts to communicate their vision and obtain client approval.
  • Material Selection: Interior designers specify and select materials, finishes, furnishings, and decorative elements to enhance the aesthetic appeal and functionality of the space. They consider factors such as durability, maintenance requirements, and budget constraints when choosing materials for flooring, wall coverings, furniture, lighting, and accessories.
  • Presentation and Visualization: Interior designers create presentations, renderings, and 3D visualizations to illustrate their design concepts and communicate ideas to clients, stakeholders, and collaborators. They use computer-aided design (CAD) software and other visualization tools to develop realistic representations of the proposed design.
  • Project Management: Interior designers oversee all aspects of the design process, from concept development to implementation. They collaborate with architects, contractors, vendors, and suppliers to ensure that designs are executed according to specifications, budget, and timeline constraints.
  • Coordination and Communication: Interior designers maintain open communication with clients and stakeholders throughout the design process, providing updates, addressing concerns, and soliciting feedback. They coordinate with contractors and tradespeople to ensure that work is completed to high standards and in accordance with design plans.
  • Code Compliance and Regulations: Interior designers ensure that designs comply with building codes, regulations, and accessibility standards. They stay informed about relevant laws and regulations governing interior design practices and ensure that designs meet safety, health, and environmental requirements.

Types of Interior Designers
There are several different types of interior designers, each with their own specialized focus and areas of expertise. Some of the most common types of interior designers include:

  • Commercial Interior Designers: Commercial interior designers specialize in creating functional and aesthetically pleasing interior spaces for businesses, organizations, and commercial establishments. They focus on optimizing space utilization, enhancing brand identity, and creating environments that promote productivity, efficiency, and customer satisfaction.
  • Healthcare Interior Designers: Healthcare interior designers specialize in creating interior spaces for healthcare facilities such as hospitals, clinics, and medical offices. They design environments that prioritize patient comfort, safety, and well-being while also considering the needs of healthcare providers and staff to optimize workflow and efficiency.
  • Hospitality Interior Designers: Hospitality interior designers specialize in creating inviting and memorable interior spaces for hotels, restaurants, resorts, and other hospitality venues. They focus on creating immersive experiences that reflect the brand identity, cater to the needs and preferences of guests, and enhance their overall enjoyment and satisfaction.
  • Residential Interior Designers: Residential interior designers specialize in creating personalized and functional living spaces for private homes, apartments, and condominiums. They work closely with homeowners to understand their lifestyle, preferences, and aesthetic tastes, designing interiors that reflect their personality and meet their needs for comfort and functionality.
  • Set Designers: Set designers specialize in creating the visual environment for theatrical productions, film, television, and events. They collaborate with directors, producers, and other members of the production team to design and construct sets that bring the story or concept to life, considering factors such as aesthetics, functionality, and budget constraints.
  • Sustainable Interior Designers: Sustainable interior designers specialize in creating interior spaces that prioritize environmental responsibility and resource efficiency. They integrate eco-friendly materials, energy-efficient systems, and sustainable design principles to minimize environmental impact and promote healthier indoor environments for occupants.

Are you suited to be an interior designer?

Interior designers have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

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What is the workplace of an Interior Designer like?

The workplace of an interior designer can vary depending on factors such as the type of projects they work on, their employer, and their personal preferences. Many interior designers work in design firms or studios, where they collaborate with colleagues on various projects and have access to resources such as design software, material samples, and reference materials. These environments are often creative and collaborative, with designers bouncing ideas off each other and working together to solve design challenges.

Additionally, interior designers may spend a significant amount of time visiting project sites, meeting with clients, and overseeing the implementation of their designs. This could involve traveling to residential homes, commercial offices, retail stores, hospitality venues, or construction sites to conduct site measurements, assess existing conditions, and coordinate with contractors and tradespeople. Fieldwork allows interior designers to see their designs come to life and ensure that they are executed according to specifications.

Furthermore, some interior designers may work independently as freelancers or sole proprietors, operating out of a home office or rented studio space. This setup provides flexibility and autonomy, allowing designers to set their own schedules, work on a variety of projects, and manage their own client relationships. However, independent designers may also face challenges such as managing administrative tasks, marketing their services, and maintaining a steady flow of work.

Frequently Asked Questions

Interior Designer vs Interior Decorator

Interior designers and interior decorators are two distinct professionals with different roles, education, and responsibilities. While both focus on enhancing interior spaces, there are significant differences between the two:

Interior Designer:

  • Education and Qualifications: Interior designers typically have formal education and training in interior design from accredited schools or programs. They may hold a degree in interior design or a related field and are often required to pass a licensing or certification exam, depending on the state regulations.
  • Scope of Work: Interior designers have a more comprehensive scope of work, which includes not only selecting decorative elements but also making structural changes and modifications to interior spaces. They are trained to understand the functional and spatial requirements of a space, create floor plans, consider building codes and regulations, and handle project management aspects.
  • Specializations: Interior designers may specialize in specific areas such as residential design, commercial design, healthcare design, hospitality design, or sustainable design. Their expertise allows them to design spaces that not only look visually appealing but also meet safety, accessibility, and building code requirements.
  • Services: Interior designers work with clients to develop design concepts, create space plans, select finishes, coordinate with contractors, and manage the implementation of the design.

Interior Decorator:

  • Education and Qualifications: Interior decorators may not necessarily have formal education in interior design, although some may have completed design-related courses or training. Unlike interior designers, decorators are not required to pass licensing exams.
  • Scope of Work: Interior decorators primarily focus on the aesthetics and decorative aspects of interior spaces. They work with existing structures and do not engage in structural changes or architectural modifications. Decorators specialize in choosing and arranging furniture, textiles, accessories, and color schemes to create visually pleasing and cohesive spaces.
  • Services: Interior decorators offer services such as selecting furnishings, fabrics, wall coverings, paint colors, and decorative items to enhance the ambiance and style of a room. They work closely with clients to understand their preferences and design preferences to create personalized and stylish interiors.

In summary, while both interior designers and interior decorators contribute to creating beautiful and functional spaces, interior designers have a broader scope of work that includes spatial planning and design, while interior decorators focus specifically on the decorative elements of a space.

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Interior Decorator

Interior Designer vs Interior Architect

Interior designers and interior architects are professionals who work in the field of interior design, but they have distinct roles and areas of focus.

Interior Designer:

  • Focus: An interior designer is more focused on the aesthetics, functionality, and decor of interior spaces. Their primary concern is creating a harmonious and visually appealing environment that suits the client's needs and preferences.
  • Education: Interior designers typically have formal education in interior design, interior decoration, or a related field.
  • Expertise: They possess a keen eye for design principles, color schemes, materials, furniture, and accessories to enhance the look and feel of a space while ensuring it serves its intended purpose.
  • Projects: Interior designers are commonly involved in a wide range of projects, including residential homes, apartments, offices, hotels, restaurants, and retail spaces.

Interior Architect:

  • Focus: An interior architect is primarily concerned with the architectural aspects of interior spaces. They focus on the structural elements, spatial planning, and the integration of the interior design with the overall architectural design of the building.
  • Education: Typically, interior architects have a formal education in architecture, which includes a degree in architecture or interior architecture.
  • Expertise: They are skilled in designing and modifying the interior layout, walls, ceilings, and floors, often working closely with architects and construction teams to ensure that the interior spaces are functional, safe, and compliant with building codes.
  • Projects: Interior architects are commonly involved in larger-scale projects like commercial buildings, public spaces, or residential buildings that require significant structural modifications or new constructions.

In summary, while there is some overlap in the skills and knowledge of interior designers and interior architects, the former is more concerned with the aesthetics and functionality of interior spaces, while the latter is focused on the structural aspects and integration with architecture.

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Interior Architect

Interior Design Related Careers and Degrees


  • Commercial Interior Designer
  • Healthcare Interior Designer
  • Hospitality Interior Designer
  • Interior Architect
  • Interior Decorator
  • Interior Designer
  • Residential Interior Designer
  • Set Designer
  • Sustainable Interior Designer


  • Interior Architecture
  • Interior Design

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Residential Interior Designer Commercial Interior Designer Hospitality Interior Designer Healthcare Interior Designer Sustainable Interior Designer Interior Decorator Set Designer Interior Architect

The Importance of a Portfolio

A portfolio is extremely important for an interior designer. It serves as a showcase of the designer's work and abilities, and can be a deciding factor for clients who are looking to hire an interior designer.

A well-curated portfolio demonstrates an interior designer's creativity, design skills, and attention to detail. It should include a variety of projects that showcase the designer's range of abilities and styles, as well as the ability to meet the specific needs of different clients. A portfolio can also serve as a tool for networking and marketing. It can be used to promote the designer's work to potential clients, as well as to showcase their abilities to potential employers or collaborators.

In today's digital age, it's important for interior designers to have a strong online presence as well. A digital portfolio or website can make it easy for potential clients or employers to view the designer's work and get a sense of their style and approach.

Here are some key details that should be included in an interior designer's portfolio:

  • Professional Profile: The portfolio should begin with a professional profile that includes the designer's name, contact information, and a brief description of their design style and approach. This profile should be concise and visually appealing, and may include a headshot of the designer.
  • Project Descriptions: Each project in the portfolio should include a brief description that outlines the client's needs and goals, as well as the designer's approach and solutions. This description should be accompanied by high-quality photographs of the completed project.
  • Before and After Photos: When possible, the portfolio should include before and after photos of the projects. This allows potential clients to see the transformation that the designer was able to achieve, and can be a powerful selling point.
  • Design Drawings: The portfolio should also include design drawings or sketches that show the designer's process and approach. This may include floor plans, elevations, and 3D renderings.
  • Testimonials and References: Including testimonials or references from satisfied clients can be a powerful addition to the portfolio. These can be included in the project descriptions or included as a separate section.
  • Awards and Recognitions: If the designer has won awards or been recognized for their work, this should be highlighted in the portfolio. This can add credibility to the designer's work and demonstrate their expertise in the field.

Interior Designers are also known as:
Interior Design Professional

What does an interior designer do? (2024)


What are the main things interior designers do? ›

Interior designers make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials.

What is the role of interior designer? ›

The Interior Designer will create functional, safe, and aesthetically pleasing spaces by assessing space requirements, determining optimal furniture placement, and selecting decorative items, all while adhering to relevant blueprint, building code, and inspection requirements.

What are the 7 principles of interior design? ›

There are seven main principles of interior design: balance, harmony, rhythm, proportion and scale, emphasis, contrast, and details.

What can you expect from an interior designer? ›

They assist you in choosing flooring, wall coverings, countertops, and other elements that bring your design to life. The designer's expertise in material quality, durability, safety and aesthetic considerations means that you can have peace of mind in the finish.

What are 3 things interior designers do? ›

Generating 2D or 3D interior design plans, drawings, mood boards and project visualisations. Curating a considered selection of Furniture, Fixtures and Fittings (FF&E) required for implementation and procurement. Supplying projected timelines and product schedules to coordinate trades, purchase orders and deliveries.

What is the best thing about interior design? ›

Interior design can be an extremely rewarding career for those with creative and artistic talents. As an interior designer, you get to transform dull spaces into visually stunning environments that improve people's lives. Every new project provides an opportunity to express your vision.

What is interior designing all about? ›

It is the art, science, and business planning of a creative, technical, sustainable, and functional interior solution that corresponds to the architecture of a space, while incorporating process and strategy, a mandate for well-being, safety, and health, with informed decisions about style and aesthetics.

What does a typical day as an interior designer look like? ›

Planning and Research: Interior designers often start their day by reviewing project requirements, conducting research on design trends, and gathering inspiration. They might also communicate with clients or project stakeholders to discuss progress, present ideas, or address any concerns.

What skills are needed to be a successful interior designer? ›

What skills do you need to become an interior designer?
  • Communication. Designers often communicate with clients, contractors or other designers to help carry out their creative ideas and visions. ...
  • Creativity. ...
  • Attention to detail. ...
  • Design trends. ...
  • Problem-solving. ...
  • Budgeting. ...
  • Technical and computer knowledge.
Mar 18, 2023

What is the golden rule in interior design? ›

The rule states that for the most balanced, appealing look, you should choose a three-colour palette for decorating a room, and use it as follows: Decorate 60% of the room with the dominant colour. Decorate 30% of the room with the secondary colour. Use the remaining colour as an accent in 10% of the space.

What are the three types of interior? ›

Defining the Top 3 Design Styles
  • Traditional style. Traditional interior design style is known for its classic and elegant look. ...
  • Transitional style. Transitional interior design style combines the classic elements of traditional design with the clean lines and simplicity of contemporary design. ...
  • Contemporary style.
Jun 9, 2023

What are the basic elements of interior design? ›

These interior design elements include space, line, forms, light, colour, texture and pattern; and keeping them balanced is the key to creating an aesthetically pleasing interior.

Is interior design a hard job? ›

It's a Stressful Job

Satisfying a client's specific requirements is not an easy task. Irrespective of the field, no one working wants to hear “I didn't like it” from their client. With interior designing, the stress can climb up even more because you might not get a chance to edit or delete the mistakes.

Is interior design a stressful job? ›

Interior design is a creative and rewarding profession, but it can also be stressful and demanding.

Are interior designers worth it? ›

If you lack the time, design expertise or confidence to create an aesthetically pleasing and cohesive space, hiring an interior decorator can be worth it to provide professional guidance and the latest knowledge of current interior design trends.

What are the top three industries that employ interior designers? ›

Industry profile for Interior Designers:
IndustryEmployment (1)Percent of industry employment
Specialized Design Services28,42018.35
Architectural, Engineering, and Related Services14,0700.86
Furniture and Home Furnishings Retailers6,7501.53
Residential Building Construction4,1600.45
1 more row


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