interior designer

How to become interior designer

So what does an interior designer do?

Interior designers plan and organise the design and decorating of interiors in people’s homes, offices, hotels, shops, public buildings, ships and aircraft. Interior design may involve altering an existing interior, or working on a new building.

Interior designers work with the client or architect to develop a design that suits the building and the client. Interior designera have to consider the purpose of the building, the cost of the project and the time-scale.

The interior design process involves preparing initial sketches and showing the client samples of fabrics, fittings and furniture. The designer or draughtsman/woman turns the sketches into detailed drawings, usually on a computer. Many interior designers also recommend people to carry out the work on site and supervise their progress. They may be involved with supplying the fittings, flooring, decorations and plants.

What's the working environment like working as a interior designer?

Working hours can be quite irregular and might involve working evenings and weekends.

Designers are usually studio based, but may also spend a great deal of time visiting clients and sites. They might have to spend short periods away from home.

Freelance designers may work from home, share offices or rent a studio.

What does it take to become a interior designer?

Interior designers need:

  • a combination of creativity and practicality

  • excellent organisational skills for working on multiple projects

  • drawing and computer-aided design skills

  • an understanding and knowledge of building and safety regulations

  • a high level of technical knowledge about products, the qualities of materials and architectural history

  • effective communication skills for dealing with suppliers, contractors and clients

  • to be able to cost designs and work to budgets

  • business and communications skills (especially for freelance).


Advice from a celebrity interior designer

We asked Ben Hillman, TV interior designer to give us his top tip for those aspiring to follow in his footsteps...

'Don’t make knee jerk decisions! Very often people find something in a shop, buy it on a whim and all of a sudden the entire room needs to be designed around this one item. For example, I’ve just been designing a home for someone and half way through they buy the sofas, I’ve got to readjust the designs to fit around these sofa’s which maybe aren’t idea.

It’s like that old saying – fail to prepare, be prepared to fail. You need to put your design down on paper, research and really establish what it is that you like and want to achieve with the space. Answer these questions first before doing anything else!'

Read the full interview here


Interior designer career opportunities

Because many designers work freelance, either finding their own work or under contract to an agency, there are limited formal vacancies for interior designers and competition is very strong.

Employers include retail outlets, interior design consultancies, or architectural practices.

Success for freelance interior depends on building up reputation and a client base.


Watch our video 

Jade and Oscar explain what education is needed to be an interior designer...

Further information

If you would like to know anything about interior design that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

The British Interior Design Association (BIDA)

3/18 Chelsea Harbour Design Centre
Chelsea Harbour
SW10 0XE

The Chartered Society of Designers
Bermondsey Exchange
179-181 Bermondsey Street
Tel: 020 7357 8088

The Design Council
34 Bow Street
Tel: 020 7420 5200

Creative and Cultural Skills
Tel: 0800 093 0444

Creative and Cultural Skills
11 Southwark St

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