Journey Into Decorating and Design
People ask me all the time how I got into interior design. The truth is, it was when I was a little girl. I would rearrange my bedroom over and over. I even repainted it (I’m pretty sure without permission!). I took three years of visual design in high school which got me interested in the drafting and building side of design. When it came time to choose a major, I chose architecture.
It was the mid-nineties and I really didn’t know I could get a degree as an interior designer. I had heard of a decorator but that was different. And, like most people, I really didn’t understand the difference.
Decorator vs. Designer
A decorator is a creative person who is good and putting together different fabrics and furnishings. They excel at the finishing touches of the home. There is no training required to become a decorator. The talent comes from natural ability and creative passion.
To be a designer, you have to attend an accredited design school and, once you graduate, many states require a state board exam. That exam is called the NCIDQ exam. Interior designers, as defined by the NCIDQ, are “qualified by education, experience, and examination to enhance the function and quality of interior spaces”.
A designer knows how to read blueprints, make necessary changes to a structure, and has an understanding of the required codes and specifications of a project and the materials.
Once I started my architecture program, I became aware that I could major in interior design. I made the switch and I was hooked. I’ve been a designer for almost 20 years now.
You may not want to attend design school and that is perfectly acceptable. Use your natural talent as a decorator! I would recommend taking some decorating courses to hone those skills. It’s important to have some training on things like scale, balance, space planning, and choosing the right paint colors. There are many online options available, including my own course. I’ll be launching Decorator’s Launch Pad soon!
An Industry That’s Changing
When I graduated with my interior design degree, I went to work for a local design firm. In order to gain clients, I needed to work for a reputable business. The public still didn’t have a good grasp on exactly what a designer does so working for an established firm was my best way to grow. I have been privileged with the opportunity to work with some of the most prestigious design firms in the southeast throughout my career.
Since that time, a lot has changed in our industry. Platforms like HGTV and Pinterest started bringing design and decorating to new heights of popularity. But people still didn’t want to pay for design services. Home improvement shows on television made it look like interior design projects are inexpensive and quick to complete. That is definitely not the case but the public perception was already there.
People can click through Pinterest and Houzz to see interior design inspiration photos instantly. So how do I stay relevant? I have to keep up with the times.
We Want It Yesterday
Today we live in a world of instant gratification. Consumers want to be able to accomplish goals quickly. An interior design project can take months. And sometimes that will be necessary. If you are remodeling any room, especially a kitchen or bathroom, expect it to be several months before that project is finished. We have to be clear about timelines from the get go.
A decorating project will take considerably less time. This type of project consists of selecting paint, furnishings, window treatments, art and accessories. The time frame for a project like this will greatly depend on the client’s wants and needs. I’ve created a project questionnaire to make it easy to get started. You can customize your own using this as your guide:
A New Process Called eDesign
If you want to broaden your client reach, I would highly recommend taking a look at eDesign. With this new software, you can work with clients anywhere in the world. I use DesignFiles which is an all-in-one program.
DesignFiles was built to provide interior designers with their own professional e-design platform branded to their business. Using DesignFiles interior designers can source products, create digital designs, invite their clients in to discuss the looks, send out branded presentations and tear sheets and manage all of their client projects in one easy to use platform.
With e-design quickly becoming a popular option in the industry it is more important than ever that designers have the tools they need to tap into this lucrative online market. While crowd sourced e-design sites can be helpful to connect designers with potential clients, the downside is that designers are often bound to the rates and project terms set by these sites.
With DesignFiles interior designers can have their own e-design platform up and running in minutes and ready to accept clients. Designers set their own rates and project terms and keep 100% of their earnings. DesignFiles does not take a cut from the designer.
We’re in the business of helping interior designers grow their business, so it‘s fair to say we have a lot riding on our member’s success.
A private, professional e-design platform branded to the designer's business
An advanced digital moodboard creator to build 2D and 3D digital room designs
A built-in questionnaire to collect all project details from clients
The ability for both client and designer to leave feedback/comments directly on the digital design boards
The ability to send branded emails, invoices, contracts and more to clients
Product lists and branded client presentations are automatically generated for each design board created
Access to DesignFiles' product library including over 270,000 products from respected vendors
The ability for each designer to build their own personal product library using their preferred vendors
Access to the full Benjamin Moore and Sherwin Williams color collections
Saves products from anywhere online in seconds with our browser clipper. Cut hours out of sourcing products.
I find this is a fantastic option to add to your design or decorating services. It’s yet another way to service different types of clients and broaden your reach.
Here’s a video about how it works:
Ready To Launch
There are a few things that need to happen before you are ready to launch. You need:
A clear business plan and pricing structure
A website or landing page
The right business license and tax identification
A marketing strategy
A positive attitude
I’ll be going more in-depth on these topics in my course Decorator’s Launch Pad. Until the course begins, feel free to reach out to me with any questions you may have. Simply comment on this blog or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I’m always here to help!
You may want to go ahead and order my eBook, Decorating Your Home: The Definitive Guide.
This eBook covers TEN of the most fundamental aspects of decorating. It’s great to use when decorating your own home and imperative to have a resource for your decorating business. Right now it’s on SALE for just $3.99!
The Best Benefit
The best thing about my career has been the rewarding relationships I’ve developed with my clients. Many of them have become friends. Interior design and decorating is very personal. You are in their home, in their most intimate spaces, and showing them you respect them and their family is imperative. We are not here to just sell. We are here to enhance their lives. Living in a well-designed home helps people feel more relaxed and comfortable. It gives them places to celebrate holidays and milestones with their families. It’s where they create their memories and live out their lives. The number one goal in this business is to help them love their home so they can focus on the people who are in their home.
I wish the same for you as you begin your new career. Let me know how it’s going and be sure to reach out with any questions!
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