If you have a love of decorating and a knack for arranging furniture and choosing decor and color, a career as an interior decorator may be perfect for you. Unlike interior design, training and certification is not required. Anyone with skills and the ability to market themselves can start working as an interior decorator. Since competition is high and there is some work involved with getting started, it’s important to learn how to become an interior decorator and market yourself effectively.
Steps to start an Interior decorator business
Evaluate your skills, strengths, and weaknesses. If people regularly compliment your decorating skills and turn to you for advice, that’s a good sign that you have the natural talent to be an interior decorator. However, when working for others, you’ll be exposed to a variety of different tastes and styles. You’ll have to be able to show an extensive knowledge of space planning, fabrics and materials and you’ll also have to be able to work with different personalities. List areas that may be challenging, and start working on them.
Get training. You won’t have to have a degree to work as an interior decorator, but some classes or certifications can give you credibility. Many community colleges offer associate degrees, and colleges often have certification programs or short courses on interior design. Online programs and classes in home staging or organizing can be helpful, too. Besides all that, you can begin teaching yourself immediately with self-study. Learn the fundamentals, types of materials, decorating history and decorating styles.
Practice interior decorating as much as you can. Volunteer to help friends and family with decorating projects. Look for volunteer projects with local organizations. Look for service organizations like Habitat for Humanity and local shelters. Even decorating spaces for special events is good experience.
Put together a portfolio of your work. Make sure to take photographs of all projects that you complete. Keep hard copies as well as showing off your work online. Groups on Flickr, HGTV and other design sites as well as decorating blogs all offer opportunities to show off your work as well as network with others who share your interest and give you more information about how to become an interior decorator.
Find sources for materials and supplies. Without a license, you may not be entitled to designer discounts. However, you can begin to negotiate with suppliers if you are buying in bulk. You can also learn to find inexpensive sources for materials like overstock stores and thrift shops.
Look for a job in interior decorating or visual merchandising. Competition is high, so a high-paying, professional job may not be easy to find. However, you can get started by working in a furniture store, design center, or local department store. A job that offers a chance to do some decorating and visual merchandising–arranging items that attract buyers’ attention and are pleasing to the eye–will add to your experience and portfolio.
Start your own business if time and funds allow. Your start-up costs can be low, you’ll need a business license for your state and town and some office space. If you don’t have time to do work in the field, consider a business as a virtual decorator where you can evaluate a client’s home through pictures and discussion.
There are three classifications for interior designers in states that require a license:
Certified Interior Designer
Registered Interior Designer
Licensed Interior Designer
Your state law will determine which of these you can choose to become, and each requires a certain level of work experience, education and passing an exam.
If you need to start an Interior decorator business talk to a business consultant
If you are looking to start an interior decorator business, it is highly recommended that you speak to a business consultant. A business consultant can provide invaluable advice and guidance on how to successfully launch and manage your business. They can help you create a business plan, develop a marketing strategy, and provide advice on the legal and financial aspects of running a business. Additionally, they can provide insights on the best practices for running a successful interior decorator business. Consulting with a business consultant is an important step in starting a successful interior decorator business.