How To Become a Self Taught Interior Designer

Let’s start by saying, when we use the term interior designer, we often mean interior decorator. An interior designer in the traditional sense plans not only the design and spatial elements of a room, but also makes structural decisions. If, however, styling and decorating a room is the aim of the game, the term “interior decorator” can be used.

Today we wanted to talk about how to become your own interior decorator, with a post designed for those with no creative-based qualifications, but a big dollop of drive and ambition. Think you can’t make a career from interior design because you don’t have a degree? Think again.

Educate yourself

Understanding how lighting can change a space, or what colours are complementary, means you’ll be much more confident when starting out in your interiors journey. Watching videos, reading books, and speaking to other designers out there will help educate you on the science behind interior design.

We’re not saying go back to university. We are saying why not open a book or join a club such as our HomeEnvy Members Club to give you a more confident footing.

Gather inspiration everywhere

Before discovering your signature style – you know, the thing that people recognise you for instantly – the key is to gather inspiration and start to notice common themes running throughout. Although you can do this on Pinterest, which is a great way to store your ideas digitally, we’re big fans of old school scrapbooking.

Take photographs of inspiring design elements if you’re out at a restaurant you love or pull out stylish rooms you spot in magazines and add them to a scrapbook. Not only does it bring all your ideas under one roof, it acts as a reference book to return back to if inspiration is lacking.

Great places to find interior design inspiration include Pinterest, Instagram, other people’s homes, magazines, TV shows, Tumblr, bars, hotels and museums, to name a few.

Develop your own personal style

As we’ve mentioned above, you’ll soon start to notice common themes running throughout your inspiration files, whether that’s a love of dark, moody spaces or French rustic inspired rooms, for example. This will more than likely be reflected in your own home, and although you don’t want to make every potential client’s house a duplicate of yours, some of the best designers have a very distinctive signature style.

Kelly Hoppen is neutral luxe, while Emily Henderson is mid-century modern and colourful. Studio McGee, meanwhile, is modern farmhouse personified. People fall in love with their designs and hire them for a reason.

Build Moodboards for dream clients

You might not have a roster of clients yet, but that doesn’t stop you from acting as if you have successfully pitched for their business. Most designers, whether than be interior, graphic or fashion, create imaginary projects in a bid to build a portfolio.

Think of a hypothetical client, write a brief and get to work as if it were a real project. This is actually a really fun way of developing your interior style, especially creating moodboards and choosing furniture, lighting, soft furnishings, and accessories.

Plan how to draw a room to scale, and make sure the furniture you choose fits correctly. There’s no point starting a project, only to find out the sofa you’ve chosen is far too big for the space. Be professional at all points, even if you’re not working with a real client.

Do the nitty gritty

Perhaps you didn’t expect us to tell you to get the paint out? But if you can makeover a room yourself and have photographs taken, this is a great example to showcase your interior design skills. Decorating and styling a room in person also highlights how difficult certain tasks can be (something you wouldn’t know just by creating pretty moodboards). Lighting for example, can be a difficult choice unless you’re in the room. Invest in having high-quality images taken of the finished space to put onto a website, blog or social media site to show potential future clients.

Although there are so many mistakes and lessons to learn along the way, if you start with these five steps, you’ll have a portfolio of exciting and inspiring projects in no time.

And the biggest takeaway is to shout about your services. How will you test your skills if people aren’t aware it’s something you offer? Shout it from the rooftops, on social media, and to friends and family.

Don’t forget if you're doing your own home, the HomeEnvy Members Club will give you skills, trade discounts, professional advice and a community of lovely design buddies.

With love

In case you missed it: 8 Tips for How To Design Your Home Office, Get You Hands on Our Ultimate Interior Design Guide