Interior designers make private homes, offices, restaurants, hospitals,
hotels and theaters attractive and functional. They design the interior spaces
for additions, renovations and new construction.
Interior designers don't start their work with a can of paint and some
new fabric swatches. The job of designing an interior can be a long process.
First, the designer meets with the client to figure out their wants and
needs. Then, the designer combines this input with design expertise to produce
preliminary concepts "that are esthetic, appropriate and functional, and in
accordance with codes and standards," says the National Council for Interior
The designer then produces the final recommendations using paint and material
samples to show the intended effect. The designer must also produce working
drawings and specifications regarding the required construction, hardware
like lighting, and products like finishing materials and furniture.
During this process, the interior designer may consult with other experts
in matters of mechanical, electrical and load-bearing design. The designer
acts on behalf of the client to prepare and accept bids. They oversee the
work done by painters and others to ensure it meets various codes. At the
end of it all, the designer reviews and evaluates the whole project.
Interior designers are using computers to create numerous versions of
space designs. Images can be inserted, edited or replaced -- making it possible
for a client to see and choose from several designs.
Interior designers need creativity, imagination and persistence. Styles
and fashions can change quickly, so they need to be open to new ideas and
influences. People in this field need self-discipline to start projects on
their own, budget their time and meet deadlines and production schedules.
Business savvy and sales ability are important for those who are freelancers
or run their own business.
Architectural firms, department stores, home furnishing stores, hotels
and restaurant chains all employ interior designers. Freelance work -- either
full time or part time -- is common.
"My sincerest advice is to be sure you have patience and enthusiasm for
this work, because it's very difficult," says Judith Greenwood, a West Virginia-based
interior designer. "You depend on thousands of people, from United Parcel
Service to plumbers. If any one of them fails, you fail. It doesn't pay well
for years -- if ever."
Deadlines and overtime are common for interior designers.
All designers face frustration at times when their designs are rejected
or when they can't be as creative as they would like. Independent consultants
-- who are paid by the assignment -- are under pressure to please clients
and to find new ones to maintain their incomes.
"When I'm in the middle of a project, I will easily spend 80-plus hours
a week [working]," says Patty Hinshaw, a Virginia designer. "When you have
someone's bathroom or kitchen gutted, you have to work hard and as quickly
as possible. People need those two spaces most of all!"