Are you glued to the television watching decorating shows like Trading Spaces, Divine Design, Decorating Cents, Top Design or Design Star? Interior decorators are very hot right now. With a flair for creativity, a good understanding of design principles and the ability to come up with and implement a vision for a room you could be an interior decorator. It is an excellent choice for a small, home-based business that has potential for expansion.
There are many specialized fields in decorating. In addition to decorating homes or rooms for individuals, you can also find decorating work in office buildings, retail stores, hotels, spas, yachts, and cruise ships. Decorators also work in furniture stores, hospitals, for home and apartment builders, and even in staging for real estate sales. New and emerging areas of interior decorating work include feng shui, closet and organization design, and home theatre, indoor garden or even “green” or environmentally friendly design. Like most new businesses, you will increase your chances of success by learning the skills necessary to be a great decorator, carefully choosing your target market and building contacts who can help you find jobs.
Regardless of you area of specialization or your target market, you will need to have a variety of skills and abilities. Decorators are expected to create the plan, purchase materials, furnishings and accessories, work with contractors such as painters, electricians and carpenters, as well as stay on budget and ensure the project meets deadlines. Plus, you have to keep your client happy the whole time, but especially happy with the results. It’s not all paint chips and fabric swatches!
To learn about interior decorating, do watch those favorite television shows—they are great educational research! Also, read decorating magazines and books. Be sure to do the home tours your area offers—you will get to see a wide variety of décor that way! You can also visit interior decorator showrooms in your area to talk to experienced decorators. Apprenticeships are also possible in interior decorating, so it may be possible for you to work for a decorator to learn the ropes.
While interior decorators do not need any special degree or license, interior designers do. If you want to pursue formal education, you can find information on certification at the American Society of Interior Designers or at the National Council for Interior Design Qualification.
Once you are ready to branch out on your own, you will need to build a portfolio to show prospective clients your style and abilities. This could include pictures of your own living areas, or any rooms you have worked on during an apprenticeship, but also you can do sample plans to include in your beginning portfolio. For instance, design your dream home and do plans for all its rooms and put those plans in your book. You can also do “freebie” rooms for friends and family to get photo examples of your work, as well as some references. You don’t want to misrepresent the work of someone else as your own, but it is okay to say “these are additional samples of the styles that most represent my tastes and abilities.” Once you do a few projects, you will have your own “best of” book.
You will also need to learn about business licenses in your area, and of course, get business cards for your new company. Read my article on Business Card Basics before you buy to make sure you get the right cards the first time. A decorator should make good use of the space and represent great design skills on everything they present, including their business card.
For additional information, I recommend How to Become an Interior Decorator.
Good Luck, Decorator!