Everything you need to know about interior design

Do you have an eye for design and a passion for interiors? Are you constantly rearranging your own home or reimagining spaces that you visit? Interior design may be the path for you. But before you dive into the world of design, there are a few things every aspiring interior designer needs to keep in mind. 

From the credentials that are required to work in interior design to the skills that can help you shine to how to build strong client relationships, here’s everything you need to know before getting started in interior design

Norse cane doors used for bench storage seating in a blue and neutral color palette

This photo by @christophertestani captured our Cane doors being used in this custom storage bench.


Interior design is more than decorating 

Interior design goes far beyond decorating. In fact, decorating and styling a room is often the final step in a long, detailed process. Interior design focuses on understanding a space and how to enhance that space to not only make it more aesthetically pleasing, but also increase its functionality. Interior designers usually work closely with architects, engineers, and builders to contribute to the way a space functions and looks. 

If you want to be an interior designer, it’s important that you’re interested in more than just textiles, art, and furniture. You need to be able to use your eye for design to enhance the overall environment, livability, and function of a room. 


Whether you want to work at an interior design firm or launch your own interior design business someday, you need to start by getting the right credentials to pursue a career in interior design. This entails getting an interior design degree or enrolling in a post-graduate interior design program. Interior design programs provide the foundational skills you’ll need to have as a designer as well as the more technical ones including CAD, or computer-aided design, which is software that creates 2D and 3D designs and documents. 

If you’re hesitant to commit to a full-blown program, you could also consider looking into free interior design courses. Free courses would allow you to test the waters before deciding if interior design is a career you want to pursue. 

Norse astrid doors in charcoal black mounted on the wall in a living room with a dark color palette
Astrid doors and panels in Charcoal black with a cool Ambrosia Maple top.


Interior design is as technical as it is creative 

Interior design is every bit as technical as it is creative; some would call it an art and a science. As an interior designer, you will have to be knowledgeable about some less glamorous aspects of interior planning including building codes, structural requirements, and even health and safety precautions. These technical aspects can bog down someone as creative as a designer, but it’s necessary to understand them if you want to ensure you’re creating the best possible spaces for your clients. 

Residential vs. commercial interior design 

Once you’ve dipped your toes into the interior design waters, you’ll likely start to form your own style or preferences. During this time, it’s also important to figure out what type of interior design you’d like to pursue so you can position yourself to work with your dream clients. This means you first should determine whether you want to focus on residential interior design or commercial interior design. 

There are a few key differences between designing a residential space like a home and a commercial space like a hotel or restaurant. 

First is the breadth of a project. If you are hired to design a new kitchen for a homeowner, you’re going to be hyper-focused on all things kitchen: the layout, appliances, and material choices. But if you’re hired to design an entire restaurant space, you’ll be required to handle everything from layout to material choices for the dining space, entryway, waiting area, exteriors, and more. 

Another difference between residential and commercial interior design is the clients you work with. Working with a homeowner can be very intimate. You’re taking their vision and turning it into a reality that they will get to live in every day. With a commercial space, on the other hand, the business owner may be the client but the customers who visit the space are ultimately who the design is for. 

Norse cane doors in raw with sara brass legs in a living room with a neutral color palette

Cane doors in Raw, matched with a wood top made of warm Ambrosia Maple.


It’s all about the details 

Like any true craft, interior design is all about the details. While interior designers need to have a handle on the bigger vision of a space, they also need to pay attention to the details. Your job as an interior designer involves choosing details — everything from light fixtures to door pulls to subtle design elements — and making sure they’re cohesive with the overall look and feel of a space. 

Communication and time management are key

Whether you work at an interior design firm or lead your own practice, it’s essential to have excellent time management and communication skills. Meeting deadlines and communicating responsibilities and updates is critical when you’re working on a timeline. Poor communication or missed deadlines can stall an interior design project and result in unhappy clients — but if you can nail these skills, you’re already halfway there when it comes to impressing them!  





You might also like Styling small spaces like a pro

For more inspiration, follow @norseinteriors


Author: Sam Lauron

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