How to become an Interior Designer

Sarah Macdonald
Interior Design
31 October 2022 | 5 min read
How to become an Interior Designer

Becoming an Interior Designer

If you love to decorate rooms and have an eye for design, a career in interior design might be the perfect fit for you!

Despite what many people think, interior design is so much more than making an interior space beautiful. To be a successful interior designer, you’ll need to understand design theory and have excellent communication and people skills.

What is an Interior Designer?

An Interior Designer is someone who is responsible for the design and layout of the inside of a building. They might work on residential projects or commercial projects (or both). The goal of an Interior Designer is to create a space that is both aesthetically pleasing and functional. This is what’s known as ‘marrying form and function.

A typical day for an Interior Designer involves meeting with clients to develop a project brief, gathering inspiration and samples, creating concept presentations, sketching and planning ideas on paper or using computer software, collaborating with other industry professionals (e.g. architects, suppliers, builders, etc.) and administration tasks.

What Does an Interior Designer do?

Interior Designers are professionals who work to create spaces that are both aesthetically pleasing and functional. They are responsible for everything from the layout of a space to the selection of materials. The design process begins with an assessment of a client's needs, goals, and lifestyle.

Interior Designers use their knowledge of architecture, engineering, construction, and other disciplines to create spaces that suit the client's needs. They have a wide range of skills including drawing and computer skills, knowledge about materials and furniture, as well as an understanding of design and colour theory.

Interior Designers can work for architectural firms, construction companies, retailers, consultancy agencies, interior design companies, and more. Some may take the route of freelancing or starting their own business as well.

Some of the key tasks and responsibilities of an Interior Designer are:

  • Work with clients to understand their needs and vision for a space and offer design and decoration ideas in line with the set budget.
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, painters, builders and other industry professionals throughout the design process.
  • Sketch and plan ideas using Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software.
  • Source samples and prepare concept presentations to demonstrate design ideas to clients.
  • Order and obtain the necessary materials, furnishings and decor for the design and oversee their installation.
  • Determine timelines and project costs and communicate them with the relevant stakeholders (e.g. clients, builders, architects, etc.)
  • Conduct a ‘final walk-through’ with the client to resolve any concerns and gain feedback about the project.
  • Maintain up-to-date knowledge of trends, techniques and other design industry developments.

Interior Designer

Design Fundamentals for Interior Design

If you’re thinking about becoming an Interior Designer, here are some of the key design theories and practices that you will need to study and understand:

Colour Theory

Colour is arguably one of the most influential elements of a design. Without it, your design would be incomplete!

Colour theory explores our perception and interpretation of colours. It also explains how we can mix and match colours to create contrast, harmony or even optical illusions.

When it comes to residential designs, colour theory can help you to create spaces that positively influence mood and behaviour and provide the right ambience.

Spatial Planning

Spatial planning refers to the task of planning and designing spaces for a client’s needs and purposes. This can be done for small-scale projects (e.g. one room in a home) or large-scale projects (e.g. shopping centres, health facilities, schools).

At the beginning of the design process, you will need to analyse and measure the space. Then, you will begin sourcing inclusions that match these dimensions. Your next step is to fit the items and products into the plan. Aesthetics are an important consideration here, however, functionality and user experience are equally important.

This step is usually done with Computer-Aided Design (CAD) software.


There are many elements that go into a beautiful space, but materials are one element that has an immediate impact.

There are so many materials out there that it can be slightly overwhelming for new designers. No matter what material you choose, the key is making sure it has a connection to the rest of your space.

It's also important to know your suppliers and keep up to date with the latest trends and innovations in the material world.

Environmental sustainability should also be considered in this stage. You’ll want to make sure that the items you choose are made from sustainable resources and are low in embodied energy. Embodied energy is the energy consumed by all of the processes associated with the production of a product, from the mining and processing of natural resources to manufacturing, transport and product delivery.


How you design the lighting of a space will affect the mood and behaviours of the people who inhabit it.

An interior designer connects aesthetics and function. In the case of lighting, a space might call for someone to be focused and productive during the day and relaxed at night.

When designing a space, it's often beneficial to have several lighting options to fit the different functions. For example, a bedroom may benefit from warm, ambient light to elicit relaxation, but it might also require a couple of task lights to help someone read their book in bed.

Furniture & Styling

An Interior Designer needs to understand the structural dimensions of the human body and how it interacts with a piece of furniture. This is not just important for comfort, but for productivity and occupational health and safety, too.

Ergonomics, anthropometrics, and proxemics are scientific concepts that help designers to understand how humans work, live, move and remain healthy and safe within a space.

Choosing the right furniture, decor and other finishing touches is also an opportunity to create a certain mood, influence behaviour and express the personality of your client. In residential design, these elements are what make a house a home!

How To Become an Interior Designer

To become an Interior Designer, you generally need to complete a relevant qualification in Interior Design, like a diploma or degree. A short course can also be a great way to gain the skills you need to start the journey to be an interior designer or to check that it is the right career for you before committing to the time and expense of gaining formal qualifications.

A good way to get ahead is to gain industry experience by undertaking an internship while studying. This will also allow you to build a portfolio of work to show to future employers.

As well as technical skills, successful Interior Designers also possess a range of soft skills such as communication, creativity, organisation and time management.

Start your Interior Design journey with Ulleo

By enrolling into an Interior Design short course with Ulleo, you’ll be able to tailor your studies to your unique goals.

Our Interior Design & Decorations course option is perfect for those who want to learn the fundamentals of design theory and turn their passion into a practical skill set. Our Interior Design & Decoration Professionals course option provides two extra lessons that will help you to start your own successful Interior Design business.

In each lesson, you’ll learn directly from a range of industry experts who will help you master the skills, styles and best practices you need to succeed in the industry.

Other key benefits of these courses are:

  • Learn through engaging video content and put theory into practice with a range of activities, resources and projects.
  • Receive expert guidance from your industry Course Mentor, including a dedicated 1:1 session to plan your future.
  • Collaborate and network with guest speakers and peers through fortnightly Ulleo Live! workshops and webinars (enjoy over 95 hours of live content during your course!)
  • Learn fully online at your own pace and receive dedicated learning support from Ulleo’s friendly Community Services team.
  • Share your achievement with your network and future employers with a verified Digital Badge and Certificate of Completion.
  • Get the most out of your Ulleo experience with a range of exclusive course benefits, including over $470 worth of design products, tools, and services.

Find out more about these courses and enrol here.

Start your Interior Design & Decoration journey with one of our courses.

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