How to Become an Interior Designer from Scratch – Self-Study and the Programs You Need

Not so long ago, such a profession as an interior designer appeared on the labor market, and its popularity today leaves no doubt and is only gaining momentum every year. If earlier everyone was engaged in the design of their home independently, nowadays they practically cannot do without the services of a designer.

How to become a designer from scratch?

The content of the article:

Pros and cons of being an interior designer

The specialty “interior designer” is in great demand today (you will definitely not be left without a piece of bread, butter and sausage) – many educational institutions offer training in this profession.

True, it will be fair to say that high demand remains exclusively for professional designers.

What are the advantages and disadvantages of doing this?


  • Creative work. This is not to say that freedom of action is absolute here, but the creative component is definitely “not to be taken away.”
  • A wide scope of application of the acquired skills.
  • Quite good (if not just excellent) earnings.
  • Constant communication with new people, useful acquaintances, broadening of horizons and “weighting” the baggage of knowledge.
  • In a situation where there is a “lull” (lack of clients), you can always get a job in any company where your very broad knowledge will be useful.
  • Free schedule.
  • No need for advertising: if you are a professional (and even talented), then word of mouth will quickly ensure your popularity.
  • Kudos to the profession.
  • The joy of successful projects.
  • Independence from the “uncle-boss”.
  • Gradually filling your personal portfolio.
  • You can work on retirement (nobody cares about your age, the main thing is work).


  • Lack of opportunities such as vertical growth. Expansion is possible (for example, opening your own design studio), but there is simply nowhere to grow above a professional designer.
  • Practice / internship is required.
  • You cannot do without a well-established circle of reliable partners (from carpenters, furniture makers and electricians to companions for curtains, repairs, etc.).
  • Contractors sometimes fail.
  • The work will not always be permanent.
  • Your views on beauty and practicality will not always match those of your clients. And the client is always right.
  • Indispensable. You cannot take sick leave. If you started a project, you must bring it to its logical conclusion, regardless of whether you have a runny nose, fever or personal affairs. “Take it out and put it down!”
  • A sharp start after training is a rare rarity. You will need time to develop a client base, create your name, and promote. And the main thing is not to tarnish your reputation at the start.
  • We’ll have to learn special programs on a computer. You cannot do without them today.
  • You also need to have artistic skills.

Professional duties of an interior designer – how does he work?

The Basics for an Interior Designer – What Talents and Knowledge Should They Have?

  • Taste and creativity, your own creative vision.
  • Patience and hard work.
  • Ability to listen and hear the client.
  • The ability to present your project in its entirety at the initial stage.
  • PC proficiency at a sufficient level (that is, a confident user).
  • Knowledge and understanding of the basics of space ergonomics, architecture, painting, design, color combinations, construction, installation and communications, the sequence of technological processes, properties / qualities of all modern building / finishing materials.
  • Knowledge of the basic interior styles, as well as the principles of implementing these styles in the interior, taking into account all the nuances.

Interior designer profession

Career growth

As a rule, the first steps of a young specialist are work in collective projects or design studios. It will take some time for practice and internship, the lion’s share of which will be spent on studying programs and layouts. The top rung of your career is your own design studio or a solid “post” in the company.

Conditional phasing of the career ladder:

  • A specialist with no work experience, but with education and all the necessary knowledge.
  • A specialist already with experience (at least 1 year) with his portfolio, well “floating” in all modern trends.
  • A specialist combining the duties of a foreman and a designer, with a high level of knowledge, work experience of at least 3 years, experience in large rooms / buildings, freely navigating in construction / materials manufacturing companies.
  • A top-level specialist with over 5 years of experience, with a solid background of technically complex projects, with knowledge of foreign languages.

What an interior designer does – responsibilities

  • Creation of interior projects (from apartments and offices to entertainment centers, etc.).
  • Analysis of the client’s wishes.
  • Subsequent development of drawings, sketches, diagrams for discussion with the client.
  • Measurement of premises and development of future design.
  • Layout creation and 3-D modeling.
  • Selection of materials, general colors (in accordance with the client’s wishes), furniture, interior items, etc.
  • Development of a budget and an accurate calculation of the cost of the interior.
  • Drawing up plans and work schedules for workers.
  • Control over the work of workers with the correction of previously drawn up plans, if necessary.

How does a designer work?

  • Meeting with the client at the facility (usually). Study of floor plans, drawings and wishes.
  • Preparation of a package of documents and technical / assignments.
  • Photographing the object and making all measurements.
  • Compilation of technical specifications / assignments, taking into account the wishes of the client in terms of style, layout, functionality and completing with furniture / equipment.
  • Development of a design project directly.
  • Coordination of the project and (after approval) the development of a set of its drawings with all the technical / data in the documentation.
  • Implementation of all the necessary work (the designer only controls, consults, chooses materials, lighting, etc.).

How to search for orders?

The most effective and affordable types of advertising are:

  • Special printed editions. It will take a long time to order advertising here, and you won’t be able to save money. Glossy magazines for wealthy clients are ideal, although free newspapers can work in your favor.
  • Word of mouth. This option, as mentioned above, begins to operate as you gain experience (positive).
  • Global network. For a start – a personal website, a portfolio that is being updated. Further – the promotion of your site. Don’t forget about groups in social / networks.
  • Posting announcements (distribution of flyers, etc.). Outdated way. Good for advertising an opening cafe or an upcoming show. A designer should consider a more solid advertising method.

You can also use the following features:

  • Give a “cry” to friends and relatives – let everyone recommend you.
  • Call those “private traders” and small firms that are engaged in finishing work. As a rule, they do not have designers, and they will recommend you to clients for a separate percentage of the design project.
  • Call large stores and organizations, advertise services. Perhaps someone just at this moment urgently needs a design project for his new new department or office.

Interior designer salary

Of course, it depends on many factors. Salaries do not exist here (unless you work in a company as an ordinary employee). In terms of income, it depends on the region. On average, the cost of a design per 1 sq / m is $ 40-50.

Swimming by yourself or working in a company – which is better?

  • Working for a company involves earning 20-30% of the order. The rest goes to the firm’s “pocket”. Pros: no need to look for orders, there is a social / package, official employment, there is always work, you do not need advertising
  • When working for yourself, the earnings will be 100%. But you will have to look for orders yourself, you cannot do without advertising and no one will provide you with a social / package.

Read also: How to become a clothing designer without education and experience – where to start?

Self-directed education and courses for the profession of interior designer

It is not enough to choose one of the most prestigious professions in the world. You also have to become a specialist.

Where are they taught to be an interior designer?

  • First – career guidance tests.
  • An art school will not hurt.
  • Creation of a portfolio of drawings, graphic works.
  • Further – the university and the delivery of specialized subjects.
  • Parallel mastering of the subject in courses, on the Internet, etc.

Where to go to study?

  • State University of Art and Industry named after S. G. Stroganova (Moscow). Study – 6 years. You will have to hand over at least 10 drawings + a very difficult competition.
  • State University of Culture and Arts (Moscow), Faculty of Design. To pass – an exam in the specialty, the history of Russia, the Russian language.
  • State University of Service (Moscow).
  • Higher School of Stylistics.
  • National Institute of Contemporary Design.
  • Moscow Art and Industry Institute (MHPI).
  • Moscow University of Public Administration (MUSU)
  • International Independent University of Ecology and Politics (MNEPU).
  • Moscow State Mining University (MGGU).
  • University of the Russian Academy of Education (URAO).
  • Moscow State University of Technology and Management (MGUTU).
  • Moscow branch of the Russian International Academy of Tourism (MF RMAT).
  • British Higher School of Art and Design (BHSD).
  • College of arts and crafts named after Karl Faberge № 36.

Advantages of studying at a university:

  • More thorough training. Not 1-2 years of courses, but 5-6 years of study.
  • Employment and internship / internship opportunities.
  • Saving finance.

Is it possible to start from scratch without preparation at a university?

Available. If you are a real diamond among designers, a line of clients is already lining up for you, and you are ready to work tirelessly. Self-education is a serious thing.

You will have to master:

  • Basics of architecture and design.
  • Construction technology.
  • All the necessary computer programs.
  • Lighting design.
  • The theory of culture / art.
  • Accounting.
  • Furniture design, etc.

Useful websites for interior designers

The best forums for designers (exchange of ideas, communication, consultations):

  • Private announcements, contests, forum.
  • Apartment and suburban “alterations”, consultations, forum, “hall help”.
  • Any design issues in the exchange of opinions, design exchange, narrow-profile closed discussions.
  • Forum of a construction nature, search for a master, offers for services and buying / selling.
  • Exchange of views, advice on finishing, the work of craftsmen, special forums.
  • Expert consultations, exchange of views.

And other sites:

  • Useful articles on
  • Reviews of new products and recommendations at
  • Interiors for inspiration at
  • News and reviews, useful links to design blogs on
  • Interiors at
  • Catalogs at

Necessary programs for the work of an interior designer

Each designer’s project is a unique creative work that has not been done on paper for a long time – it has been replaced by computers. Now, to help the designer, not ink, pencils and ink liners, but graphic editors. With them, the process goes several times faster, and it is easier to make edits. So what should a designer learn? Most popular programs:

Universal program for three-dimensional modeling of objects.

Simple and handy program for designing and designing.

Pros: automatic calculation of the area and determination of the dimensions of the projected room, a rich selection of materials and textures, the ability to maintain a bill of materials with Excel export, calculation of the project cost.

Domestic “answer” to the German ArCon.

A simple free program with more than simple functionality.

Option for interior design. The available interior elements are in the company’s models. Payment. And even the ordering of furniture.

  • Design Studio 3D 2010

This program is designed to create simple projects.

Option for modeling and 3D visualization of the interior.

Option in case of “how to make a rearrangement.” And also DS 3D Constructor of cabinet furniture or DS 3D Constructor of kitchen.

The program for creating an interior: after uploading a photo of the house, you can “try” the floor coverings on it.

A program for experimenting with color.

Interior design. Video lessons.

Also useful: Autodesk 3ds Max and Autodesk Homestyler, SketchUp, 3D Room Planner, Sweet Home 3D, AutoCAD and ArchiCAD.

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