I had the opportunity to shadow an actual interior designer for a bit since I am very passionate about this career. For people that think interior designers do nothing but pick out tiles and paint colors are very wrong.
Here are some of the key things I learned while shadowing:
- You do not need an actual degree or certification in interior design today – Yes I know this is mind blowing but it is true. You could identify yourself as the principal designer or work as a home decorator and still have your hands in the interior part. However, you still need to outsource your work or have a certified interior designer or architect in house to check your work. It is very important to have this so you can work with contractors and have a smooth working environment for yourself and your client.
- It takes more psychology and relationship skills than design 60% of the time – As I was shadowing, one of the clients were upset with a contractor and Michele, who I was shadowing, had to calm them down and come up with solutions vs dwelling on the negative. It takes people skills when you are working with clients. They are emotionally attached to the project and they should be, so always remember this. Michele really did a great job to steer the conversation into becoming actionable vs a complaining session. It took a lot of patience.
- Flat rates don’t work – meaning having a client pay a flat rate for your services will not benefit you in the end. In order for people to respect your time, charging hourly on extra consultations or time is needed. If not, clients will keep adding things they want to add or change and you will never be able to work on another project. That was extremely enlightening for me.
- Follow-up is everything – When you do full service interior design you are working with vendors, contractors, clients and much more. This means that the follow-up and communication is key. When you are dealing with construction and contractors at times they are not on top of things (from my own experience with renovation I get it) and you as the interior designer need to follow up at all times. Then the second part is to update your clients at all times, this shows reliability and trust. It goes such a long way.
- Neutral furniture can go a long way – If you buy pieces for your client that are neutral you can always update your space with a touch of colorful accessories and smaller pieces. I now live by that. Buying the bigger pieces in more subdue color palettes will make your furniture everlasting as you can use them for years to come. This is a great way to get a client to commit to something that is not over the top.
- Respect the vision & budget – If you have a client with a specific vision do your best to bring it to life through mood boards and mobile design. However, if the partnership is not working do not be offended. Let the client move on. Also, respect the budget and ask what the budget is from the beginning. You do not want any surprises at. all.
I have now just a new found respect for interior designers. It’s not easy and everyone cannot do it. What piece of advice really struck you?