11 Must-have Skills for Interior Designers

A professional interior designer makes drawings and visualization, develops stylistic solutions, communicates with clients, keeps up-to-date with the latest trends, products and materials, knows the construction code and remodeling process, and specifics of the interior design market.

We asked our in-house designers about the most important skills in the profession. Here are their answers:

  1. Design functional and realistic layouts. It is not enough to propose a beautiful design; you must understand building code and how to get it approved by HOAs. A design must be tailored and customized to each user so it can be comfortable for daily use.
  2. Creating competent drawings. Every project starts with technical documentation. Drawings with the location of electrical, HVAC, and detailed floor plans – the designer should create a drawing that any builder and architect can read.
  3. Staying up-to-date with trends. New manufacturers and designers appear every year. Designers must keep updated with color trends and the latest products. Attending trade shows such as Architectural Digest Design Show, NARI, NeoCon, High Point Market, HD Expo, and ICFF.
  4. Understand color theory and finishes. Sometimes unexpected shades complement each other well, and mixed textures help create a harmonious composition. The professional should offer solutions that the client might not have considered.
  5. Turn ideas into appealing images. Creating 3D visualizations requires special skills and training, but those interior designers who mastered it, significantly increase the value of their work. The designer may not draw well but must be proficient in graphics software such as ArchiCAD, SketchUp, Adobe Photoshop, Blender, and Unreal Engine.
  6. Understand the internal structure of the construction process. Follow the progress of the renovation and have an understanding of when and what needs to be checked during remodeling.
  7. Know how to find a balance between what the client wants and what is possible. Try to find a compromise of reality and the wants of the client.
  8. Be adaptable. Be prepared for a design proposal not to work perfectly. A designer must be ready to improvise and adapt their design.
  9. Develop a research process. Every designer has their own process of finding inspiration and ideas. Some create online mood boards and collages (Houzz is a very helpful resource for that). Others prefer printed magazines (Architectural Digest, ELLE Decor, HGTV, House Beautiful, etc.).
  10. Take criticism professionally. Communication is key. A designer’s communication style can make or break a presentation. Make the client understand your decisions. Revise design if necessary.
  11. Document agreements and follow through on them on time and within budget. Being organized and thorough is as important as a great design. Having clear and concise paperwork will benefit everyone on the project team.

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