What Skills Does an Interior Designer Need?

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If you’re looking for a career that is at once challenging and creative, then you may be wondering what skills an interior designer needs. It’s the responsibility of these professionals to create interior spaces that are not only beautiful but also safe and functional. They do this by identifying the requirements of a space and choosing lighting, colors and materials that will be used. Inspection regulations and building codes may affect the work of the interior designer.

DegreeQuery.com is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Responsibilities of an Interior Designer

The duties taken on by an interior designer may vary widely according to the project. Occasionally, they are helping with cosmetic changes that relate to how a room looks. In other situations, the interior designer works in concert with an architect, a contractor and other construction professionals to complete an extensive renovation.

In fact, many interior designers are employed by architecture firms or contractors to help with the development of new homes and offices. This means that they may be involved in everything from planning where walls will go to the color of the carpet and drapes. Because their work can be complex, it is best if interior designers possess certain skills. What follows are descriptions of the key competencies that are essential to successful designers.

Ability to See Possibilities

One of the most fundamental skills that any interior designer must possess is the ability to envision how a space could look and function. Sometimes referred to as “vision,” this characteristic involves being able to look at an empty space and see it as something that is completely decorated and ready to use.

This skill involves many factors like spatial awareness and space planning. The designer also will consider the function of the room and how a variety of furniture arrangements will affect the energy and functionality of the space. Additionally, designers are concerned about creating a particular ambiance. In offices, this may mean designing a room that’s geared toward high energy and productivity while restfulness and tranquility will be emphasized in a bedroom.

Strong Problem-Solving Skills

Even when interior designers plan ahead and know their vendors, it is inevitable that some portions of a project will not go as planned. This means that interior designers must be problem solvers. Accordingly, it’s wise for designers to build their project management skills so that their expectations can be adjusted to fit what can be delivered by a certain date and how much each item will cost. This enables them to set achievable and reasonable deadlines that everyone can count on with enough cushion built in to meet unexpected delays.

Good problem solving also is supported by the ability to prioritize. Prioritization begins in the earliest days of a project, but it must be revisited on a frequent basis, especially as problems arise. Finally, the designer must possess excellent follow-through skills to ensure that problems are addressed in a timely manner. The smallest details may take on enormous significance when they are overlooked or forgotten, which makes the ability to follow-up on minutiae critical for successful designers.

Adaptability and Flexibility

Some interior designers work a predictable, five-days-a-week schedule. This is particularly true for those who are employed to work with commercial customers. However, an interior designer who works mainly with residential customers needs to be prepared to work a less predictable schedule that may include evenings and weekends.

It also may be worth noting that circumstances in the interior design world can be fluid. This means that it’s desirable for a designer to roll with sudden, unexpected schedule changes. Individuals who have an intense dislike for interruptions or surprises may want to look for an alternative career.

Clear Communication

A great deal of the interior designer’s day is taken up with listening, speaking and writing. In fact, many people who are new to the industry don’t realize just how crucial communication skills are to their success. Above all, active listening is an imperative skill for any interior designer to master according to Forbes. Listening to architects, clients, inspectors, vendors, contractors and others is pivotal to understanding the needs and parameters of each job. Developing solid listening skills may make the difference between success and failure.

Of course, it further is necessary for the interior designer to use both spoken and written communication to verify the client’s desires, present their vision and negotiate with vendors. Good articulation and the proper use of grammar and spelling keep communication on a professional footing and help to avoid costly errors.

Unstoppable Creativity

Successful designers possess an artistic eye and fashionable taste. It’s possible for them to create a sketch that helps clients to share their vision, and this always requires creativity. Additionally, it’s wise for interior designers to keep up with all of the latest trends and designs in decoration so that they’ll be ahead of the curve whenever a customer requests a solution that incorporates the best and latest innovations. This is why many interior designers hold a degree in design or another artistically inclined subject. They also are able to keep an open mind throughout the process, and collaboration is always a welcome prospect.

A Propensity for Budgeting

Interior designers are required to balance their creative tendencies with strict adherence to budgets. Many clients are limited with regard to money, and it falls to the designer to ensure that they propose a project that can be completed with the money allotted. Designers must look for hidden costs and keep meticulous records. They also are wise to brush up on their negotiation skills so that they can get more for less money.

Interior designers tend to be creative individuals who have an excellent capacity for handling details. By balancing their ability to see possibilities with their knowledge of solid budgeting tactics, they are prepared for success with all of the skills that an interior designer needs.

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