Starting in interior design

I can’t sleep so I might just as well write this post. I got asked last week what can one do while studying an interior design course to prepare for the world after the course has finished. Whether you’re taking a short course, diploma or degree this might apply to you all. The common goal here is that after you gain your qualification, you are planning to start your own business.

1. Gain experience

If you can go and get yourself an internship or a job within the industry, do it. Now I tried to get in an interior design practice as an intern but for some reason it didn’t work out. Either the hours didn’t suit me, as you know I have two kids and at that time they were both at primary school. In other cases, the skills the designers required were not matching mine. Some wanted proficient in AutoCad which at that time I wasn’t. But I found a job as a bathroom designer in a bathroom and tile showroom in London which was soooo beneficial.

I could observe and learn from just watching how designers came in with their clients and how they communicated between each other. I listened to what they said, how they tried to sell their idea to the client and so on. It was a great and invaluable experience. Not only I learnt about actual bathroom and flooring design, I learn a great deal about hard materials, which as you know all courses cover. But I went into a much greater detail. Now I can look at different types of marbles or semi precious stones name them and also allocate the area they are quarried from. I learn how natural stones are cut and treated. I learnt about mosaic and glass and how to design with these materials. I learnt about the technical side of materials in terms of feasibility of installation and requirements. I learnt about porcelain printing, measuring spaces. The list goes on and on.

The message here is if you can go for it. If you live around London, your starting point should be Chelsea Harbour. They are always looking for people there. If you live elsewhere find a little boutique independent showroom – soft furnishings, fabrics, tiles, flooring, carpets, furniture, sofas whatever it is. Look for design jobs rather than sampling or admin. You want to be client facing and be exposed to dealing with customers so you can learn as much as possible about what you’re selling and what you’re working with.

2. Build your portfolio

While still studying you should build your own portfolio. And I don’t mean the one that your course is leading you to. These projects are close to reality but at the end of the day they are not life projects. And if you have to pitch to a client who calls in two designers – one with real life project experience and one without you can see who would probably win the contract.

So how do you get your portfolio going? Well, start in your own home. Be your own guinea pig. Start room by room and re-decorate the whole place. This gives you 2 things. One you discover your style. And two you will gain an experience in sourcing products, dealing with suppliers, builders (if applicable), installers. You will learn how to plan and do snugging. If you are a bit handy you will learn how to hang a wallpaper, make cushions and curtains etc.

Once you finished you can use the images for your portfolio. I will write another post about images soon.

3.  Start blogging and connect with people

Blogging is great. It gives you exposure and if you document your experiences  followers too.  And followers can eventually turn into clients. I started my blog to showcase my projects, inspiration and everything that interests me. It took me a long time to find “my voice” but this comes with experience and lots of trial and error. When you start the biggest advice I can give is “be you”. There are loads of blogs out there. Gone are the days when blogging was like a small pond. Now it’s an ocean. Vast ocean. And especially in lifestyle, dyi and design it’s pretty crowded. I mentioned few times about my struggles to get in there and get noticed. But when you start you don’t know where other bloggers are. I will write about this in more detail next time so hopefully you can mingle and make contacts much sooner than me.

One thing which will make you stand out is your personality. Nobody can write in your words about the topics that you take interest in. So even if you don’t know how to grow your blog at the beginning don’t worry about it. Just start writing. Even if no one comments or your website visits are low, keep writing. Over time people come. Only now I’m noticing more traffic and commenting on my blog and across all social media. But it took me almost 15 months to get here. As more people blog it will be even harder and it may take even longer. So just start blogging now and keep at it. Stick to your schedule.

I wrote a post about how to start a blog here so check it out. You can read all my blogs about blogging here. And don’t forget to check out my useful resources.

Right, that’s it for now. Still tonnes to share but that’s for next time. You can subscribe to my blogs via bloglovin or RSS feeds through which you get my posts via email so you don’t miss anything important (which I just checked and for some reason is not working properly so just shoot me an email via contact page with subject “Blog subscription”). Thanks.

Now I’m off to bed. See you here next time.

Karolina Barnes


Cover photo: source


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