What Is a Residential Interior Designer?

Professional residential interior designers manage interior design projects in private homes from start to successful finish. Most residential interior designers learn their craft by completing bachelor's degree programs, such as the Bachelor of Arts in Interior Design. Schools offering Interior Design degrees can also be found in these popular choices.

Career Overview

Residential interior designers are responsible for the layout, design, and decoration of residential building spaces. They revamp people's homes, houses or condos. These designers should possess an artistic flair and the business acumen necessary for planning interior spaces and managing projects.

Important Facts About Interior Designers

Work Environment Office, client's home
Similar Occupations Art director, architect, fashion designer
Continuing Education Required for licensed designers; Master's degree programs as available, as well as professional development courses
On-the-Job Training None

Duties and Responsibilities

Residential interior designers work closely with customers, architects, and other professionals to decide on the structure of a space and to determine the needs of the building's occupants. Residential interior designers should possess the creativity of an artist and the abstract skills of an engineer. Following are some other essential elements that are needed:

Communication Skills

Residential interior designers work with a wide variety of people, including developers, contractors, vendors, municipal officials, and property managers. Therefore, the ability to communicate and function as a team player is critical to a residential interior designer's success. They must possess the verbal and written skills to describe their concepts to clients and other members of the team.

Artistic and Technical Skills

Designers must have the ability to create viable design and decor plans for each home. They should be familiar with materials, furnishings, and other merchandise for creating beautiful interior spaces. They also need to understand how color, texture, and lighting work with other features to produce unique designs. Fire, safety, and health regulations; building codes; and many other technical factors must also be considered.

Business Management Skills

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS, www.bls.gov), about 25% of interior designers were self-employed in 2012. Therefore, excellent project management skills and the ability to manage time are important characteristics. Other necessary business skills include employing business planning techniques, pitching project proposals, and maintaining good client interactions.

Education

Many residential interior designers complete their formal training at a community college or university, earning an associate's or bachelor's degree. Generally, interior design coursework includes classes like computer-aided design, interior design proposals, interior design materials, and interior spaces.

Licensure and Certification

In some states, professionals in this field can't call themselves interior designers without obtaining a license. Typical licensing requirements include completion of an accredited bachelor's program in interior design, two years of experience, and a state-approved exam. Certification in sub-specialty fields, like kitchen and bath design, may be available through third-party organizations.

Employment Outlook and Salary Information

The BLS notes that interior designers were expected to see a 4% uptick in job openings from 2016-2026, which is slower than average compared to other job sectors. The median salary among these designers was $53,370 as of May 2018.

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