How to Set Up an Interior Design Business


If you have a creative streak and enjoy interior design, why not turn this into a business which pays your bills? Starting an interior design business could be the right decision for you if you want to escape the rat race and do your own thing. There’s never been a better time than now to go into business for yourself, and if you have an aptitude for design then you could find your own niche in the interior design industry.

Getting started can be quite difficult, though. When you are dealing with other people’s homes and property, there are many things which need to be taken into account, including all the legal hoops you need to jump through, such as obtaining general liability insurance for small business.

When setting up your interior design business, it’s important that you do your research so that you can get off to the best possible start. There’s nothing worse than going in blind when starting a new business, especially one which is creative and requires the purchasing of equipment and inventory. Finding out that you don’t need half of what you thought you did, and aren’t prepared to meet the challenges ahead, isn’t a great start.

#1: What Do Interior Designers Do?

As an interior designer, simply put, you will be tasked with designing and decorating other people’s homes and businesses. More often than not these designs will be for functional purposes as well as the aesthetics. Interior design isn’t simply a case of choosing the right furniture or the best-looking fabrics, though. You will be a project manager and will oversee them from start-to-finish.

You will have clients who have high expectations and you will need to meet their expectations on time and to budget. Sometimes, this can be very, very difficult. Your tasks as an interior designer will be very varied and no one day or project will be the same as another. Some of your day-to-day tasks and obligations will include the likes of:

  • Working out how to meet your clients’ expectations

  • Becoming familiar with client briefs and listening to their needs

  • Budgeting for projects and monitoring costs throughout

  • Managing contractors such as construction teams

  • Researching a project and letting it come to life

#2: Types of Interior Design Project

As an interior designer, you will predominately be working on residential projects, but it’s not rare or unheard of to work on commercial buildings and business projects, too. Many interior designers specialize in either residential or commercial interior design, however, just as many do both.

It doesn’t matter which area you choose – simply go with the one which appeals most to you. After all, you must enjoy what you are doing, especially when you work for yourself. As an interior designer, you will be creating interior projects, finding furniture and equipment, and conducting studies into the feasibility and commerciality of projects. As you can imagine, it requires you to get very involved with an individual client and their property, so you need to love what you are doing. If you hate the idea of designing offices, for example, then perhaps it’d be a good idea to avoid commercial interior design projects.

#3: How Can I Get Started

Getting started can either be very easy or fairly hard; it all depends on your current situation. For example, if you have been working as an in-house designer for a firm then you may be able to leverage this position to prove your experience and secure references from your employer. If, however, you’ve been working in an unrelated industry then you may find it more difficult to get the ball rolling.

In either case, you will need a portfolio of your work and this is often what takes the most time when heading out into the world of self-employed interior design. Lots of people panic when they see the word “portfolio”, but don’t! If you are considering going into interior design, then your house is probably going to be looking very stylish, so use that as a starting point for your portfolio! The hardest part after establishing a portfolio is pitching to clients, and there are several ways you can go about doing this.  

If you are a creative individual who wants to escape their day-to-day job and embark on your own thing, then getting started with interior design could be the right decision for you. If you like the idea of getting heavily involved in your clients’ projects and having full creative control over the homes and businesses of people up and down the country, then it is worth looking into. Although the start can be slow, once you have built your portfolio and have proven yourself, you will be able to charge a hefty fee for your services.