What Interior Designers Do
Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful for almost every type of building.
Interior designers make interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials. They read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations, as well as universal accessibility standards.
Interior designers typically do the following:
- Search for and bid on new projects
- Determine the client’s goals and requirements for the project
- Consider how the space will be used and how people will move through the space
- Sketch preliminary design plans, including electrical and partition layouts
- Specify materials and furnishings, such as lighting, furniture, wall finishes, flooring, and plumbing fixtures
- Create a timeline for the interior design project and estimate project costs
- Place orders for materials and oversee the installation of the design elements
- Conduct the construction administration of the project and coordinate with general building contractors to implement the plans and specifications to build the project
- Visit the site after the project is complete, to ensure that the client is satisfied
Interior designers work closely with architects, structural engineers, mechanical engineers, and builders to determine how interior spaces will function, look, and be furnished. Interior designers read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations. For more information on structural engineers, see the profile on civil engineers. For more information on builders, see the profile on construction laborers and helpers.
Although some sketches or drawings may be freehand, most interior designers use computer-aided design (CAD) software for the majority of their drawings. Throughout the design process, interior designers often will use building information modeling (BIM) software to create three-dimensional visualizations that include construction elements such as walls or roofs.
Many designers specialize in a particular type of building, such as homes, hospitals, or hotels; a specific room, such as bathrooms or kitchens; or a specific style. Some designers work for home-furnishings stores, providing design services to help customers choose materials and furnishings.
Some interior designers produce designs, plans, and drawings for construction and installation. These may include construction and demolition plans, electrical layouts, and plans needed for building permits. Interior designers may draft the preliminary design into documents that could be as simple as sketches or as inclusive as construction documents, with schedules and attachments.
The following are examples of types of interior designers:
Healthcare designers use the evidence-design process in designing and renovating healthcare centers, clinics, doctors’ offices, hospitals, and residential care facilities. They specialize in making design decisions based on credible research to achieve the best possible outcomes for patients, residents, and the facility.
Sustainable designers use strategies to improve energy and water efficiencies and indoor air quality, and they specify environmentally preferable products, such as bamboo and cork for floors. They may obtain certification in Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) from the U.S. Green Building Council. Such certification indicates that a building and its interior space were designed with the use of sustainable concepts.
Universal designers renovate spaces in order to make them more accessible. Often, these designs are used to renovate spaces for elderly people and people with special needs; however, universal designs can benefit anyone. For example, an entranceway without steps may be necessary for someone in a wheelchair, but it is also helpful for someone pushing a baby stroller.
Kitchen and bath designers specialize in kitchens and bathrooms and have expert knowledge of the variety of cabinets, fixtures, appliances, plumbing, and electrical solutions for these rooms.
Corporate designers create interior designs for professional workplaces from small office settings to large-scale corporations within high-rise buildings. They focus on creating spaces that are efficient, functional, and safe for employees. They may incorporate design elements that reflect a company’s brand in their designs.