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Interior Designer

The Real Poop

If you've ever been captured by enemy forces and thrown into a bare cell where you are held as prisoner for months or years…you may be able to appreciate the importance of interior design. Your captivity might not have been so bad if you'd had a chaise lounge and a couple of brocaded throw pillows.

First, it's important to make the distinction between interior designers and interior decorators. Interior decorators, as the name implies, decorate a space. They fill it with furniture, vases, knick-knacks, and more to create a desired look and feel. An interior designer may handle much of that stuff as well, but they are more concerned with the layout of the space itself. They may take out walls, replace ugly tiled countertops with snazzy granite ones, or try to add more natural lighting. You really have to have both sides of your brain working to be a good interior designer—you need to be able to form an artistic vision, as well as to possess the math and construction skills to make it a reality. You didn't think it was going to be easy becoming the next HGTV Design Star, did you?

We spend a lot of time in our homes—some more than others. Existing day in and day out in an aesthetically pleasing space works wonders on the psyche. Would you rather live in a dark, dank home with moldy wood and a suffocating, clustered feel, or in a home with an open, inviting layout, plenty of sunlight, and a soft, sumptuous bed that seems to be calling to you? When you think about it this way, it shouldn't take you very long to feng shui your options.

Interior designers  work with a homeowner or, in some cases, with an architect during the planning stages of a structure. They spend a lot of time considering the purpose of the space, who will be living in it, what elements are important to them, and what changes will be attractive, reasonable, and cost-effective for the owner. A designer may envision a fabulous tube slide going from the second to the first floor, but if the space is owned by an elderly couple with bad backs, they may not hang onto their job for very long.

Many people are passionate about interior design these days. This much is evident from the slew of design shows that are continually popping up on television. Suddenly, everyone wants umbrella plants in their sunroom and checkered slipcovers over their futon.

What does this country’s fascination with home design mean for you, potential interior designer of the future? It means dollar signs. You can make serious bank in this business; not only will you be making an impressive hourly rate, but you will also be the happy recipient of a number of kickbacks. You will be incentivized to sell your clients on this couch, or on that lighting fixture, because you will be rewarded financially by the company from which you are buying it. Most interior designers have very nice homes themselves, and it's not just because they know the best way to arrange kitchen furniture.

It should come as no surprise that there are more individuals after interior design jobs than there are positions to be filled. Because the career is so lucrative and attractive, competition is tough. You can rise above the riff-raff, however, if you study hard and learn your stuff backwards and forwards. Yep—there is studying to be done. It isn't like other artistic endeavors where you can just slap some paint on a canvas and then possibly make a killing at Sotheby's. You'll need to be familiar with all of the different design styles—Tuscan, nouveau, Tudor, western, and so on. You'll need to immerse yourself in architecture classes, construction classes, and maybe even a psychology course or two. It will help if you can understand what makes people happy, as it will be your job to do so.

If you obtain your design degree from a top school, and become an accredited member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), you will be well on your way to making a living in this profession. It is important to hone your skills at every opportunity—however, we don't recommend that you practice on your brother's room while he’s away at college. He just isn't as into pastels as you think he is.