How to Become an Interior Designer and Make a Six-Figure Income
Do you have those creative genes to decorate rooms and arrange furniture? Do you watch HGTV and think, I can do that, I want to do that? Well, today I’m going to show you how you can become an Interior Designer.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Interior Designer and Boss Mom Julie Putzel who shares with us how she got started and how she managed to earn a six-figure salary.
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My perception of an Interior Decorator and Interior Designer before this interview were one and the same, but they are different.
The difference is Education.
Anyone can become an Interior Decorator. If you have a knack for design, you can make anywhere from $50-$150 per hour. Check out this highly recommended Intro to Interior Design Course.
To find work, I recommend starting a website, take quality photos of your work, ask friends and family if you can work for them at no charge to help add to your portfolio, once you’ve created a polished visualization of your work you can then start to charge for your service.
As always, if you need help building your website let me know if you have questions.
Heavily promote what you are doing on your social media networks to increase word of mouth.
The Bureau of Labor Statistics defines Interior Designing as making interior spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting decorative items, such as colors, lighting, and materials.
Interior designers read blueprints and must be aware of building codes and inspection regulations, as well as universal accessibility standards.
To become an Interior Designer, you must have a formal education in Interior Design.
A lot goes into Interior Designing that many people don’t consider.
Check out the Interior Designer interview below to see if this is the right career for you:
1. Tell Us a little bit about yourself and how it all started in becoming an interior designer?
I am a wife to an amazing man and a mom to an 8-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter. I started in Interior Design as a Junior in High School. My father and I renovated our downstairs bathroom, and I fell in love with the entire project.
The planning, selections, layouts, and construction. So I researched what that was called as a career. It was very odd for someone of my area. I grew up in the country; so an art major was not a highly sought after degree.
I did go to college and complete a Bachelors in Interior design.
2. What does your business look like now?
My business continues to grow every day. It is such an amazing feeling to know you built something from nothing. I have commercial clients as well as residential, I have been published in regional and national magazines, and I judge regional builders showcase competitions.
Here are a couple examples of Julie’s work
3. Did you have any special training?
While in college, we learned various hand drafting skills as well as multiple computer-aided skills. I can draw perspective drawings right in front of my clients, I can draw floor plans and overlay them in AutoCAD for my Commercial clients, I can use 3D rendering software to create a visual walkthrough of a design concept, or use 20/20 software to quickly design and troubleshoot a kitchen or cabinetry layout.
I can load all files into Photoshop, Quarkexpress, Illustrator, Chief Architect, etc. College was immensely important for learning well-rounded skills in order to adequately design on the various clients’ needs.
4. How many hours do you work a week?
HA! When DON’T I work is a better question. Roughly 50-60 hours a week. An Interior Design business has its ebbs and flows. There are weeks that go according to my calendar, and then there are weeks all hell breaks loose, and it’s up to me to contain the damage.
5. How much do you earn as an Interior Designer?
I earn a 6 figure income.
6. How many clients do you have and how do you get them?
This is a tough question to answer. I honestly do not know. I have been designing professionally for 17 years. I have Designed all salons on Newbury St. in Boston, MA, homes on cape cod, reception areas for various commercial clients, etc.
Currently, I have 20 Active projects. How do I get my clients? Mostly they find me. I make sure to invest back into my business. What I mean by that, is to make sure I hire the best photographer to shoot my completed projects for a strong portfolio. I also make sure I give back to my community and participate in many charitable events.
7. What type of services do you offer?
Services I offer include Floorplans, Color Consultations, Space Refreshing, Furniture and material selections, Purchasing, personal Shopping, Window Treatment design, Kitchen and Cabinetry Design, all for Residential and Commercial clients and projects.
8. What are some of the challenges you face as an Interior designer?
Some challenges I face as an Interior Designer include relatability. I need to be able to understand the needs of my clients. I need to understand what lights them up, what their dreams are, what are their goals for hiring me. Then I outperform their expectations.
9. What are some of the things you are doing to grow your business?
What I do to grow my business, recently, I have sought out business mentors. Those who have a successful business practice and companies that they started. I look for others who have skills I can learn from that a CEU (Continuing Education Unit) cannot teach me.
10. What advice do you have for other women who want to start their own Interior Decorating Business?
First, I am a Designer, not a decorator. Decorators and Stagers are very good at what they do, but we are not the same thing. I’d start with understanding the business side of how these two titles are different.
I’d Interview a Designer in your area and ask them the ugly questions…”How did you react when you let a client down?” “How did you rebound when you weren’t making money?” Things like that.
You can read all kinds of success stories online, but very few professionals talk about the real side. It’s a business, and that takes thick skin, especially as a woman in the construction industry.
11. Can you give us a little insight into what a typical day looks like for you?
My day starts at 5 am when our daughter wakes up, I get my coffee, make her and our son breakfast. Then I make our son’s lunch, check his homework, and make sure his backpack is set for the day.
After he gets on the bus at 7:30 I check all unanswered emails/texts/calls. I create my daily task list and start tackling it one by one.
9:30 is my first meeting time with clients, so I get done everything that needs to be done before most business open. I then meet with 3-4 clients; each appointment is about 1-2 hrs long.
I get home around 6-7 most days. We have dinner, I draft or do project related items, follow up with my assistant, and get our kids ready for bed.
12. How many kids do you have?
We have 2 children. Our 8-year-old son plays basketball, and baseball and our 4-year-old daughter is in Ballet, Tap, and Jazz.
13. How do you manage your time with your work and kids?
I remain 100% present at the task I am doing. I also have special mommy and me date days. So each of our children gets their special time with mommy.
Thank you, Julie, for a great and honest interview on what it takes to become an Interior Designer and mom.
The ability to juggle a marriage, family, and your own business is the true definition of a Boss Mom.
To become an Interior Designer, you really have to have a love for design, art, and the ability to work with all types of personalities (Builder, Architect, Picky Clients, etc.).
If you can get to the point where you understand that it’s not about your style but how you can incorporate theirs, you will be successful.