Five challenges you might encounter when starting out as an interior designer

So I took the plunge a few weeks ago – jumping in and starting my first real interior design job for some friends. It started when I posted on Facebook about finally getting my diploma in Interior Design and asking if anyone was brave enough to let me practice my new found skills on them. Low and behold someone stepped up!

A friend from our gym was wanting some help to refresh some rooms in their house and make it feel a little more coastal and pulled together. They had lived in Florida for a while and loved this style. They showed me pictures of room styles they liked and it was all very comfortable, light and bright. But this first project was not without its challenges.

1. Working with the existing.

Whilst their house had great bones being relatively new, and had a great amount of natural light. The challenge was the fact that their floors, kitchen cabinets and furniture were all dark. Most coastal styles have white or very pale wood furniture. Painting the cabinets white would be the obvious choice but understandably they weren’t keen on this when the kitchen was so new.

2. Making it child friendly.

This would be fine, except coastal is all about the pale fabrics. Not a good combination with black home-made slime projects! So I had a challenge to find hard wearing fabrics but still achieve the bright and fresh look.

3. The budget.

At first I thought I had a healthy budget for the three rooms they wanted redesigning. But it turns out that performance fabric sectionals are pretty expensive! I found the perfect linen loose cover style sectional for them from Pottery Barn until I realized I’d blown 70% of their overall budget on one piece of furniture! I learned a valuable lesson here, research the prices as well as the styles before proposing ideas to clients!

Sullivan Sectional, Pottery Barn

The other challenges I faced were more from a process standpoint rather than the design.

4. Underestimating the time it takes.

One thing that was a big learning experience for me is how long it takes to do these projects. Literally hours searching though websites to find the right products then putting it all into PowerPoint presentations with links to the actual products. I’m sure there must be better ways of doing this, and that’s something I need to find out from more seasoned Interior Designers.

5. Not having the right tools.

I also don’t have the right tools to do this job professionally, such as SketchUp, Revit or even Photoshop anymore. So I’m cutting pasting and cobbling together a design with PowerPoint and using free online 3D tools to try and visualize the design ideas as best I can. But it looks unprofessional in my opinion. So at some point I’m going to need to invest in the $1000’s to get the right tools and learn how to use them.

These are just a few of my initial learnings and challenges I’ve faced in starting out on my Interior Design side business. I definitely have a long way to go and am gaining a huge amount of knowledge and experience from helping out my friends. Keep reading my blog to find out how I work through these challenges to deliver a design they’ll love and streamline my processes.

Thanks for reading!

Jo

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