Over 85 Tools and Tips… An Epic Resource List for Creative Designers
You’ve stumbled across a very comprehensive guide of key resources to help you navigate the complicated process of starting your own design/decorating business while still working full-time in another field. Most of the resources listed I have personally used or know are highly recommended by other designers. As someone new to the interiors field and still working a full-time job I know first-hand that it is very challenging to traverse the complicated maze of starting and establishing your own design business. But I’m here to tell you it can be done so read ahead to see how to make life easier.
So let me share a little about me and my backstory. I’m a mid-career professional and have worked in the public health field for 17 years but the pull of design has been overwhelming lately. I’ve always liked to decorate starting in my own homes and then helping out friends who needed some design ideas. People have usually mentioned that I have an “eye” for décor and should consider sharing my talents. A couple of years ago I started playing around with one of those interior design games and I was addicted. I never thought I was particularly creative but it wasn’t until late last year that I started putting pieces together to nurture my creative side. I found myself on this app during every possible free moment. For some reason this was one of the triggers I needed to explore doing design more often and somehow make a living from it.
With my full time job, I’ve often toiled over going back to school and obtaining my terminal degree and retiring but at the end of the day I don’t want to ever think back to what if and I didn’t follow through with my passion for interiors. Transitioning into interior decorating while a mid-career employee has not been the easiest road and I’ve learned and continuing to learn about the interior design field and business in general. I hadn’t considered myself an entrepreneur before so let’s just say it’s been a gratifying but also difficult journey. If you find yourself in the predicament of wanting to also express your creative side, know that you are not alone and there are several sources you should tap into to make the road ahead as smooth as possible. Please note this list is not at all exhaustive and includes links to both things I have personally used or are using in addition to some helpful links I’ve found along the way. My ultimate goal is to help you avoid design business pitfalls that I myself did not.
Grab access to get interior decorating business tips not taught in traditional programs with VIP access to the Interior Decorating Blueprint: From Hobby to Profits. Get first hand from the experts spilling the tea on topics ranging from business basics, to marketing secrets to keeping your sanity in getting that decorating biz up and growing.
What's in this post:
What's in this post:
So you want to start a decorating business, huh?
We’re going to get into the quick and dirty of it and share some of the startup basics you need to consider when launching your design business. Please note this is not an exhaustive list of resources but includes some key resources that every new interior creative needs to know to get their business up and running. Remember sharing is caring and we 100% support #communityovercompetition here.
Designer vs. Decorator
First off you need to designate if you are an interior designer or interior decorator and know the difference between the two. Here’s the main difference: an interior designer has attended a 4 year degree certified program, completed an internship under a licensed designer and passed the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam. Most states will require you to be licensed if you call yourself an interior designer. An interior decorator in most cases will not need to be licensed and only deal with aesthetic changes (not structural or mechanical) such as paint, fabric, furnishings and accessories. In this article, I use the term interchangeably but you must be clear in your designation before you submit any paperwork establishing your business.
Articles of Incorporation
You will need to register your business with your state and make sure your business name is not already in use. A general search for “how start a business in insert state” should bring you to your state’s Department of Commerce or similar body. For Maryland, I established an online account, completed the form and made payment. A few weeks later I had my articles of incorporation and was legal to operate in the state. You will probably need a registered agent which means having someone on record to receive legal paperwork on your behalf for things such as a lawsuit. Keep in mind you may have an annual filing fee to keep your business in good standing. Stay tuned for more to come in future posts about budgeting and taxes.
Establish your Employee Identification Number
You will need to visit the IRS website to establish your Federal identification number which is how the IRS identifies your company.
Also known as the tax exempt certificate this is necessary to establish your trade accounts and allows you to buy goods through your business without paying local sales tax. When doing this, it’s your responsibility to collect the tax from the customer when you sell the item. Sign up on your State’s Department of Taxation website. Click here for a list.
It is strongly recommended that you consider purchasing insurance before you start with your first client. You will want to have all your bases covered in case of any mistakes that happen with the project whether they are your fault or not. There are a few types of insurance to consider but you should have at least professional liability or errors and omissions coverage in place. This provides coverage for design professionals, partners, employees, and the partnership or corporation for damage caused by providing or failing to provide professional services. There are several insurance options to choose from including Nationwide and Travelers.
Nationwide (Interior design business insurance)
Travelers (Liability insurance for design professionals)
Official Business Address (To PO Box or not to PO Box)
Most people will not want to use their home address especially if the business information will be listed publicly. A few issues with using a PO Box include some deliveries are not able to be received at a PO Box or some businesses will not accept a PO Box as an address. Some post offices allow you to use the post office physical address with your box number but it can’t be used on legal documents. You can also use your local shipping store. See below for a few alternatives to the PO Box:
UPS Business Street address services for businesses.
Davinci Virtual office addresses.
iPostal1 Digital mailbox services.
Traveling Mailbox Virtual business address and mail scanning services.
Get your website up…
Your website is your first impression to potential clients and you need to drive all that social media traffic somewhere. Key elements of a good interior design website include: an about me page that focuses on your ideal client’s struggles and how you can solve them, portfolio examples, a clear listing of your services provided and an easy way to contact/hire you. If you currently have a site up, see how many of those elements you meet and if not fix it now. I’m currently in process of revising my own design biz website. It needed a more glam feel to go with my new branding. Check it out here…
Don’t have a portfolio? No problem. Just create one by taking pics of your home and follow the photography tips outlined in the Portfolio/Photography 101 board on the CPS Pinterest page. Now’s the time to call in some favors if you have helped out some friends and family in their home décor so you can share those pics too.
Domain Purchase and Site Design
Go Daddy GoDaddy is the place people come to name their idea, build a professional website, attract customers and manage their work.
WordPress Open source software you can use to create a beautiful website, blog, or app.
Wix Unites beauty and advanced technology to create your stunning website. It’s easy and free.
Square Space All-in-one solution for anyone looking to create a beautiful website.
Blue Host Leading web solutions services provider and where I also housed my first website for my blog.
Site Ground Provides website, cloud and enterprise hosting. I now use this service for my combined website and will provide updates on how my service goes.
Flywheel For WordPress hosting and management.
Kinsta WordPress hosting powered by Google Cloud.
Don’t just pick any old theme! You need to pick certain templates depending on what you want your website to accomplish. There are dozens of places to search your heart out for the perfect theme. I’ve named just a few below.
Creative Market An online marketplace for community-generated design assets. I love Creative Market since I stumbled upon it some months ago from watching a webinar. I was looking for graphics for some marketing materials but since then have found this site to be a resource for website themes, to flat lay backgrounds to unique fonts and everything is so affordable.
Envato Market Digital marketplaces that sell creative assets for web designers. This is where I purchased the Gather theme for the CPS website.
Restored 316 Feminine WordPress themes for the female entrepreneur. Sign up to their site for all kinds of freebies and they have a handy quiz to determine which of their themes is right for you.
Hello You Feminine themes for WordPress and Genesis. This is my current website theme for my own design biz which I love. They have incredible web support and answered my every little question before purchasing the theme.
Other helpful resources:
Privacy Language Generator Generate language to include on your website regarding your privacy policies.
Form Swift Generate terms and agreement language to include on your website.
Crazy Egg Website heat map tool to see where most of your website traffic lands.
Bitly A handy tool when it comes to shortening URLs because no one wants to click on a 100 character website link. No one!
Project management… getting through day to day
It’s important to remember that you have to be an entrepreneur before a designer/decorator. The design business isn’t all glam and glitz creating those beautiful spaces. I’ve included some sites below to help you manage all aspects of the design process including sourcing, client intake and workflow and budgeting.
Business of Design A coaching community for independent interior designers. Plenty of good resources on the business side of design. Free webinars are available too.
It’s crucial when working with clients to have all expectations of work to be performed, costs, timeframe and budget in place before any real work begins. More sources will be added shortly to help with your contract language.
ASID Professional association for interior designers.
Having a lawyer review your final contract language as well as website policies doesn’t hurt and can be a critical safe guard.
What’s the best project software out there for designers:
Mydoma Studio A project management & client collaboration software for interior designers. This is an excellent tool built on a dynamic platform to manage your day to day operations from getting your contract signed to sourcing materials to client interaction. Mydoma comes highly recommended by myself as well as a host of other design biz friends.
Ivy Mark A cloud-based business management tool built for interior designers.
Wecora Visual online presentation and collaboration for creative professionals. This is a good tool for Edesign projects where you can easily have clients review and approve design concepts.
Studio Webware Project management & accounting cloud software.
Notes and organization:
Trello Web-based project management application. I love this little app to keep track of the everyday tasks to more long-term planning.
Airtable Works like a spreadsheet but gives you the power of a database to organize anything.
Evernote Organize your personal and professional projects.
Asana Track your team’s work and manage products.
Budget and Hours Tracking
Mint Effortlessly manage your finances in one place. I personally use this service and the only downside is sometimes some financial institutions are not listed but it is rare.
Expensify An automated expense reports service.
Fresh Books Cloud based accounting software for small businesses.
Quick Books Accounting software for small businesses.
Wave Small business accounting website.
My Hours Free time tracking for your projects and tasks.
According to Bloomberg, “8 out of 10 entrepreneurs who start businesses fail within the first 18 months. A whopping 80% crash and burn.” (Forbes.com) Don’t end up another statistic.
Calendly Meeting scheduler application. I personally use this service to schedule my client consultations with my own personalized link.
17 Hats Business management for entrepreneurs. This comes highly recommended by other design friends to help them with their business processes.
V cita All in one business management app for small and medium sized businesses. I was fairly impressed with their quick schedule and consult features.
Survey Development and Gathering Client Feedback
Typeform Dynamic form builder. I personally use for my online forms to collect information from my E-design clients as well as other surveys.
Survey Monkey Free online survey and questionnaire tool.
Getfeedback.com Create customer surveys.
Storage/Uploading Documents and Photos
Dropbox Secure file sharing and storage. Extremely helpful for E-decor since I have clients upload photos of their space and it’s free! In an effort to keep start-up costs low free resources are essential.
Send Owl Platform to sell digital products.
Because sometimes well let’s face it most of the time you can’t do it all and it’s better to outsource smaller jobs to free up your time. I’ll also do a blog post soon to describe more in detail my experience with these sites and ultimately who I chose for my jobs and why.
Fiverr Freelance services marketplace. Pretty helpful tool when outsourcing small jobs. Just be sure to vet potential freelancers and ask for sample work. I mainly use to craft some blog posts.
Freelancer Freelancing and crowd sourcing marketplace. Pretty much same comments as for Fiverr. It can be tricky to find freelancers with some knowledge of interiors.
Upwork Businesses and independent professionals connect and collaborate remotely. I liked this site because after submitting my task I wasn’t overwhelmed by proposals and the matches seemed high quality. For each bidder, I could check links to previous jobs and feedback, portfolio, certifications, testing and scores, employment history and education. It was nice seeing a resume for each freelancer which I did not see with some of the other services.
Thumbtack Online service that matches customers with local professionals. This resource is posted in two places since you can sign up and solicit work but you can also hire others as well for example, photography service for your design projects.
Sourcing and trade programs
Where are you going to source your products? Do you have your trade applications in place?
Sourcing is a time intensive component of the design process. Now that you finally have worked with the client and confirmed a concept you have to decide where you will source materials for the best trade price for you and within your clients’ budget. See the links below to get some ideas. Signing up for individual trade programs will help you grow your samples library and take advantage of trade-only product discounts. Don’t forget to visit your local paint stores and sign up for paint swatches.
Designer Inc Cut your sourcing time in half.
Habitatery Offers designers access to top furniture manufacturers.
Design Trade Solutions Design Trade Solutions offers true designer pricing. We are studio friendly for interior designers that want a complete resource library at their fingertips.
Company D Designer furniture virtual showroom.
Design Trade Service Design Trade Service is an exclusive online marketplace that provides interior designers unique access to complete catalogs of industry leading furniture manufacturers at better than typical “to-the-trade” pricing.
Let’s face it! You need to sell yourself in this business. So how will you stand out from the crowd? Do you know where to start in promoting your business on social media?
If you’re like me, you have a love-hate relationship with social media. On one hand it’s good because of the vast potential reach you could have for your business outside of your immediate circles but it can be challenging to get truly organic leads without spending tons of money. I personally use Instagram, Facebook and Pinterest for most of my social media interaction. I also do a little on Twitter and YouTube. Hint: you should not focus on all social media platforms because it will take too much time and resources. My social media outreach is currently being overhauled in my own business as I work to tighten my strategy and focus more on my ideal client and where they hang out. I will say for now that Instagram is my current fave when I have time. So a final note, yes you need to do social media to help with your brand awareness, grow followers and reach potential clients.
Here’s a hint if you are promoting on all platforms you are doing it wrong! Here are a few helpful tips I learned to guide your use of social media platforms:
FB: This is X
Twitter: I’m sharing quick news about X
Pin: Here’s how you do X
Instagram: Here’s a high quality and engaging photo of X
Youtube: Here’s a video of me doing X
Social media schedulers
Do not get caught up like I did spending countless hours curating content for social media which sucks away your time you could be using for the other things in the business. Use the tools below to help you increase efficiency:
Hoot Suite Manage all your social media in one place.
Tailwind Pinterest and Instagram marketing, scheduling and analytics tool. I especially like their webinars on what to pin each month!
Buffer Social media management for marketers and agencies.
Plann Instagram planning app. I personally use this tool as it was free and easy to use to upload your photos for Instagram, write post and save hashtags.
Planoly Visual planning and marketing solutions. Many design friends swear by this app for Instagram planning.
Meet Edgar Social media management tool.
Board Booster Pinterest board scheduler. A must have tool for Pinterest and repining content.
Co schedule Social media marketing calendar. You must sign up for their email list because they share amazing resources! Like a customer avatar template which is crucial for understanding your audience and how you will market to them.
Blogging and Webinars
Blogs are highly saturated so do yourself a favor and do not waste your time working on short generic blog posts when you have no following, you will be writing to yourself. Instead work on joint (round-up) posts or epic blog post of no less than 2500 words. So the main take away here is to stop or never start blogging about regular old stuff people can find anywhere. I was guilty of this but now I’m starting to blog about real content that my target audiences are highly interested in with real solutions. Need some ideas for where to find content??
Reddit Social news aggregation, web content rating, and discussion website. Check out the discussions on home improvement and design that can provide loads of content for blog posts.
Google AdWords Online marketing for your business. Search for trending key words to give you ideas for blog topics.
Headline Analyzer Write headlines that drive traffic, shares, and search results. This is a great resource if you need to check if that blog title is a good one.
You must use videos, webinars or vlogging as part of your blog process. It helps with your visibility to truly stand out among the crowd.
Google Hangouts Messaging, voice and video calls. A good tool to consider for online client consultations and webinars.
Crowdcast Connect with your audience through live video.
Zoom Video and web conferencing service.
Go to webinar Easy online meetings with HD video conferencing.
Skype Instant messaging app that provides online text message and video chat services as well as exchange digital documents.
Landing Pages and Email Marketing
You’ve probably heard it before but I’ll say it again. It’s crucial to grow your email list of potential customers to do your own marketing through avenues such as newsletters and other personalized email outside of social media outlets. You will need a good service in place to send your emails, newsletters etc. and create that funnel process. Develop good landing pages to build your email list and research strategies to increase conversions that lead to more sales of your services.
Flodesk Create beautiful email campaigns to grow your business.
Mailchimp Mail marketing service. I personally use as I had to keep startup costs low and it’s free if you have under 2000 subscribers and send under 12,000 emails per month.
Convert Kit Email marketing for professional bloggers.
Infusion Soft Email marketing and sales platform for small businesses.
Lead Pages Landing page builder and lead generating software.
Other helpful resources:
Small PDF A free solution to your PDF problems. I love this little tool that has all kinds of tricks like combining PDFs and if you’ve ever noticed your images look blurry after downloading from Canva you can download the file from Canva in PDF for print format and then use Small PDF to convert it to .jpg for crisper images to post for social media.
Me and Orla Terrific Instagram resource. Sign up and receive monthly hashtags to use in your Instagram posts.
Hashtagify Search for a term and then see relevant tags to include in your social media posts.
Grammarly Free grammar checker. Extremely helpful editor that I highly recommend to use to catch spelling and grammatical errors.
Autosignature Professional email signature template. Autopopulate your signature field with business information in your email. I use this for my prehistorical AOL account. That’s right I still use AOL.
Outgrow Interactive calculators and quizzes. I personally use and recommend if you’re interested in developing a quiz opt-in like what’s your design style. I signed up for a pretty good deal through App Sumo since I wanted to collect email addresses before users got their results.
App Sumo Daily deals website for digitally distributed goods and online services.
Cleaner I recommend this app if you need to perform bulk actions in Instagram like a mass unfollow. Side note: do not pay for followers. They will not be your ideal audience, they will unfollow you at some point and they will not engage in your posts which will not help your social media strategy at all.
Create nice graphics that you’ll use for literally everything
From ads and promotions to presentations to social media posts, you will need and I would say require nice graphics. See below for sites to pick up free stock photos and styled stock photography.
Styled Stock Photography
Now short of hiring a graphic designer here are sites to take advantage of for gorgeous styled stock photos.
Ivory Mix Supportive blog elements for brave makers and bloggers. Here’s another one of my top favorites. Just sign up for access to their huge styled stock library full of free beautiful styled stock photos with loads of color options.
Oh Tilly Luxury, original, styled stock photography. Another must sign up for free stock photos delivered to your inbox every month.
Styled Stock Photography Stylish stock photos for female entrepreneurs. Sign up for their newsletters and receive free photos every month.
Haute Chocolate Styled stock photography for women entrepreneurs, bloggers and creative professionals. Also, a good site if you are searching for images including women of color.
TwigyPosts Feminine styled stock photography.
Turquoise and Palm Stock photos for small business.
SC StockShop Styled stock photography for successful creative businesses. Feminine stock photography featuring styled desktops and flatlays. Oh my goodness I recently stumbled across this site with wonderful finds! Her photos are beautiful and you are able to search according to color. She has some interior themed photos as well as different skin tones available. Sign up for her newsletter which shares tons of good information on how to use stock photos to uplift your brand.
Here are a few selections that I refer to for pics to post in my materials and blog posts. They have a decent selection of interiors related pics too and best of all they are free.
Pexels Free stock photos you can use everywhere. By far one of my favorites for free stock photos.
Unsplash Free high resolution photos. My runner up for nice free photos.
Canva Simple graphic design software. Well no surprise here since they have over 1 million stock photos for free or pay $1 for one-time use.
Flickr Image hosting and video hosting website. Be sure to input appropriate search criteria (royalty-free, commercial use and/or modifications allowed).
Barn Images Free high-resolution non-stock images for creatives. Find free photos for your website, blog and design needs.
Death to the Stock Free high quality stock images.
Pixabay Over 990000 high quality photos, illustrations, and vector graphics. Free for commercial use.
Stock Snap Beautiful free stock photos.
Burst Free stock photo site that is powered by Shopify.
Moodboards for clients and your marketing needs
Canva Easy graphic design software. My fave for moodboards and creating social media graphics that offers loads of nice templates.
Pic Monkey Photo editor and collage maker with similar features to Canva.
Photoshop Photo editing software. A little more of a learning curve and more expensive than some other options but has great features for making your own graphics.
Morpholio Suite of apps that enhances your creative life and plugs you into an exciting design community.
Olioboard Design a room in 2D and 3D.
Sample board Digital mood board editor for creatives.
Polyvore Community-powered social commerce website which has a nice website clipper to make your boards.
Renderings and 3D Photos
You may want to master one or two of these programs depending on what you offer to your clients. Now there are tons of these programs available but these are the ones I use or come highly recommended by other designers.
Roomstyler Design, style and remodel your home. It’s free to use but pay for higher quality and panoramic images.
Roomsketcher Visualize your dream home or home remodeling project quickly and easily. Payment required for certain number of projects and high quality photos.
Chief Architect 3D Architectural home design software.
Minutes Matter Interior design graphic design software.
Magic plan Not a rendering tool but a cool app for creating floor plans in minutes.
Cool artistic apps (to bring out your inner Picasso and add snazzy effects to your photos)
Prisma Transforms your photos and videos into works of art using the styles of famous artists.
Aristo Video and photo editor.
Photogrid A must-have free photo editor app for photography fanatics and Instagram users.
A Color Story Filters that aim to enhance the color composition in your photos.
Lumyer Edit photos or recording videos with stunning effects and share with free.
PS Express Free image editing and collage making mobile application from Adobe.
Blur Editor Advanced photo blurring app with magnifying box to correctly identify areas of the photo that needs to be blurred.
Templates and fonts
Well maybe you can’t find just the right color scheme or font in some of the previously mentioned programs, then get something a little more custom…
Creative Market This was mentioned earlier but also has lots of freebies here every month for fonts, styled stock, etc.)
Font Bundles The best free and premium fonts. Freebies galore just sign up to their list.
Etsy Shop for anything from creative people anywhere.
Ecommerce and payment merchants
Dropshipping is becoming increasing popular so you may want to consider opening your own online store. Google is your friend here so search because there are bunches of free webinars you can watch to start your ecommerce site.
Plaid Fox The latest in designer furnishings & accessories for the home including furniture, rugs, pillows/linens, lighting and more. Set up your online furniture and décor shop!
Muzeboard Whether you like an image, created a room, or designed a room this is your opportunity to convert it to monetization to more than one client.
Ecwid Free e-commerce shopping cart and online store solution.
Shopify Ecommerce platform that has everything you need to sell online, on social media, or in person.
Paypal Online payment system.
Stripe Online payment processor.
Presenting your work and public relations
Whether you are looking to give a fantastic presentation to your clients, promote your work or look into publishing opportunities here are a few resources that may come in handy.
Design Wizard An excellent graphic design tool which allows you to create high-quality images and videos quickly. Standout features of the tool include a custom color palette, free font library and resize feature. It also features excellent integrations with Hubspot, Marketo, Buffer and Intercom.
Canva Check it out for your presentation templates. They offer quite a few templates that are real estate/ interior designed themed.
Ripl Create eye-catching animated posts. I love putting together my little promo videos in this app. It has dozens of templates, fonts and songs to choose from for creating video like ads for your different services.
Issuu Digital publishing platform. If you want to do magazine type presentations, I suggest Issuu which is easy to use and free.
Swipe Share your presentations anywhere virtually.
Help a Report Out (HARO) Online service set up for journalists to quickly gather feedback from the public. Sign up for the emails and be on the look out for any article requests relevant to you. For tips on using HARO, check out this post https://www.brigittelyons.com/haro/
You’ve got to establish mutual networking relationships and grow collaborations with other designers as well as those in related industries that can grow your business. More to come in upcoming posts.
Alignable Small business networking.
Dwell Networking platform specific for interior designers.
Post your services
To find out what services are popular in your area conduct a search of interior designers and insert your city. You may find the services listed below as well as a few others like Angie’s List, Home Advisor and Yelp.
Thumbtack I’m just starting to use this so still getting my process together but it’s helpful to get the word out about your business. You will receive loads of leads per day to bid and submit your proposal. Proposals costs range from around 2 to 25 credits. Each credit is a little over $1. Hint: if you have amazing 3D rendering abilities you have to sign up as there are many requests for that type of service too.
Amazon That’s right Amazon. You can buy everything else on here so why not post your services??
Houzz Home design, decorating and remodeling. I’m always a little overwhelmed by this site because it literally has like everything you could think of for the home. I’ve also heard designers had mixed results in terms of how much business it generates but you should check for yourself and see if it is worth the investment for any of the paid marketing features.
Should you go to school and formal training?
Aaaaaggghhh the question of whether to go to school or not go to school? This has been a tough one for me and I go back and forth. I have my Masters in my current field and just dread the thought of going back to school. I’ve tried my hand at a couple of online courses and you must be diligent to self-train on your own or you will not finish. I’ve talked with people in the interiors field who have provided pros and cons.
Some pros: In addition to having a formal degree and training, some trade programs and services will only approve if you have a formally recognized degree or certification.
Some cons: I’ve heard from quite a few designers that school didn’t prepare them in running a business but they learned a lot of the design fundamentals. School is a big commitment and just be sure you are ready if you have competing priorities. Finding affordable payment options can also be a challenge.
Whichever you choose you will have to stay up on what’s going on in the field from new materials, to new trends to new business practices. There are numerous and I mean numerous options to choose from if you want to pursue certification or just take a few interior design/decorating courses.
Get interior decorating tips not taught in traditional programs. Learn more about the SIGNATURE program to take your decorating passion from hobby to profits.
Check out some of these links below that feature a mix of online and in-person options. I’ve mixed in some staging resources too if you’re interested in that route.
QC Design School Start a career in decorating, home staging, professional organizing, or feng shui design.
Academy of Art University Earn your interior design or interior architecture degree.
Association of Design Education Largest professional association for interior redesigners, interior decorators, home stagers and real estate stagers.
Certified Interior Decorating Specialist Interior decorating certification.
Udemy Online learning platform. There are quite a few offerings on interior design basics, renderings and color concepts.
The Interior Design Institute Online interior design courses.
New York Institute of Art and Design Online interior design courses.
Certified Staging Professionals Training for home staging professionals.
Home Staging Resource Home staging certification program training.
The Decorologist Home staging training offerings.
Accredited Staging Professional Professional home staging training.
The Academy of Home Staging and Design Provides the very best in home staging classes, careers, courses, seminars, workshops, training and certification.
Need experience: Consider an adult internship. Yup adult internships are a thing. I haven’t interned for something in decades but it is a good opportunity to gain loads of practical experience and work under someone who is more knowledgeable in the field. You could also consider working at one of the big furniture stores as an on demand stylist.
Professional design organizations
American Society of Interior Design Whether you have formal training or not ASID provides loads of resources free and paid including sample contracts.
Designer Society of America One of the first design organizations to provide a welcoming environment for all interior designers, kitchen designers, window designers and industry professionals.
Certified Interior Decorating International Certifying body for interior decorators.
Real Estate Staging Association Largest network of professional stagers dedicated to advancing professionalism and excellence in real estate staging.
Stay current with the latest and greatest…
Yes, we are inundated with emails but here are a few websites and newsletters you’ll want to sign up for to keep up with the field and you’ll find loads of content to share with your audience.
- Architectural Digest
- Elle Décor
- Aspired Home
- HGTV Magazine
- Interior Design Home
- Luxe Interior and Design
- Digs Digs
- House Beautiful
- Traditional Home
- Southern Living
- Home Adore
- Apartment Therapy
- Design Sponge
- Huffington Post
- My Domaine
- Pop Sugar Home and Pop Sugar Home Decor
Design book worms…
Kimberly Seldon Her books are highly recommended if you are just starting out with your design biz to get you up to speed on the business basics and process.
Interior Design Master Class: 100 Lessons from America’s Finest Designers on the Art of Decoration
Elements of Style: Designing a Home & a Life
Living with Pattern: Color, Texture, and Print at Home
Styled: Secrets for Arranging Rooms, from Tabletops to Bookshelves
Decorate: 1,000 Design Ideas for Every Room in Your Home
If you have the chance to visit any of the design showrooms, I say do it!! Visiting market helps you stay on top of what’s now, what’s changing and what’s to come in the interiors field. Even if you can’t attend Market in-person you can still check out the online materials and stay up to date.
General business resources
Remember in addition to being the designer you have to run business operations as effectively and efficiently as possible especially if you are a one-person show. Here are a couple of general links to reference:
Facebook communities to join
Groups on Facebook are excellent opportunities to learn from others as well as share your own experiences. It’s important to only join groups that you will be active to make the most out of it and better manage your time. Some groups are more active than others so if you’re a member for a while and realize it’s not your thing definitely move on.
There are tons of interior design groups so I’m sharing the few that I’m a member and recommend:
Branding and Business Strategies
Workflow and Productivity
Check out some of my favorite podcasts below…
Designers of color
As a woman of color I also wanted to share other resources that have been helpful to me.
Black Interior Designers Network (BIDC). I attended BIDC for the first time in 2016 and it was phenomenal! Especially for someone like me who was completely new to the game. It was highly motivational to attend and participate in a series of fabulous workshops and getting some good words of advice. BIDC also holds events at various markets throughout the year. Check out their membership opportunities as well.
Brand, Build+Launch with Arsha Jones. This is an excellent Facebook group that always drops tidbits of information to launch and grow a business in general.
Black Female Interior Designers. Another excellent supportive group which features multiple award opportunities for recognition in the field.
Diversity in Design Alliance. A global community comprised of Interior Design Professionals and design lovers who are committed to providing support to underrepresented people of color through access, exposure, inclusion, education and empowerment.
Well I hope you enjoyed reading along over more than 85 resources available to help grow your design biz. Please note this list is not exhaustive and if you have your own tried and true resources, post a link below.
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