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Do You Have What It Takes to Be an Interior Decorator?

Do you enjoy wandering into home design stores, poring over new upholstery fabrics and finials? Are you on the mailing list for half a dozen home-improvement retailers? Does the very thought of a furniture salvage sale cause you to shiver with delight? Maybe it’s time you thought about a career in interior decorating. But before you go shopping for a degree in design, you should know that design is only one aspect of a very broad skill set you’ll need to succeed in the interior decorating field. Here are five more critical skills designers need that you might not realize.

  1. People skills. Let’s be real: If interior design were merely a question of picking the right upholstery fabric for certain lighting conditions, just about anyone with half an ounce of aesthetic sense could get into the field. But being a designer means working with all kinds of people, from high-flown socialites to structural engineers to minimum-wage laborers – and the buck stops with you. So you’d better be comfortable dealing with people because you simply won’t succeed otherwise.
  2. Business savvy. Whether you’re an independent designer or a member of a team of professionals, you need a lot of solid business acumen. Design is very often a matter of finding quality materials and services within a strict budget. You need to know where to look to find everything from a particular kind of light bulb to upholstery fabric that was only manufactured in the 1940s. You also need to know how to move money around quickly and accurately because if vendors and contractors aren’t paid on time, guess who’ll be on the receiving end of their ire.
  3. Multitasking and stress management. Interior design is a field that requires you to have several balls in the air – at the exact same time you’re on the phone with a client, a contractor, and a supplier who is three months late with a shipment of fabric. If you don’t do more than one thing at a time very well, this is not the profession for you.
  4. Teaching. Interior decorators spend a good amount of time explaining things to people. Sometimes, the client insists upon a certain upholstery – even though you know she’s going to hate it after a month. Other times, you’ll have created a look that the clients may love, but which will require a certain kind of maintenance or care to which they may be oblivious.
  5. Sales. Like many a service profession, in the end, interior design comes down to sales pitches. If you aren’t comfortable selling your talent, your record, and your ideas, you aren’t going to make it in this business.

So you may love upholstery, curtain fabric, exposed floors, and artful lighting arrangements – all very good if you’re contemplating a career as a decorator. Just be sure you’re aware that when it comes to qualifications, wall treatments, furnishings, and feng shui are only the tip of the iceberg.

Wolf-Gordon can supply all your upholstery fabric and other home designing needs. Visit in person at one of the following showroom locations: Los Angeles Showroom Pacific Design Center at 8687 Melrose Ave., Suite BM5 Los Angeles, CA 90069; Chicago Showroom Merchandise Mart at #10-161 200 World Trade Center Chicago, IL 60654; or visit http://www.wolfgordon.com/. To obtain samples or for general information, call 800-347-0550 or email info@wolf-gordon.com.