How to start an interior design business in 7 simple steps

Learn how to start an interior design business with our step-by-step guide.

How to start a interior design business

With a growing demand for talented interior designers, there’s no better time than now to start your own interior design business. If you have a good eye for design and you are able to create beautiful and functional spaces, then you have the potential to be successful in this field.

In this guide, we will take you through the process of launching your own interior design business, from building a business website to understanding the nature of the business and effectively managing it.

What is an interior design business?

An interior design business offers a range of services to clients who seek expert guidance and assistance in designing and decorating their spaces. Services can include space planning, furniture selection, color consultation, lighting design, material sourcing and more.

Interior design businesses can be either residential or commercial. Residential interior designers typically work with homeowners to create spaces that are both stylish and comfortable, while commercial interior designers work with businesses to create spaces that are functional and inviting.

Why start an interior design business?

Running an interior design business comes with its own set of rewards. Not only will you have the freedom to set your schedule and choose projects that you want, but you’ll also be able to work closely with clients and witness their appreciation for your work.

The global interior design market is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 8.3% between 2022 and 2028, with commercial interior design expected to be the largest segment. It’s an exciting journey with endless possibilities.

How to start an interior design business

Ready to get started? Follow these essential steps:

  1. Define your business goals
  2. Build a portfolio
  3. Set up your business
  4. Establish a workspace
  5. Define your services and pricing
  6. Develop a network
  7. Market your business

01. Define your business goals

Determine your vision for your interior design business and create a business plan. Clarify your target market, design style and the types of projects you want to undertake. Establishing a clear direction will help you focus your efforts and attract the right clients. Learn more about creating an interior design business plan.

Once you’ve written your business plan, write a concept statement to outline your vision.

02. Build a portfolio

Create a strong portfolio showcasing your design work and projects. If you’re just starting, consider offering pro bono or discounted services to build your portfolio up. Include high-quality photos, descriptions and details of each project to showcase your skills and expertise.

Check out these portfolio website templates on Wix.

03. Set up your business

Register your business and choose a suitable legal structure and business entity, such as a sole proprietorship, limited liability company (LLC) or corporation. If you’re not sure which one is right for you, consult an attorney or business advisor—your business structure will have big implications on your legal and tax requirements, so you don’t want to make this decision lightly.

how to register a.n interior design business

04. Establish a workspace

Determine whether you’ll work from a home office or rent a dedicated workspace. Set up a functional and inspiring workspace that reflects your design style and provides a conducive environment for creativity and productivity.

05. Define your services and pricing

Decide on the services you will offer—which may include interior design consultations, full-service design, space planning and/or project management. Establish transparent pricing structures for each service based on your expertise, market rates and project requirements.

06. Develop a network

Build relationships with suppliers, contractors, architects, real estate agents and other professionals in the industry. Networking can open the door to referrals and extra resources. Attend industry events, join professional associations and engage with online design communities to expand your network.

07. Market your business

Develop a comprehensive marketing strategy to promote your interior design business. Create a professional website using platforms like Wix to showcase your portfolio, services and client testimonials. Utilize social media platforms, online directories and traditional marketing channels to raise awareness about your business.

Types of interior design services

Deciding which services to offer as an interior designer requires careful consideration of several factors, both internal and external, to find the sweet spot between your passion, skills and market demand. Here’s a breakdown of common interior design services:

  • Full-service design: This comprehensive approach involves the entire design process, from initial consultations and space planning to furniture selection, procurement and final installation. As a full-service designer, you would act as your client’s project manager, overseeing every aspect and ensuring a seamless, cohesive outcome.
  • Partial design: This option caters to specific needs within your client’s project. You would offer help with space planning, color palettes, furniture selection or even just sourcing specific pieces. The level of involvement can be customized to your client’s comfort level and budget.
  • Hourly consultation: Sometimes, your client just need expert advice or a fresh perspective. Hourly consultations offer focused guidance on specific design dilemmas, helping your client make informed decisions about furniture layout, paint colors or overall style direction.
  • E-design: This growing trend utilizes online platforms for virtual consultations and design services. E-designers provide recommendations, mood boards and shopping lists, offering a budget-friendly alternative to traditional in-person services.

Additional specialized services:

  • Kitchen and bath design: Requires specialized knowledge and expertise to navigate plumbing, electrical and ventilation considerations.
  • Commercial interior design: Tailored to businesses, focusing on creating functional and aesthetically pleasing workspaces.
  • Sustainable design: Incorporates eco-friendly materials and practices for environmentally conscious home design.
  • Senior living design: Addresses the specific needs and safety considerations of older adults.

Finding the right services to offer as an interior designer involves introspection and research. Ask yourself what excites you and where your skills lie. Then, analyze your target market and competitor landscape to discover gaps you can fill profitably. Start small, be adaptable and let your expertise and market feedback guide your service evolution. This way, you’ll create a fulfilling career aligned with your passion and the market’s needs.

How to manage an interior design business effectively

Half the challenge of running any business is making sure that it runs smoothly. Pay attention to these areas of your business and develop the right strategy for each:

  • Client communication: Establish clear communication channels with your clients from the beginning. Regularly update them on the progress of their projects and address any concerns. Transparency is key here; don’t keep your clients in the dark.
  • Project management: Develop effective project management systems to track project timelines, deliverables and budgets. Utilize project management software or tools to streamline communication and collaboration with clients and team members.
  • Financial management: Implement sound financial management practices, including tracking expenses, invoicing clients and managing cash flow. Consider using accounting software or hiring an accountant to ensure accurate record-keeping and financial reporting. You’ll also need to consider how to raise money for your business if you cannot self-fund it.
  • Collaboration with contractors and suppliers: Maintain strong relationships with contractors, suppliers and other industry professionals. Clearly communicate project requirements, timelines and expectations for smooth collaboration and timely delivery of materials and services.
  • Continuing education: Stay updated with the latest trends, materials and design techniques. Attend workshops, conferences, webinars or online courses to sharpen your skills.

How much does it cost to start an interior design business?

The exact cost to start this type of business will depend on several factors, including whether you plan to work from home or rent a physical space and if you will manage the business by yourself, or intend to hire employees from day one.

When calculating the cost of starting an interior design business you’ll need to consider the following expenses:

  • If you don’t have formal education or certification in interior design, you may need to invest in relevant courses or degrees.
  • Check the requirements for licensing and permits in your area. Costs can vary, and you may need to budget for application fees.
  • Consider whether you’ll need a physical office space. This could be a home office initially to save costs.
  • Purchase of necessary equipment such as computers, software for design work and other office supplies.
  • Budget for marketing materials, a website, business cards and other promotional expenses to establish your brand.
  • Get insurance coverage for your business, including liability insurance, to protect yourself and your clients.
  • If you plan to hire staff, budget for salaries, benefits, and training.

It’s important to create a detailed business plan to estimate these costs accurately. Additionally, you might want to start small and gradually scale up as your business grows. Consider consulting with a financial advisor or a mentor in the interior design industry to get more personalized advice of costs based on your specific circumstances.

How to promote your interior design business

Your business isn’t going to sell itself. To attract potential clients, consider these tips:

  • Establish your branding: The first order of business when it comes to branding is to learn how to name your business effectively. If you need ideas, a business name generator can be your trusty companion. You’ll also want to design a unique logo with the help of a designer or logo maker. Check out some of these clothing logo ideas for inspiration and create a visual identity that captivates your audience.
  • Make a website: Develop a visually appealing and user-friendly website using a website builder like Wix. Showcase your portfolio, services and client testimonials. Consider including a blog to share design tips, industry insights and case studies.
  • Advertise on social media: Utilize social media platforms like Instagram, Pinterest and LinkedIn to showcase your design work. Share high-quality photos, design inspiration and behind-the-scenes glimpses of your projects.
  • Collaborate with influencers: Partner with interior design influencers or bloggers who align with your style and target audience. Collaborate on content, offer design tips or provide exclusive discounts to their followers. This helps to increase your brand visibility across a wider audience.
  • Network with real estate professionals: Build relationships with real estate agents, property developers and home builders who can refer clients to you. Attend industry events, join local business associations and offer your expertise for design consultations or staging services.
  • Get client referrals and testimonials: Encourage satisfied clients to refer your services to their friends, family and colleagues. Offer incentives or discounts for successful referrals. Collect testimonials from happy clients and feature them on your website or social channels to build credibility.

How profitable is an interior design business?

The profitability of an interior design business can vary based on several factors, including your specific business model, target market, location and the effectiveness of your marketing and business management. When calculating the potential profitability of your business it’s worth considering the following:

  • The size and type of your client base will significantly impact profitability. High-end residential clients or commercial projects can be more lucrative but competition may also be more intense for them.
  • The demand for interior design services in your area can influence your profitability. In regions with a thriving real estate market or a strong demand for renovation and design services, there may be more opportunities for a profitable business.
  • Specializing in a niche within the interior design industry, such as eco-friendly design, hospitality design, or historic restoration, can set you apart and potentially lead to higher client fees.
  • Your fee structure and pricing strategy will play a crucial role in your path to profitability. Some designers charge a flat fee, while others work on an hourly basis or a percentage of the project cost. Ensure your fees cover both your design services and any related expenses.
  • Managing overhead costs is important. Keep an eye on expenses related to office space, utilities, staff salaries and other operational costs.
  • Building strong relationships with suppliers, contractors, and other professionals in the industry can lead to better deals, discounts and more efficient project execution, positively impacting profitability.
  • Being adaptable to industry trends and changes can ensure your services remain relevant and in demand.

Examples of interior design businesses on Wix

Check out these interior design businesses for a drop of creative inspiration.

Studio ETN

Founded by Eitan Cohen, Studio ETN is rooted in the belief that every client’s desires and needs must be planted in the heart of the project. The studio has mastered urban spaces with the right usage of light, natural materials and functional design all curated with thoughtful consideration towards a space in its natural form.

Farah A Interiors

Farah A Interiors knows that the smallest details can make the biggest impact. Since 2015, Farah A Interiors has been helping homeowners in the Dallas-Fort Worth area revamp their spaces, whether they’re looking for a greener outdoor space or a more luxurious bathroom.

Michelle Scarola Interiors

Since 2017, Michelle Scarola Interiors has offered everything from full gut renovations to room decor refreshes. Founder Michelle Scarola is praised for her creativity and resourcefulness, helping many of her past clients successfully save (and wisely spend) their money.

Benefits of starting an interior design business

In summary, if you’re looking to start a business in interior design, you can look forward to the following benefits.

  • Creative freedom: As the owner of an interior design business, you have the freedom to design spaces according to your creative vision. You can experiment with different styles, materials and concepts, offering unique and personalized design solutions to your clients.
  • Professional growth: The interior design industry is dynamic and ever-evolving. Starting your own business allows you to continually learn and grow as a designer. With each new project, you gain valuable experience, expand your portfolio and refine your skills.
  • Financial opportunities: The interior design industry presents various financial opportunities. You can charge for design services, consultations, project management and also earn commissions through product sales or partnerships with suppliers. As your reputation grows, you can attract higher-profile clients and charge premium fees.
  • Diverse clientele: Interior design encompasses a wide range of spaces: residential, commercial, hospitality, retail and more. This diversity offers the opportunity to work on different types of projects and collaborate with clients from various industries, expanding your knowledge and network.

Challenges of running an interior design business

While starting an interior design business has its advantages, it also comes with its fair share of challenges. These include:

  • Establishing a client base: Building a client base and attracting new clients can be challenging, especially when you’re just getting started. It requires effective marketing and networking strategies to showcase your skills and gain trust in the industry.
  • Managing finances: Proper financial management is crucial for the success of your business. This includes setting appropriate pricing for your services, tracking expenses, managing cash flow and budgeting for materials and resources.
  • Handling multiple projects: As your business grows, you may find yourself juggling many projects simultaneously. This requires strong organizational and project management skills to ensure that each project receives proper attention and meets deadlines.
  • Staying updated with trends: The interior design industry is constantly evolving with new trends, materials and technologies. Many clients will expect you to stay up to date, and keep them informed of the latest trends.

How to start a business in a specific state

If you’re eager to launch your interior design business in a particular state, check out these resources to make sure you navigate the waters of state-specific regulations with care:

Entertaining other pursuits?

If you’re looking to learn about other business types, check out these guides:

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