I’m sure that for many of you guys reading, the idea of working in interiors sounds like the dream. That’s exactly what I was thinking when I graduated from uni in 2015 with a BA in Classics.
I realised very quickly that to really make it as an interior designer, you need specialist training. Another degree / masters / respected certificate in interior design was way out of my price range at that stage.
It’s easy to think that interior designing is the be-all and end-all of a career in interiors, but that is not the case at all! If you have the passion and a good eye for design, you can work in the industry without spending loads of money on extra qualifications. (*cue: fireworks, party-poppers, fanfare*)
The best job ever!! (Not that I’m biased… ;)) The beautiful interiors photos that you see on your favourite brands’ websites, in magazines, on billboards, and in TV ads are all the result of an interior stylist’s work. Interior stylists are freelancers employed by brands to help create beautiful PR images. Jobs vary depending on how much creative control you’re given; the whole concept may be down to you, or you may just be set dressing. Interior stylists are normally in charge of finding a great location for the shoot; sourcing all the props; and dressing the space to look spectacular. The great thing about interior styling as a career is that you don’t need a degree or any formal qualifications. You just need to get your foot in the door, then be prepared to work hard. Here in the UK, the term ‘interior stylist’ usually describes someone who works in the commercial sector with businesses and brands. An interior decorator would be more likely to be working domestically in homes with private clients.
If you like the sound of interior styling as a career, check out these posts:
A home stager works alongside estate agents to dress properties that are going up for sale (essentially tarting them up & making them look all pretty!). The aim is to show the property off and make it easy for buyers to see themselves living there. It has a huge effect on both how quickly properties are sold, and how much they’re sold for, so it is becoming more and more popular. Apparently not everyone has our creative vision when it come to interiors 😉 I always think it has one up on interior designing because you aren’t confined by an individual client’s tastes (that you may not like!): you are decorating for the ideal client. Home staging is another career where no formal qualifications or training is needed. Most home stagers are freelancers, so building good relationships both with clients and local estate agents is important. Like interior designing, the scope of projects varies hugely depending on budget. For example, with a few grand you may be hiring furniture and buying a few select items for each room. On the other end of the scale, with £30, 000 you can buy all your furniture, replace carpets, get bespoke curtains, etc! These items can either be bought by the new owner or put into your inventory. (That’s a real budget btw! A friend of mine is a home stager and decorated a two bedroom house for this money few weeks ago.)
I’ve been lucky enough to work with lots of set decorators over the last few years, and they seem like they’ve got it pretty good! Their job is to source props (furniture, textiles, other decorative bits & bobs) to dress the sets of TV and film productions. They spend a lot of time in prop houses (where I work! Have a snoop around here) trying to find the perfect pieces, and also on set, dressing the props they’ve chosen. It looks to me like it can be quite a stressful career at times (lots of last-minute changes, some late nights, often tight budgets,) but I think that’s standard for most freelance creative jobs! So I reckon being able to work under pressure would be a good starting point. Again, no fancy degree needed for this job! All the set decorators I know began their careers at the entry-level roles in art departments making teas & coffees, and worked their way up by learning from the set decorators they worked under. I love this industry because it’s full of young women carving out creative careers & earning good money while they’re doing it. #girlganggoals
There are more interiors magazines than you can shake a stick at, from big names like Elle Decoration and World of Interiors to independent mags like Cabana and Apartmento. All brimming with interiors inspo, interviews, trend reports, and features about your favourite topic. If you’ve always liked writing, why not consider working for one of them? Lots of the biggest names in interiors (including my hero and absolute babe, Ilse Crawford. Watch the Netflix Abstract episode about her if you haven’t already!) started their career at interiors magazines, then went on to launch their own businesses. A lot of the stylists that I work with also started at magazines. I’ve been told they’re great places to learn about the industry, try out different roles like styling and propping, and build up a great network of contacts.
A visual merchandiser’s role is to increase a brand’s sales by designing their shop to look awesome. AKA, interior design for shops & products! The windows and layout of stores are so important in helping to communicate the brand’s message (and encouraging us to buy!). Just think about the difference in experience when you imagine shopping in Primark Oxford Street on a Saturday vs. & Other Stories. (Sorry for the brief mental torture.) One of them is hell on earth, and does not make you want to stay in there browsing and spending. The other is like a treat to oneself; there’s lots of space to move around, minimal scandi design, thoughtful decor, plants… Need I say more? I always seem to notice great visual merchandising more around Christmas time. The windows of Liberty are always a favourite – so festive & enchanted. The psychology of consumerism & what motivates us to buy is so interesting… If that sounds up your street, visual merchandising is well worth a look!