An interior design consultant is an individual who plans and directs the construction or remodeling of an interior space. A professional may help people decide on color schemes, materials, and furniture that fit their personalities and add aesthetic beauty to their homes. A consultant may also specialize in remodeling commercial buildings and health care facilities, focusing on safety and functionality. Becoming an interior design consultant requires several years of education and practical training to master a broad range of duties, from blueprint design to customer service.
People usually hire design consultants when they are planning major renovations or constructing new buildings and residences. An interior design consultant gets a client's input on what he or she wants, takes careful measurements, determines if specifications meet safety codes, and creates blueprints for the new design. The designer often personally selects the paints, artwork, furniture, and materials to be used for the project. He or she supervises contracted workers in the construction of the new interior design, ensuring that everything is up to code and matches the client's wishes. After the completion of a project, the designer meets once more with the client to address any concerns and suggest small finishing touches.
A large number of professionals are employed by design consulting firms, construction companies, and retail stores, though many experienced consultants choose to operate their own businesses. A self-employed interior design consultant offers his or her services on a contract basis, accepting many clients and scheduling appointments. He or she usually assumes general administrative and management duties in addition to consulting services, such as promoting the business, directly billing clients, collaborating with construction and design companies, and possibly hiring assistants.
To become an interior design consultant, a person must typically hold at least an associate degree or certificate from an accredited interior design school. Some colleges offer four year bachelor's degree programs in design and consultation. Most graduates of design programs take on paid apprenticeships at interior design firms. An apprenticeship, which may take one to three years to complete, entails observing and assisting established designers, gaining valuable firsthand experience. A designer who has successfully completed an apprenticeship may be required to pass a written licensing exam administered by his or her state or country before practicing independently.
There is generally a steady demand for qualified interior designers. An increasing population and urbanization create the need for experienced consultants to help design new commercial buildings, apartments, and houses. Employment opportunities are usually very good for individuals with highly specialized skills, such as those who concentrate on bathroom design.