Design Your Life: 4 Ways Your Interior Design Expertise Can Make Money

A brick-walled living room with a couch showcasing interior design.

I think we all dream of being able to design our own homes. Being able to completely control the design process from start to finish is a luxury that can save you time, money, and the disappointment of a botched design that doesn’t fit your vision.

If you have a firm foundation in interior design, why limit yourself to just your own home? Why not help others realize their vision for a perfect home and make money doing it? Below are four effective ways you can do just that.

1.    Join an Interior Design Firm

The most direct path to earning money with interior design is to join an interior design firm. You can get a steady, medium ranged income with nothing more than a Bachelor’s degree and a good student portfolio.

The Pros

The pay isn’t all that bad either. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that the average annual pay for an interior designer is $51,500. Further reading revealed that the average salary range is between $28,000 and $92,000. That figure doesn’t include additional benefits like health insurance, bonus structures, or any paid training.

The Cons

However, joining an interior design firm does carry some drawbacks. You’ll have to work by someone else’s business hours, under their rules, and with the kinds of clients, they dictate. Additionally, the Bureau also reported that the market was only expected to grow by 4% between 2016 and 2026. That means that what few interior design jobs are on the market will be much more competitive.

2.   Start Your Own Design Business

If working for someone else doesn’t sound appealing, you can always start your own interior design business.

7 Clever Garage Ideas To Turn It into a Multi-Functional Room

The Pros

Owning your own business offers you some other perks that working for someone else won’t, including:

  • Setting your own hours
  • Deciding your own salary
  • Choosing which clients you want to work with
  • Having complete control of your operations

Additionally, owning your own business means that you set your conditions for success. If you only want to have three clients at a time, that’s perfectly fine, so long as you’re making a profit. What you don’t have to do is take on way more clients than you can handle, just because an employer has some pre-determined quota you have to meet.

The Cons

However, owning your own business can carry some big risks as well. Not only is there a high risk of failure, but it may take some time before your business really takes off. Forbes reported that 30% of startups close before they reach their second year, 50% before five years, and 80% before 10 years.

In addition, the average time that startups reported before they turned a profit was 1.5 years. That’s not a long time in the grand scheme of things, but it is a long time to support yourself if your business is your only source of income.

3.   Start an Interior Design Blog

Even if you don’t have the training or experience to use interior design as a full-time hobby, that doesn’t mean you can’t use it for supplemental income. Starting your own interior design blog is a great compromise that will allow you to make some money, without the commitment of a full-time job.

7 of the hottest interior design trends for 2015

The Pros

The biggest pro that blogging has going for it is how easy it to start. You just need to register a domain, set up a website template, and you’re ready to blog! In addition, blogging is a great creative outlet to engage your brain, let off some steam, and take a break from everything else going on in your life.

You can also make connections and form friendships in blogging that you otherwise couldn’t. In a traditional setting, you’re limited to the people that you encounter in-person each day. The blogosphere extends all over the world, allowing you to engage potentially thousands of different people.

The Cons

By far the biggest drawback to blogging is how little money there is. Life Hacker reported that 53% of bloggers make $99 per month or less. Only 9% made more than $1,000 or greater. Additionally, most of the money in blogging doesn’t come from the actual content, but from hosting advertisements, writing product reviews, and offering guest posts/writing services.

Unless you’re absolutely sure that you can make your blog stand out from the crowd, you’ll probably be limited to blogging as a side gig.

4.   Design Home Decor Products

Maybe the overall design aspect isn’t your forte, and you prefer to instead design and create the actual products that people will use to realize their vision. Fortunately, this is another valid way that you can make money with your interior design skills.

The Pros

Often, interior designers have to find a particular niche in order to become successful. They usually focus in one particular style, such as Traditional or Scandinavian, so that they can become experts in their field. Being a product designer would allow you to explore more areas and styles.

Well Blended: Transitional Interior Design revealed that the following are the most popular categories of interior design products (in no particular order):

  • Mirrors
  • Poufs
  • Slipcovers
  • Throws
  • Trays

That’s just a small sample, but you can already see that you have a wide range of product types to choose from.

The Cons

Now, on the flipside of the above, the life of a decor designer definitely has some drawbacks. For one thing, as you progress, you’ll find that employers want you designing less and managing people more. That may not be a drawback to you, but if your passion is in actually designing pieces, this means you’ll have to move away from your core passion to advance.

Additionally, you’ll find that as you advance, you’re going to spend more time in the office, including weekend hours. Relationships, hobbies, and any kind of free time will often become the first casualties in the life of a product designer.

Scroll to Top