What Skills Are Required For an Interior Design Degree?

Getting an Interior Design degree has a lot to do with having the right attitude and aptitude. It also seems to be more and more important to get into a good Interior Design school or class. Obviously you want to go with one of the schools that has the right accreditation credentials; just as importantly you need to choose somewhere that is going to suit your needs as a student in terms of being comfortable in your environment and providing the right kind of social needs and lifestyle that you’re going to be indulging in for the next few years.


Interior design school skills required

Interior Design School

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So what skills does a good Interior Design major require?

Nowadays, Interior Design is as much about good business sense and knowledge about financial affairs as it is about having a good flair for design or a good eye for the latest fabrics and furnishings.

You need to ask yourself some fundamental questions before you set out on an Interior Design Degree. Can you work as part of a team? The design business is all about collaboration and joint ventures these days. You’ll be expected to be able to communicate well with a large cross section of different partners and stakeholders in almost any venture you’ll be likely to join.

Can you manage projects – and if it comes to it, other people, including their time, work allocation and associated budgets?
Can you be forthright in putting your own point of view over? Taking the lead on Interior Design means being able to put forward ideas, listen to reasoned criticism and defend or amend those ideas if need be. After all, you will be measured by the finished canvas that you create and this will become a part of your identity and portfolio as an Interior Designer.

As well as the more structured ingredients required as detailed above there will also have to be a side of you that is creative, passionate, driven and possibly risky or adventurous. Depending on the type of work you hope to go into in the future, there is ample room for creativity but there also more structured roles.

As well as those attributes listed above, other skills that will be required for any modern Interior Designer will be computer literacy; you should be well-versed in Interior Design software packages including the basic programs such as AutoCAD and Adobe suites. The more you can practice with varied programs the better placed you’ll be to land that dream role. Take every opportunity while studying at University or College to use whatever software they have available, get trained on it and familiarize yourself with the basic and more advanced concepts.
You’ll also need to be confident and willing to show off your skills. Many jobs out there require portfolio reviews or are given on merit of past work. What you do counts so record your work, promote it and don’t be afraid to include any out-of-the-box concepts. Interior design thrives on innovation and originality despite the apparent dearth of creative sparks you might see in the glossy magazines. You’ll soon find that much of the industry is based on following and trends whereas you should strive to become one of the leaders.

As in any line of work, business or industry whether employed by somebody else or if you have entrepreneurial leanings, organization can make or break a career. Don’t skip on organization and tight project management skills for creative thinking and originality. It’s possible to do both and those that are most successful in school and their careers manage to find a fine balancing act between the two. You can afford to let your hair down a little once you are a somewhat established but that is a long way down the line and something to aim for long-term. In the early days, especially in school and before you have established a career for yourself, you need to remain professional, focused and reliable.

How To Get Interior Design Accreditation

Interior Design professionals work in a variety of specialties that help to structure the world around us. These specialties and the field itself require a highly focused education and real world training. As the world becomes more digitized the higher education community is having to re-evaluate and adjust their traditional programs for accreditation. Maintaining and becoming an accredited institution for Interior Design programs means they must adapt and adhere to strict and demanding standards. A school without an accreditation should be avoided by any future and current students! The Interior Design education they pay tens of thousands of dollars for is the foundation for the rest of their career. So how exactly does an institution receive accreditation?


Interior design Accreditation process


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It starts with one main agency. The National Association of Schools of Art and Design (NASAD) is the National accreditation agency for any school wishing to have their Interior Design program accredited per the United States Department of Education. In human speak: it is the most important agency when it comes to Interior Design accreditation; it’s the first one potential students should look for when researching programs. Currently NASAD recognizes 323 higher education institutions and non-degree programs. In order to receive accreditation from NASAD, institutions have a strict set of procedures and guidelines they must follow and adhere to at all times. There is a 258 page handbook that details the process of accreditation on the NASAD website. Handbook here.

NASAD uses their own evaluations to determine the quality of the institution and quality of the Interior Design program being offered. Each program must have a set amount of curriculum and classes in place. They must have contingencies for any issues that may arise for students. Throughout the curriculum there are grading standards and more. Throughout the 258 page manual all items are described in detail. It is in a contractual type format and schools will go up for review in order to ensure the program conforms to NASAD standards. NASAD also uses peer evaluations to decide whether to accredit a school. Here is a Wikipedia list of NASAD accredited members.


Another accreditation agency that is highly respected and recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation is the Council for Interior Design accreditation (CIDA). CIDA is an authority in both the United States and Canada. Currently CIDA recognizes 150 Interior Design Programs. What makes CIDA different is that they are comprised of Interior Design professionals, and more than 200 volunteers carry out evaluations. Like NASAD; CIDA’s standards are very tough. This is another major accreditation students should look for when choosing an Interior Design School and Program.

Interior Design Accreditation


CIDA provides a smaller 27 page book on Professional Standards and what is required for an institution. Accreditation Process Here. Within the book, there is an easy to read map of program standards. Including curriculum. There is a break down that lists the requirements the school needs to submit. Things like the total number of students broken down between in classroom students, remote (online) students, and self-study. Their book lists 16 core expectations for curriculum. Items like History, Space and Form, Global Perspective for Design, and Human-Centered Designed are listed among others. There is a strict compliance on expectations of students including grading requirements and graduation requirements. The complete book highlights the strict guidelines institutions are held to. CIDA’s student expectation area is one of the best. Accreditation is performed by Interior Design professionals, they know what entry level designers need to know and do when they graduate. This helps make CIDA a cut above the rest.

Accreditation Review

Both CIDA and NASAD review accredited institutions and ensure they are holding up to standards. The process involves a complete review as structured as the initial accreditation. In order to hold an accreditation there has to be a sufficient amount of student success. Both agencies use peer evaluations, and CIDA uses student evaluations. This is a great way to get real world experience and feedback on how the institution is doing.  An accreditation from one of these agencies is key for the success of the program. An accreditation from both should give students peace of mind that their dollars are going to the right place.

Why is accreditation important? Accreditation evaluates the standards of education being provided by institutions and non-degree programs. Quality is important when choosing higher education as the type and value of the education a student receives will follow them throughout their professional lives. Accreditation agencies such as NASAD and CIDA – that are respected and rigorous – help to ensure a bright future for students of Interior Design. Unfortunately, students and parents and institutions can fall prey to accreditation and degree mills. These are not recognized by The United States Department of Education nor the Council for Higher Education and Accreditation. Any school should be thoroughly researched as well as their advertized accreditation. When schools voluntarily put themselves through the processes provided by respected agencies then students can be sure of the value they are receiving.

Why Is Accreditation Important?

In summary; Interior Design professionals affect the lives of everyone who works with them. Their job is to create and optimize environments in order to achieve functionality, beauty, and bring out the best in people. Their training and education is highly important because it follows them throughout their professional lives. If they are poorly trained and are not properly educated then it can adversely affect everyone they work with in the future and put projects at jeopardy. Accreditation can help to ensure the quality of education Interior Designers receive. Highly respected accreditation agencies such as NASAD and CIDA hold the institutions they evaluate to rigorous and highly detailed standards. Accredited schools are frequently re-evaluated to ensure continued compliance. In order for institutions and programs to receive accreditation, they must first become members and demonstrate their intent to NASAD or CIDA. There are fees, paperwork and detailed submissions required. It is an ongoing process, once the accreditation is received peer reviews, student reviews, graduation rates, and student achievements are taken into account. Although the process is long and complicated; an accreditation is an indispensable tool for a program or institution. For Interior Designers, an education from an accredited curriculum is the only option.

Check out what the professionals have to say – From the UCLA Extension Interior Design Program

Free Interior Design Software

The entire world is becoming digitized, and there is little that can’t be done with a computer, software, and the internet. This includes interior design. Interior designers have a myriad of design programs they use to help them when designing a project. Many of these programs cost hundreds of dollars and involve complex algorithms.  Designers spent years learning these various software programs and work with them every day. This is one of the many reasons people hire designers to re-do their homes, offices etc. However, designers can be expensive. They are worth every penny spent but still expensive.

Statistics show that people are opting to design and re-design themselves. They are getting inspiration from sites like Pinterest, and logging hours on HGTV. Design and re-design can be expensive making it important to see the result before starting any project. If someone hasn’t hired a designer because of cost; chances are they aren’t going to run out and spend hundreds on software. Fortunately, for consumers, there is a variety of Interior Design software that are downloadable and free. These programs range from basic to very detailed. Some even create 3D walkthroughs of designed areas. Below are 5 of the best the internet has to offer – for free of course.

Auto Desk Homestyler

Auto Desks Homestyler ranks as one of the best Free Interior Design Software available. Downloadable this program is usable directly online, has plug-in capabilities on Firefox, Chrome and Safari and, like most software today, comes as an app on both Google Play and ITunes. With Homestyler, users can create 3D rooms with astonishing detail. It starts by designing a floor plan, then adding flooring, windows, and lighting.

Autodesk Design Software

Free Online Interior Design Software

From there, users are able to decorate these rooms using real products. There is a linked product catalog for purchase. Homestyler also offers office design for businesses that wish to transform theirs. The program is free and can be used as many times as needed or desired. Once a design has been perfected it can be shared on Facebook, or emailed.

Further Information: http://www.homestyler.com/

My Deco 3D Room Planner

Another top program allows you to upload your floor plan or explore already designed ones. My Deco allows you to simultaneously view the 3D and 2D design room, making it easier to place, size, and view from any angle. Real world products are inserted into the room, and there are catalogs to help with purchasing just the right ones. The color pallets are extensive, and flooring is diverse.

Interior Design MyDeco

MyDeco Software

My Deco also has an Iphone app and sharing capabilities with Facebook. Users are able to decide whether they join or use the program as a guest – this, of course increases or reduces the functionality of the software. There are thousands of room views for inspiration made by other users, and My Deco is so realistic it is hard to tell designs from finished products.

Further Information: Where’s Mydeco? What’s happened to Myceco? Unfortunately, at time of print, Mydeco.com is redirecting to Made.com. Let’s hope this 3D technology resurfaces in the near future in some shape or form. Update: it looks like Mydeco was bought by Floorplanner.com, a Dutch start-up who are planning to use the tech to help people to virtually redecorate a house before deciding on purchase. (Source)

Design a Room

Sponsored by Armstrong Flooring Products; Design a room takes the swatches and samples out of the equation. This program allows users to choose which room they are renovating. They are able to choose real world products from the Armstrong inventory and in the finishes currently available.

design a room winning software

Armstrong won the coveted Good Design Award 2012

Everything from paint colors to cabinets can be planned. Design a Room also allows users to use paint and finishes from other widely known and trusted brands so that a true to life finished product can be seen. What really sets Design a Room apart is the product details and education provided with each item chosen. This way, users can plan their dream room and make sure that it is functional all at the same time.

Further Information: http://www.armstrong.com/flooring/design-tools.asp

Sweet Home 3D

If the ultimate in customization is something that users are looking for, Sweet Home 3D is a software program to look into. The program can be used through the website or there is an advanced version that can be downloaded directly to windows. While the website is not fancy like many other options, it cuts to the chase.

interior design software sweet home 3D

Sweet Home 3D Interior Software

Users are able to design their rooms completely from scratch using dimensions and more. There is a wide product catalog from which to choose items; however, users are able to import their own items if they are not already in the catalog. There are also even more intricate advanced features that can take a while to learn or require some background. However, instructions on these features can be found with a simple search. Sweet Home 3D is a viable option for those wanting to literally build a room from scratch.

Further Information: http://www.sweethome3d.com/

IKEA Home Planner

When working on a budget IKEA is a great resource for getting the best deal on quality products. IKEA’s home planner allows users to completely configure the room they are designing. From there, users can add their own accents and browse the IKEA catalog. Once all the items are in place IKEA will calculate the cost. Users then print and head off to the store. There are a few downfalls with this software; only IKEA products are available and the detail level is a bit low. However, when creating a room on a budget IKEA does offer a wide array of options and many products that are unique and colorful.

IKEA Interior design tools

IKEA Home Planner

Further Information: http://kitchenplanner.ikea.com/US/UI/Pages/VPUI.htm

HGTV, DIY, and Pinterest have created an evolution of do-it-yourselfers. People are opting out of professional services to go it alone but when designing or re-designing an area the costs can climb rather quickly. The ability to design ahead of time using software helps to lessen the buyer’s remorse syndrome. The above-mentioned products are great ways to explore the different options available and to get a feel for them for free. They can be used with or without hiring a designer and usually come with tutorials of some kind or another. Programs that enable the use of real world products are a great way to estimate the cost and adjust accordingly.

The ability to use real world products is also a great way to ensure functionality is maintained. Hardwood floors may look great in the bathroom but are they really functional? These programs also make it fun to design and re-design your interiors with intuitive interfaces and varying degrees of functionality depending on the user’s requirements.


5 Interior Design Style Ideas

If you are looking to tap into a new interior design style for your home or your office, we’ve got a few basic styles here that you can peruse, incorporate or simply borrow a few ideas from .  The key is to choose something that is not only going to look great in your space, but also suit your personality.  Some people find that they do better with more traditional and laid back design styles – depending on their school of thought, but others just want something that is going to offer them something a bit more unique.  It’s important to differentiate here as a complete re-working of the design can prove costly if it is not deemed up to scratch at a later date.  Here, we will take a look at five of the top interior design styles that are being used and favored currently, and you can see if any of them will work great in your home or office. 


Interior design styles for home and office

Sculpt Your Interior Design Styles


These are just five of the top design styles that are being used presently, but you aren’t limited to these styles!  You can really choose any style you prefer, and you can even come up with your own style if you just can’t seem to find one that suits you perfectly!

Shabby Chic

First, we will look closer at the Shabby Chic style, which is probably one of the more popular options, currently.  This is a style that is currently particularly favored by the Brits, and to get this look and feel you will need to have white walls and white floors throughout the interior of the room.  The ceilings should also be white to really bring out the effect of this look.  Vintage style items can be placed throughout, on distressed or aged furniture.  The best colors to use are soft pastels, because they help add to the feminine look and feel, and it also helps to bring about focus in the room. This is primarily a “girly” style design as the fellas generally go for something more tech, modern and clean-looking.


Now, we will take a closer look at the contemporary style.  This is a style that has sleek and innovative furniture design, paired with bright contrasting colors.  Most of the time, contemporary furniture will be sleek and straight, and it will also have sharp corners.  You don’t need to clutter the area around with accent pieces either, which means that you will have less décor, but that doesn’t mean it won’t look great.  You should seek a look that is open and clean in appearance to really pull off the contemporary style.  It works for some people, and is commonly used in larger, modern urban settings, often in man pads! This is definitely one of the interior design styles to consider for the men. 


This is a style that makes the most of the space in the room, and can be great if you want to make smaller areas look larger.  You should strive to leave the middle of your room as open as possible.  The reason behind this is because in the Asian culture, openness of heart is really valued highly and this should be reflected in the design of your interior space.  This is why they keep their rooms open in the center, to represent this.  You should also use natural colors, and bright colors to bring about focal points throughout the room.  You can also use Asian inspired décor throughout, and it will really pull off the look. 


Bringing the outdoors inside!  Most homes that have a garden style interior décor will have a sun room built off to the side of their home.  This really aids in bringing about the look and feel that you are trying to achieve. What you are trying to achieve here is a oneness with nature so anything that encourages views of sky or landscape will help to accentuate the look.  When you have live plants indoors, you are able to really see a bit of nature in your home and the space will be filled with vitality.  You can use large open windows to allow you to see the exterior landscaping of your home as well.  Some people will also use landscaping pictures on the walls of the home, just to tie it all together.  You can even decorate with outdoor furniture, to really liven it up.  Use natural colors paired with vibrant colors when you want to give it an added boost of your personality.  Use of mirrors to reflect sea-scapes or any other external landscapes that you can accentuate and make the most of through the windows can also help to influence the overall feel of a garden or outdoors style in your home or office.


Finally, here’s a look at the country style.  This is a style that is used a lot in the south, and it is something that looks great in many Southern homes but has also been requisitioned to bring the warmth of Southern climes further North.  There are certain prints and colors that look awesome with this design, and there are also a lot of great furniture pieces that will look great as well.  The woodsy look is usually best, because it really brings you back to being ‘out in the country’.  You can decorate with plaid, or choose a country theme- such as roosters (any type of bird is crazy popular at the moment!) – for your home décor.  You can also look for wooden furniture and accents that will look great in your home as well.  Some people even have deer antlers put onto the wall, and use other props to really bring the look together. The hunting motif does not suit all tastes but can definitely add a wild country feel that harks back to frontier days.

Do any of these interior design style ideas seem to strike your fancy?  If so, then you will want to learn more about them so that you can incorporate elements into your home or office.  Sometimes, it is all a matter of putting together the right décor with the right pieces of furniture, and other times you may just be able to build on what you already have to pull off something that looks amazing.  You shouldn’t give up on the interior design of your home.  Some people take years to decide what they want, but having these ideas to consider will definitely put you ahead of the game. It’s also not all about sticking firmly to one design style. Mixing and matching can work if done creatively and without too much juxtaposition in the pieces and styles used.

If you already know what type of design you are looking for, you don’t have to jump straight into it right away.  You may find that just collecting odds and ends here and there will be the best way for you to change the design of your home on a budget.  Start with the little things, and then save up for the bigger changes that you want to make.  This is one of the best ways for you to be able to get the dream design for your home that you have always wanted.

Looking for more Interior Design styles you can tap into for ideas? Check out Elle Decor’s awesome line-up of their 25 favourite designers and see the styles that are currently de rigueur.