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What to Expect When You’re Expecting to be an Interior Design Student


Ah, the wonderful world of design. I’ll give you a little bit of background on myself before we begin. I have just completed my third year of post-secondary schooling in Interior Design, with honours. Therefore, I feel throughout my six semesters at school I’ve developed a little bit of useful intel to help some of you out who want to know more about it—or are generally just curious.

When I started Interior Design, it was more of a draw out of a hat. I knew I wasn’t smart enough to be a marine biologist and if I wanted to study psychology I probably wouldn’t get anywhere without a doctorate. Thus, I decided “Sure! Design sounds fun!”

Here are some things to know about the design process:

  1. Research: You may not like it, but research is hella important. You need to justify everything you decide with a reason. A lot of designs are focusing on sustainability—so you need to know the facts and why they are LEED approved. If you don’t know what LEED is you need to google that. Also, know how to reference MLA or APA, plagiarism isn’t cool.
  1. Concept: From what I have heard, in the field a lot of the concept is left in the gutter. But in design school they want you to express your creativity. Have fun with it. Generally I grab some trace paper, write down a list of ideas and begin to doodle overtop of the floor plan. Then I come up with a single word I like, grab a thesaurus and see if there’s anything that sounds fancier—if you will. Then go back to step one and do a little more research.

    Concept Sketch

  1. Schematic Design: What the heck is that? This phase of design is programming—in interior design room locations and adjacencies are very important, you have to make sure everything is ordered properly and you have provided enough space for these areas. Generally you take some graph paper and decide the square footage of each room, from there you lay them out depending on what needs to be close to where. It’s kind of like solving a puzzle; a complicated 3D puzzle that will eventually be a space that people use and work in.

    Adjacency Sketch

  1. Design Development: This is the fun part, after you’ve laid out your room locations you get to incorporate more concept, and use your research on materials and sustainable technology to apply to your project. This is the part of the stage where you can make a bunch of beautiful renderings and save a million and one bookmarks on your browser to refer to during your working drawing stage when you have to place all your materials and furniture into a legend.

    Green Roof Render

  2. Working Drawings: You either hate them or you love them. I don’t believe there’s an in between. However, these are a necessity. These are how your final designs are eventually built and they are very technical, they specify everything and they take hours upon hours in AutoCAD or Revit to do. These are usually the causes of sleep deprivation and coffee addiction.

I know, you weren’t expecting that. This, my folks is the true process of interior design (obviously some secret steps are left out—ha ha) but during an Interior Design project we go through all these stages. It can be miserable at times, it can be fun. I hope I didn’t deter any of you from this! Leave a question or comment below!
(all photos are my own)

  • Hey, this is really interesting because I used to want to become an interior designer as well and now, it’s almost time for me to apply for uni. So I’m looking for options beside my main interest.
    So thank you very much for sharing ♥!

    • Interior Design is a surprisingly large field– it isn’t just what you see on tv! There are a lot of different options, and commercial design is huge. 🙂
      Thanks for the comment, I’m glad it could help you out!

  • Aw such an interesting post, sounds like quite a fun process if a lot of hard work! Interior design is always one of those things I’ve been fascinated by but never really pursued academically, and now I’ve graduated from uni I probably won’t ever get the chance! So it’s nice to get a little insight like this!


  • This was a great reading, something different and new for me! Thanks for sharing! xx

  • I’d have loved to be an Interior Designer when I was younger but I always felt I wasn’t clever or creative enough to suceed. Thanks for sharing though!

    Natalie Ann xo // Petal Poppet Blogs ♥

  • Love the post! Sounds super interesting but definitely looks like a lot of hard work – lovely reading something a bit different!

  • (DAMN, honours?? Congrats! And since this post was a year ago, I’m assuming you’re currently finishing your last semester, so cheers to that!)

    I actually wanted to be a marine biologist when I was younger, but then couldn’t grasp my head around chemistry, SO HERE I AM PURSUING INTERIOR DESIGN, which is just as interesting! A bit nervous about the rendering process of ID since it sounds incredibly exhausting and time consuming, but I suppose it’s all part of the biz. (I do look forward to building physical models though)

    • lindseyelyse

      I am in my last semester! It’s scary! Oh man, chemistry ruined me. If I hadn’t studied like crazy for the final exam I would have failed! Rendering does take a lot of work, but you’ll be so happy with the outcome! Especially if you’re really good at hand sketching it will be even better!

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