What Does An Interior Designer Do?

The golden question, what is an interior designer and what do they actually do? Whether you’re renovating, building, and/or restyling your home and are looking for the help of an interior designer, or you’re considering a career in interior design in Australia, this article covers all things from what an interior designer does, how to become an interior designer, how much an interior designer costs and much more.

Designed By: Bone Made. Photographed By: The Palm Co

What Is an Interior Designer?

Interior design is a profession that has been around for decades but has gained a lot of traction in recent years. From interior designers to interior stylists and interior decorators, we understand if you’re feeling a little overwhelmed with knowing what exactly an interior designer does. First of all, it’s important to note that there are some differences when it comes to working in the broader field of interior design. People can either work as an interior designer, interior stylist, interior decorator or e-designer. Below, we break down the difference between these titles, as the services each of them offer are usually very different.

Designed By: Parker Studio. Photographed By: Jacqui Turk

Designed By: Parker Studio. Photographed By: Jacqui Turk

Interior Designer:

Interior designers are involved in the multi-faceted role of spatial planning and coordination of designing an interior space. They usually have a technical knowledge and skill set required to design an interior space from scratch and a notable level of creativity and attention to detail. They plan, research, coordinate and often project manage projects from concept to completion in order to create a beautiful and complete interior. Interior designers fulfil their clients’ brief that takes into consideration space, colour, layout, materials, finishes and more. In Australia, most interior designers will either have a Bachelor’s degree or have at least completed a diploma, however this isn’t currently a regulated standard. Interior designers go far beyond just selecting beautiful cushions and making spaces look aesthetically lovely. They think through and design how an interior space will function and design the layout that will get the most out of any space, whilst adhering to regulations and standards. An interior designer is also normally ahead of the game in terms of design trends and are up-to-date with everything in the design industry including styles (both old and new).

Interior designers generally work on full house projects, bathrooms, kitchens and sometimes even assist with exterior design. They are also often involved and work in conjunction with a builder and architect to make structural changes within a home. Whilst this relates to residential design, interior designers can also be involved in commercial projects such as in retail, corporate or hospitality.

Designed By: Parker Studio. Photographed By: Jacqui Turk

Designed By: Bone Made. Photographed By: The Palm Co

“As an interior designer, I apply my industry knowledge to provide design solutions that exude functionality and beauty. A project can involve kitchen joinery, fixtures and fittings, to flooring and skirting boards and more. I research, mood board, 3D model, present and deliver - it’s a busy, dynamic job and I absolutely love the creative, critical thinking role that is an interior designer”.

-  Katrina, Interior Designer – KH Designed

“The best part about being in a creative role is getting to do what I love everyday! I get to help people transform their homes into their dream spaces - it can sometimes be a long process but the end result is always the most exciting part.”

- Caitlin, Interior Designer - Parker Studio

Interior Stylist/Decorator:

The job of an interior stylist or interior decorator is to create bespoke interiors through the selection of artworks, décor, furniture pieces, lighting, furnishings, window treatments and wallpaper – i.e. the aesthetics of your home. As the job title suggests, interior stylists or decorators’ style or decorate an interior space. Unlike interior designers, interior stylists or decorators aren’t usually qualified to do any structural work and focus mainly on creating interiors through the use of décor, furniture, and finishes using design principles. In saying this, interior stylists or decorators generally will have a diploma or certificate in interior styling or decorating.


e-Design is an interior styling/decoration service that is solely communicated online (hello Style Sourcebook mood boards!). e-Design is becoming hugely popular as more and more people are desiring to work remotely and it is also a great way for people to visually see their interior space collated together in a digital format. Unlike traditional interior design services who generally go out to the home and have meetings in person, e-Design is conducted entirely online using communication tools such as zoom, email, chats and videos. The benefits of e-Design is that it is often more affordable and accessible as opposed to hiring and working with an interior designer and interior stylist/decorator. However, keep in mind that with e-design, the interior designer will not provide the same full service design as a traditional interior designer would and won’t see your project in real life. However, in times like this, an e-Designer can be just what people need to give an experienced helping-hand with their project.

Mood Board Created By: Oleander & Finch Interiors

 “I work with homeowners virtually, through the use of social media, video calls, phone and email. I am able to ascertain their style and needs and create a digital representation of their new look homes and point them in the right direction as to how to fulfil the look and implement the styling. It's a great way to cut out unnecessary travel and maximise your booking potential. It's smart, has fast turnarounds, and provides an affordable, stress free alternative to full service design.”

-         Rhiannon, e-Designer – Oleander & Finch Interiors

What Does An Interior Designer Do?

An interior designer’s role is to help their clients bring their dream spaces to life. Interior designers undergo an array of tasks ranging from conception to competition – such as communicating the vision through mood boards, conceptual drawings, renderings, spatial planning and creating floor plans, custom joinery design, project managing and putting together plans for lighting, materials, colour choices and furniture. They also have to problem solve to create the best space possible and adapt when unexpected problems arise.

Designed By: Bone Made

Designed By: Bone Made. Photographed By: The Palm Co

“The role of an Interior Designer is to transform the user experience, to better manage the space available in the inherited environment while distilling the client’s personality and lifestyle, and inspiring clients to live in the best possible way. At Bone Made, we work in phases to structure the progression of a design, offering professional knowledge and decisions, set in a process that instils ease and joy for the client.”

“An interior designer's key responsibilities are to visualise and ensure there is alignment between concept, client needs, design specifications, and structural limitations. Our tasks consist of lots of problem-solving, organising, communicating with trades and clients, overseeing installation of finishes, joinery, and other design elements, as well as resolving any problems that may arise unexpectedly in construction. These tasks are fulfilled using computer-aided drawings (CAD), 3D modeling, visual presentations, and in-depth knowledge of materials, products, building codes, and regulations, to determine what and what will not work in a space. There is never a ‘same day’, as an interior designer, which makes the job so exciting and rewarding.``

-         Leah and Fliss, Interior Designers – Bone Made

How to Become an Interior Designer

You’re thinking you’d like to become an interior designer? We might be biased, but we think this is a great career choice. While there is currently no formal requirement to complete tertiary education to become a professional interior designer in Australia (unlike architects and engineers), we would highly recommend this. Interior design qualification and education can be undertaken at a recognised university, other private interior design institutions (such as Interior Design Institute), TAFE or a master’s degree for some further upskilling. Some interior designers move from other careers in the design industry to interior design with the relevant upskilling and mentoring. Furthermore, an impressive portfolio of projects and industry experience through internships can be seen as just as important as having the relevant education to become a successful interior designer. Learn more about how to become an interior designer here and more information about qualifications and skills here.

Image Credit: Gold Chalk 

“At IDI, we provide our students with quality online training programs that are flexible, fun and inspiring. Students who take our courses will acquire the necessary skills to translate ideas into reality, to design interiors with confidence, run a successful business or seek employment within the industry. Our comprehensive courses will help students to think critically, become design savvy and be taught in a supportive online atmosphere, using a no-fuss online learning system.”

- Jasmine, Business Unit Manager | Social Media Manager, Interior Design Institute

“Whilst studying I landed an internship with a boutique architecture studio and I worked there whilst studying which really paid off in the long run - when I was ready to look for full-time work as a designer I already had interior design work on my resume.”

- Caitlin, Interior Designer - Parker Studio

How Much Does an Interior Designer Earn?

The salary of an interior designer generally reflects their position within the company they work at, level of experience or whether they work on residential or commercial projects. For interior designers working for themselves, this can depend on how many clients they have per year and how much they charge (based on their level of experience, reputation in the interior design industry etc). Asking how much an Interior Designer earns can be a bit like asking how long a piece of string is. However, according to Seek, the typical salary per year for an interior designer is approximately $75k.

Image Credit: BuildHer Collective

Image Credit: Gold Chalk. Photographed By: Kate Hansen Photography

Why Should You Hire an Interior Designer?

Interior designers bring an extensive amount of experience and knowledge to a project that you may not have yourself. They save you time, money and energy in the long run – making the design process much more enjoyable for everyone involved and making sure you make smart design decisions that will withstand the test of time. Just like you would hire a qualified builder to build your home, hiring a qualified interior designer should be just as important.

Designed By: Bone Made

Designed By: Bone Made. Photographed By: The Palm Co

“Clients often underestimate the degree of decisions and details required in new builds, refurbishments, or renovations. Hiring an interior designer removes the stress and pressure, allowing the client's journey through the design process of a project to be much more enjoyable.” 

“As Interior Designers, we ensure functionality and form are considered through professional knowledge, insight, and experience. Simultaneously, we ensure a strong aesthetic is parallel to the function of the design, to reflect the client’s personality and lifestyle."

-         Leah and Fliss, Interior Designers – Bone Made

How Much Does an Interior Designer Cost?

The cost of an interior designer will heavily depend on their level of experience, types of rooms involved, client's budget, style, timeline and scope of the project at hand. Interior designers normally charge by the hour or they might quote you a price for the whole project. As a guide, according to hipages, an interior designer can cost anywhere between $50/hr to $300/hr.

If you need assistance with furnishings, style, colour and other finishings, then it may be best to consider getting a quote from an interior stylist or decorator instead.

Image Credit: BuildHer Collective

Designed By: Kate Lawrence Interiors. Photographed By: The Palm Co

How to Choose an Interior Designer

So, you've decided you want to hire an interior designer, but don't know how to go about it? Follow these 4 steps to make the process as smooth as possible.

1. Determine What Style You Like

The first step in choosing an interior designer is researching and determining what style you like (and would like in your home). Whether it be through Pinterest, magazines, creating mood boards, reading home inspiration blogs or through your own travels; determining what style you like is integral to choosing an interior designer. This ensures that your style and the interior designer’s style aligns and that they can produce your desired aesthetic. However, a good interior designer would be able to adapt to your own preferences and brief, despite their own personal style.

2. Set a Budget

Ensure you set a budget early on in the process to avoid spending more than you want to in the long run. This will also help you to narrow down your choices when choosing an interior designer, as not all of them are likely to suit your preferred budget.

3. Research Designers in Your Local Area

Take a look at the portfolios of interior designers within your local area – ensure they have enough experience for your liking and that you love their previous work. Also make sure you look for consistency in the quality of their previous projects - good research to find the perfect interior designer for you will never be a waste of time.

4. Get in Touch With an Interior Designer

Once you’ve created a shortlist of potential interior designers, get in touch with them to get a feel of their approach and to ask them important questions about the project. It is important that you ‘click’ with your prospective interior designer, have a level of trust and that they can see your vision or what you want (and be able to bring it to life).

Designed By: Kate Lawrence Interiors. Photographed By: The Palm Co

Frequently Asked Questions

Is Interior Design a Good Career?

Whilst again we might be biased, but we believe that interior design is both a rewarding and enjoyable career - the role is expansive, and no day is ever the same. While it might not be as glamorous as it may seem, your projects have the ability to tell a story and you have the rare opportunity to be both highly creative and analytical. Furthermore, it has a positive projected job growth over the next 5 years. What a bonus!

What Qualifications Do You Need to Become an Interior Designer?

There is currently no formal requirement to complete tertiary education to become an interior designer in Australia, however (like in many careers) it is highly recommended. Interior design education and qualifications can be undertaken at a recognised university, other private interior design institutions (such as the Interior Design Institute), TAFE or a master’s degree for some further upskilling.

Can an Architect Be an Interior Designer?

An architect can become an interior designer as the title is not regulated and there is no formal requirement to complete tertiary education to become an interior designer in Australia. However, the role of an architect is quite different to the role of an interior designer, so one cannot simply ‘be’ an interior designer.

On the flip side, an interior designer cannot be an architect without the specific education needed to become an architect.

Can Interior Designers Work From Home?

Some interior designers have the option to work from home, particularly e-Designers. However, this might depend on the scope of the project, or type of business you work at (interior designers who work for themselves and have their own design business might have more flexibility in this area).

Designed By: Parker Studio. Photographed By: Jacqui Turk

Designed By: Parker Studio. Photographed By: Jacqui Turk

So there you have it – your complete guide to what an interior designer does including how to become an interior designer, how much an interior designer costs and much more. If you happen to be inspired and are thinking of starting a career as an interior designer, don’t forget to join our designers’ inventory and build your portfolio and create client mood boards - we can’t wait to see them!