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5 myths about a career In interior design and decoration

by Carlene Duffy
Posted: April 08, 2021

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**This is an updated post**

Is a career in interior design and decoration really as glamourous as it’s made out to be in pop culture? Interior design and decoration expert, Carlene Duffy, reveals the top five myths about working in the industry.  

I completely understand the thoughts people have about a career in interior design and decoration because before I entered the industry, I had those same thoughts. 

Sure, some of the notions related to the job are true. But generally there’s more to the story.  

When you first start out in the industry, you’ll probably be surprised by some of the unexpected elements involved in your day-to-day.  But that’s OK – because just like any other job, there are pros and cons to working in interior design and decoration.  

So to help you decide if a career in this industry is right for you, I’m going to bust some popular myths about interior design and decoration.

Design myths

What are the top 5 myths about working in interior design and decoration? 

1. It’s always glamourous

TRUTH: The job of an Interior Designer/Decorator is not always glamourous. 

While there are certain elements of the job that are certainly more glamourous than others, it’s a myth that Interior Designers and Decorators just sit around looking stylish as they flick through magazines and scroll through Pinterest.

For starters, I'm rarely sitting at all unless I'm in the car. I even respond to emails while I’m on the go. 

It’s also important to remember that the role of a Designer/Decorator involves frequent site visits, and there’s nothing glamourous about work boots! When doing installs, I’m am generally trucking around in a ute, couriering furniture and bits and?bobs and can be seen hauling bags of potting mix through Bunnings. 

So while the job can be fun, interesting, varied and exciting, it’s not always glamorous.

2. It’s all creative

TRUTH: The job isn't just about the creative side of things. 

Much of an Interior Consultant’s time is spent conceptualising, visualising and researching. Days are filled stewing over fabric, materials and paint swatches, visiting furniture showrooms, measuring, looking, thinking, looking, thinking etc. But what I learned quickly on the job is that there is also a great deal of administration involved.

Quoting, invoicing, liaising with suppliers, coordinating deliveries and actioning emails is probably counts for more than 50% of the job. While admin duties are not my favourite thing, they are necessary. And sometimes doing admin tasks makes for a good change when you need to switch off your creative brain for a while. 

Interior designer

3. Interior consultants are unaffordable for most people

TRUTH: Most Interior Consultants are good value for money and represent a smart investment. 

I think the belief that Interior Consultants are expensive goes hand in hand with the notion that they only take on big budget jobs. While I've  consulted on many impressive houses, I also work on many homes with more modest budgets. A good Interior Consultant is going to work to your budget (no matter the size) with the objective to help you achieve the best outcome within your means.

There are some Designers and agencies who market themselves as boutique and cater to a specific clientele. But they are still just one niche in a wide and varied industry.  

 It’s also a good thing to remember that even though there are some Designers out there who are more expensive than others, hiring a Designer is not frivolous: it’s smart.  

Building is an expensive exercise and interior professionals are paid to make educated decisions so that the layman is not making decisions they regret and being forced to spend more money on rectifying mistakes. 

Industry professionals also have access to wholesalers and trade discounts. And while an Interior Consultant is not obliged to pass on their discount to the client, most want the best outcome for their clients. This means they’ll often pass on the discount if they want a certain product in the space and its retail price is over budget.

4. An Interior Decorator only does what people don’t have time to do themselves

While it's true that an Interior Consultant will do most of the legwork in a design project, people generally don’t engage a Designer or Decorator because they're simply time poor- they engage a professional because they're not equipped with the knowledge and creative know-how to pull together a functional, visually balanced, and effective space. 

Like a Builder will advise a client on what can and can’t be done from a structural perspective, an Interior Consultant will provide advice on what should and shouldn’t be done in terms of colours, space layout, material combinations, lighting and other design elements. They'll impart information about products and materials based on their skills and experience which most people dont possess because they havent completed the same training. 

Interior designing

5. An Interior Decorator/Designer makes all the design decisions 

TRUTH: The relationship between an Interior Consultant and their client is a collaborative one. 

An Interior Designer is engaged to help a client  based on a specific brief. 

The Consultant will meet with the client, discover what their wants and needs are, how their tastes run, and what their dream design looks like.  After getting to work on some concepts, the Consultant will present the client with their ideas and explain the reasoning behind the decisions. This is the client’s opportunity to voice their agreement or concerns. Like I said: this is a professional relationship built on collaboration.

I recently did my best to talk a client out of using the same white stone on their kitchen splashback as used on their benchtop. My advice was that the overall effect would look clinical and stale rather than sleek and crisp (which is what the client was aiming for). I suggested a white brick-laid subway tile to provide just the right amount of texture and visual interest without pulling too much focus. 

Are you looking to begin a career in interior design or decorating? 

Now that I’ve busted a couple of myths around the design industry, I hope you’re considering a career as an Interior Decorator or Designer! 

Like all jobs, there are ups and downs in a career in interiors. But if you’re passionate, dedicated and truly love helping people bring their dream homes to life, then you’ll certainly have more good days than bad.  

A career in interiors can be hugely rewarding. It can offer you the opportunity to design some truly wonderful spaces and to let your creative talents shine.  

If you’re thinking about a career in interior design, check out OC’s online MSF50218 Diploma of Interior Design. In this course you’ll learn all about designing interiors for residential and commercial spaces, and you’ll also build a portfolio of work you can present to potential employers.  

What are you waiting for? Enrol today and take the first step towards a uniquely colourful career in design. 


Carlene Duffy

Carlene is best known as one half of Michael and Carlene Duffy; the down to earth Gold Coast couple who shared their highs and lows with Australia on 9’s series The Block ‘Glasshouse’. The dynamic duo also featured in Renovation Rumble, and have together established their business ‘Cedar & Suede’.

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