By Arun Chitnis
A certain school of thought claims that interior decorators are born, not made. However, as long as you have a basic artistic streak and a yearning to be creative, you can be groomed to any level of expertise in interior decoration. Giving a property buyer the benefit of one’s creative streak in this way is one of the most lucrative and creative careers today.
Beyond any doubt, interior decoration is a satisfying profession for those who ‘have it’ these days. There is an unprecedented amount of up-market residential and commercial property being sold on the real estate market today. Moreover, the present generation buyers of properties can afford to have their new acquisitions packaged attractively.
Engaging the services of an interior decorator was once considered a lavish luxury, but not anymore. With the increased spending power of the IT generation, a home is defined by its aesthetic appeal — and a growing number of people are ready to pay for that.
The trend for professionally decorated interiors has percolated down from film stars to almost every upper stratum of society. Nor is the demand for interior decoration any longer confined to residences.
Witness the offices of most successful doctors, lawyers and advertising agencies, as well as bookstores, music shops, shopping malls, restaurants, hotel lobbies… yes, the scope for interior decoration is virtually endless.
Hitting The High Notes
Apart from being an inherently glamorous profession, interior decoration has a career has a number of other appeals to offer:
You meet a lot of them, and from a fascinating cross-section – from movie icons to business magnates; from well-known restaurant owners to fast-track lawyers; from neurosurgeons to the idle rich.
You earn a lot of it. Everyone has respect for artistic flair, and your efforts are supposed to reflect the property owner’s own taste. This makes it an ego issue, and people pay a lot to support their ego.
A career in interior decoration is self-propagating. One successfully completed contract almost immediately leads to another, till you can actually pick and choose. Also, the people you come across can come in useful in many other respects later on.
- NO SPECIAL TRAINING REQUIRED
Of course, a basic degree in the Arts can’t hurt, but a period of internship under an established interior decorator will serve just as well. What you really will need, though, is something that can’t be bought – good taste in decor and a talent for bringing your creative ideas to fruition.
- EMPLOYMENT OPPORTUNITIES FOR OTHERS
You will not be operating on your own. A large enough contract will require the services of a carpenter, electrician, painter and a graphic computer designer. A lot of people will benefit from your profession – and that is significant.
- CREATIVE JOB SATISFACTION
Expressing oneself artistically is one of the most satisfying experiences that a human being can have; being paid to do it is nothing but a bonus. It is no secret that one works best at what one enjoys doing – it is equally true that one of the biggest problems in today’s professional world is lack of creative outlets.
Most people have an ‘inbuilt’ creative streak in some form or the other. Professional interior decorators who were polled recently firmly denied that theirs is a ‘born’ breed — almost anyone can develop a flair, liking and proficiency in this field.
- WHAT IT TAKES
As already pointed out, you don’t require any special qualifications to become a successful interior decorator (as opposed to interior designing, which has far more demanding parameters).
Basically, you should have an ability to judge spaces (including the potential for hidden storage space), lighting requirements, color schemes and contrasts, furniture styles, etc. and a ‘feel’ for upholstery and curtain fabrics. Finally, you will need to bring these out to maximum advantage within the framework of a given budget.
There are a number of books and journals available to the subject of interior decoration, though not so many on the Indian market. For the seriously interested, however, this will not present a problem.
Any specialty bookstore can offer you a selection of imported publications. A subscription to Indian magazines like ‘Inside Outside’ would be helpful by offering information on styles and combinations currently favored in the country.
One of the most helpful things you can do is to visit properties that have been professionally designed, study the work done there, and even ask the owners in what respects they are or aren’t satisfied with the end results.
The places to zero in on are newly bought flats and offices that have engaged the services of an interior decorator. The point is not to judge the quality of the job done, but to get a feel of what kind of interior designing is popular on the real estate market, and therefore sells.
This costs you nothing, and people are always ready to talk on such subjects (after all, what is the point in splurging on interior decoration if you can’t gloat about the results later on?) In this manner, you can build up a useful mental catalog of successful and unsuccessful approaches.
Getting an eventual interior decoration team together is another important factor. You should also try to establish a personal network of carpenters and painters who will be able to spend time on unscheduled projects.
This way, you will be able to obtain their services as and when you need them. Sharing your design discoveries with them occasionally is a good idea, too. In that way, you will have some concrete prototypes to refer to when you actually get to work on a project.
- PROGRESSING TO INTERIOR DESIGNING
This is a far more demanding — and rewarding — career field, and you will need a lot of experience in interior decoration before you can think of entering it. There are certified institutions that offer courses in interior designing, and you may want to consider such a move at a later stage.
Till then, there is absolutely no reason why you shouldn’t make lucrative waves as an interior decorator. As a famous philosopher once stated, the only limitations we face are those we make for ourselves.
© Arun Chitnis is a professional writer with interest in a wide swath of genres. His fields of interest include real estate, self improvement, short fiction and parenting issues.
Photo source Flickr