5 Things I Learned in Interior Design Class

5 Things I Learned in Interior Design


Hello! I am Amy and I blog over at Amy Giggles Designs!  I met Wendy at Alt for Everyone and we decided to bring our passion for interior design together to create a mini series for you! I am currently taking Intro to Interior Design at the University of Louisville and am really enjoying it! I am going to share five important design lessons that I have learned this far and Wendy is sharing five lessons that she has learned actually working in the field of interior design! I think it is going to be awesome to compare what I’ve learned in school to what Wendy does in the “real world!”

Our school focuses a lot on commercial design principles as well as teaching the fundamental drafting skills. We actually haven’t really even begun to talk about colors or furniture in detail yet.

1. In order to make a big statement, you must do it structurally. My professor stresses the fact that furniture and lighting are supplementary to the overall design of the room. Of course they play a big role in functionality, but if you want to create a rememberable room, do something with the structure of the room. This could include wall treatments, adding or removing a wall, or even arching a door way.


Architecture Element

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2. There are five structural design elements to work with: horizontality, verticality, angularity, geometric curve, and free curve. We are currently working on a project where we are designing a boutique hotel lobby. Each person in the class has one of these elements to work with. I have free curve and my professor wants us to design the room based on this principle. So when you see the space, it should clearly be focusing on free curve. We have all seen designs that are based on verticality because the elements in the room bring the eye upward.

5 Sturctural Interior Design Elements www.amygigglesdesigns.com

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3. Think about the functionality of the room and how people will interact in it. If you are designing a public space then a 3 person couch may not work because strangers may be forced to sit next to each other if the only available seat is the one in the middle. Many first time designers make silly mistakes just like this one, where in reality individual seating would be best! Also, think about which way doors open and traffic flow in the room you are working on.

How It Works

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4. Get down to the core of the design problem. This goes with all design projects. When a client hires us, we need to figure out exactly what it is they want us to accomplish with the space. Ask detailed questions to figure out what they like, what they don’t like, the function of the space, your budget, etc.


Client Quote

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5. It is all about the client. When designing for a client, it is not always about what we personally like, it is what they want. Your number one goal is to make the client happy, especially since they are paying you! Just because we like a certain color or piece of furniture, if there is no justification for it then we shouldn’t use it. For example, if I love the color teal I cannot choose it just because I like it. If it honestly works in the room, then I need to be able to explain why it is a good choice for that space.

It has been an honor to write on Wendy’s blog! I hope you gained some valuable interior design knowledge! You can read her 5 tips for interior designers on my blog here!

Amy Giggles Designs Image

I’m Amy and my friends call me Giggles! This has inspired the name of my blog Amy Giggles Designs. I am a crafty dance teacher, blogger, and a graphic design student. I live in Louisville, Kentucky which I absolutely adore. I am very girly, a little bit southern preppy and a little bit country chic! I blog about my creative lifestyle hoping to inspire you along the way.


21 thoughts on “5 Things I Learned in Interior Design Class

  1. Hey, from one Interior Designer to another.
    I was on Pintres and viewed your post. Thought I’d drop by and say hello.
    Great idea. It will provide helpful insight to many viewers.
    I graduated, with my Interior Design degree, many years ago. It brought back some fun and wonderful memories as I read through your post. It’s so beneficial to calaborate with other design students, as well as, other designers. The wealth of information and ideas shared, amongst you and your trusted comrades and colleagues, will continually keep the creative sparks flying.
    Good luck to each of you,

    1. Hello Shelly,

      So glad you stopped by! I’ve been in the field for 19 years now & I love how enthusiastic design students are. You are absolutely right, collaboration between us all really keeps the creative sparks flying. It was fun to hear Amy’s take on design school.

  2. I’m currently enrolled in an interior design program in Kansas. Every point you hit on is exactly what they are teaching. Great job!

  3. Help! I’m so in love with interior design. I actually was in an interior design program at my college but I decided to change majors in 2008 because I thought I wouldn’t be able to get a job at the time with the economy. Basically listening to other people telling me it wasn’t A good career choice. 🙁 would you say that there are a lot of opportunities for internships while you’re in school that could turn into a position with a firm? Does it vary in location in regards to demand for interior designers? I really want to back to school and get me degree ( even though I graduated with something else) that’s what Im really passionate about. I would be willing to move to a state where it’s more in demand. Thanks so much for advice!!!!!

    1. Sheliese,

      I am actually writing a blog post about your same concerns and will be publishing it soon. I have heard many new designers noting the same struggles/concerns you had. While it is not easy to get an internship in a design studio, there are other avenues to gain experience in the industry. (Architectural offices, window covering showrooms, furniture showrooms, flooring shops, Vendor Representatives, etc…)

      I found the most important thing about school was the networking available to students in regards to their professors and the Student chapters of ASID. When I went to school the chairman of the Interior Design Dept coordinated the internships. I knew I needed to maintain a good relationship with her, because she was the gatekeeper. You need to get your face in front of other designers. Not many jobs are posted, it is a word of mouth business.

      Things are starting to improve, so I see a need for new designers. But, you are correct, it depends on your location. Every area seems to be recovering at a different rate.

      My advice to you is to speak to several Interior Design programs to find out their placements. Do they help find internships for students, or is that left up to you? What is their graduation rate? What is the focus on the program? This should give you an idea of what their local economy is doing. You need a city with a stronger economy that is in the building/renovations phase.

      Do you have any idea if you want to work in residential or commercial? This might guide you to different schools/areas as well.

      Good luck Sheliese. If design is your passion, don’t give up on it! If you have to, start working Interior Design on the side to learn as much as you can, while you still have a job. (Even if it’s not in a field you love.)

      1. Thank you so much!! Your words are like gold right now lol I know I would rather do commercial design. I found a school in Newport, California that seemed like a good fit and it seems there is more of a demand there. I’ll be looking out for that blog post! Thanks again!

  4. Hi! i am a interior designer in korea! I just started it since last year and noticed what u blog! It really helps me so i want to say thank u!(sorry i’m not good at english) ♥♥

    1. I’m so glad you are finding the blog helpful! I love Korea. It’s such a beautiful country! Writing another language is more difficult than speaking it. You are doing great! (I tried to learn Hangul while I lived there and was unable to pick it up.) I would love to see what you work on in Korea. Post it to the Facebook page: http://facebook.com/lilhuckleberries

  5. Hi there,

    I’m coming at this from a different angle: the consumer angle, as I am not an interior design student, nor do I work in that field.

    I just wanted to stress how important number 5 of what Amy wrote about, really is. As a consumer, I have had a variety of input from different interior designers and custom painters, regarding my personal residential space. You want to work with someone who is open minded and can envision what you as the client are looking for. Nothing is more frustrating than to work with someone who pushes their own ideas down your throat and try to make you as the client adopt their personal style.

    I ultimately went with a designer who understood my aesthetics and what I was looking for overall. She then came with suggestions and possibilities within my taste and what my goals are. Someone who asks the right questions regarding budget, what I was trying to achieve with the space, and how functional I wanted it to be. For example, she asked if I wanted modern sleek lines and sleek seating arrangements that were visually appealing, as opposed to lots of pillows on a big comfy couch, where comfort was most the important aspect.

    It is so so so important for a designer to really listen and take in to what the client is saying and to have clear questions for their potential clients, and to be open-minded to what the client wants and within the budget they need to stay. Then to be able to somehow, blend their aesthetic, their functional needs, and style into a budget that works for them.

    1. Your comment is very true. Unless we listen to the client, we won’t end up with a project that represents them and their families. Most likely they will be frustrated with the designer and unhappy with their space. Thanks for reminding us to listen to our clients! I’m glad to hear that you had a great experience with your designer.

  6. I was so excited to come across your blog!! I am a first year interior design student in Minnesota. I changed my major from medical to interior design. It was a big step, but I am loving it. I am currently taking drafting, furniture history, design and color and the elements of design. I loved reading your blog!!

    1. Sam,

      That IS a huge change! If you have a passion for Interior Design, it’s hard to focus on anything else, though. I loved school and would love to just sit in some of the classes for a refresher. This year will be my 20th year in design and it is probably my favorite year yet! Try and absorb everything you can…you’ll be amazed at what you remember when you start out in the design world! Keep us updated on your progress.

  7. Hi, I viewed your post on Pinterest. It’s really helpful and interesting. Thank you so much! 😀 I’m currently an architecture student and I have to do a analytical essay about interior design. I was confused because there are so many things relate to interior design. My teacher said that I can analyse whatever I like. And after read your post, I’m extremely interested in “5 structural interior design elements”. I hope you don’t mind, but would it be possible for me to use these 5 structural elements for my essay?

  8. I just came across your blog ! And i instantaneously fell in love with it… I am a first year interior design student [who is trying to get her name out there !] and everything you said is absolutely true….especially when you talked about the functuality of the space, one the things I learned from my professors is to walk yourself through the space and how you use it, and tape your progress on the floor with colored tape!


    1. Viyaleta,

      I love your enthusiasm. I loved design school and can tell you are loving it as much as I did. Keep absorbing all the info you can…you will be amazed how much of it you remember when you start your first design job. Good luck!

  9. Hi there ! I am a fresh grad in interior design from Malaysia. I am amazed with what you wrote there ! Well actually, I get an interview tomorrow which it tickle my nerves somehow because it is my first time to attend an interview. Well i hope you could give some of the tips 😊

  10. Hi. I am so glad I stumbled upon your page(new in pininterest) and I love what I read. I just finished a certificate program on interior design two months ago, and here in Nigeria, interior design is relatively new. I’m thinking of how to make it by turning my passion into profit. Any idea from you will be welcome. Thanks

  11. As a Interior Designer for 20 years, l have told most every client I have ever worked for, “This is not my home (office). I will do a great job and then leave. You are the one who lives or works here. I respect that.”

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