How to Make an Interior Design Portfolio

By Michelle Ecker on October 18th, 2017
Students work on interior design portfolios

If launching a legitimate interior design business is something you’re seriously considering, you should definitely start developing a beginner’s portfolio. Especially if you want to be your own boss and work as an independent interior designer (as opposed to working under the umbrella of a larger, more established local firm), portfolio development is crucial. Without the legitimacy of a known firm’s name in correspondence with your work, clients will need to see some form of evidence that they can trust your design capabilities. They’ll also likely want to ensure that they’re into your specific creative vision and decorating style as well. By creating an organized visual portfolio of the kind of work you do, this provides them with exactly that opportunity.

What is an Interior Design Portfolio?

Traditionally, an interior design portfolio is literally a physical portfolio designers can keep in their office or bring along to home visits and consultation meetings. A loose-leaf presentation typically laminated and put together in a binder, portfolios can be filled with sketches, AutoCAD print-outs, and most importantly, digital photos of finished designs. Before and after sections displaying room or home transformations after being updated by the designer are also a popular format of displaying work and aesthetic design capabilities.

Need to build a stronger interior design portfolio?

Create an Interior Design Student Portfolio

Creating a portfolio like this should be pretty simple for beginners, especially if you’re a NYIAD student. Even if you’ve never worked with a real-world client, you can still create a beginners portfolio using solely the work you completed throughout our curriculum. From sketches or drawings of the rooms you’ve designed to furniture sample presentations to sample budget layouts and copies of your interior design certifications, this binder full of work and credentials is all meant to show clients a little picture of what you’re capable of, and why they can trust you.

How to Create an Interior Design Portfolio

  1. Choose whether you want to make an e-portfolio or something physical
  2. Select a variety of images that showcase work you’ve done on interior design projects in the past
  3. Try to demonstrate the process through these images- color swatching, mood boards, sketches- give clients a start to finish picture of your workflow
  4. Include your school credentials, any certifications earned, client testimonials as well as your resume
  5. Add business cards or contact info
Interior design portfolio example

Via Jacquelyn Clark

Want to start your own interior design business? browse our course curriculum and learn how you can get started today.

Through what you include in your portfolio, you want to demonstrate the fact that you’ve been formally trained, that you know how the interior design process works, and that you’re an organized, thorough and capable professional. If you’ve never done any real-word projects, even for family or friends, simply organize a nicely laid-out arrangement of the NYIAD projects you’ve completed and show those to clients as you’re getting started with your career.

How to Create an Interior Design Portfolio with No Experience

If you’ve done some smaller projects (even for friends, family members or in your own home), be sure to photo document those if you’re a beginner (before and after shots are always helpful) and include those novice projects for sure.

As soon as you book your first client, be sure to pack a camera for your consultations and walk-throughs, and thoroughly document the process so you can begin to build your portfolio to include a real project you’ve done for a paying client.

When you’re finished working for someone, it’s also really helpful to ask for a testimonial, and include that along with any pages in your portfolio featuring shots of the work you did for them. At the end of the day, from pictures of beautiful work to satisfied words of praise from happy clients, all these things should come together to prove to potential buyers why working with you is totally worthwhile.

How to Build an Online Interior Design Portfolio

Building an online interior design portfolio is much less intimidating than you might imagine. With plenty of template-based website generating platforms available to creative professionals today (NYIAD students- we guide you to our favorites in Unit 6 and show you how they’re used), you can easily create a user-friendly, aesthetically appealing site to showcase your work. Be sure to dedicate a page to contact information, then carefully organize photo galleries of your work, client testimonials, and maybe links to your social media pages.


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