Follow these tips to create a dynamic interior design portfolio that attracts clients and portrays your personal design style.
More often than not, first impressions mean everything — and when it comes to finding interior design clients, your portfolio can make or break your chance at getting a bid. It’s time to put all of your hard work, practice, and collected skills together into one standout design portfolio that speaks to your strengths and your potential client’s needs.
Luckily, we have tips to get your online portfolio up and running in no time. Step aside, Kelly Wearstler! Here we come.
You need to have a strong portfolio when meeting with potential clients to give them confidence in your ability as a designer. You can do this by showing them your previous and current design work in a thoughtfully curated portfolio. The old adage that a picture is worth a thousand words has never been more true. Images of your planning and process can tell a client about your personal style and level of experience and establish trust that you can get the job done — all in a jiffy.
The best interior design portfolio images should speak for themselves. (If they can’t, use helpful captions or descriptive words to help tell your story — but try to keep it at a minimum.)
An online portfolio template should have plenty of negative space to let your photos and renderings “breathe,” keeping annotations to a minimum.
This might feel obvious, but it’s still worth stating! You don’t know how long you will have a prospective client’s attention, so keep your best work at the front of your portfolio to grab attention immediately. Show examples of your range of skills and include interior design projects that required unique problem-solving.
An interior design student portfolio will inevitably be different from that of an experienced professional. If you haven’t yet had an opportunity to take on many clients, your best work is yet to be. But that doesn’t mean you can’t create an impressive portfolio!
Since you can’t show what you have accomplished, create theoretical scenarios that present a unique design problem that you can solve. Include a few possible solutions you’ve mocked up.
You may have to rely heavily on mood boards (which are great for brainstorming design concepts) and images of your own home interior projects (your own personal canvas!). Any of those residential projects you took on for friends and family could also go here. You may not have been paid for them, but your client doesn’t need to know that. Plus, they are most likely only interested in the quality of your work.
Use straightforward language and images to share your design inspirations, include personal mood boards of your particular design style, and explain (as you show) how your creative process works.
Discuss any design schools you’ve attended, along with interior design firms you have worked with in the past. If you have special graphic design skills or experience in an interior design niche, like working with sustainable products, these will increase client confidence and make you stand out more.
Include links to all relevant social media accounts along with your contact information. Make sure they are somewhat curated to be professional while still showing your full personality and passion: gatherings with family, life with your dogs, and vacation photos. This will help others see your true authentic self.
Make sure plenty of images that reflect your design style are peppered throughout your social media pages. Your client is there for your design craft, after all!
It’s important that your portfolio website shows your versatility while still giving the viewer a strong impression of your interior design style. It’s best they know “your look” from the beginning, and it may give them confidence in your abilities if they see some of what they desire reflected in your work.
Include descriptions of your style: minimalist, industrial, traditional, coastal, rustic, etc., along with images. Feel free to break out of the regular style norms to describe something that feels uniquely you. Nobody needs to be pigeon-holed!
The easiest way to give your portfolio to a new client is to set up an online portfolio website or webpage. Not only is this easy to access, but it may stay in an open tab on their computer long after they have met you face to face. Your online portfolio is also a place to link to your design practice that they can share with design-intrigued friends and colleagues.
Now, don’t get too overwhelmed by the idea of building a website. Follow these steps, and it will be smooth sailing.
If web design sounds daunting, consider setting up a custom page within a larger site. Spoak’s business tools include an online portfolio that allows you to link up any projects, mood boards, or renderings you’ve created on the site with ease.
You can choose a WordPress theme and use a portfolio template to set up your information. Choose a theme known for functionality with design businesses and a web host with good business reviews.
Showing a client a current project and how easily they can collaborate with you on Spoak to comment and keep informed may give them a nudge toward choosing you as their next designer.
You’ll want your best work to be readily visible as soon as a client enters your portfolio site. Make sure you have a range of projects, particularly ones that show your creative problem-solving skills and good design eye.
As you display your previous design projects, include testimonials from satisfied clients to build trust and a sense of authority. Remember those freebie design jobs you did for friends and family? You can include testimonials from them too!
Your online portfolio is the perfect place to show your design process from start to finish on selected projects. You can begin with the mood board for a living room remodel, showing color palettes, furnishings, and textiles. Then, move into the mock-ups of the space with a layout and 2D renderings of the before and after.
Include high-quality photos of the finished design that quickly shows the progression of your creative thought process. If you don’t yet have access to a photographer for your projects, BeSpoak School has tips on taking excellent photos with your phone for the time being. Take matters into your own hands!
Pro-Tip: Spoak’s business tools allow you to not only collaborate with clients on a project but also share your projects with anyone via email or your portfolio page.
Getting feedback and sharing methodology with other creative professionals in the design community is invaluable for up-and-coming interior designers. This is very much true when you are putting together your first portfolio to court new clients. Let other designers give you advice from their experiences with trial and error.
Finding a mentor in the interior design industry is an important part of growing your design studio. The Spoak interior design community is a place to share business information, get advice, and give encouragement to and from other creatives.
As you build your portfolio and network with other interior design enthusiasts, continue your education in all things design through BeSpoak School to equip yourself for the ever-changing challenges and delights of the interior design business.
Photo Credit: (Left) Designer Oasis
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