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Video: Is Being an Interior Designer Hard or Stressful?

Every job has its disadvantages — interior design included. Read as we share the hard parts of interior design & how real designers overcome these challenges.

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When asked if being an interior designer is a stressful job, on a scale of 1-5 with 5 being very stressful and 1 being not stressful at all, the majority of interior designers we surveyed on Houzz reported a stress level of 3 (average levels of stress). Still, as with any profession, there are challenges that are necessary to be aware of so that you know how best to overcome them when they arise in your career. 

This article will cover some of the more stressful aspects of interior design, such as getting hired, working with tough clients, managing challenging timelines and more. We’ll also share solutions for each of these challenges so you have the knowledge and power to move ahead in your career. But first, watch and listen to see how real pros tackle challenges in their day-to-day.

Disadvantages of being an interior designer & how to get around them

Read on to explore what interior designers struggle with and learn solutions to overcome these common challenges. 

Getting hired without prior work experience

It can sometimes be challenging to get hired as an interior designer without previous experience in your job history, as clients or firms may want to see samples of your work and have proof that you know your stuff. But this isn’t always the case.


As interior designer Ula Burgiel shares, “Check if there are any specific laws regulating [interior design] in your state or country, for example, if you need a license. In the majority of places you don’t, which means you can become an interior designer without a degree or going back to school, especially if you want to design private homes.” 

There are also plenty of opportunities to gain experience as an interior designer, such as taking classes, earning a certification or working as an intern so you can add to your background before seeking clients or roles.

Learning technical skills

While working as an interior designer is a highly creative field, mastering the technical skills required can make being an interior designer hard. Designers often need to be skilled in sketching, digital imaging, computer assisted design (CAD) and 3D modeling.


There are many affordable and accessible training courses available to learn technical interior design skills, whether online or at a local community college or trade school.  Explore any of our guides to find the best interior design schools, interior design certification programs and interior design communities to join that can help you build expertise in this area.

Working with tough clients

According to a Houzz survey, 7% of interior designers report that working with challenging clients is their least favorite part of the job, but far more share that client work is part of the more rewarding aspects of interior design.


While conflicts about budget, time and design aesthetics may arise, at the end of the day, it’s important to make your clients happy while maintaining your integrity and fairness — to both your client and yourself. Preparing for tough conversations and scenarios ahead of time can help you be ready in the moment when these situations occur. Check out our free e-book on managing difficult interior design conversations for helpful tips and strategies. 

Managing timelines and fast turnarounds

Timeline constraints can contribute to making interior design a stressful job. From managing vendor delivery schedules to contractor work, there are many moving parts in interior design that can complicate meeting your deadline and contribute to stress.


Carefully planning your project schedule ahead of time using spreadsheets, calendaring, Gantt charts or project management software can help you better manage your project timelines and deliver your designs on time.

Pressure to create something new and unique

You can sometimes feel stressed as an interior designer to push the limits of your designs and creativity. “The stress is always on,” says accomplished architect and interior designer, Lauren Rottet, about important projects and the pressure to create exciting, high-quality designs. 


It’s important to remember that satisfying your clients is what matters. If they want something new and exciting, then that’s the creative challenge at hand, and if it’s not the right fit for you, then you can move on to working with a client that’s more suited for your style. While interior designers can sometimes feel the pressure to create something entirely new, more often than not, clients may want to stick with trends or traditional styles, so you can still create designs of value without always feeling the pressure to be avant-garde.

Low income (early on)

One of the disadvantages of being an interior designer is that your income or salary can be low when you’re first starting out, whether you’re at a design firm or launching your own business. 


Entry level professionals and early stage business owners can expect to work their way up to higher earnings and profits over time. So it’s important to keep this in mind as you’re beginning your career or interior design business so that you can budget accordingly. As interior designers progress, however, earnings can increase significantly. According to a Houzz survey, 64% of interior designers report making more than $100,00 in revenue each year. Learn more about interior designer salaries to get a feel for what you can expect to earn based on the career path you choose.

Time needed to grow your business or client base

Whether you’re launching your own interior design business or developing your client base, time is a big resource (and source of stress) required to grow your career. 


While launching your business or career takes time, a larger share (33%) of interior designers we surveyed on Houzz work between 41-50 hours per week on average, closely followed by those who work between 31-40 hours weekly (26%). So while it may take a full-time schedule, and some additional hours if needed each week to grow your business, you’ll still be able to have a work-life balance while growing your career over time.

Selling big ideas

Being an interior designer can be hard when it comes to helping clients see your vision, which can hinder you from selling big ideas and achieving strong sales.


Using mood boards, 3D floor plans and other visual technology can give your clients a more realistic picture of your design and serve as powerful tools to sell your next great idea. 

Promoting your business and skills

It can be stressful to put yourself out there as an interior design business or to apply for interior design roles and promote your skills. There can be a lot of competition in your field (and advertising dollars required, if you’re a business owner) to get yourself ahead.


If you’re applying for interior design roles at a firm, honing your interview skills is key for making sure you give yourself the best chance of success. As interior designer Sandra Jessica Chavez advises, make sure to research your prospective firm extensively and have questions prepared to ask your interviewer.

For interior design business owners, knowing the latest best practices to market your business is essential: from digital marketing to paid advertising and more. Check out our article, 20+ Ways To Get New Interior Design Clients in 2022, to learn the strategies.

Business, cost and project management

Interior design can be a stressful job managing various aspects of the business or role. We asked interior designers what their least favorite part of the profession is and found that the top stressors are admin work, supply chain issues and coordinating with subcontractors and vendors. 

“I truly love everything about my job except the paperwork. I would rather be creating, shopping and transforming spaces than billing, tracking mileage and filing receipts,” says an interior designer from Drive-By Decorating.


Having an all-in-one solution to help manage your interior design business, projects and finances can be a game changer in reducing stress and streamlining your workflow.


So, is being an interior designer stressful? As with any job, you can now see that interior design has its pros and cons, yet there are plenty of solutions to help you overcome challenges and many rewards, as well. Interior designers surveyed by Houzz in 2022 report receiving a number of benefits as a part of their jobs, including the ability to work from home and receive discounts on products, as well as having access to retirement plans, paid time off for holidays, vacation or sick leave, health insurance, and bonuses or profit sharing. 

Interior designers often choose this career because they get to do what they love—it’s their passion and it’s likely yours, too! So we encourage you to keep exploring all the aspects of this creative and rewarding field. 

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