These are my top recommendations for software that will enable you to draw or model your designs. Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I earn an affiliate commission if you decide to purchase (*indicates affiliate links). However, I recommend these tools no matter what, the affiliates just help me keep creating content for this site.
Yes, AutoCAD. It’s been around forever, and for good reason. It works. You can create tidy, accurate, precise, and complex drawings with this software. Also, if you’re an interior designer who plans to even occasionally work with architects and engineers, knowing how to use AutoCAD will be a lifesaver. You’ll be able to work with the drawing files they send you directly. No awkward requests for a different file type. No constant need to check information with the architect as you work from the PDF. If you know AutoCAD all the incredible information that gets stored in that file is yours. AutoCAD LT is more budget friendly and gives you all the options you'd need as an interior designer.
Now for interior designers wanting to dive more into the commercial sector – think hotels, offices, etc. – I typically recommend they take some time to learn Revit. It’s made by the same company as AutoCAD, but it is a completely different beast. While it might require a bit of a shift in terms of how you work and how you think about using the software, it can be incredibly powerful in communicating and coordinating complex projects. Even on small simple projects, the coordination of drawings and details can very easily be managed by a single person.
SketchUp Pro really gives you all the tools you need to fully model your ideas. You can create the complex shape of the bespoke piece of furniture you’ve sketched out, you can create the detailed architecture of the space you’re designing. It’s really a powerful program that gives you the opportunity to digitally visualize even your most unique and inspired ideas. Layout is the program that comes with Sketchup Pro and gives you the option to create scaled drawings from your model.
Adobe Photoshop is really helpful in how you can take your rendered visuals to the next level, but it’s also just an incredibly helpful software to know your way around for many other reasons, creating logos, social graphics, editing project photos, etc. Photoshop gives you a lot of options; the key to remember is that you’re using the software as an interior designer not as a photographer. *This is an affiliate link.
Interior designers can use InDesign really effectively to create polished and professional presentation documents. Things like proposals, letterheads, brochures, presentations, project manuals, etc. can suddenly look like the work of a professional graphic designer when an interior designer understands how to use InDesign. See this blog post to see how easy you can make a mood board with InDesign. *This is an affiliate link.
These are some other digital tools I recommend as they can really help you work efficiently as well as showcase your work at a new level. Some of these links are affiliate links, meaning I earn an affiliate commission if you decide to purchase. However, I recommend these tools no matter what, the affiliates just help me keep creating content for this site.
Asana is my project management tool of choice. There are a lot of others out there, but I like Asana because it feels really intuitive. You can track your project work either by the calendar or by a task list. It feels like how a designer works naturally, just via their online system, which can send you reminders and help you keep a lot of different projects all on track.
In today's market an interior designer's website is one of the most important parts of their marketing. To have a solid website up and running, one which you have complete control of, you'll need a good web host. This site is hosted via 1&1 IONOS, and I happily recommend them. They make it incredibly easy to buy a domain and get set up with your WordPress site.
Now, I'm not currently running this website via Squarespace, but I've set sites up before with the platform. If you want a site that's pretty much read to go, just needing your content, then Squarespace is a great choice. The template themes are beautiful on their own and will give you a slick look to your online presence.
If you use G-Suite to manage your email, I really recommend also getting Boomerang for Gmail. It gives you so much power to schedule emails and automate follow ups. Doing any work with clients or contractors will really be made more efficient with this extension.
Today, your social media accounts can play a big role in how you market yourself as an interior designer. However, not many people have the time and energy to be as consistent as they should be to see results. Later is a really wonderful tool to help you schedule your social media posts to help make an active social media presence an easy part of your day rather than a constant headache.
Having an email list is a crucial way of maintaining contact with your potential clients and/or fans. To make this easier on yourself, it's important to use an email service provider. This is a system that's different than your normal email. Mailchimp is what I use. They have an excellent free version for smaller lists, but as you grow, they have reasonable plans, too. *This is a referral link via Monkey Rewards.
As you receive information from clients, having a system for them to make enquiries on your website will be really important. With Ninja forms, you can set up beatiful forms that collect a lot of information. You can also set it up where thank you emails will automatically send to the enquirers as soon as the submit a form.
Autodesk, AutoCAD, and Revit are registered trademarks or trademarks of Autodesk, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.
Adobe Photoshop and Adobe InDesign are registered trademarks or trademarks of Adobe, Inc., and/or its subsidiaries and/or affiliates in the USA and/or other countries.