How to Make an Interior Design Portfolio

Updated on February 17, 2018
lindacee profile image

Linda is a seasoned writer and home-decorating authority. She loves sharing design trends, decor ideas, and useful tips with her readers.

All creative types should have a portfolio of their work to present to potential clients. Think about it, journalists have stringbooks, photographers have digital image compilations and graphic designers have samples that showcase their talents. Find out how the most successful interior designers put their best foot forward by creating professional portfolios.

The first word in making an interior design portfolio is efficiency. Your portfolio should be concise, yet contain all the pertinent information and imagery necessary to make an unforgettable first impression.

Many interior design clients are similar to an HR department flipping through resumes to find the ideal employee. They are looking for an attractive and easily digestible summary -- one that hits the high points and leaves them begging for more. So, how do you accomplish that Herculean feat?

You Can Do It! Here's How:

It is a relatively easy task, provided you are organized and have all of the essential information on hand. Start by compiling images from projects you deem your best work. Include documents and certifications that highlight your abilities and accomplishments. And don’t forget to throw in a client recommendation or two. Remember, you are selling your creativity, range of expertise, specific skills and services.

Follow these steps to make an interior design portfolio to give you the upper hand -- whether you are applying to schools, looking for a position in a design firm or as a business owner bidding on projects.

1. Introduce yourself. Whether you are a high profile interior designer or someone coming up in the ranks, include a brief introductory piece that covers your education, qualifications, experience and overall design philosophy. Highlight and expand on your skills and areas of expertise -- for example, CAD drafting and rendering, commercial space planning, construction management and universal design are skills a client wants to know about.

2. Be a show off. Here is your chance to present your work and demonstrate your versatility. Pick at least five of your best projects, representing a variety of styles and capabilities. These can consist of school assignments (if you are a recent graduate) paid projects or pro bono work. This section should include a breakdown each project in its entirety.

Use mechanical plans in your portfolio.
Use mechanical plans in your portfolio. | Source

State the project location, including start and completion dates. Then describe the client’s directive. Explain the reasoning and inspiration used to arrive at your approved design concept. Take your potential client through each project from start to finish, using “before” photos, floor plans, sketches, sample board images and completed designs to illustrate the progression of your creative and work processes. Include photos to illustrate each stage of your project. Make sure this section follows each project in chronological order.

Include sample board images in your portfolio.
Include sample board images in your portfolio. | Source

3. Select a portfolio format. You will most likely be in a presentation setting with prospective interior design clients, so each project step and its associated images should be of the highest quality.

Your options include wire-bound or binder presentations, foam core mounted pages, a digital version to view from your notebook or tablet computer or a file to send electronically or a CD as a leave behind.

Consider creating both printed and digital portfolio versions to accommodate various client scenarios. Like a good Scout, you must always be prepared!

If you opt for a printed portfolio, choose an understated, yet attractive portfolio case. Pick a size that will accommodate your presentation boards. Remember, your portfolio is a tool to convey the essence of your work, not your personality, so keep the portfolio case and presentation format classic and simple.

Example of a binder portfolio presentation.
Example of a binder portfolio presentation. | Source

4. Don’t overlook the obvious. Include a business card with your portfolio. That way, potential clients will have your contact information without having to ask. Your card should include a logo, name, physical address, phone numbers, email address and website URL.

Include copies of your resume in case you need them.
Include copies of your resume in case you need them. | Source

Also, include copies of your resume and a list of references. You may not need them, but it is better to be prepared than blindsided. If you have the budget, consider a tri-fold brochure highlighting your work and experience in lieu of a resume to leave behind.

5. Keep things up-to-date. As with updating a resume, it is easier to keep your interior design portfolio current by updating it as you complete projects, rather than waiting until your next client presentation. Purge outdated projects as you add new ones. Your portfolio will always be ready for potential clients to view.

Now you're ready to present your talents as an interior designer to the world!

This article is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge. Content is for informational or entertainment purposes only and does not substitute for personal counsel or professional advice in business, financial, legal, or technical matters.

Questions & Answers

  • What advice can you give for a portfolio when applying to an interior design course at a university?

    A four-year Bachelor of Science in Interior Design is a design-oriented curriculum with a rigorous basis theory to incorporate creative problem-solving skills with an understanding of the aesthetic, technological, and behavioral aspects of design. Classes include Design, Design Interiors, Advanced Interior Design, Visual Communication, Interior Design Theory, Construction, Construction Interior Materials and Assemblies, Interior Design Practice, Interiors and Society, Interior Design History, History of Architecture, Environmental Controls, Designing for Human Behavior, Interior Design Internship

© 2012 Linda Chechar

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    • profile image

      Oceaina 

      18 months ago

      I' m a beginner in the design world and I have recently decided to change my major from hospitality and the school I'm applying asks for a portfolio with 5 projects and I'm completely clueless of what to come up with in order to reach their requirements. This article helps me a lot with basic steps and I would like to know more of what a beginner like me should include in my portfolio since I lack of experiences and projects. Thanks a lot!

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      20 months ago from Arizona

      Amal,

      Wix.com has a free interior design portfolio template that looks very slick and professional. Take a look at this link:

      https://www.wix.com/blog/2014/07/interior-design-o...

      Hope this helps. I'm sure there are other free online options as well.This one happen to be my favorite.

    • profile image

      Amal 

      20 months ago

      Hi Lindacee, thank you for sharing your great experience, I'm very grateful, I just have a question, is there any computer application which I can present my works in, I mean a digital portfolio. Thank you again

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      4 years ago from Arizona

      kin, so glad this was helpful to you. The internet offers a wealth of information about art and interior design. Keep reading and learning! :)

    • profile image

      kin 

      4 years ago

      Am really thankful....,I love art and especially studying interior design but unfortunately in Kenya we are not taught many of this things

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Good luck with your interior design career, takerecess! I'm pleased this Hub was helpful. Thanks for stopping by for a read!

    • takerecess profile image

      takerecess 

      6 years ago from USA

      This is great information. I am looking at different interior design schools to apply to and I know this hub will come in handy in the future.

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Ha Simone! Yeah, you'd think anything written or compiled by a creative would be a massive tangle of color, overly descriptive phrases and run-on sentences! This Hub proves even interior designers can show restraint! ;)

    • Simone Smith profile image

      Simone Haruko Smith 

      6 years ago from San Francisco

      It wasn't until I read this Hub that I finally realized that portfolios really ARE the same thing as a resume for artistic types. I had never before considered how important it is that they be concise and whatnot- I had viewed them as big, sprawling, messy things. I'm so glad you've set me straight. :D

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Thank you horst99! I always try to start with the key points and as much info as a topic will allow, then condense it into an easily understandable (hopefully) article. Glad you enjoyed!

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks for the read and comment Riverfish! Visuals do help a great deal. I would also like to start using more charts to break up the text and give readers more variety. Over the next six months we'll have plenty of time to experiment to see what works!

    • Riverfish24 profile image

      Riverfish24 

      6 years ago from United States

      V cool hub! So useful and loved the pictures and video, makes reading & learning so much more enjoyable.

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      TToombs08, thanks so much for reading, commenting and voting! So happy you enjoyed my Hub. Cheers!

    • TToombs08 profile image

      Terrye Toombs 

      6 years ago from Somewhere between Heaven and Hell without a road map.

      Great hub and I love the idea. Well done! Voted up and then some.

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Thanks for the supportive comment, K. It's rather dry subject matter. I'm happy I was able to transform it into an enjoyable read!

    • krsharp05 profile image

      Kristi Sharp 

      6 years ago from Born in Missouri. Raised in Minnesota.

      This is very well written - exactly the advice you are giving in your hub: concise, to the point and easy to read. Very enjoyable. -K

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      Leah, thanks for reading and commenting! Glad you liked my Hub! :)

    • lindacee profile imageAUTHOR

      Linda Chechar 

      6 years ago from Arizona

      CassyLu, Happy I could offer up some inspiration. Thanks for the vote and share!

    • CassyLu1981 profile image

      CassyLu1981 

      6 years ago from Spring Lake, NC

      I so need to do this for my house! I'm having such a hard time deciding on what I want!!! Great hub :) Voted up and shared!

    • leahlefler profile image

      Leah Lefler 

      6 years ago from Western New York

      Great advice - definitely show off when creating a portfolio of your work! I love the bathroom plan above- I would be in heaven if I had such a beautifully designed home!

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