Learn About Interior Design

Style, color, mood, harmony, contrast, comfort, convenience and fit likely come to mind when considering a new design. Interior design concerns itself with more than just the visual or ambient enhancement of an interior space, however. It seeks to optimize and harmonize the uses to which the interior environment will be put.

Many factors come into play in formulating the design solution:

  • The space itself--its dimensions and construction--with its potential and its limitations. How the space will be used--for work or leisure, entertainment or worship, healing or learning.
  • The meaning of the space, what it signifies--be it power, authority, security, wisdom, achievement, playfulness or serenity.
  • Practical considerations, like ease of access, amount of light, acoustics, seating and places to store or set things down.
  • Health and safety considerations, attention to special needs and more.
  • Psychological and behavior impact of the design.
  • Environmental impact of the design.

For more information, see the definition of interior design developed by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, as well as an explanation of the differences between interior design and interior decoration.

Design Specialties

Designers often specialize in one or more specific types of interior design. Some designers specialize in only residential or commercial (or, contract) projects, but many designers do both residential and commercial projects of various kinds.

The most common types of design specialties are follows:


  • Single home – remodel or addition
  • Single home – new construction
  • Model home
  • Multi-housing (apartments, condominiums, etc.)


  • Office / Branded environments
  • Healthcare and medical
  • Hospitality (hotels, restaurants, bars and clubs, spas and resorts, clubhouses)
  • Retail
  • Government / Institutional
  • Education
  • Entertainment (stage, movies and TV, theme parks)

Some designers specialize in interiors for yachts, cruise ships and private planes.


Many designers approach projects from different perspectives. These approaches to design cut across specialties, such as sustainable or green design, universal or accessible design, design for aging in place, and others.

When you hire an interior designer, you get the benefit of an experienced professional who can solve problems, help you avoid costly mistakes and, most importantly, create a space designed specifically to meet your needs.To find out how to locate a qualified interior designer in your community, check out ASID's free Designer Referral Service.