The Budget-Friendly Interior Designer: How to Learn on a Tight Budget

Think Interior
7 min readJan 28, 2023

Interior design is a creative and rewarding career that allows shaping the spaces where people live and work. However, for many aspiring interior designers, the cost of education and starting a career can be a significant barrier. With tuition fees and the rising cost of living, it can be difficult to learn the skills you need to launch your career without going into debt. However, inspiration and creativity make it possible to learn interior design basics and begin building your career without breaking the bank. This article will explore some budget-friendly and best way to learn interior design, including free resources, networking, and hands-on experience. Whether you are just starting or looking to take your career to the next level, these tips can help to learn on a tight budget and achieve goals.

Becoming an interior designer can be expensive, but learning and developing skills on a tight budget is possible. Here are a few tips to help you get started:

Take Advantage of Free Online Resources

Many websites and blogs offer free tips and tutorials on interior design. Look for websites that specialize in budget-friendly design, or search for DIY home decorating projects that you can try.

Look for Free or Low-Cost Classes

Many community colleges and adult education programs offer classes in interior design. These classes may be more affordable than those offered by private institutions.

Get Hands-on Experience

One of the best ways to learn about interior design is to get hands-on experience. Look for volunteer opportunities at local design firms or non-profit organizations. This will allow you to work on real projects and learn from experienced professionals.

Read Books and Magazines

Many books and magazines cover the basics of interior design. Look for those written for beginners or focusing on budget-friendly design.

Use Design Software

Many design software programs can help to create professional-looking designs. Some of these free or low-cost programs can be a great way to learn about the basics of interior design.

Visit Open Houses and Model Homes

Visiting open houses and model homes can give a sense of the latest design trends and inspire projects.

Network with Other Interior Designers

Joining a professional association or networking group can allow you to connect with other interior designers and learn from their experiences.

Take Advantage of Free Design Tools

Many online design tools, such as Sketch Up, Room Sketcher, and Home-style, offer a free version with basic features that can help to create floor plans and 3D models of design concepts.

Learn from Tutorials and Webinars

Many interior design websites, blogs, and YouTube channels offer free tutorials and webinars that cover a wide range of design topics. This is a great way to learn about different design techniques, styling, and decorating ideas.

Get Creative with Budget-Friendly Materials

Instead of buying expensive designer pieces, consider using budget-friendly materials such as thirsted or vintage furniture, upcycled decor, or DIY projects to create unique and stylish designs.

Use Social Media for Inspiration

Social media platforms such as Integra and Interest are great resources for design inspiration. Follow interior designers, home decor bloggers, and Dyers to get ideas and inspiration for projects.

Participate in Design Challenges

Many design blogs and websites host design challenges where participants can submit their designs for a chance to win prizes or be featured on the website. This is a great way to get feedback on designs and learn from other designers.

Take Up a Part-Time or Freelance Work

Taking up part-time or freelance work in the design field will allow one to work on real projects and gain practical experience. This will also help to build a portfolio and make connections in the industry.

Learn from Others

Take advantage of the knowledge and experience of others by reaching out to local interior designers, architects, or builders for advice or mentorship. Many professionals are willing to share their experience and knowledge with those interested in learning.

Attend Design Events

Many cities host design events such as trade shows, design fairs, and open houses. Attending these events can be a great way to see the latest trends, meet industry professionals, and learn about new products and services.

Take a Gap Year

If you need help figuring out how to start a career, taking a gap year to gain practical experience can be a great option. Look for internships, apprenticeships, or work in related furniture or textile design fields.

Invest in Quality Tools

Investing in good quality tools such as a camera, design software, and a portfolio can help to create professional-looking designs and showcase work to potential clients.

Keep Learning

The design industry is constantly changing, so it is important to keep learning and updating skills. Look for continuing education courses and workshops to help staying current with the latest design trends and technologies.

Create a Portfolio

Creating a portfolio of your work is essential in launching an interior design career. Use it to showcase your best designs and demonstrate your design style and approach.


Building a strong network is crucial to success in any field, and interior design is no exception. Attend networking events, join professional organizations, and connect with other industrial designers, builders, and suppliers.

Shop at Thrift Stores and Yard Sales

Instead of buying new furniture and decor, consider shopping at thrift stores, yard sales, and flea markets to find unique and budget-friendly pieces. You can also find vintage and antique items that add character and charm to a room.

Learn from Other Cultures

Traveling or studying abroad can be an excellent way to learn about different design styles and cultures. You can also find inspiration in traditional or folk art and incorporate it into designs.

Take on Small Projects

Starting with small projects such as decorating a room or creating a focal wall can be a great way to gain experience and build a portfolio without breaking the bank.

Use what You Already Have

Before buying new furniture and decor, consider using what you already have. Rearranging furnishings, adding new accessories, and repainting can give a room a new look without spending much money.

Learn about Color Theory

Understanding color theory can help to create cohesive and visually pleasing designs. Many free online resources can help you learn color theory and how to use it in designs.

Learn about Different Design Styles

Understanding different design styles can help to create unique designs that reflect clients’ tastes and preferences. Look for resources that describe different design styles and their characteristics.

Learn about Space Planning

Space planning is an essential aspect of interior design. It involves understanding how to use space effectively and efficiently. Resources such as books and online tutorials can help to learn about space planning and apply it in designs.

Learn about Lighting Design

Lighting can make or break a design. Learn about different types of lighting, how to use them, and how to create the right ambiance in a room.

Learn about Sustainable Design

Sustainable design is becoming increasingly important in the interior design industry. It involves creating designs that are environmentally friendly, energy-efficient, and that promote well-being. Look for resources on sustainable design and how to incorporate it into designs.

Learn about Ergonomics

Ergonomics is the study of how people interact with their environment. As an interior designer, it is important to understand how to create comfortable and functional spaces for people of all ages and abilities. Look for resources on ergonomics and how to apply it in designs.

Learn about Project Management

As an interior designer, you will manage projects from start to finish. Learn about project management techniques and how to budget, schedule, and communicate effectively.

Join Online Communities

Joining online communities such as forums, groups, or social media groups can be a great way to connect with other interior designers and learn from their experiences.

Experiment with Different Styles

Do not be afraid to experiment with different design styles and techniques. This will help to develop a unique style and find what works best.

Learn about Textile Design

Textile design is an important aspect of interior design. Learn about fabrics, patterns, and textures and how to use them in the designs.

Learn about Furniture Design

Furniture design is also an important aspect of interior design. Learn about different furniture styles, materials, and techniques and how to useTop of Form

Learn about the Business Side of Interior Design

Starting your own interior design business or working as a freelancer requires knowledge of the industry’s business side. Learn about marketing, branding, pricing, and managing clients effectively.

Learn about Building Codes and Regulations

As an interior designer, you will need to understand and adhere to building codes and regulations. Learn about the principles and rules in your area and how they affect the designs.


In summary, interior design diploma certifications are easy for everyone, but not everyone can afford them. However, with an accredited diploma certification, one can become a professional designer and pursue a career in this field. Becoming an interior designer on a tight budget is also possible with persistence, creativity, and resourcefulness. By taking advantage of free resources, networking with professionals, gaining hands-on experience, and learning about different design styles, space planning, and lighting design, you can lay the foundation for a successful career in interior design.



Think Interior

Think Interior provides you with the highest standards of education in interior design to enhance your ability of creating ideas.