How To Build A Successful Interior Design Portfolio

31 Mar 2021
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Ultimate guide on how to make an appealing interior design portfolio โœจ Useful for both professionals and students ๐Ÿ‘Œ Layout, cover, examples and ideas.

What is an Interior Design Portfolio?

An interior design portfolio is similar to an in-depth, visual, resume showing previous and current interior design project work. A great interior design portfolio shows the reader, rather than tells the reader, why a particular individual should be picked to be a part of a design team or hired by a company. An interior design portfolio demonstrates an interior designer's personality and planning ability. A portfolio includes more pictures than words and focuses on showing an individual's style, sense of fashion and articulates creative processes through imagery. 

An interior design portfolio can be used to send to employers, a freelancing client, a university or college, or to anyone else who will want to see an individual's work before agreeing to work with them on an interior design project.

An interior design portfolio provides examples of an individual’s artistic conceptions and attention to detail and allows others to make an opinion about the interior designer's abilities based on execution and previous experience in the field. An interior design portfolio shows others what you can do, and in most cases, will be representative of your drive and passion in the interior design industry. A portfolio's content can be the difference between getting the position or not, depending on how popular the position is. Therefore, if you wish to pursue a career in the interior design industry - it is within your best interests to learn how to create a successful, eye-catching interior design portfolio.

How to Make an Interior Design Portfolio

An interior design portfolio is a digital portrayal of an individual's design abilities, therefore, it is paramount that the design layout of the portfolio is clear, legible and invokes the senses. There are many fantastic design tools available depending on your budget. Before working on your design conception, you will need to get started with a programme that will host your interior design portfolio. 

There are numerous software programmes which will suit everyone’s needs and abilities differently, therefore we advise you to do a little research before you splash the cash. You may choose Adobe Illustrator, which on an annual basis, works out as $19.99 every month. However, if you are looking to keep your costs low, I recommend the Canva standard version. (FYI the Canva Pro version can be purchased for $12.99 per month). 

The standard version of Canva is great for beginners as the layout is simple and easy to use. Of course, if you are looking for more specific features - paying the price for extra upgrades may benefit you. 

Microsoft PowerPoint is also a popular option because most people are already familiar with the Microsoft layout (Microsoft 365 costs around $70/$100 per year depending on your subscription package and device usage). 

Ok, so once you have settled on which programme to use - you are ready to focus on the layout of your interior design portfolio. 

There is no one specific way to design the layout of your interior design portfolio. Interior design is a creative field and we encourage you to express your creativity in whichever way you see fit. However, there are some basics when it comes to categorising your portfolio content. 

The above video shows how to create an interior design portfolio with cohesive categories using Microsoft PowerPoint. Notice how the vlogger and successful interior designer separates each point which makes the process of going through the portfolio more straightforward and enjoyable for the reader. 

Much of interior design involves attention to detail with user experience always at the forefront, so it is important that your portfolio reflects an organised personality.

Interior Design Portfolio Layout

On the first page, it is wise to start with a short but sweet self-introduction. Why should a client choose to work with you? What is it about an interior design career which excites you? It is up to you whether you choose to add a profile picture to your interior design profile or not, but it can help to add a personal touch and put a face to the name. 

Interior design is a visual art, therefore, it is important to ensure that the colour theme, language flow and legibility of your interior design portfolio all correlate and benefit each other. Some design programmes will have suggested templates which you can use as a starting point, Pinterest can also give you varied design inspiration with a very simple ‘interior design portfolio’ search.  

Canva has a vast array of templates (ranging from Instagram posts, to corporate presentations). You may find it helpful to start with an already put together presentation and add/take away from it using your style. If you do choose to use the Canva route, bear in mind that other people may have used the same template as you - so do try to tweak it to fit your interior design style and brand as much as you can. 

Once you have decided on a colour scheme and style, start by mapping out your categories. Inject as much personality as you can whilst keeping the overall look clean and professional. If you have sketches and mood board samples, also adding those it will demonstrate your thought process from beginning to end.

In general, a successful interior design portfolio layout should look like this:

Once you have decided on a colour scheme and style, start by mapping out your categories. Inject as much personality as you can whilst keeping the overall look clean and professional. If you have sketches and mood board samples, also adding those it will demonstrate your thought process from beginning to end.

In general, a successful interior design portfolio layout should look like this:

  • An about page. Simple, to the point, standard language (avoid too many lengthy words) 

  • Education & Experience in the field

  • A section which outlines your services and promises to the client (e.g I will always take on board requests from you will do everything I can to bring your vision to life.)

  • Examples of your previous projects. 

If this is going to be your first project, instead of including photographs of finished projects, you can use sketches and mood boards to demonstrate what you will be capable of in the future. 

  • Outline the steps you take during a project from beginning to end. 

  • Talk about the benefits of working with you rather than another interior designer. 

Do you/will you go the extra mile to make your client feel included in the process? Or if, for instance, your client would rather take a back seat, will you take charge and make quick decisions for them?

  • Leave your social media handles and contact information. 

Decide on the best way for your potential clients to reach you. Would you rather keep your conversations to email or Instagram direct messages in the beginning stages?

  • If you have them available, leave references on your last page so that the client can be wowed by positive reviews.


Interior Design Portfolio Cover

When it comes to your interior design portfolio front cover, the simpler the better. Consider that loud colours and patterns may not be to everyone’s taste, and if you wish to decorate a variety of properties/buildings/offices - it is best to ensure that your interior design portfolio appeals to the masses. Simple, elegant, earth tones or pretty pastels are popular palettes in 2021.

The front cover should include the words ‘interior design portfolio, your name and the dates of the range of work inside the portfolio. For example, if the first project mentioned was conducted in 2015 and the last project in 2021, write 2015 - 2021. 

Interior Design Portfolio Ideas

If you don’t have any previous experience in interior design and you are a beginner, you can demonstrate your abilities by recreating or reimagining existing designs. 

You could also show how you would decorate different properties based on their existing features. If you do have experience, include as many photos of your projects as appropriate. 

In both cases, it is a good idea to show your working outs right from the beginning. Are you going to select the design of the room based on a particular piece of furniture? Or, did the client (or imaginary client) give you a specific direction to go in, e.g boho or industrial design. 

How to Make an Interior Design Portfolio for College

If you are making an interior design portfolio for college you may like to include a small cover letter after your about page/introduction. This is a good place to summarise why you wish to apply to that particular college or university. In your cover letter, you should talk about your interest in interior design and why the college should give you a valuable spot on the course, compared to someone else. 

Your interior design portfolio will be your chance to impress the selection committee so you should include all high-quality art pieces which you have. Next to the piece (whether it be digital graphic design or a photograph of an oil painting), you should write a short description about the concept behind the work, and all other information such as materials used in the process, etc. 

Professional vs Student Interior Design Portfolio

The biggest difference between a professional and a student interior design portfolio is that the latter might not include any pictures of completed projects, whereas a professional interior design portfolio will mostly consist of photographs of previous work. 

Example of a students potential interior design portfolio page:

Example of a professional’s potential interior design portfolio page:


Words by - Jessica Holmes / SPEXTRUM Overseas Content Marketing Manager


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