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How To Create An Interior Design Niche

You might have heard the saying, “If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one”, so you’ve started researching how to create an interior design niche …

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How To Create An Interior Design Niche

Table Of Contents

Table Of Contents

You might have heard the saying, “If you’re marketing to everyone, you’re marketing to no one”, so you’ve started researching how to create an interior design niche and have found yourself here. Welcome. Before reading the rest of this post, I want you to know that the information here has helped hundreds of my interior design mentees succeed in marketing to get interior design clients, so you can trust that this information has been written with experience and has been extensively tested.

So why do you need to create an interior design niche, and what has it got to do with marketing? Your niche will be what you become known for, an area of specialisation and the part of interior design that you love to work on every day. Having a niche creates a focus for your brand, clients, design services and marketing. It helps potential clients find you and helps them say yes to working with you because you can help solve the specific problems they are looking to solve. Creating a niche also helps you to highlight the specific skills that you have or helps you to notice what you’re lacking (especially if you’re starting out).

Creating a niche is one small part of marketing your interior design business, but it is one of the most important parts because it forces you to make decisions, which is where most designers get stuck. Most designers think that niching down is going to scare away potential clients. Still, in my experience, the clarity resulting from the process of niching ends up doing the opposite – it attracts people to you. It makes it easy to choose you as the right designer because it sounds like you know what you're doing.

My aim with this post is to clarify how to create an interior design niche for yourself in actionable, simple and straightforward steps so that you can start marketing your interior design business. If you want personalised feedback on your niche, I run a mentorship program that guides you through these steps and more. You can read more about it here: Interior Design Mentorship. For now, grab a pen and notebook and let's get stuck in!

STEP 1 | Decide On A USP (Unique Selling Point)

A unique selling point or USP makes you stand out from everyone else. What makes you “you”? What is going to make your interior design services stand out?

Answering these questions early on is essential because they will guide the rest of the process and help you decide what is essential. The first step is to pinpoint and highlight what is specifically unique about you (or your company). An example might be that you love working with a particular style. You should also highlight that you don’t work with a style! That’s great because that will guide the next steps of the process.

ACTION STEP

Write a list of what makes you “you”. What makes you different to other designers? For Example:

Skills & Traits:

  • Great Communicator
  • Excellent Drawing Skills
  • Open Minded
  • People Person
  • Sense Of Humour
  • Polite
Interests & Styles
  • Details
  • High Quality Joinery
  • Fine Art & Sculpture
  • Historic Properties
  • Preservation & Conservation
  • Renaissance Architecture
  • Contemporary Style Interiors
  • Complex Projects
  • Highly Technical Projects

STEP 2 | Choose A Niche

NB: Interior Decorating Is NOT An Interior Design Niche

As I mentioned above, an interior design niche is a specialisation within the field of interior design, but it is not a process or a service. Your niche will inform your processes and services! If you have been researching how to create an interior design niche and have read somewhere else that the following are interior design niches, please know they are not. This is a list of possible interior design services, not niches:

This Is A List Of Possible Interior Design Services, NOT NICHES :

  • Interior Styling
  • Interior Decorating
  • Feng Shui
  • Aging in Place (Universal / Accessible Design)
  • Colour Consulting
  • Home Staging
  • Professional Organising
  • Virtual Design / E-Design
  • Full-Service Design
  • Project Management
  • Conversions

And if you think that the way you work is a niche, you would also be mistaken. This is confusing because we see it everywhere, but these are NOT interior design niches. They aren’t even USP’s, they are processes:

  • From Concept To Completion
  • Working Collaboratively
  • Personalised Service
  • Meticulous Attention To Detail
  • Multidisciplinary Approach … you get my point.

What Are The Main Interior Design Niches?

The good news is that interior design niches are pretty broad, so you can quickly decide where you would like your initial focus to be and to position yourself in the market (and I say initial focus because it’s okay to make a decision that is okay for now – you can always refine your niche or change it later, but you need to start somewhere).

Please note that you can choose more than one in this section, but it is easier to stick with one when you're starting out or until you have an extensive portfolio to avoid confusing your future clients.

NB: This is typically where I see interior designers making the most significant mistakes, so if you’re unsure how to combine two main niches to create an interior design niche, don’t. It is an art that requires extensive experience (or a mentor). Stick with one! The key thing to remember is that you don’t stop here. This is just the first step to creating your niche, so stay broad in your thinking here and remember that this is not a definitive list. Your main niche might not be listed here (if not, write to me below, and I’ll add it!)

Main Interior Design Niches:

  • Aged Care
  • Art Galleries (Private)
  • Commercial Residential (Developers, Landlords, Estate Agents, Etc.)
  • Conservation / Heritage
  • Defence
  • Education
  • Event / Exhibition
  • Government / Public / Not For Profit (Museums, Libraries, Etc.)
  • Healthcare / Medical
  • Luxury*
  • Marine
  • Offices
  • Other Commercial (Hospitality, Retail, Etc.)
  • Private Residential
  • Set & Stage Design
  • Signature Style
  • Transportation (Cruise Ships, Passenger Trains & Aircraft Etc.)

* I almost considered not putting luxury here because many people don’t truly understand the luxury market. However, I chose to include it because luxury can be further broken down into billion-dollar properties, multimillion-dollar and million-dollar. Each is a separate sector of the market requiring a sub-niche.

ACTION STEP

Choose your main niche. For example:

  • Luxury + Commercial
  • Private Residential

STEP 3 | Choose An Ideal Client

You’ve probably heard the terms, target market, ideal client and client avatar whilst you’ve been researching how to create an interior design niche. In creating a client type you want to work with as an interior designer, choosing one type of client type is vital. This can be difficult for most designers, but I promise you that other people will still get in touch, too. You’re simply focussing your marketing on a different group, that’s all. The key here is to consider the problems you can solve for these people. All people listed below hire interior designers because they want more than a pretty property. Consider the specific problems your ideal client might have to deal with, too.

Interior Design Ideal Client Types:

  • Airbnb / Short Let / Holiday Let Hosts
  • Art Collectors
  • Business Owners (Restaurateurs, Bars, Cafés, Salons, Etc.)
  • CEO's / Entrepreneurs
  • Downsizers
  • Expats
  • Families (Young Children, Teenagers, Adults, Etc.)
  • First Time Buyers
  • Homeowners With Pets
  • Hotel Developers
  • Landlords
  • Medical Professionals (Dentists, Doctors, Etc.)
  • Professionals (Single, Couples, HNWI, Etc.)
  • Property Investors / Developers
  • Real Estate Agents
  • Retailers
  • Retirees
  • Second Home Owners / Holiday Homes
  • Small Space Living (High-Rise Apartments, Tiny Houses, Etc.)
  • Up-Sizers

This isn’t an exhaustive list, so if your client type isn’t on here, then choose what feels right. I aim to give you enough ideas to help you create an interior design niche that is okay for now so that you can move forward.

ACTION STEP

Choose your ideal client and write out a typical problem you can solve for them. For example:

  • Hotel Developers – I can express their unique brand within their interior.
  • First Time Buyers – I can help them furnish the house on a tight budget.

STEP 4 | Choose A Sub-Niche

Not all niches require a subniche, but the majority of them do because the industry is so broad. The main niche that gets away with not having a sub niche is a signature style because this narrows down your niche successfully, especially if you’re working with a specific ideal client. In the majority of cases you’ll need a subniche however.

This is where the beauty lies in your speciality; it requires a little more thought and analysis before considering where your expertise lies (or will lie). This is where the magic happens, and it takes a lot of understanding to get to this point. Beyond this, you will also need to do some market research to understand whether your market is big enough or profitable enough to make a living (and that is different for everyone), so don’t make the decision lightly or overcomplicate it unnecessarily. Many of these niches are tried and tested and proven successful and profitable, so don’t try to niche down even further because in my experience, that market will likely be way too small (unless you’re in the super luxury market).

Again, this is not an exhaustive list, but it should open your eyes to how to create a profitable and successful interior design niche. So let’s do it:

Interior Design Sub-Niches:

  • Accessible Design
  • Area Of A Home (Bathrooms, Kitchens, Wardrobes)
  • Area Of Commercial Property (Spa, Commercial Kitchens, Foyers)
  • Biophilic Design
  • Client Type (Families, Professionals, Empty Nesters, Downsizers, Etc.)
  • Lifetime Design / Ageing In Place
  • House Style / Type (Large Estates, New Build Homes, Small Apartments, Etc.)
  • Period Properties (Georgian, Victorian, Brownstone, Etc.)
  • Price (Super Luxury, 1-10 Million, Under 1 Million, Budget)
  • Property / Building Type (Industrial, Highrise, Multi-Use, Etc.)
  • Interior Style (Such As Scandi, Traditional, Bright, Colourful, Etc.)
  • Lifestyle (Busy Families With Young Kids, Professionals Who Like To Entertain, Etc.)
  • Sustainable Design
  • Universal Design
  • Wellbeing Design

But Jo, you say some of these are also services (highlighted in red), and some are ideal client types. That is true, but they are also a speciality at this point. The services will eventually be offered as standard, but the market is yet to catch up with us designers and will require A LOT of educating your potential clients about what you do.

This might change in a few years, so if you choose one of the sub-niches highlighted in red as your current sub-niche, it might be worth choosing a second sub-niche (as long as that doesn’t make your market too small).

ACTION STEP

Choose a sub-niche (or two). For example:

  • The main niche is luxury + commercial, and sub niche is sustainable design.
  • The main niche is private residential, and sub niche is small apartments.

STEP 5 | Piece It Together

Now that the hard work is done, it’s time to piece it all together and create an interior design niche. Even though you have all of the information, you might not use all of it when you write out your niche. That’s okay. It’s also okay to add something in if you feel it’s missing at this point. This guide guides you in moving closer towards creating a successful niche. It requires some thought and a bit of testing and market research. That’s why I spend hours helping my mentees with this. For some people, it’s instant (especially those who lead with a signature style) and super clear; for others, it takes a little while to get it out. Wherever you’re at, it’s okay. You’ll get there!

There is a balance to get it right, and this is why it can feel a little hard at first. What you’re aiming for when creating an interior design niche is something that is specific but not obscure. Remember, it’s humans that we design spaces for, after all!

ACTION STEP

Tie all of your steps together to create your niche. Create an elevator pitch, one sentence describing what you do as an interior designer. Make sure to include what makes you different from other designers. For example:

  • Niche 1 | The main niche is luxury + commercial, and sub niche is sustainable. Hotel Developers – I can express their unique brand within their interiors. "I help hotel developers express their sustainably focussed brand without losing the luxury elements that come with limited sources".
  • Niche 2 | Main niche is private residential, and sub niche is small apartments. First-time buyers – I can help them furnish the house on a tight budget. "My expertise lies in helping first-time house buyers furnish their apartments on a tight budget without sacrificing style".

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Conclusion | How To Create An Interior Design Niche

Creating an interior design niche is straightforward for some people and unbelievably hard for others. Wherever you stand, know that it’s possible to create a profitable niche that feels right for you, no matter what your experience or background is in interiors. There are people out there who will want your skills and style and who need your help to solve their problems in the way only you can.

Remember, if you are trying to market yourself as an interior designer, the first step is to create an interior design niche that feels okay for now. Know that it will change, evolve and grow with you as a designer. My niche has changed many times since I started, and it hasn’t affected me negatively. Of course, you can always take the easy way out and simply lead with a signature style, which is the easiest way to create an interior design niche!

Jo Chrobak

Jo Chrobak

Jo Chrobak is an architectural and interior designer and mentor at the Interior Designer’s Business School that trains interior designers to set up professional and successful interior design businesses and gain experience working on real projects. She is trained in architecture, interiors, business and life coaching and runs her architectural and interior design studio in London UK.
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