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The Importance of Math for Interior Designers

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Math plays an integral role in the work of an interior designer. Just imagine hiring a professional to design your new home and giving them a budget, only to be hit with extraordinary overruns after the project is completed. A wrong measurement or budget miscalculation on the part of the interior designer can mean that each room looks more like a crowded marketplace than a tranquil, inviting place in which you can live and entertain, or that you need a step stool to see out of your windows.

Learn the Math Basics

Interior designers are strictly regulated and must pass various tests and earn their degree, before being able to practice their trade. Tests include mathematical knowledge about building code specifications. For example they need to be able to accurately determine the requirements for the height and width of commercial stairways, the number of electrical components needed to meet codes, as well as space to accommodate the American with Disabilities Act (ADA) specifications. Interior designers need to read the math in computer-aided design programs, know how to compute space requirements for the number of people using a space and be able to meet ergonomic standards. Interior designers also need math to follow budgets and set accurate fees for their services.

Measure With Tasteful Diplomacy

Accurate measuring is important to figure out which kinds and sizes of furniture will best suit the space. Interior designers need to be able to measure the space and the size of the components that will fill the space. While an eye for contrast and design is important, if the tiny, retro chairs are dwarfed by high ceilings, it won’t matter how pretty they look, the room will look awkward. Without proper measurements of the ceiling, floors and walls, the room may appear uneven, out of whack and just plain wrong. And while an interior designer may know the exact measurements to properly decorate and build a space, the owner’s tastes must be taken into consideration. Math is vital, but it must be tempered with a touch of diplomacy to balance the aesthetics with the practical.

Part of the Team

Interior designers, unlike interior decorators, work closely with the architects, builders, mechanical engineers, electricians and structural engineers on projects. They must be able to read blueprints and to create drawings that include exact specifications for the placement of outlets, doors, windows, countertops and every other aspect of a space. For example, they need to understand how to figure out dimensions using architectural scales. Engineering scales break inches down into variations of 10, and spaces must be measured in terms of planning space, elevation and sections.

The Importance of Accounting

All the math skills used to read blueprints and measure spaces lead to another set of mathematical abilities designers need to develop -- accounting. Sticking to a budget requires the interior designer to carefully purchase the right amount of furniture, lighting fixtures and accessories for the space. It’s vital that interior designers accurately account for every piece to be used in the rooms before making the purchases, so that there are sufficient funds to cover the entire project. They need to be able to predict the number of hours they’ll spend on the job to write estimates and follow an appropriate fee structure.


Linda Ray is an award-winning journalist with more than 20 years reporting experience. She's covered business for newspapers and magazines, including the "Greenville News," "Success Magazine" and "American City Business Journals." Ray holds a journalism degree and teaches writing, career development and an FDIC course called "Money Smart."

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