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The Benefits of Specializing in a Niche Market in Interior Design and 5 Myth Busting Facts

Updated: Jun 2, 2023

Cover Image featuring Ken Folk, Courtesy of Douglas Friedman

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As an interior designer, you are likely someone who enjoys helping others and creating spaces that are functional and aesthetically pleasing. However, you may also find that the interior design industry can be competitive, and it can be challenging to stand out among the many talented designers out there. One way to differentiate yourself and become more successful in your business is to specialize in a niche market.

Specializing in a specific area of interior design, whether it's commercial or residential, can provide many benefits for your business. For starters, it allows you to focus your efforts and become an expert in that particular area. This expertise can be incredibly valuable to your clients, who will appreciate your knowledge and experience in their specific market.

One interior designer who has seen great success in specializing in a niche market is Kelly Wearstler.

In an interview with Architectural Digest, she explains how she became known for her work in boutique hotels and restaurants: "I started doing small hotels and restaurants, and it was through those projects that I began to develop my aesthetic and hone my craft. I had a very specific vision for the spaces I was designing, and clients responded to that. They could see that I was passionate about what I was doing, and that translated into successful projects."

Wearstler's success in this niche market led to her being recognized by the AD100, a list of the top architects and interior designers in the world. This recognition helped her to expand her business even further, and she has since worked on many high-profile projects, including the Viceroy hotels and residences.

Another designer who has found success in specializing in a niche market is Nate Berkus. In an interview with Forbes, he explains how he started by focusing on residential design: "When I first started out, I knew I wanted to focus on residential design, but I didn't want to be pigeonholed into any one particular style. Instead, I focused on creating spaces that were unique to each individual client, and that approach has really resonated with people."

Berkus's ability to create personalized spaces for his clients has led to him being recognized by the AD100, as well as being featured on television shows like "The Oprah Winfrey Show" and "Nate & Jeremiah By Design."

Of course, it's not just the big names in the industry who can benefit from specializing in a niche market. Any interior designer can find success by focusing on a specific area of expertise. For example, you might decide to specialize in designing eco-friendly spaces, or in creating modern designs for small apartments.

One interior designer who learned the value of specializing is Emily Henderson. In a blog post on her website, she explains how she initially tried to be everything to everyone, but found that it wasn't working for her business: "I was trying to do it all – residential, commercial, small projects, large projects – and it was spreading me too thin. I wasn't able to focus on the things that I was really passionate about, and as a result, I wasn't producing my best work."

Henderson eventually decided to focus on residential design, and her business has flourished as a result. She has been featured in numerous magazines and television shows, and has written several books on interior design.

Specializing in a niche market can be incredibly beneficial for interior designers. By becoming an expert in a particular area, you can differentiate yourself from other designers and provide added value to your clients. Whether you decide to focus on commercial or residential design, or on a specific style or theme, the key is to find something that you're passionate about and that sets you apart from the competition. 5 Tips on How To Develop A Niche Here are 5 tips on how an interior designer can develop a niche within interior design:

  1. Identify your passions and interests: Take some time to reflect on what you enjoy most about interior design. Do you love working with specific materials or styles? Do you enjoy designing for specific spaces or types of clients? Identifying your passions and interests will help you to focus on a niche that aligns with your strengths.

  2. Research your competition: Look into other interior designers who are working within your area of interest. What are they doing well? What unique approaches can you bring to the table? By understanding your competition, you can find ways to differentiate yourself and carve out a unique niche.

  3. Network within your niche: Attend events and join online groups within your niche to connect with others who share your interests. By building relationships with other professionals within your niche, you can learn from their experiences and potentially collaborate on projects in the future.

  4. Stay up-to-date on industry trends: Keep up with the latest trends and innovations within your niche by attending trade shows, subscribing to industry publications, and following influential designers and brands on social media. Staying current with industry trends can help you to stay ahead of the curve and bring new ideas to your clients.

  5. Develop a unique brand and marketing strategy: Once you've identified your niche, it's important to develop a brand and marketing strategy that sets you apart from other interior designers. Consider creating a distinctive visual identity, developing a targeted marketing campaign, and showcasing your expertise through thought leadership content like blog posts and social media posts. By developing a strong brand and marketing strategy, you can attract the clients who are most likely to appreciate your unique approach.

5 Major Objection Myths (and why they aren't true)

Here are some general objections that an interior designer may have regarding focusing on a niche and why those objections may not be accurate.

"Focusing on a niche will limit my potential client base"

While it's true that focusing on a specific niche may narrow your potential client base, it can also make you a more appealing choice to the clients who do fit within that niche. By establishing yourself as an expert in a specific area of interior design, you can become a go-to designer for clients seeking that specific style or type of service.

"I won't be able to offer a wide range of services"

Focusing on a niche doesn't necessarily mean that you can't offer a variety of services within that niche. In fact, becoming a specialist in a specific area of interior design may allow you to offer a more comprehensive set of services that are tailored to your clients' needs.

"I'll miss out on opportunities to work on different types of projects"

While focusing on a niche may mean that you turn down some projects outside of your area of expertise, it can also lead to more exciting and high-profile projects within your niche. By developing a reputation as a top designer within your niche, you may attract more lucrative and high-profile clients seeking your specific expertise.

"I'll get bored working on the same type of projects over and over again"

Focusing on a niche doesn't necessarily mean that you'll be doing the same type of work over and over again. In fact, by honing your expertise within a specific area of interior design, you may find that you're able to develop more innovative and creative solutions for your clients.

While focusing on a niche may involve some trade-offs, it can also lead to a more successful and fulfilling career as an interior designer. By establishing yourself as an expert in a specific area of interior design, you can attract the clients who are most likely to appreciate your unique approach and grow your business over time. Developing a niche within interior design can bring numerous benefits and help an interior designer stand out in a crowded market. By identifying passions and interests, researching the competition, networking, staying up-to-date with industry trends, and developing a unique brand and marketing strategy, an interior designer can establish themselves as a go-to expert within their niche.

Focusing on a niche can also lead to more lucrative and high-profile projects, a more fulfilling career, and a stronger sense of identity and purpose as a designer. While some interior designers may have objections about focusing on a niche, such as limiting their client base or missing out on opportunities, these objections are often unfounded.

In fact, by becoming a specialist in a specific area of interior design, an interior designer can attract the clients who are most likely to appreciate their unique approach and establish themselves as a top designer within their niche. Ultimately, developing a niche within interior design can lead to a more successful and fulfilling career as an interior designer.

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