Alex Fulton gives advice on how to turn your interior design dream into a career

Toying with the idea of turning your interior design hobby into a career? Interior expert Alex Fulton gives some sound advice from her own experience


Which provider should I use to get a qualification in interior design? What are your thoughts on the diploma course offered by the Interior Design Institute?

In New Zealand we are lucky to have some well-respected courses offering various options, so it depends on your personal situation. The courses range from a Certificate in Interior Decor at the Southern Institute of Technology (via distance learning) to a four-year, full-time Bachelor of Design, majoring in Spatial Design, at AUT (Auckland University of Technology) so there are many ways, and at various levels, to enter the world of interior design.

The home-based learning option at the Interior Design Institute (IDINZ) is a practical course that allows you to work through 12 modules over 24 weeks (or up to 12 months). It also offers advanced modules you can specialise in once you finish your diploma.

A recent graduate who has just started up her own design business told me the course offered “a good basis for design and an overview of interior design which also included an architecture module. The final module dealt with how to set up your own business and was very handy and practical”.


You’re not professionally trained but have made a career in interior design, what do you think about studying versus learning ‘on the job’?

All those years ago when I decided to become an interior designer, I had a similar conundrum. I had to weigh up whether to spend time retraining or to just go for it and start my own business. In the end it came down to two factors: my stage in life and how I learn. I realised I learn best when I’m on the go.

I wasn’t afraid to ask for advice, to put my hand up when I didn’t know something; I had the passion and drive to find out. In hindsight, it’s probably not the easiest route but it was my route and it worked for me. It’s hard to say which way is best and you’ll have to make the right choice for you.

Can you offer any advice on where to start when choosing a colour palette for a house?

Colour can be confusing and thinking about a whole palette for your house is understandably daunting. Analyse what you like, why you like it and how it will work in your spaces. Identify what feel your interior needs – light and bright, dark and moody, natural and neutral? Do different spaces require a different colour scheme? How does light affect the space and what needs does that create?

A lot of thought, planning and consulting go into choosing colours so spend the time nailing down what you love and what will work for your home. If all else fails, seek some professional advice to cement in a cohesive plan that will tick all your design boxes. I always think that good design just ‘feels right’, as opposed to bad design which sticks out like a sore thumb.

Check out Alex Fulton Design to see some of her inspiring projects.

Words by: Alex Fulton. Images by: Martina Gemmola/

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