What Tools Do Interior Designers Use?

Artistic ability, color sense and creativity are among an interior designer's intangible tools. Equally important are the actual tools used by designers--their tools of the trade.

Designer sketching
credit: Fabian Buss/iStock/Getty Images
An interior designer sketches a room using colored pencils.

Drawing/CAD Tools

Building Plans
credit: Fuse/Fuse/Getty Images
Interior design plans on a table with a computer.

Drawing tools for sketching room designs and plans include a pencil, ruler, compass, protractor and graph paper.

Computer-aided-design (CAD) software converts initial sketches and measurements into a 3-D plan for the designer and client.

Color Wheel

Thoughtful interior designer looking at a colour wheel
credit: Wavebreakmedia Ltd/Wavebreak Media/Getty Images
A close-up of an interior designer looking at a color wheel on the desk.

The color wheel demonstrates the relationships of primary, secondary and tertiary colors. The wheel helps designers create pleasing color schemes based on a combination of complementary and analogous colors.

Paint Chips

Man Sits at a Table in an Interior Design Shop Discussing a Colour Chart With a Female Shop Assistant
credit: Digital Vision./Photodisc/Getty Images
A designer and client look at paint colors together.

Paint manufacturers produce sets of paint chips or strips of colors for each of their lines. Interior designers use them to select room colors and coordinate paint colors with fabric, furniture and accessories.

Fabric Samples

Young designer looks through sample book
credit: moodboard/moodboard/Getty Images
A designer looks at fabric swatches in a book.

Like paint manufacturers, fabric makers provide designers with books and sample swatches to promote new product lines. The small swatches streamline fabric selection. These tools also assist the interior designer in developing a room's color palette.

Measuring Tape

Construction and Surveyor
credit: mark wragg/iStock/Getty Images
A close-up of a measuring tape, pencil, and screws on a table.

Interior designers rely on measuring tapes to verify and calculate dimensions of interior spaces and furnishings. Rigid tapes measure straight lengths while cloth tapes calculate curved and angled surfaces.

Digital Camera

Men photographing with mobile phone
credit: Adam Radosavljevic/iStock/Getty Images
A man takes a digital photo in a shopping mall.

Digital cameras create a visual record of job sites, furnishings and accessories. Interior designers can download photos into CAD programs and integrate them into design plans.