The Interior Designer’s Kit bag

From office to car, here are my kit bag items. From what I keep in my kit bag that goes to all my meetings, to the essentials I keep in my car.

As equipment lists go you can start with relatively little as an Interior Designer.

Let’s start with what goes out with me to every site meeting.

Weird things can be encountered when on-site, so this is definitely a case of being well prepared. Better to have and not need, than need and not have!

When I first started out, I worked for an interior design company in Oxfordshire. We did lots of work in Oxford University Colleges (the MOST amazing projects). A lot of the university properties were old – so we came across the normal issues you’d expect such as woodworm, damp, and general disrepair.

On one site visit we did encounter a rather large, dead, rat. It was, if I remember correctly, right in the middle of a space that we had to measure up. So, we measured around him, ears pricked to attention, hoping his mates didn’t pitch up to see what we were doing.

Even more scary than this though was the time we had to go in to measure up for a student rental property. Typically, landlords would ask us to go in and measure up periodically so they could replace carpets, window dressings etc. in between lettings.

This was student accommodation – so you can just imagine what we came across – and the difficulty in measuring a space you couldn’t get in to – let alone walk across.

On one morning, we picked up the keys to a property from the agent and let ourselves in to do the pre-arranged measuring-up (after the normal ringing the doorbell, shouting hello a lot and generally announcing our presence).

It was a pretty filthy student house. We could understand why the landlord wanted to rip everything out and update. As always, we zipped about the property as quickly as possible – a dirty student digs is not somewhere you want to hang about. 

We’d left a particularly messy bedroom to last, and as the newbie it fell to me to pick my way across the room to get some window measurements. I was just finishing up when there was some shuffling, and a sort of moaning noise. Alarmed I looked across at my colleague who was hovering by the door. She was gesticulating wildly, and pointing at the mattress on the floor where the noise and movement was coming from. I’ve never moved so fast.

​We didn’t actually wait around to see what (or who) emerged from under the covers – given the state of the room it wasn’t something we wanted to witness. 

That experience did give me a few extras that I keep in my kit bag for site visits (which are probably now the norm): disposable gloves so that I could move unsavoury items or touch surfaces without completely freaking out, and hand sanitizer to put on when I got back to the car.

That student digs measure up was also the deciding factor in purchasing a laser measure- speeding up the job, but also meaning that in some spaces you didn’t have to go further than the door threshold to get rough measurements for new carpet estimates (a basic length by width will do). 

Here’s my full list of items in my kitbag:

  • Clipboard with plain and graph paper
  • Variety of pens and highlighters (different colours are useful for marking up floor plans)
  • Scale ruler
  • Tape measure and laser measure
  • Fan decks (these are heavy so a reference card might do unless you are specifically doing colour consultancy)
  • Phone (or camera if you are old-school)
  • Business cards & small marketing/promotional pack
  • Shoe covers, disposable gloves, and anti-bac gel
  • Freehand designer sheet (on clipboard)

I highly recommend a freehand designer – it’s always on my clipboard. You’ll never look back! You slip it under plain or graph paper and use it when you draw floor plans. It makes your on-site sketches & scribbles so much neater (and easier to read when you get back to the office).  

Starting out I also had a few extra templates that kept me on track – reminders of measurements to take, window dressing templates and client questionnaires & checklists, but which I don’t use so much now.

And the additional items I keep in my car?

  • Extra shoe covers and anti-bac in case I’ve grabbed a different bag or diverted to site unexpectedly.

I always tend to leave the house with water (and a snack). Then in the boot lives my:

  • Steel toe capped boots
  • Wellies
  • High vis jacket
  • Hard hat

Most construction sites will have spare hard hats and high-vis if it’s a HSE requirement to have them – but I prefer to have my own.

Getting organised prior to meetings, and having all the right kit to hand, can really help you feel confident and knowledgeable.

I hope this information is useful. For more information on the day to day of life as an interior designer follow me on Instagram.