STUDY: America’s 10 Most Interior-Design Savvy Cities

Please include attribution to EliteFixtures.com with this gallery.

Foodies flock to Portland, a city known as the pinnacle of Food Truck fare. Geeks rule in silicon cities like Mountain View, CA. Where do the design obsessed gather to share their love for great looking homes?

As a Elite Fixtures is a company that prides itself on having stylish lighting fixtures to match any décor, we can’t help but be impressed by cities that share an appreciation of amazing interior design. We created this list of interior-design conscious cities where “home sweet home” is more than just a phrase, it’s an art form.  

Top 10 Interior Design Savvy Cities

10. Denver
9. Washington DC
8. Miami
7. Durham
6. San Francisco
5. Atlanta
4. New York
3. St Louis
2. Chicago
1. Boston

Designing Our List

Coming up with such an auspicious list wasn’t easy. We started by curating a list of potential candidates based on population, proximity to design resources (such as schools), and median home prices. We whittled this initial list down to 50 cities.

Next, we had to decide what indicates a “design conscious” city. We couldn’t base it on looks, because, let’s face it, one guy’s “bad taste” is another guy’s “avante garde.” So, we set about finding some concrete data to build an objective ranking methodology.

In the end we settled on 8 key factors that each hinted at how much a given region cared about interior design. When examined as a group, this data set presents a well-rounded picture of whether a city and its residents place a priority on interior design. To arrive at the rankings, cities were given a score of 1-5 on each ranking criteria.

  • How many interior design professionals per capita? (Houzz)
  • How many interior design professionals / square mile (Houzz)
  • How many interior design businesses per capita? (Yelp)
  • The presence of a top ranking design school. (More schools = more points)
  • The ratio of the average living room remodel cost vs. annual income.
  • The ratio of the living room remodel cost vs. home value.
  • The ratio of the average décor spend vs. annual income.
  • The ratio of the average décor spend vs home value.

Interior Design Professionals

We looked at both the number of individual design pros per capita and per square mile to get a complete picture of just how many working interior designers each city had. More designers means more people are paying to have a professional help with the decorating, and that’s a pretty good indication that interior design is a high priority.

Interior Design Businesses

The difference between individual professionals and businesses is subtle, but important. Interior design businesses tend to be larger, take on larger projects and may have a team working together to complete a single design. Individuals may be doing freelance projects, or running start-ups. We see more businesses as a sign of that interior design isn’t just a passing fad, but an established priority rooted in the culture of a city.

Design Schools

Are new designers eager to come learn the latest trends and styles for interior decorating? Today’s student is tomorrow’s trendsetter. So cities with reputable design programs get high marks.

Collaboration and experimentation tends to thrive near schools and universities. Mix in a population of creative students and it’s a recipe for innovative design that we felt would permeate the culture of the city.

Follow the Money

Bank statements don’t lie. How we spend our money is one of the truest indications of what we value as a people. So, lastly, we looked at what cities were spending on interior design projects. We examined the numbers from several angles starting with two questions:

  • How much money are people spending on the average living room remodel?
  • How much do people spend on home décor overall?

We chose living rooms because it’s where people spend the most time. Our thoughts are that people who spend money on the living room are improving their quality of life, while other home remodels may be about increasing a home’s value or just getting more space the kids.

Digging deeper, we took these answers and compared them to the average annual income and average home value. Our goal was to see if we could answer the most important question of all – how much disposable income is being spent on interior design?

We suppose it’s not too surprising that colder cities (where people spend more time indoors) have a higher affinity for interior design. The North East and The South — places known for not wearing white after Labor Day — also made an excellent showing in our list of design conscious cities.

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