Coming off a slow start at the beginning of the year, interior design business activity surged in early spring. At present, activity is trending above that of last year, although modestly. Designers overall are optimistic conditions will remain positive going into the third quarter of the year.

After three months of negative growth, the American Society of Interior Designers’ Interior Design Billings Index (IDBI) spiked more than 14 points in March, to 60.4. It declined slightly to 55.0 in April but was still well above the readings for most of the second half of 2018.

Together, March and April’s figures posted the best back-to-back performance since last October and November, when the IDBI hits 50.0 and 53.2, respectively. March’s reading was the highest since May 2017, when the industry was rebounding from the recession.

Designers responding to the April IDBI indicated strong optimism for continued positive activity in the second and third quarters of this year. Reported interior design firm inquiries reached a score of 64.4, the highest since April 2015. The score for designers’ six-month outlook in April was 59.2, just a touch below March’s score of 59.4.

Although data on commercial activity is limited, the American Institute of Architects’ Architectural Billings Index (ABI) also has indicated a modest uptick in commercial projects in April and May of just above 50, with a softening in requests for institutional and multifamily projects. On the residential side, similar to the IDBI, the latest AIA Home Design Trends Survey for the second quarter of 2019 shows a bounce in both residential billings and inquiries at the end of the first quarter of this year by 4 and 5.4 points, respectively.

Other indicators suggest the positive trend will likely continue in the third quarter. The AIA Home Design Trends Survey found demand in the first quarter of the year was strongest for remodeling and renovations, including kitchen and bath projects. However, requests for custom and luxury home projects, as well as for second or vacation homes, were substantially lower compared to the same time the previous year.

Results of this year’s Houzz & Home Study also show large numbers of homeowners have undertaken or are planning to undertake substantial home renovation projects this year, continuing the trend of the past several years. Nearly 9 in 10 of these homeowners hired a professional to assist with one or more projects in 2018 and likely will do so again this year.

As in previous years, about 7% engaged the services of an interior designer, the same as those who hired a kitchen and bath remodeler (7%) but more than those who hired a kitchen and bath designer (5%) or an architect (6%).

Once again, the Houzz survey finds that nearly 9 in 10 homeowners have as their top priority to undertake a remodeling or renovation project to improve a room’s design. More than 8 in 10 do so to improve a room’s functionality.

On average, survey respondents said they intended to make improvements in three interior rooms this year. Putting those figures together suggests designers have considerable opportunity to demonstrate their value to homeowners and to help them achieve the vision they have for their home.