You’ve decided that your home may need a bit of a change, or you’ve bought a new house that isn’t quite right- you’ve decided that the overwhelming amount of things you’d like to change may require some professional help- so where do you start? After a 3 hour caffeinated research frenzy you realize that the list of services vary between designers and decorators- so where do you start? Who do you need? What is the difference?
It’s a common misconception that the term ‘’interior designer ‘and interior decorator’ can be used interchangeably, the differences in education and scope of work they do vary quite radically yet overlap at the same time- drawing the line can be a point of controversy for some design snobs. So without further ado, let’s get down to business:
An interior designer is trained by degreed education at a university over three or more years. They come out with a degree, honours or masters in this field. During this time they’ve spent many painstaking hours, blood, sweat and tears learning and perfecting architectural drafting, building codes and regulations, council submission drawings, working with materials such as wood, concrete, plastics etc., custom furniture designs, various construction materials, space planning, plumbing, electrical & lighting planning etc., They’ve spent weeks & months writing research papers and solving ergonomic, behavioural, structural and aesthetic finishes and fixtures of various commercial & residential spaces.
What they do:
Interior design is in essence the science and art of understanding people’s behaviour and solving structural & aesthetic design problems in new or existing buildings to make the spaces more functional thus improving the quality of life for their clients. To put it bluntly; Interior designers can decorate, but interior decorators cannot design. Interior designers deal with spacial planning, kitchen layouts, bathroom layouts, lighting & electrical layouts, renovation layouts, floor plans & construction & finishing details. At a later stage of the project the interior designer could start creating a style through wall finishes, colour schemes, furniture layouts & custom built furniture.
Who they work with:
Interior designers often work with architects, engineers, contractors & various other vendors that will turn your remodel or build into your dream.
Interior decorators need not have an extensive education in this topic- education can range from a stylish aesthetically oriented house-wife with great taste to certificates and diplomas. Generally speaking (and of course there are exceptions) decorators don’t take part in the planning phase of a home, but rather deal with existing spaces & need not have any formal training except for some really good taste.
What they do:
Interior decorating comes in as one of the last steps in a remodel or build, they arrive at existing structures to create a style, beautify a space or embellish a space. They are primarily concerned with colour schemes, wall finishes, furniture styles, furniture layouts, window treatments, accessories, fabric, upholstery and adornment.
Who they work with:
Interior decorators work with interior designers and architect occasionally, however most of their time is spent working with upholsters, fabric houses, furniture manufacturers, and various other suppliers.
So there you have it! Who you decide to hire depends on your project needs. If you need structural changes & finishes and fixtures in a space and interior designer is the way to go. If you want to freshen up and existing space without structural changes then hire a decorator. The soundest decision however to make is choosing a company that can do BOTH, they can assess your project from a holistic perspective & come up with surprisingly creative and original solutions- you will not only have the comfort of a trained professional but someone with a flair for aesthetics too.