Interior Design: How to Choose the Right Interior Designer for YouKerry-Anne Mathieson
An interior design professional can help you redesign any space in your home, assist with renovations, or partner with your builder and architect to create a custom home that fits your lifestyle and design aesthetic. From expert advice to implementation, an interior designer provides a range of services.
The Difference between Interior Designers and Interior Decorators
The difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator at its core has to do with scope of work and specialization.
- Interior decorators provide aesthetic assistance for completely constructed spaces. If you have no structural work to be done, a decorator can help you decide on a style, make selections like wallpaper, paint, and furnishings, choose lighting fixtures and accessories, or select window treatments.
- Interior designers can provide decorating assistance AND structural design expertise. In addition to the capabilities listed above, interior designers also specialize in providing design guidance during your home’s architectural design phase, during construction, and beyond. They are often well-versed in working directly with you, your builder and your architect to make design selections that ensure your desired aesthetic is carried throughout the home.
Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions to create functional, attractive spaces that fit your style and benefit your quality of life.
When developing a design plan, interior designers oftentimes include compliance with local codes and regulatory requirements while incorporating environmental sustainability.
Their designs coordinate with the bones and shell of your new home or the existing shell of a home under renovation.
The differences between interior designers and decorators extend to their schooling and credentialing as well.
- Interior designers study color and fabric, computer-aided design, drawing, space planning, architecture, and furniture design. Some states require them to pass an exam and register with a governing council in order to practice as an interior designer.
They may have a degree in interior design and often train with an experienced designer before starting their own business. Oftentimes they are credentialed by the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) or have passed a professional certification exam from the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ).
- Interior decorators are not required to have a degree, certification, or formal training, primarily because they do not have a role in structural planning. They focus solely on the look of a space. Interior decorators may have taken courses concentrating on colors, fabrics, and more, but not to the extent of a designer. Certifications include Certified Interior Decorators International.
Simply put, interior designers often decorate, but interior decorators don’t play a role in making structural design selections.
When and Why You Should Hire an Interior Design Professional
An interior designer is crucial for large custom home building or renovation projects. There are hundreds of decisions to be made, which can be very stressful without someone who really understands your vision to provide design guidance AND tackle the process in a systematic and organized way.
The best time to add an interior designer to your builder/architect team is during the architectural design phase. Before your plans and specifications are complete, be sure to have them reviewed by your builder and your interior designer.
Ideally, you’ll bring your builder and interior designer to one or more of your design meetings with the architect. The collaboration that ensues is guaranteed to create the best version of your future home.
Your builder will be able to guide the home’s design in terms of functionality, budget considerations, and constructability. Your interior designer will incorporate elements, big and small, that will improve the livability and aesthetic of your home’s design.
Bringing all members of your dream team together will also give you a window into how each person communicates and collaborates with each other. This is truly valuable information for the journey ahead.
You can find an interior designer for any size budget or project. Interior designers have a variety of fee and payment structures, so you can work out what you are most comfortable with for your project. Even if your budget is tight, you can still obtain a few hours of consultation or assistance sourcing materials or accents for a reasonable price.
Selecting an Interior Design Professional for Your Project
Your first step in selecting an interior designer is identifying your style and inspiration. You’ll need to know what you want, what your budget is, and the amount of time you are willing to set aside for your project. If you have no firm idea of the type of design you like, seek inspiration for function and style that speak to you and your family.
Before meeting with your interior designer, you’ll want to have a firm grasp on your personal style or the colors and designs that attract you. The best way to convey this is with the inspiration photos you’ve collected.
During your meeting with your designer, you’ll want to confirm you love their aesthetic and also get a feel for how they approach their projects, seek to understand your vision, stay organized, and how familiar and connected they are with the many vendors in your area.
Working with Your Interior Design Professional
First and foremost, be upfront with your budget. Some designers will not take on small projects or budgets. It’s always best the designer knows how much you can spend before beginning a design plan.
Now is the time to iron out communications. Find out how much client involvement the designer prefers and be prepared to make decisions and trust the creative process. After all, you selected this designer because you were inspired by his or her work.
Ask how the designer prefers to communicate and schedule meetings, and make sure that works for you as well. Find out how the firm typically likes to present their designs. Organized Binder? Design boards? Computer models or renderings?
You’ll want to feel comfortable with this presentation method. You’ll also want to make sure you can communicate your thoughts and opinions openly with your designer. It’s important that they listen closely and ask deep questions to really get at the heart of the vision you have for your home.
Educate the Interior Designer
Let your designer know if you have furniture pieces or particular materials that you want to incorporate into your design. Also, keep an open mind and give consideration to the designer’s suggestions. If you understand WHY a certain color or material was chosen, you may find you like the idea.
Try not to evaluate a single design suggestion on its own, but instead evaluate the entire design of the space that it’s in. Interior designers have the unique ability to visualize any color, product, or material in the context of the entire design. As long as you can trust that your interior designer understands and buys into your vision, you can likely trust their individual selections as well.
Ready to build the home of your dreams, but don’t know where to start?