There is a common misconception that these two services are one and the same. Understanding the difference between them is the key to a successful project. An interior designer is usually involved from the inception of the project. They will consider ergonomics, lighting, sound, layout, safety and they will be well versed in building codes and regulations. They will work alongside architects, structural engineers and contractors. An interior decorator will not be involved in the building layout and mainly works with existing spaces, tailoring the aesthetics. Their focus is on furniture, colours and textures that capture personality and style.
Before meeting with the designer, make sure you have collected inspirational images of reference projects, samples and catalogues of furniture or materials that you like. Know what existing furniture you want to keep. Understand the strengths and weaknesses of your space in terms of functionality and aesthetics. This will help the designer understand your style and budget. A good designer will bring together practical design fundamentals and tailor them to suit your taste.
Know what you need
Many interior designers offer a range of services. Always be one step ahead and get what you need from them. You don’t have to sign up for the full package; rather, tailor their expertise to suit your requirements. Services can range from hourly design advice and conceptual proposals to tendering for a contractor and project managing the build.
Find out early on what and when you will be charged. There are many ways you can be accommodated, from time charge on an hourly basis, a lump sum fixed fee, or a percentage of the project costs. This will also be flexible according to the services that they can provide. Designers also often receive trade discounts, so check if they are passing these on to you. Set your budget – not being clear on what you are willing to spend only wastes time. A good designer will not only allocate the appropriate service, but also design a space and source appropriate fittings that suits your budget while also being in your style.
It’s OK to say no
Design is a collaborative effort, and open discussion is usually encouraged. If you feel strongly about something, it is best to say so. It helps the designer understand your objectives and taste, and ultimately the project will progress faster as a result.