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Well, fall is nearly here with winter close behind. It’s a time when people turn to refreshing their living spaces. It’s also a time when more people purchase new or existing homes and want to ensure they are as wonderful as they envisioned them.
Many people seek the help of a design professional because they want help with the many decisions involved in home design. Do you choose an interior designer or a decorator?
What’s the difference between a decorator and an interior designer? The distinction is small but important. Interior designers spend many hours of college study and internship before they achieve the distinction of interior designer. Interior designers learn about the history of design, color, style, balance, space planning, reading and drawing floor plans to scale and more.
In many states, in order to practice, they must also be registered. In fact, in Nevada, in order to do specifying, an interior designer must be registered with the state and that means taking an exam, just like a lawyer or doctor. Nevada has only five registered designers.
Specifying means determining placement of lighting or removal of walls in remodeling projects, and the state has other areas that if unregistered we are not allowed to enter.
A decorator is someone who feels they have a gift for making a house pretty and also has the money to get set up in business. Through trial and error they may have discovered some of the things which we learn in design school, but it’s rather like reinventing the wheel. And they may or may not be right.
That is not to say that all interior designers know what they are doing and all decorators don’t. That would be a huge assumption and not a fair assessment of the market. So, how do you choose someone to help you with your home design needs—from blinds to wall color to bedding to accessorizing?
You have the right to interview a prospective interior designer or decorator because you may be trusting them with the comfort and beauty of your home and with a good deal of money. I am not saying that you have to be wealthy to hire a professional, but the products you select will come at a cost to you, in any event, whether you do it on your own or not. Of course you can always opt for a simple design consultation, which may be all you need to move forward.
So, you will want to select someone with whom you have a rapport and who you believe will have your best interests at heart. You want to be sure that they will help you select items that you will be happy with for a long time and that will express your personality and lifestyle.
It is perfectly appropriate to ask for referrals or photos of previous work. You can even ask about how long they have been in business and what their level of education is. Because this is largely a word of mouth business, you can ask these questions with confidence.
If they ask you questions about your lifestyle, what you needs are, how you would like to meet these needs and what your budget is, you are probably on the right track. Be wary of someone who comes into your home and tells you what you want. Also be wary of anyone who wants you to throw everything out and follow the latest trend.
While it is interesting to see what’s happening, trends are just that and it is pretty costly to change with each changing season. It is better to select from the latest offerings those things you feel you can live with for a long time.
A professional will gently lead you toward achieving what you want and help keep you from making costly mistakes. So while it may seem expensive to hire a designer or decorator, in the end it may turn out to be less costly because you get it right the first time.
And, of course, you should do your homework before ever hiring anyone to beautify your living spaces. Look at design magazines, catalogs and TV design programs to determine what you like. As a caveat, though, I have to say that many of those design programs are misleading at best and represent horrible design at worst. Educate yourself first so you can make appropriate decisions.
Of course, you will want to work with someone who represents your values too. If you are an environmentalist, you will want to work with someone who can help you make “green” choices, who will keep as much of your things as possible and who will understand your need to conserve. In today’s world, you can find products that are environmentally friendly and beautiful as well. More and more companies are taking the initiative to become more earth friendly.
With a little research on your part, you can select a professional that will work within your budget and within your own personal, creatively inspired vision.
|Jennifer Mathes, Ph.D.|