There is a falsehood (or should I say many falsehoods) among the general population as to what an interior designer actually does....Read on to discover some typical falsehoods that I want to debunk.
Some think interior design is all about playing with fabrics and furnishings, making everything pretty and perfect. And some think that design is only what they see on popular television shows and is unattainable for themselves. Sadly, television only shows a small part of the profession; there are many other responsibilities that happen behind the scenes, so I am going to attempt to raise the curtains (perhaps floral or damask curtains?) and show you the many facets of what interior designers do and the common misconceptions that I encounter.
Interior designers do the same thing as architects
A very common mistake is to think that interior designers and architects do the same job. The reality is that these professions can involve many different things which are more often than not, very far apart. Generally speaking, interior design has more to do with the art of the building, while architecture is more concerned with the science behind it. Architects design the space itself and interior designers select finishes and help with all other aspects including colour selection, furnishing and decor. On larger projects, an interior designer can be the architects best friend! The two can work well side by side to achieve fabulous outcomes!
Interior Design is all about Decor
Interior design involves much more than just a good knowledge of décor. The practice of interior design requires designers to consider pretty much everything to do with the building of a space that will affect human habitation, including materials, finishes, electrical requirements, plumbing, lighting, ventilation, ergonomics, and intelligent use of space. Interior designers with considerable experience and qualifications will usually be present at, and have an important say during all stages of the construction process, from the initial plans right through to the finishing touches.
Hiring an Interior Designer is very costly.
Depending on the scale of the project, the budget and the time frame you have in mind for finishing it, the price of hiring a professional interior designer can vary dramatically. In most cases, interior designers charge very reasonable fees and the value you get for your money will be worth paying for. If you’re not sure how much your interior design project would cost, you can simply enquire and decide if you are ready to pay for it.
Most people are surprised and often the designer will actually save the client money by avoiding costly mistakes or by advising their client 'money well spent' and 'not value for money' ideas for the project.The designers experience is what the client is capitalising on.
Interior designers only work with very expensive materials.
As every other professional, interior designers can work with both expensive and cheap materials and products. More importantly, they will work within the limits of the budget and requirements you give them as their client. You have to remember that the price of materials is not always crucial to getting the end result you desire. If you’re working with an experienced interior designer, they should be able to recommend you the best quality products at the most reasonable price there is. Again this ability is the result of the designers vast experience.
You don't need to have an education to become an interior designer
There are many people out there that claim that they are interior designers, without having any formal education. Unqualified designers or 'decorators' (as they are often referred to) typically have a short lived career due to a limited scope of projects that they are equipped to work on. However, if they brand themselves as 'stylists' - this can open up many other opportunities. Interior design is a very challenging and exciting profession that includes a variety of tasks and requires a great deal of skills and knowledge not to mention business management which is another story altogether!
The only way you can ensure that you have all the skills you need when you are a professional interior designer, even at an intern level, will be to obtain a formal qualification from a recognised organisation. A career in interior design can be difficult to get started and an accredited course in the subject will give you a head start by providing you the knowledge, skills, and qualifications you need to succeed. It is undoubtedly a competitive field and not for the faint hearted.
Interior Designers make all the decisions for you.
Don’t expect that all decisions on an interior design project would be made by the designer you have hired. He or she will have a lot of recommendations on the way ideas can be implemented, but the final decisions will lie with you. Designers are there to offer options and ideas. A good designer will work closely with you and adhere to your own tastes and preferences to get the best result for your space.
Interior Designers can't work with existing structures, they want to throw everything old away!
The truth is that interior designers always work towards achieving the goals in an interior design plan and each project requires a different approach. It's not always necessary to throw things away and you can keep as much of your old stuff in your new house or space as you want. Your designer will point out opportunities to utilise what you have in order to achieve your brief. Sometimes, existing furniture can block a design, designers can identify if something is blocking you and advise you accordingly.
Eclectic decor is the best aesthetic for mixing the old with the new and worth researching if you have sentimental items you want to incorporate into your decor.
"I don't need an Interior Designer - I can do it on my own"
As we outlined earlier in the article, interior design is a very complex job. You can try and do some of its components on your own, but unless you have the training and understanding of interior design concepts, we think you shouldn’t start any project, small or big without a professional eye. I have seen so many examples of terrible design decisions that the client has asked me to 'fix'. It's not worth risking your dream project, if you have the budget to engage a professional - even if only for a 2 hour initial consultation to get you on track with your vision.
Interior designers always follow trends.
Interior designers always strive to be aware of the new trends in their profession. It might sound strange but I actually try to avoid trends as they tend to have a very short life span for a project. A good designer wouldn’t force you to do something on your project if you don’t like it or you think it doesn’t suit your needs. Trends are interesting to follow, but they are not something every interior designer tries to implement in their work. For increased longevity and a more wow factor result, stepping outside trends is always recommended.
Interior Designers don't need a plan for their projects.
Thi sone couldn't be further from the truth! In fact, Interior designers can’t work without a plan for their project. They need to think about every single detail. A good plan means that as a client you will get an idea on the cost involved as well as the deadline for completion of each stage. Planning is a crucial part of the job of the interior designer. They can help with planing the design itself, ideas and options which can enable you to make decisions more easily. This then allows you to plan more effectively for your project based on those decisions. The designer will help to confirm that you are on track, making good decisions that ensure the best result while eliminating doubt. Your designer can offer great ideas on how to effectively plan your new build or renovation. Organisation is key.
Interior Design doesn't require a lot of time.
Interior design projects can take a lot of time and this usually happens because the whole process requires the attention, skills and knowledge of the many other specialists who work with the interior designer. The designer needs to be able to speak everyone else’s language to be able to make the project plan work. This doesn’t mean that all interior design projects take years to complete – a complex, but very well organised job on a residential property, for example, can take around five months from start to finish. A small renovation or simple repaint can be as short as a week. The planning however may continue in furnishing and decorative elements. Some of my clients attack the project in stages if they are too busy or have limited budgets.
Interior Designers don't need to work to a budget
A good plan always comes with a clear idea of the budget the client has for it. There’s no such thing as “open budget” – interior designers should know what is affordable and what is not, because this can help them make some very important decisions. Give your interior designer a budget to work with if you can or work with their plan to budget before the work begins - that way you will be sure to finish the project (not run out of money). When working on commercial projects, often a designer is responsible for budgeting and trade liaison but for domestic projects, more often the client will project manage and be in control of budgets.
I hope this helps to dispel these old preconceptions and raises the curtain a little on the benefits of using a professional designer for your project.