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Interior designer, decorator or stylist?


What's the difference? ... and how to choose one....

modern bathroom

Putting together a scheme, choosing the right finishes or re-envisioning a space – these are the things that keep us up at night and can put the brakes on even the most exciting of projects. This is where an interior designer comes in; bringing with them a trained eye, design contacts and the ability to turn your vision into reality. But working together on a reno or build is a long and intimate process, so it’s important to choose well. Your home should be a reflection of you and ideally customised to suit your lifestyle, so it is crucial to find an interior designer who understands and interprets your needs and objectives from the get-go, whose approach aligns with yours and – most importantly – one you feel comfortable placing your trust in. You will be spending a significant amount of time together during the course of the renovation or new build, and establishing a trusting relationship will go a long way towards ensuring things run smoothly and you get the result you're looking for.

What’s the difference between an interior designer, decorator or stylist?

>An interior designer: Typically holds a tertiary qualification in design and is trained in spacial awareness, form and function, problem solving and can produce conceptual and working drawings to communicate their proposed ideas.

>Has an understanding of building practices and documentation requirements.

>Is equipped to design every aspect of the interior including custom joinery, lighting and furniture.

>Can manage trades.

>Provides decorating advice and can select and source items.

>An interior decorator: Provides advice on the aesthetics of your home.

>Is skilled in soft furnishings and accessories and will select and source these items for you.

>An interior stylist: Provides a similar service to an interior decorator. This profession also extends to styling spaces for magazine shoots and other media platforms.

Interior stylists are more focused on the furniture and decorative items to improve a space that may already have good bones. Decorators’ services generally extend to include window treatments, paint schemes and decorative lighting. Interior designers encompass all of the above, with a focus on the built environment, including spatial planning, joinery design and architectural materials selection,The service you choose generally comes down to the scope of your project.

Where should I look for an interior designer?

The best place to find an interior designer is through someone you know who has worked with one in the past. If this is not an option, go online and connect you with interior designers in your area.

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What should I look for on a designer’s website?

Look at examples of their work to get a snapshot of their style, and the type and size of projects they take on.You can determine a designer’s experience based on the extent of their portfolio. An experienced designer is worth paying more for because the outcomes will come more reliably, you need to capitalise on the designers experience - that's what it's all about.The ‘About Us’ page is important – it will give you an insight into the designer’s background, approach, personality and team set-up.Look for consistency in the standard of work a designer delivers.

What questions should I ask a designer?

>Why do you want to be part of this project?

>What are your aspirations for this project?

>Who on your team will be working on this project?

And if you are working to a budget…