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To hire a decorator or designer for your home project? Key points to consider

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Taking on a home renovation or decorating project is an exciting yet daunting task. You may have grand visions of your ideal space, but bringing it all to life requires expertise. This leaves many homeowners wondering should hire an interior decorator or an interior designer. While the roles overlap, there are some key differences to consider when making this decision.

What’s the difference?

  1. Interior decorators and designers both assist with enhancing home aesthetics, but their focus and qualifications differ. An interior decorator typically has training in color theory, furniture arrangement, fabric selection, and creating cohesive palettes and styles. They help pull together finishes, furnishings, and decor to achieve the desired look and feel. Their expertise lies more on the stylistic, creative side rather than technical.
  2. Interior designers have more extensive education and qualifications to provide spatial planning, layouts, lighting plans, furniture specifications, and architectural details. Interior designers must pass licensing exams and codes of conduct to practice legally, while decorator credentials are voluntary. Designers work on integral layouts and functional elements in addition to decor. They may have a broader scope working on full home remodels and renovations collaborating with architects and contractors.

Key points when deciding

  • Budget – Due to advanced qualifications, licensing, and expanded scope, interior designers often have higher fees than decorators. If costs are a concern, a decorator may suffice for smaller styling projects.
  • Project complexity – For complex remodels impacting floorplans, lighting, cabinetry, or structural elements, a licensed designer is best suited for the job. Their technical skills can navigate regulations and integration.
  • Personal style – If you have a clear vision of your preferred decor style (vintage, modern, coastal, etc.), a decorator can curate and implement this look through furnishings and styling. Designers take a broader approach.
  • Project management – Designers frequently act as project managers overseeing the entire renovation process. The decorator’s responsibilities are primarily finish selection and styling.
  • Technical expertise – If implementing advanced lighting, media systems, commercial-grade appliances, or materials, a designer is well versed in these technologies. They create the infrastructure decorators adorn.

Hiring the right pro for you

Once you decide between an interior decorator or designer, put thought into finding the right professional for your needs. Be sure to look at past work to ensure it aligns with your taste and vision before hiring. Ask for referrals from past clients to learn about their experience, follow through, and overall abilities firsthand. Check ratings and online reviews as well. Have in-depth discussions with 2-3 top contenders before deciding. Address their specialties, decorators versus designers qualifications, how they approach projects, and communication styles to find the best personal fit. Find candidates who frequently work on projects like bathrooms if bathrooms are your priority or have tackled plenty of whole home designs for large renovations. Narrow expertise is invaluable.

Decorators for styling, designers for remodels

Interior decorators specialize in layering fabrics, finishes, art, and accessories. Their strength is elevating aesthetics and ambiance. interior designer Santa Monicaadds the technical skills for remodeling, spatial planning, building codes, and project execution. While roles can crossover, decorators have less formal training to execute major structural renovations.

The best approach is assessing your project’s specific needs. If undertaking a whole home remodel or renovation, an interior designer brings end-to-end capabilities. For furnishing a room or applying finishes like paint, wallpaper, or flooring, a decorator may suffice. Outline priorities, must-haves, and budget to determine if this is decorating or designing. With large investments at stake in improving your home’s design, it pays careful attention to qualifications and competencies.

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