Which Should I Choose, A Decorator Or An Interior Designer?

Interior Design

Whether you hire a decorator or acquire an interior designer will depend on the type of project you have, and the scope of your project. Maybe what you’re doing in your room isn’t really a big deal, or it’s something that isn’t going to have a huge impact on the space. It could be that you don’t see your project developing much further than, say, a coat of paint, or maybe it just needs freshening up. In these circumstances, I would advise you to select a decorator.

In the past, painters were called decorators. They were the ones that actually did the physical labor. After that, decorators were known as those who could help you furnish or decorate a room. Over time, things became increasingly more sophisticated, especially in businesses and then in homes. Now, top exclusive designers are on the scene brimming with significant educational backgrounds in the technical and architectural realms, and have strong concerns for the health, safety, and welfare of the public. If you have more interest in this, you can do further research to discover the development of the interior decorating and design profession.

Currently, interior decorating and design is a very easily infiltrated field. Anybody with a flair for color or pattern can get into this profession… and even call themselves a professional!! Many have just enough knowledge to make themselves dangerous to a client or potential client.

When I graduated from design school, I garnered my first job with a very high-end furniture store. My passion was for design first, and then selling the furniture and furnishings to bring out the design concept as well as the personality of the client. Part of their salespeople had some level of skill in decorating. This store also employed salespeople that came from very diverse careers and backgrounds outside of design. I found out fairly quickly that furniture stores, including very high-end furniture stores, do not really care about design or what you as a customer will get in terms of design. As furniture stores, whether or not they employ decorators or designers, their number one concern is selling you furniturePeriod. I don’t care what they tell you otherwise. Their profit comes from selling you furniture.

Independent decorators and interior designers generally are not beholden to any one particular furniture store or line of furniture. Some work through furniture stores, even though they are on their own. Others prefer showrooms.

When comparing decorators and designers, there is an overwhelmingly large range of talents and skills. Unfortunately for the uninformed client, you definately can’t rely on the title they assigned to themselves to be able to distinguish which is which, either! Some independent decorators and interior designers only work in their own preferred personal style and look. They are quite comfortable because they limit themselves to their one favorite specific genre. Others are only comfortable working with the types of furniture and styles that they personally like and are comfortable with. If for some reason you choose to work with them, you are basically buying what they like. So, in essence, you are buying their look or brand. Coincidentally, everyone else that uses them gets their look or brand, too! So the interior of your house may very well look extremely similar to someone else’s house. Where is the individuality and uniqueness in that? Therefore, your personality and the look and ambiance that you want or need is partially or totally submerged by the look the decorator or designer would prefer to impose on you based on the personality and aesthetic preferences of the decorator or designer! So, whose house is it, anyway? Who pays the house payment? I think you get my point here.

When it comes to selecting an interior decorator or designer, you must be careful. Realize that you can rank interior decorators and designers in categories from kindergarten level, all the way up to Masters, Ph.D., and Doctorate. Or if you prefer, you can rank them from 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest. To judge properly, you have to know what you’re looking for and what constitutes top-level interior design schemes. If you need a level 8 to 10 interior, don’t mistakenly hire a level 7 designer. This reminds me of a quote from one of Clint Eastwoods’ movies, “A man’s (or woman’s) got to know his (her) limitations.” If you as a client don’t know the decorator or designers limitations, relative to what you need, then the next line from one of Clint Eastwoods’ movies is appropriate for you. “Are you feeling lucky?” Well, you’re going to need a lot a luck if your interior decorator or designer is underpowered and lacking in talent and ability!

Choosing an interior designer is like purchasing a good sports car. You’re buying the two-seater for the excitement and pleasure of driving it, and looking at it. Some of you wouldn’t even mind being admired while you’re driving it! You always want the one with more horsepower and speed than what you’ll really use every day. It’s important. Picture this with me. You’re in the driver’s seat of your recently purchased high-powered machine, enjoying the fast lane of the highway. Uh oh! You’re becoming trapped! The space quickly narrows between the guard rail on your left side, and the truck encroaching into your lane on your right. Intense fear and panic strikes. Wait a minute! You’ve already invested in peace of mind ahead of time… so you’re able to out-maneuver this pest. Your pre-planning has paid off! What would have been a dangerous, traumatic, no-win situation is now being downgraded to a nuisance and agitation. Unbearable grief has turned into relief. Let’s face it… getting squished would be a bad day! Spending more money up front considerably increases your level of happiness and satisfaction!

Many people have pondered, “Do I really need to get an interior designer?” This can be compared to deciding whether or not to get health insurance or life insurance. It’s better to have it and not need it, instead of needing it and not having it. Both analogies, the sports car and the insurances, point to the fact that it’s better to have more than less. This is also important for your peace-of-mind and your safety. I know the famous minimalist design saying of “Less is more.” However, in most categories of life, it is much better to have more than less, as well as having more than you need. This applies to oxygen, money, health, and food, etc. It’s also knowing “There’s safety in numbers.”

A lot of the automotive commercials claim their product to be “Best in its class.” With every interior decorator or designer that you consider for hire, you must question “What class are you in?” or “What class are you in, which you are the best in?” You also need to find out what their design philosophy is, what level of talent and skill they can actually do in design, how they do it, how they think, and how they set you up for success.

Getting the right designer for you and your project is critical for your success! In truth, it is very much like a mini-marriage. Therefore, you had better get it right! You don’t want to end up in design divorce court. There’s too much at stake. Your time and money need to be invested wisely for design, as well as the furniture and furnishings. As they say, “You get what to pay for.”

I agree with these thoughts from John Ruskin, “It’s unwise to pay too much, but it’s worse to pay too little. When you pay too much, you lose a little money, that’s all. When you pay too little, you generally lose everything, because the thing you bought was not able to do the thing it was intended to do. The common law of business balance prohibits paying a little and getting a lot. It can’t be done! If you deal with the lowest bidder, it is well to add something for the risk you run. And if you do, you will have enough to pay for something better.”

Finally, I’ll end with a great quote from Red Adair that is so appropriate to hiring the right designer for you. “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job… wait until you hire an amateur.”