Your sanctuary away from the madness of life, your home is your happy place. As well as reflecting your individual personality and style, your space has to work with the way you live, while looking gorgeous. A tall order for some, but for an interior designer or decorator, it’s a challenge they relish with passion!
But if you’re not sure whether to call an interior designer, decorator or both, look no further.
While they may seem like they do the same thing, interior designers and decorators are different in terms of the focus of their work, their accreditation and professional training requirements. They also complement each other perfectly in interpreting your needs while knowing what works. Here’s a quick guide on what you can expect:
Interior Designers – are more focused on the actual design of your building’s interior, safety and how to creatively use your space. They’re the people who you’d speak to when you want to change your home layout, with minor renovations like changing a wall, working out where to put a chimney or fireplace or adding windows or skylights, for example. To do this, they might also work closely with an interior architect for any planning permission issues and sign offs. By using Liverpool-based interior designers, they’re also well placed to find the right contractors to do the job at the right price.
Interior Decorators – are focused on how things look. With an understanding of different styles and themes, they’re the people who blend function and aesthetics to bring ambience, mood and style to your home. You might want a warm, neutral, bright or cheery look and decorators are the people who are able to source the best finishes and special décor touches to add to your home. They’re also great advisors on what works in your home e.g. Scandinavian, minimalist, cottage, contemporary etc. and will work to your brief unless you’d like them to inspire you with ideas.
Set a budget and schedule that you both agree to
Choose local designers and decorators as they know what materials works best in Liverpool
Keep costs down by using locally sourced materials and goods (unless you’d like to splash out on something special and ship it in)
Designers may advise on decoration, but decorators don’t advise on construction matters
As with most designers, interior designers may specialise in the design of particular spaces, which impacts your choice. Where smaller firms or individual designers will focus on specific categories, larger companies would deal with many.
Whoever you choose, it’s always a good idea to find someone who is local. That way they’re able to visit the site regularly; they’re also more likely to have good local building contacts and a clear understanding of the area’s building regulations and other local conditions.
Ask to see a portfolio of other work they’ve done and make sure you’re clear about your taste and expectations to avoid any misunderstandings later. To make it even easier, you can simply scroll through homify’s directory of interior designers and decorators, have a closer look at previous commissions and read up about current trends and styles for inspiration.
Interior designers will find out what your lifestyle and functional needs are before designing the best layout for your room. Using the technical skills they’ve gained through formal training, they are most concerned with spatial planning and interior renovations. Often working with architects, they’ll draw up floor plans and layout drawings and build scale models, while advising on safety standards, building and planning permissions.
Interior decorators will first understand your needs, tastes and expectations. Then they’ll use computer aided design (CAD) software to produce sketches, concepts and plans that reflect the look and feel of the space, for approval and feedback. In these designs, they’ll look at things like lighting, colour schemes, technical issues and health and safety and environmental regulations. As well as project management, they’ll provide you with samples before they begin sourcing everything from paint, fabrics, wallpaper, furnishings, art and flooring. Most importantly they’ll keep a close eye to make sure the project is within budget and on schedule.
The British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) says there are no set fees for decorators or designer. That said, most contractors will bill on a flat-fee, project percentage, hourly or daily basis and will depend on their experience and the project complexity. As a very rough guide though, here’s what you can expect to pay:
Per room: usually for small and fairly easy projects, where fixed fees can start at around it £500 for a concept design, including drawings and samples.
Fixed lump sum: used to split work into stages, where estimated time is multiplied by the hourly rate (concept, design plans, project management).
Hourly: used fairly often where hourly rates start at around £50 up to £150/ hour or more.
Percentage: where fees are calculated based on the overall cost of the project.
As designers are required to understand the technical side of interior structure, they will have completed formal courses and be affiliated to the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID). While there isn’t one course or institution only, you could look for:
An Interior Design, Interior Architecture or Spatial Design course completed at a UK government-recognised university or college or validated by a college or recognised university.
A certificate or diploma accredited by the British Accreditation Council, the Open and Long Distance Learning Quality Council, or another official accrediting UK body. An accreditation by The Society of British and International Design (SBID) is one such highly regarded body that accredits professional interior designers.
The title of BIID-registered interior designer®, which was launched in 2016. The standard adopted is that of the International Federation of Interior Architects/Designers (IFI). Vigorous selection criteria are used, including at least six years’ study and professional experience.
No professional qualifications required.
Have client references and a good portfolio.
Have some sort of qualification in interior decorating from an art college or similar institution.
Before meeting with an interior designer or decorator, it’s a good idea to think about the styles you like. Using something visual (like your personal Homify Idea book, magazine pages, online printouts, images on your tablet) to give you a starting point.
If you’re meeting at their office rather than your home, take pictures of your property and individual rooms. Make notes about its current state and ensure you have a budget limit in mind.
Beyond that, your decision will rest on rapport – how you relate to each other and how that person is able to understand what you have in mind.
Your designer should advise you on planning permission regulations and may work with an architect to ensure the paperwork is done. As a guide though, you will usually need planning permission for these additions and renovations:
Walls (adding, removing or changing in certain instances)
Staircases and walls around staircases.