If a homeowner is struggling to conceptualise their room design ideas, or if the ideas they do have are in need of a polish, then it's a good idea to seek professional advice. A qualified and experienced interior designer and decorator can offer a combination of creative flair, imagination, aesthetic awareness and organisational, analytical and budgeting skills that can help bring a client's hopes for their new-look home to successful fruition.
There is some overlap between interior design and interior architecture, but essentially an interior architect has a slightly wider remit than a simple decorator. They are experts in the relationship between the way a building is laid out and how it is used by those living or working in it, and they are often concerned with large structural changes to the interiors of buildings that are being repurposed to suit modern needs. While many interior design jobs won't require their services, a homeowner may wish to enlist the help of an interior architect in a number of situations: if, for example, you are changing the function of a room rather than simply upgrading how it looks, or if you are planning a radical remodelling of your dwelling's interior – knocking down walls, changing the position of a staircase, installing an indoor swimming pool and so forth.
Usually, the interior designer or decorator will be involved in all aspects of the home refurbishment from beginning to end. Firstly, they will talk at length with the client to develop a full understanding of their needs, tastes and expectations. Then they will draw up a range of sketches, plans and concept studies using computer aided design (CAD) software and present them for the client's approval and comments. These decorator designs will take into account colour schemes, lighting and any technical issues, as well as health and safety and environmental regulations. The decorator will then proceed to project manage the renovation, coordinating with the building contractors and various trades actually undertaking the physical labour and ensuring that the work remains on schedule and on budget. It's also part of their job as a decorator to source everything from paint, fabrics, wallpaper and flooring to furniture, art and antiques, and they might even design, commission and oversee the construction of customised, bespoke furnishings if the client so wishes.
An interior designer can specialise in a number of different areas such as healthcare, hospitality, retail, offices and public buildings. Large interior design companies in London will often deal with a range of these categories, while some smaller firms and freelance designers will focus on only one or two. It's important not to be overawed by high profile credentials and instead to choose a company or individual decorator that works regularly in the field of residential design. It's also sensible to select someone who isn't located too far away. This means that the decorator you choose will be able to visit the site on a regular basis and is likely to have good contacts in the neighbourhood building trade, as well as an understanding of local conditions and regulations. In addition, look at their previous commissions and make sure their interior design ideas reflect your taste and expectations of quality. With all this to bear in mind, finding the right decorator for your home might sound like a tricky and time consuming process, but these days it couldn't be easier thanks to homify – simply scroll through their online directory for a broad selection of experts offering the latest exciting, on-trend decoration ideas and interior design styles.
Clients should expect their decorator to have a degree in interior design, fine art or a similar subject, and to be registered with one or more professional bodies such as the International Interior Design Association (IIDA). They should also have an excellent track record in the kind of work the client is asking them to undertake. Beyond that, there is also going to be a question of personal chemistry. The ideal interior decorator is someone who is on the client's wavelength and understands their aesthetic, and someone it is easy for the client to talk to as various design concepts are explored, refined and tweaked.
Hiring an interior decorator isn't cheap, but it doesn't have to be exorbitantly expensive either. As one would expect, top celebrity designers and well established firms command a premium, but many interior designers are self employed, and a high degree of competition can drive down the hourly rates that they charge. Taking a chance on a talented young freelance interior decorator can be a way to make a saving without compromising on quality. The price of their services will also depend upon how extensive the work to be carried out will be and how deeply they are to be involved. In addition, timing can play a part in interior designers costs – during housing booms, prices can be higher than during downturns. If you're hiring an interior decorator when business is slack, then you can expect to be in a much stronger bargaining position to strike a good deal.
Before meeting with a designer, it's a good idea for the client to develop some preparatory thoughts about the sort of décor they would prefer – or, just as importantly, the kinds of styles they want to avoid. Visual prompts can be extremely helpful – for example, a folder of pages torn from style magazines or some images that you've saved to your phone or tablet. These can then serve as a useful starting point and help to establish some general guidelines. If the meeting is taking place in the designer's office rather than the client's home, then the client might also like to bring along some photographs of the property and the individual rooms that are to be refurbished, as well as a selection of other documentation about the home, its current state of repair, the condition of the electrics and so on. Finally, it's wise to have some red lines in your head concerning the budget and how much you're willing to pay.
While the services of an interior designer or decorator should be adequate for the majority of home renovation projects, there are circumstances where homeowners might also need to consult one of the following:
Architects in London
If you're creating an entirely new property, making substantial additions or alterations to an existing one, or restoring and conserving a building of some age, then you might require the services of an architect. Just like an interior designer, an architect will inspect the site, drawing up plans and elevations, negotiate with contractors and keep the project on track. In addition, if needed they can also apply their design skills to the property's surrounding environment—its gardens, garage, gates, drive, boundary walls and outdoor lighting. Not every architect works on large public and commercial projects; many earn their living dealing with relatively small scale domestic commissions, and homify's directory can point you towards plenty of architectural firms experienced in residential work.
Interior Architects in London
Although also carrying out the work of a general interior decorator, an interior architect is the person to help design a room where this involves key structural adjustments such as changing the position of doors, windows, plumbing and electrics. Their particular expertise is in transforming interior spaces with the application of new building fabrics, features, colours and textures. They will be well versed in computer-aided design and building information modelling (BIM) and able to draw up detailed scale plans ahead of work commencing. They will also be conversant with matters such as building codes and environmental sustainability. Before they are considered to be fully qualified, interior architects generally have a degree in the subject, as well as either an MA or several year's experience.
Kitchen planners in London
Since kitchens are such a key part of the modern home, it's perhaps no surprise that many an interior decorators choose to specialise in this area. A homeowner may want to bring in a kitchen planner if they are particularly keen on having a high-end bespoke kitchen, or if the interior designer they are working with has little experience of kitchen design. There are some circumstances in which you might opt for a kitchen planner rather than a general interior designer. For example, if the kitchen is going to be focus of the house, you might want to have the kitchen designed professionally and save costs by doing the rest of the property yourself rather than with the assistance of a decorator. On the other hand, you can dispense with a kitchen planner if you choose a decorator who has lots of experience with kitchens as well as other parts of the house (an interior designer will often have two or three specialities). A kitchen planner can be expected to deal with fittings, appliances, plumbing, tiling, worktops and all other aspects of the kitchen design. Usually, kitchen planners will have a degree in interior design or a related topic but will have specialised as part of their career progression as a decorator.