What Is Interior Design and How Is It Different From Interior Decorating?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

To begin this journey, first an attempt must be made to answer the question, 'What is Interior Design'; The National Council for Interior Design Qualification offers up the following definition: 'is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive'. Comparing this to the definitions provided by The Free Dictionary for an interior decorator: 'also called interior designer a person whose profession is the planning of the decoration and furnishings of the interior of houses, shops, etc.' and 'a person whose profession is the painting and wallpapering of houses'

Well it is understandable, based on the two definitions above, why there are two camps. One camp holds that the interior designer is held to a higher standard and has significantly more training and design responsibilities than the interior decorator, and then there are those that bunch them all together as one and the same. There are those that look at the designer as a version of an architect and those that look at them as being a house painter. No wonder there is confusion amongst the ranks.

In an attempt to answer the question, 'Is there a difference or not?', a Google search was performed for 'Interior Decorator Degree' and the response overwhelmingly returned results for 'Interior Designer'; and not the keyword as searched. One can reasonably conclude that since one can get a degree in interior design, but not as an interior decorator, that there is a difference.

So where would one draw the line between a designer and a decorator? Reverting back to the two definitions above one can discern the key difference. The definition for the designer refers to 'built interior environment' whereas the decorator suggests 'decorating and furnishing' as the key activities. The higher standard is the designer's ability and responsibilities to call for tearing out walls, flooring, windows, lighting, electrical, as well as recommending furniture and miscellaneous design pieces. In short, the scope their role includes the responsibilities of a decorator, but goes much further.

Often it is critical for the designer to understand the wants and needs of the individual or company leadership that is hiring them to make a space comfortable and esthetically pleasing to 'the eye of the beholder'; meaning whoever is paying the freight. This will require the designer to ask the question, 'What is interior design through the eyes of my employer?'

Determining just how to customize a small dwelling area up to major corporate businesses like a national restaurant chain that must be attractive to the eye in many different regions of the country with a common design can be very challenging. Requiring a grasp of many different fields including developing and reading floor plans, a knowledge of building codes, and access to a long list of contractors that are capable of doing the work to specification are just a few of the extra requirement that separate interior design from decoration.

Often specializing in unique areas like hotels, casinos, restaurants, or other businesses that may regularly freshen up their designs to keep their businesses looking comfortable yet enticing, designers generally develop skill sets that may not play all that well outside of their special areas of expertise. What they probably are looking for in the interior design of a hospital is most likely a far cry from what they are looking for at a casino. Perhaps a better example would be determining just how to continue on with a southwestern theme for a Mexican restaurant chain in places like Seattle, St. Louis, Charlotte, Pittsburg, and Boston. What is interior design widely accepted in one region may not be well accepted in another.

In asking, 'What is interior design?' in today's environment, one must also begin to start thinking green and to look for ways to minimize the consumption of non-renewable energy sources. How does one create areas with a lot of natural lighting but not subject the individual to the blazing rays of the sun? How does one incorporate solar panels into the design or solar powered floor heaters in colder climates without losing the esthetic charm and ambiance of marble floors? These are the challenges of today's designers. It's a good thing that they love their jobs.

Recession Proof Your Interior Design Or Decorating Business

Monday, May 28, 2012

If you make your living as an interior designer or decorator the current economy has got to be hurting your business. When the economy is slow, many people who might otherwise hire an interior designer or decorator are forced to move such a 'non-essential' service to the bottom of their priority list. If you haven't felt the pinch yet, brace yourself as your business could take a drastic nose-dive during an economic recession. Nobody really needs interior design services, especially in have-not times.

There's also the fact that so many of your days are spent on the business-side of design; negotiating with contractors, waiting for deliveries to arrive, billing, gathering quotes, and so on. This is all time that doesn't directly generate revenue for your interior design or decorating business, and when client billings are already meager, this can really hurt your financial situation.

Maybe you're one of the many trained interior decorators who have ended up working in retail for a 100% commission. If the economy gets worse and you're working purely on commission, where does that leave you? Even in good times, if you work for 100% commission you might as well be your own boss and have the freedom to market yourself to new clients rather than being tied to any one store.

When I decided to take the reigns of my life back and do something that would allow me to profit from my creativity, I considered a career in interior design. I struggled with that option countless times across a 20 year period when I was unsatisfied in my work. I researched, and even interviewed, many interior design schools in my "former life"; but for some reason I never took the step to enroll. I decided with my BA, MBA and a couple decades of experience in business, being in a classroom for two to four years with kids 20 years my junior was not something I wanted to do.

Never mind tuition costs and the tremendous loss of income while you're a student. Then who knows how many years of working experience as a designer or decorator would be needed after graduation to really start earning money. I wanted to unleash my creativity and love for decorating, but I definitely needed to start making money as soon as possible. So, I started my own home staging company.

As soon as my business was launched, the money was coming in. Within my second year as a home stager I was making up to $10,000 per month. Compare that to the median annual salary of $36,150 a year for an Interior Designer according to this year. I'm very happy I trusted my instincts!

If you're an interior designer or decorator and you aren't making enough money, consider adding Home Staging to your service mix or switching to a more profitable career as a Home Stager altogether.

Here a few ways a home staging business can be more profitable than an interior design business:

o As a home stager you get the opportunity to work with different types of people than you would as an interior designer. Generally, only very high income individuals hire interior designers, which limits your target market. Home stagers work mostly with clients in the middle to upper income level which gives you a much larger percentage of the population to market to, and increases the number of projects available for you to work on.

o Home stagers enjoy a higher volume of projects than interior designers because each one is so short in nature. One interior design project might take months to complete (especially when you factor in the wait times to have upholstery done, or furniture delivered), but the average home staging project takes only a few hours or days. There's no way I could have decorated hundreds of homes within a couple of years as a new interior designer, the way I did as a new home stager. With such quick projects, a home stager is able to complete (and get paid for) a significantly higher number of projects per year than an interior designer who often has client work on hold through no fault of their own.

o When the economy is slow, people eliminate the non-essentials. Interior design or decorating isn't really high on the "essential items list" especially when choices need to be made about what to give up, and there's no real deadline to redecorate or renovate a room. In uncertain times, interior design moves way down on the priority list, while home staging move up. No matter how slow the economy is or how much the real estate market has declined, there will always be people who absolutely have to sell and move by a certain date. Divorce, job relocation, job loss, mounting debts, a death in the family or a birth often get people to put their house on the market even if it isn't the best time to sell. When a homeowner is desperate to sell their house, a home stager will often be involved since the seller stands to make a handsome profit from their services. When people have less time, less money or less equity in their house, they need a home stager so they can get whatever they can out of the sale of their home! As a home stager, your creativity and talent for decorating will serve you well in slow economic times and slow real estate markets.

I especially love the amount of creative freedom I get as a home stager. Because my clients know I'm decorating their home to sell and not for them to live in, I am able to execute my creative vision without their interference or taking their taste into consideration. I can't imagine wasting hours sitting with a client who can't decide which color they want for their bathroom, or which fabric to pick for their drapes. My clients don't care what I choose as long as their house will sell quicker because of it. Besides that, my home staging business is extremely profitable which every entrepreneur wants.

If your interior design business isn't doing as well as you hoped, it's not too late to make a change towards living a more creatively fulfilling career that is also more profitable. Do some research into the home staging field. It's a career that is virtually "recession-proof".

Interior Design and Interior Decorating - Some Definitions

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Interior Decoration and Interior Design, although related disciplines, are different in terms of their application. Interior Decoration is the process of decorating a house with regards to finishes (for example wallpaper and paint, choice of furniture and fittings as well as adding finishing touches and decorations such as paintings and objets d'art. All of this provide a certain "feel" to a house but essentially the underlying structure of the house is not changed.

Interior decoration is normally professionally done by Interior Decorators although recently the trend has been for people to learn about Interior Decorating through various courses or books and then apply the techniques themselves-usually on a shoestring budget. The whole objective of Interior Decorating is to make a house aesthetically pleasing and at the same time, unique, since it should reflect the owner's specific personality and tastes.

Interior design on the other hand is more integrated with the architecture of a building and a professional Interior Designer will work closely with architects and builders to make choices regarding the integral design of the whole house or building. This includes looking at choices with regards to room layout, choice of cabinets and tiles and lots of other design factors. While the Interior Design budget for new developments used to be minimal, it is recognized these days that incorporating Interior Design into the project means the difference between a run-of-the-mill development and one that contributes to the branding and life-style image of the project. The money spent on Interior Design is therefore seen as a worthwhile investment in the whole property development process.

Homeowners are spending more and more to improve their homes. Since it is relatively easy to change the appearance of a house by changing the finishings and fittings a large portion of this money goes into Interior Decorating. The growing popularity in do-it-yourself Interior Decorating has meant that a whole industry around Interior Decorating courses, books and TV Shows have also sprung up, and it has become a popular hobby for married couples. Innovative Interior Decoration ideas, which cost less but at the same time giving the impression of style and class, are in vogue.

Young entrepreneurs have also seen the gap and there is a growing demand for information and courses on how to break into the Interior Design and Interior Decoration Industry. This has also given the home {interior decoration industry a boost.

Although the trend recently is for people to tackle the exciting task of transforming a house themselves, it has to be recognized that this falls more in the area of Interior Decorating. Interior Design still requires study of the context of Interior Design, the theory of good design, knowledge of the technical advances in the engineering industry for both residential as well as commercial buildings and knowledge of the latest trends and advances in the Interior Design industry.

In short, an Interior Design project in which all the elements of design are pulled together is still the ambit of the professional designer who should be able to deliver on projects that extend beyond the boundaries of a hobby pastime.


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