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  • Writer's pictureGwen Canfield

What Does an Interior Designer Do? (and Not Do?)

Updated: Oct 25, 2023

This question is quite subjective and there are many answers depending on who you ask. In summary, it depends on the Designer (or firm). So it's important to ask the Designer what their services include and do not include.

According to Forbes:
"Interior designers and interior decorators are job titles that are often used synonymously. However, each one has its specific job description and function. What’s the difference between the two professions? The short answer is: Designers create functional spaces within a building, while decorators adorn a space with decorative elements."

Interior Decorating

Some Interior Designers choose to focus only on the aesthetics of an existing space. Services may include selection of paint, furniture, wall art, light fixtures, window treatments and accessories. They may also help you choose higher-ticket items such as flooring, tile and countertops. These services may be referred to as interior decorating. Most Interior Designers are happy to provide this service regardless of their speciality. (But ask, just to be sure.)

Interior Design (depends on the Designer)

In addition to the aesthetic services listed above, some Designers may also provide more specialized offerings such as floor plans (CAD), cabinetry planning, and 3D renderings in their list of services. Since these services often involve architectural changes/elements and thus construction work, they are considered to be interior design.

Project Management (depends on the Designer)

It is usually necessary for an Interior Designer to communicate with their clients' builder/contractor at certain times during a project. But project management to oversee the construction process and coordinate the tasks may or may not be in the Designer's wheelhouse. So it's important to ask the Designer whether or not their services include construction project management.

At 615interiors, we do both interior decorating and interior design. We do not provide construction project management. We do have a basic knowledge of construction - it's needed for floor planning. But we are not builders, architects or engineers. We advise our clients to secure a good general contractor to oversee the construction process.

A Word to the Wise

A new build or renovation has MANY moving parts and requires a small army of subcontractors and skillsets. Those skills include demolition, framing, electrical, plumbing, drywall, window/door installation, tile/floor installation, cabinet building, finishing work, just to name a few. To manage all these moving parts, a general contractor will charge around 20% of the total project cost. They will source, schedule, manage and pay all the subcontractors. It's tempting to try and be your own general contractor to save money. And if you have construction experience and a lot of time on your hands, you may be able to do it successfully. But keep in mind, it's a full-time job. We've seen clients become overwhelmed and burned out trying to manage it all themselves. (Even divorced!) And the likelihood of errors and shoddy work is high. Please proceed with caution, as these problems can cost a lot more money to fix down the road.

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