Interior designers are licensed or credentialed professionals who have completed five or more years in an accredited interior design program. We must understand: • Building systems • Building codes, including the International Building Code (IBC), Federal Guidelines for Accessibility (ADA) and Universal Design (UD) principles • Public health, safety and welfare requirements including fire, electrical and plumbing • Construction standards • Human dimension and ergonomics • Volumes of information on product details and specifications
If you’d like to read the full-on official definition as defined by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification, it’s right here: Definition of Interior Design
Are interior designers and interior decorators the same thing? +
Here’s a good way to find out: Call an interior designer an interior decorator and see what happens. Many people confuse interior designers and interior decorators. And, the volumes of creative ideas and information on HGTV, DIY Network, Houzz.com, etc. doesn’t help. In fact, sometimes it makes it worse – like what the heck is Vanilla Ice doing remodeling homes? Interior decorators do not have any requirements for training or licensing. A decorator works only with surface decoration – paint, fabric, furnishings, lighting and other materials. Because no license is required, upholsterers, house painters, and other tradespeople also claim the name “decorator.” In contrast, 18 states have laws that require interior designers to be licensed or registered and to document their formal education and training. Licensing requires earning the NCIDQ Certification to demonstrate experience and qualifications with: • Flame spread ratings, smoke, toxicity and fire rating classifications and materials • Space planning for public and private facilities • National, state and local building codes • Standards regarding the needs of disabled or elderly persons and other special needs groups • Ergonomics • Lighting quality and quantity •Acoustics and sound transmission In short, interior designers are interior decorators too. But interior decorators are not interior designers.
Why do I need an interior designer? +
•Have you sold your home and had to make changes to bring things “up to code” because you didn’t know the requirements when you had the work done? •Have you bought a home and found things that weren’t done correctly? •Do you have the time and desire to manage all of the stages, vendors and contractors for your project? •Do you know who to hire for contractors and where to go for materials, finishes, furniture, lighting, flooring, wall covering, window treatments, artwork, etc.? If you use a good interior designer: •Your project will be sure to meet building codes and standards • You won’t have to manage the project timelines • You won’t need to track the finances of the project. I will will track the project budget and keep you up to date to ensure that we finish on budget. • You won’t need to find and manage multiple contractors • You won’t need to rely on your knowledge of products and sources for products. You will have access to my vendors and I will recommend products for the project. • You will have access to my resources to create custom touches that will make the space uniquely yours
How much does an interior designer cost? +
Interior designers charge by the hour, by a percentage markup on products and services, or a combination of the two. We are “idea people.” You are paying for skill, training, ideas and creativity. When you engage an interior designer, you should expect to pay for their ideas.
How do I find an interior designer? +
To find an interior designer, you should ask around and talk to your friends and coworkers. You should also review portfolios to see what type of work and what style(s) they do. Why? Because you don’t engage a few designers and then pay the one whose idea you like. You’re paying for ideas and expertise. If you’ve engaged a designer you need to collaborate back and forth through maybe a few iterations. The design process takes getting to know each other and determining what you like and what you expect.
What do interior designers do? +
Most interior designers follow the same process:
I meet with you to learn about you and your space: • your needs and wishes • how you plan on using the space • your preferences • what you like/dislike about the space • your budget I will also take pictures and gather measurements
2. Design Plan
After gathering information in the programming stage, I review applicable building codes and any other regulations and standards that will affect my design. Then I create a design to review with you. This is usually a multi-step process as we work back and forth making changes together until we reach a final design.
3. Estimate Costs
Once I have an approved design plan, I put together costs for your approval
In the step, I specify the materials, finishes, and furnishings, like furniture, lighting, flooring, wall covering, window treatments, artwork, etc. Depending on the project, I may also need to submit drawings for approval by your city or municipalities’ building inspector. If a project requires structural work, I will work with an architect or engineer for that part of the project. If needed, I will also choose contractors and write work contracts.
5. Project Management
Finally, I develop a timeline for the project, coordinate contractor work schedules, and make sure work is completed on time. After the project is finished, we will do a walk-through together to make sure you’re satisfied.
How are interior designers credentialed? +
The two main interior design organizations are the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) and International Interior Design Assocation (IIDA). In addition to formal education and professional experience documentation, both the ASID and the IIDA require members to pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.
Does an architect do what an interior designer does? +
No. An architect typically creates, plans, designs the “building shell.” The building shell means the architecture of the existing building, including the framework, the perimeter/exterior walls, the building core and columns, and other structural, load-bearing elements of the building. Interior designers focus on and specialize in the planning of the interior elements of a building’s design. Architectural firms sometimes have interior designers on staff so that they can service a project from design to completion.
Are interior designers also general contractors? +
No. The vast majority of interior designers are not general contractors. They will either work with your contractor to carry out their design, or provide design drawings and documents to your contractor to be carried out. I am both an interior designer and a licensed contractor. I am registered with the PA state attorney general’s office (HIC PA119407) and I am insured for interior design, general contracting, subcontracting and carpentry. This means less work for you. You won’t need to hire a contractor to carry out my design unless you choose to. And it means a smooth translation between your designer and your contractor.