Decorator Or Designer?

Decorator or Designer? Design expert Deborah Burnett explores the question of whether you should hire an interior decorator or designer. Over the years, I have had to respond to numerous questions from perspective...

Over the years, I have had to respond to numerous questions from perspective clients but there's always one question that for me is the linchpin for establishing our future working relationship. It's the person's reaction to my answer that for me determines the type of client this person will ultimately prove to be. As a professional registered interior designer and licensed building contractor, I sell a service based on perceived value and that value is in the eyes and pocketbook of the homeowner. The question is of course 'Why hire a designer or a decorator and what is the difference?'


For me the answer has always been simple. On a residential level, why seek professional design and decorating advice? Because it is a service that has both monetary and emotional value. In other words, professional advice allows the homeowner and their family to feel more comfortable in a place they choose to call home. Also, the right professional advice will allow them to feel comfortable with the amount of money they will be spending in order to achieve that level of aesthetic, physical, and emotional comfort found within the confines of four walls.




For commercial projects, it's all about money and safety. Not only the money the finished project will cost, but also the money the finished project will make (bring in) based on the way the property appears. In other words, if two hotels are the same price and one looks out of date and the one next door is freshly painted - where will you stay? As for safety, it's all about knowing the building codes and standards as well as the proper application of fabrics, finishes, and textures in order to give a person a fighting chance in the event of a fire or other life threatening events.

For the average homeowner just seeking advice on how to arrange furniture or what color to paint the walls, how do you go about finding the right professional to get your job done? Simple...first you need to know what type of professional you are looking for. Here's a quick lesson on selecting the right pro for your job!

DECORATOR: A person who is talented in arranging interior furnishings, accessories, and selecting color schemes. No specific education or business credentials are required to establish a practice.

DESIGNER: Same as above; the person just chooses to use the title designer rather that decorator

REGISTERED INTERIOR DESIGNER: A person who has graduated from a four-year college specializing in the field of interior design and is professionally educated, trained, and certified within the field of interior design to be knowledgeable and proficient in the practice of advising a property owner in all aspects of what it takes to make a house function and look great! This person will be aware of the building process, know how to read blueprints, specify finishes, and detail lighting. In addition they will also arrange furniture, select color schemes, and accessorize your home - just like a decorator!

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