What’s the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

Interior designers are responsible for designing the layout of the space you live in. This requires a thorough understanding of construction and space planning. This knowledge is backed by formal study and qualifications.

Interior designers also work with the finishes, fittings and fixtures within a room or dwelling. It covers materials such as flooring, cabinetry, lighting, tapware, etc.

Interior designers and interior decorators both work with the decorative elements of the space. These cover things like paint colours, furniture, window treatment and decorative accessories.

When should I call a professional interior designer?

If you are thinking about making any changes to the way you use your home or need a new décor style, consulting with a professional interior designer or decorator before you start will definitely benefit you and your project. Their trained eye will see the options and opportunities you may have missed.

An In Home Consultation or New Home Builders consultation is an ideal way to make the most of your time, effort and budget – even if you do plan to do the work yourself.

What should I do before I contact an interior designer?

Collect a few pictures from magazines or the internet that capture the look, style or colours that you like. Present them to your designer during your initial consultation, they are a great way to communicate and will invite discussion that will enable your interior designer to gain a clear understanding of your ideas and taste.

The interior designer will ask you a few specific questions at the initial consultation.

  • How big is the project – the whole house, a room, major renovation, minor adjustments?
  • What is the purpose of your project? Style update, new renovation or extension or preparation for sale?
  • Are there elements of your current design you are planning to keep? Eg carpet, paint, furniture pieces, art?
  • What is your budget and estimated timeframe for completion?
  • Have you worked with an interior designer before? What did you like/dislike about that experience?

What are the costs?

If you have a budget or general idea of how much you want to spend on your project, let your designer know what that is in the beginning. Providing a budget means that your design can be tailored to suit your budget.

At JLD our basic interior design services are clearly layout for you, and a customised quote can be presented to you after the initial consultation or upon email request.

Be very clear about what services are to be provided;

Are you just getting a report?

Are we project managing it?

Are you ordering the items or are we?

Will we be supplying plans to the builder, council if necessary?

Do you require written schedules?

Do we go shopping with you?

You can have all or any of these things but be precise with what you need so the quote can be as precise as possible with no surprises for you at the end of the project.

When you are considering a full renovation or refurbishment project it’s important to know the logistics and costs before you start.

Do I need a designer if I only want help with furniture?

Often furniture can be as challenging as any other part of the design or decoration process. With the help of an interior designer you can avoid expensive mistakes while gaining a more sophisticated, personalised look than you might achieve on your own. Space planning, function and durability are just some of the elements you need to get right.

Isn’t selecting a colour scheme as easy as finding colours you like?

No, the physics of colour is complex. Simple things such as a strong colour on the floor can make a colour appear washed out or dirty. The type of lighting used also affects the final colour. A designer understands the intricacies of how shadow, light, aspects and even the surrounding environment impact on the final perceived colour. It is important that colour brings ambience to the space that complements the function of the design.

How do I choose an interior designer to work with?

Take some time to browse through various interior designer’s websites. Some designers have a specific look and don’t stray far from that. Others will let design fashion dictate their look. A few will have an evolving style allowing for trends without catering to fashion. To find which designers style appeals to you look at their portfolio. Even if the look or colours are not your taste, take into account how well the scheme works overall.

Make contact with the designer to find out if communication with them feels comfortable for you.

Check the designer’s credentials – Do they have formal qualifications?

Using an interior designer from your local area is advantageous as they can drop into site with minimum notice.

What if an interior designer suggests a style I don’t like?

During your initial consultation a designer will take a through brief from you. A brief is information about your property, the people who live in it, your lifestyle, special needs as well as your desires relating to colour and style.

Communicate with the designer throughout the project. Be honest, if you do not like something, give feedback but also realise design is always evolving and items in isolation may look incorrect. Trust is important, don’t get second, third and fourth opinions from family and friends, a good designer will have drilled down enough into the brief to ensure that they are meeting your needs. Bringing in people from outside only blurs the issue as they have not been involved in the development and probably have a very different style to you.

Be prepared for your design or decoration to be different to what you would choose yourself – within reason, this is why you’ve opted to engage a designer. Give yourself time to get to know your new design or look. Then if you are not happy with an aspect of the design discuss this so your designer can let you know what the options are.

Is Jeannie Little a qualified interior designer?

Yes, Jeannie completed her interior design qualifications in 1995 (Cert IV) from International School of Colour and Design. And has since gained over 20 years industry experience.