Demystifying the Role of an Interior Designer

As we resume our Fall social activities and autumnal gatherings, conversations drift towards the approaching winter and all the projects that have been put on hold for the cooler months. Some of those projects may well benefit from the advice of a professional designer. And the question comes up, "what exactly does a designer do?" So, we thought it would be helpful to demystify the subject for our friends who may have considered hiring a designer and for those whose projects may be helped by the hand and eye of an interior designer.

Generally, a residential interior designer/decorator can help a client design every room and space inside a house. The tools for achieving this include floor plans and elevations that show the placement of everything in a room and their relationship to one another, to windows and doors and adjacent spaces. The perspective of floor plans is from above, so that it becomes easier to see how a room is laid out and how much space surrounds each object. Floor plans are also helpful in sizing the minimum and maximum depth and length of objects, whereas elevations are helpful in sizing heights and widths, since the objects in elevations are viewed straight ahead. Until our computer aided design tools can deliver virtual reality to the desktop in an affordable way, floor plans and elevations will remain among the most popular tools for visualizing how a room or a series of rooms will be designed. Other tools of the trade include reflected ceiling plans and electrical plans, showing the placement of lighting elements and electrical outlets, switches, controls, alarms, etc. To help convey a picture of a room, some designers may provide perspective drawings and renderings, although these are resource intensive and, therefore, are more costly.

Designers will configure an interior space, referred to as a room layout, and they will help their clients choose what goes into a room, including lighting, furniture, fixtures, appliances, accessories, fine art, flooring materials, decorative architectural elements (columns, pilasters, coffered ceilings, architectural glass) and wall coverings e.g., paint, paper, fabric, wood, ceramic, stone, Within each of these categories of objects, surfaces or finishes, the range of materials, colors and "looks" is endless, as are the treatments -- from traditional to contemporary to unconventional; from simple to highly ornamental and decorative.

It should be pointed out that the interior space referred to above applies to non-load bearing interior construction. If load bearing design and construction are required, a designer will then involve a team of licensed practitioners to complete working drawings and specifications, as required by law and/or for regulatory approval.

Good designers have a broad array of skills: they know what is available, where and how to get it, and how to get the project completed. They are able to analyze what is needed, what the client's needs and wants are and how to specify requirements to realize their design concept and visualization.

Another great added value of designers is the access they have to products and services not available to the public through showrooms that sell to the trade. These showrooms feature every imaginable type of furniture, fabrics, trimmings, accessories, window, wall and floor coverings, to name a few. Stock or customized sizes and/or designs are available. These products are an excellent value, given the quality of materials, craftsmanship and creativity inherent in them. And they are affordable!

We hope this has been helpful to you -- please share your thoughts or questions with us.

If you are considering working with an interior designer, we'd love to hear from you!