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Architect, Interior Designer or Interior Decorator?

So, you've decided that now's the time to ramp up your business and start add a designer to your power team — congratulations! This is a huge step for a developer but we understand that it can be hard to give up you've potentially had complete control over up until this point. However, you start to research and find that some professionals describe their work as interior design while others are interior decorators and some architects will even offer interior services — so what do you do?

The differences can be significant, so you want to make sure you know which one you're hiring is right for your job, before you part with any cash!

Interior Designer and Architects discussing plans


The most specialist role on the creative side, using their construction knowledge and high-level technical drawing skills to design buildings that are functional, safe and aesthetically pleasing.

What do they do?

An architect is able to assess the feasibility of a construction project and come up with creative options for either a new structure, or working within the restraints of an existing building. Some architects will specify interior finishes, but it's often down to the individual practice, more often they are involved with the more technical and material aspects of a building, e.g. heating, insulation, roof type etc.

When do they come on board?

From the very start. Your architect will draw up plans and creating any documentation needed for planning applications. They also work with the construction team throughout the build to ensure quality.

Interior Designer selecting wood finishes for a moodboard.

Interior Designer

A true 'interior designer' has the tech/creative balance of an architect, so not only looks at the visual aspects of a room (making it pretty) but will also be heavily involved in the function and spatial planning to make sure rooms function for their intended end use.

What do they do?

Designers work to enhance the functionality of a room, as well as the look to fit a client brief and budget — from drawing up initial scale plans, lighting, specifying all finishes, even down to placing the last decorative accent.

When do they come on board?

Interior designers are usually brought on in the early stages to work alongside the architect to review floor plans from the end user's perspective. They also work together with contractors on-site to ensure any designs are properly executed and often become the link between client and contractor during a project.

Staging image of plant on coffee table books in a calming white room.

Interior Decorator

What we would say the majority would think of when they think "interior design"...picking paint colours and shopping for furniture.

What do they do?

Good decorators are skilled at turning a blank canvas into a comfortable space. For new spaces they will come up with a decorative scheme, helping clients decide on a style, choose a colour palette, or purchase furniture. They could also be brought in to update an existing space.

When do they come on board?

Generally decorators won't be involved with a renovation or contractors, but will be come on board when the refurb is complete to pull everything together and dress the space.

In the end, choosing the right professional for your job depends largely on the skills of the particular professional, not their job title. Plus property can be a long game so make sure you get on with them!

— C —


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