Do you know the difference between decorating and designing a space? What about a decorator versus a designer? There are some main differences and I speak about this often. Designers can be decorators but decorators are not designers.
Interior decorators adorn a space. Oftentimes they are included in the project after the architectural details are finalized and included for things like paint selection, furniture, window treatments and other accessories. Interior designers have education and knowledge about space that extends beyond just the final touches.
As a designer, I like to be involved in a project before the architectural details are finalized. The earlier, the better. Having worked for an architect, I've learned they do things from one perspective while as a designer, I look at things a bit different. You still need both, but when both a designer an an architect have eyes on a project, it can really become something special-- especially when they're people who have a good relationship and respect for each other. As a designer, I look at how the interior space functions and flows with furniture. Then, layer in other special details like the main material finishes, special features and then furnishings, window treatments and accessories. Typically the design process is broken down into two phases: Phase I - finalizing floor plans/cabinet design, interior hard surface material selection and lighting (all the things you'd need to build the house) and then Phase II - furnishings, window treatments, mirrors, artwork and things you'd need to make the home comfortable and pretty.
As a designer, I do both decorating and design, but the design comes first. This also is what has an impact on the final decorations because things work better when they're planned further in advance and fully thought through.
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