Within the interior design world, there are professionals who identify themselves as interior designers and those who identify as interior decorators. Both types of practitioners engage in very legitimate disciplines but may have different skills and talents. Both can be of enormous service in the construction and implementation of successful residential projects.

Interior decorators, through their education, experience, and preference, tend to concentrate on the surface decoration, embellishment, and furnishing of interior spaces. These designers are well versed in the range and availability of surface materials such as flooring, stone, tile, paint, wallcoverings, and carpeting, and have broad access to interior furnishings. Their talents can be of value in enhancing the appearance, originality, and functional purpose of interiors, adding to the appeal of finished residential projects.

They keep their eyes trained on emerging trends in the interior design industry, seeking out products and styles reflective of current public tastes, and they can contribute significantly to the creation of spaces that meet the public’s expectations. For real estate professionals and residential developers, the use of their services can result in projects possessing a much higher level of quality and appeal, greatly increasing the sales potential and profitability of residential products.

Some of these professionals specialize in “styling” home interiors— furnishing spaces on a temporary basis with rented or purchased furnishings while adding color, art, and other finishing touches to assist potential buyers in envisioning the potential of these spaces. A finished living space gives a much clearer picture of the living opportunities of a space than empty space itself, which most people have great difficulty imagining for their own use.

The idea of styling home spaces has become, in recent years, a critical factor in the sale of residential real estate. Creating model homes, fully decorated and furnished, is another tool for creating a marketable “buzz” about developments in search of greater exposure to their target audiences. Today’s public in search of residential real estate seeks out sophisticated expressions of lifestyle in making their choices.

Employing the services of qualified interior specialists to enhance this image goes a long way in establishing credibility for any project. Interior designers, again through their particular education and experience, may as well possess a deeper knowledge of space planning and interior architectural detailing. Interior designers can be of great service to architects and developers by exercising greater influence on the interior flow of space and integration of materials with the overall architectural statement desired.

Whereas it is the architect’s prerogative to focus on the design and construction of any project, the addition of an interior designer to the team can contribute greater refinement to the overall aesthetic as well as functional quality of the project. But all too often the addition of an interior designer is seen as an afterthought. The secret to successful integration and maximum effect is to bring the interior designer on board as early as possible in the design process.

This goes a long way in assuring that the designer will understand and enhance the architect’s goals. Qualified interior designers possess enough knowledge of construction techniques to add, not an extraneous layer of detail, but an essential broadening of the design intent of the architect while ensuring that the overall concept will be expressed down to the smallest detail, most relatable to potential occupants of the spaces.

Where to find qualified interior design professionals to participate on the team in successful residential projects? Scouring current design publications for high profile projects exhibiting work that is appealing is one excellent place to start. Professional organizations such as the American Society of Interior Designers have websites with designer profiles and contact information. In many states, interior designers which meet state-approved qualifications for education and experience may be licensed or registered in recognition of their credentials. In California, these designers are known as Certified Interior Designers (CID).

These designers must have passed rigorous testing thresholds and also maintain continuing education standards in order to retain their status. Always check any designer’s business credentials and standing in the community—talent alone does not assure professional conduct. The designer/client relationship is fundamentally based on mutual trust on both sides. So the ultimate test of selecting an appropriate designer for any project lies in evaluating whether this trust can be developed among team players. With mutual trust, anything can be accomplished; without it, every step of the journey could be a difficult one.

2015-dept2Darrell Schmitt FASID, CID is President of Darrell Schmitt Design Associates, Inc. He may be reached at darrell.schmitt@dsdassoc.com.

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