I’ve worked as a professional interior designer for more than a decade now, and throughout my work, I’ve come across a multitude of misconceptions pertaining to the interior design field. Typically, these misconceptions make themselves known at a first consultation, as clients begin to see that they are getting much more than just a decorator or trend guru. However, I also face them as I work with contractors or suppliers who are surprised to see how much I know about their trades, in addition to my own.
Here are 8 of the most common misconceptions about interior designers that I find prevalent as I go about my work each day:
- They Just Decorate Homes. Nope! That’s the job of an interior decorator. Interior decorators are for homes what style consultants are to people and their wardrobes. An interior decorator comes into a space that is already finished or built, and works to dress it up in style – using colors, fabrics and accents. Interior designers can do all that and more. An interior decorator is educated in trained in architecture, the history of design and basic construction tenets – as well as all the fundamentals of colors, patterns, lighting, lines, texture, and so on.
- You Don’t Need One If You Have a Good Contractor. Unless your contractor is also an interior designer, this one goes out the window as well. While there are “design-build” firms that hire in-house interior designers to work with their clients before the build-out takes place, most contractors are just that – contractors. Their job is to build a home or remodel according to the plans they’re presented by the architect and interior designer. Read, Why Use an Interior Designer For a Remodel or New Home Construction, to learn more about this topic. If you rely too heavily on your contractor for design expertise, he’ll probably tell you to go hire an interior designer!
- They’re mostly women. There was an era when interior decorators and interior designers were predominantly women. Those days are over. Today, there is an increasing number of men entering the field each year, especially now that the remodel and renovation realm is so much a part of pop culture. This gender balance will continue to even out over the next decade or two.
- Interior Designers Are Too Expensive. There are interior designers for every budget. Sure, some interior designers only work for the high-end clients, but most strive to work within their clients’ budgets – regardless of the clients’ net worth. In cases where prospective clients don’t have enough money to pay for an interior designer’s full attention, we can always be hired to work on a consulting basis, providing suggestions, advice and input for clients along the way. And, in fact, many homeowners find that investing a chunk of money on an interior designer at the outset actually saves them money because everything is done right the first time around.
- It’s Their Way or the Highway. Unfortunately, this can be the case for some interior designers, but not most. It’s important to meet with three to five interior designers before you hire one, so you have a chance to get to know them and can select the one with whom you feel the most comfortable being yourself, expressing your opinions and who you aren’t afraid to say, “no thank you,” to if they suggest something you don’t like. While an interior designer may help to broaden your design vision – the finished product should reflect your personal taste and lifestyle.
- Interior Designers Live in Picture-Perfect Homes. Remember those old adages about the cobbler whose children walk around in broken-down shoes, or the contractor who lives in a home with a leaky roof? Well, sometimes when you spend all day and night doing something you love, you don’t always have time to apply that passion to your immediate life. Most interior designers have nice homes, but they look pretty darn normal if you catch them unawares.
- If You Have a Good Eye, You Can Do It Yourself. Yes, those who are creative and artistic and who have a solid understanding of basic color and design principles may not need an interior designer to create their initial design. However, interior designers have something the average person doesn’t: connections with artists, design houses, showrooms and vendors, so they can get rock-bottom prices that independent DIYers don’t have access too.
- Your Home Isn’t “Fancy” Enough For an Interior Designer. There is no home too modest or too small for an interior designer. In fact, the attention from an interior designer can help to take your “modest” home and transform it into a showpiece of sorts. We can make smaller rooms seem larger, we can increase light availability and we can rearrange the furniture and accents you have now to better showcase your home’s best features.
Hopefully this helped to dispel any potential myths you had about interior designers.