I have been doing interior design as a professional for 8 years now. There are a few different things that people say when they found out what I do for a living:
"Oh, that must be so much fun!!!" (True. It is. I love what I do)
"Oh you're a decorator??" (False. This is an entirely different blog post in itself.)
"So what exactly does a designer do???" (A fair question.)
The last one is what brings me to the topic for this blog post. I think there's plenty of confusion surrounding what an interior designer does day in and day out. Anybody watch How I Met Your Mother??
"So Barney, what do you do?" "Psh. Please."
There is also the question of what can a designer do FOR YOU??? The internet's ease of access and the way that businesses are changing to make goods more accessible to the average consumer has altered the way interior designers do business. It probably has many people out there questioning, "what good is a designer when I have all the world at my fingertips?"
It's a valid question. It's one that we're going to clear up today.
1. DESIGNERS ARE PROFESSIONALS.
To bring up the distinction between decorators and designers - the easiest way to determine the difference is a designer is educated in her field. A decorator simply has a knack for it. Some might go to further lengths and say that a designer is licensed. Again, that's a topic for another day. The point is, a designer spent a minimum of four years in school learning how to space plan; create 3d conceptual drawings; draw floor plans in CAD/Revit; learning more than anyone wants to know about fiber content and performance; building codes; lighting and much much more. I have heard it said that the most dangerous kind of knowledge is not that which you know you don’t know (i.e. I know I don’t know how to change spark plugs), but rather that which you don’t know that you don’t know. Take a second to process that and you’ll understand how much there is to know about design that you didn’t know.
2. DESIGNERS HAVE EXPERIENCE.
This may seem like a silly reason, but trust me when I say it's not. Every field has its professionals and while you certainly can go pick out any old light fixtures from Wayfair, your designer is a pro. They have worked with light fixtures and the companies that make them for longer than the ten minutes it took you to find the prettiest bell of the ball...in terms of chandeliers, of course. Chances are, they've learned which companies have good quality, have terrible return policies, or use cheap materials. So, while the world of design is easily accessible, it's still a big big world with a millions things that could go wrong. For lack of a better term, call your designer "insurance" against terrible design mistakes.
3. DESIGNERS HAVE SECRET RESOURCES.
It's true. We've been keeping the best of the best a secret. It's simply the way the industry is built. Some companies sell to the trade only. West Elm and many of these big companies have the same manufacturers that sell directly to designers and have their own mark up as a business. Companies like West Elm have great options for the average Jane, but they probably mark up the same product much more than your designer would if you bought it through them. Designers also know the best flea markets, thrift shops, and Ebay/Etsy stores (which we all know how crazy searching on those websites can be!).
4. DESIGNERS VALUE WHAT THEY DO.
It's often the case that designers are self-employed or work for a small design firm. What this means for you is that we are fully invested in what we do for you. I can't begin to tell you how often I've worked for free because I LOVE. WHAT. I. DO. It's not a good business policy, rather it's usually a lesson learned. *Momma's gotta eat* You can expect that a good designer will do everything in their power to make sure you are happy with your space.
5. DESIGNERS UNDERSTAND THE POWER OF AN ENVIRONMENT.
To me, this is the most important reason to hire a designer for your project. There are entire books on the psychology of home, the workspace, learning environment, etc. Coffee shops are where hipsters congregate to work on their typewriters in large part because the locally sourced reclaimed wood bar, the calming colors of the backsplash tile, the sound of great music, and obviously, the lovely aroma of coffee. It resonates with people. My mission statement about interior design has always been that "interior design is purposed to engage the senses." When your designer knows how to do that well, you've got yourself an excellent interior designer. Personally, I am not here to just pick out the paint color that matches your sofa the best. I’m considering the natural light your space receives, how that effects your mornings. Will this shade of gray look really green and sickly in morning light??? I’m considering if a map of Chicago (your hometown) will have meaning for you. I’m considering if tile throughout your entire house will make it feel cold and sterile (it will, trust me).
So there you have it. The valuable interior designer summed up. Bottom line is, don’t underestimate the power of a good designer. Someone who is really thinking about all the factors that make a home or a workspace can make or break your experience there.