The first step is to understand the difference between the two.
The second is to clearly define your project requirements to determine who is the best fit for your needs.
Decorators specialise in the visual aesthetics of a space. They have a knowledge of historical trends, an eye for detail and good understanding of the relationship between patterns, textures and colours. They can be trained or have a natural flair for styling. Decorators aren’t involved with the construction phase and usually become involved towards the end of the project
Designers are more concerned about how the space is laid out and used. Their specialty is in spatial planning and awareness of how the space is being used. They can work closely with architects and builders and are usually involved with the project from start to finish. Because of their knowledge of construction and regulations, they should be qualified with a Diploma.
Where do I look?
Word of Mouth | Yep, tell your friends and family. Tell the girls at work. Usually someone will know someone who has used the services of a designer or decorator. The best part is your referral comes with reviews and you don’t need to lift a finger!
Depending on your needs, you can meet and discuss the project requirements. Designers, builders, and most trades are well networked so if they’re not the right person for you, they will refer you to someone who is.
Online | Good ol’ google can help but be mindful that the top search results will be the more upmarket specialists but you will get what you pay for.
Houzz is a specialist online collection of everything to do with homes. Inspiration, blog articles, useful tips and lists of trades it seems to be an endless source of information.
Magazines | If you’re a collector of these babies, a quick flick through and you will find plenty of local and interstate talent. The great thing about this method is you get to see your designers work and decide if you like their style up front.
Remember these days a decorators don’t necessarily need to be local. These days most will offer virtual services like skype calls and electronic mood boards.
How do I choose?
Wherever you find your designer or decorator, always always always ask to see their portfolio. A quick look at their social media or website should show you this easily.
Secondly, if you’re working with a designer who is getting involved in the construction side of things, ask about their qualifications. You want someone who knows the legal stuff, health & safety regulations and of course building and constructions codes and approval requirements.
Lastly you need to like them. Designers and decorators need to get quite personal and involved in your lifestyle to understand you, your likes and how you roll. Your short list should contain someone you trust and feel comfortable having a coffee with and sharing things about you.
Can I afford one?
YES! Both are specialised in working with constraints like cost and time. As mentioned above, be honest about what you want and how much you can afford. They will take care of the rest.
Discussion about the designer/decorator fees should happen upfront after they’ve looked at your project. Fees can be fixed for defined projects or percentage based for larger undefined projects. Make sure you understand the pricing structure and ask questions before you sign a contract.
Once you approve the quote is when your designer should begin work on the project.
Will I end up with a great result?
A good designer/decorator will ask LOTS of questions including how much involvement you’d like to have in the process and tailor their updates to ensure you’re comfortable.
This is a close partnership and based on trust. By doing your research upfront you should have someone you can trust in making the right decisions. Depending on your involvement, you can instil complete trust in your designer or ask to be part of the decision making.
What will I get?
Each project is unique and services are tailored around this. Designers and decorators should be specialised in and can include these in your service:
- Interpret your needs for function, style and colour
- Develop room layouts to maximise space in a practical and creative way
- Work within your budget and provide fully costed quotations before work begins
- Recommend appropriate materials, finishes and colour schemes
- Specify where required, furniture, lighting and accessories
- Design plans, sketches and 3D imagery of concepts
- Work with other stakeholders, architects, builders and tradespeople
- Project manage all activities and oversee activity and successful completion
- Recommend appropriate finishes to achieve the effect you want
- Work with existing furnishings
What’s the ONE thing ALL my clients have said?
“I love that you took care of everything!”
People are so busy these days and although some people are capable of doing this work themselves, the biggest benefit my clients have experienced is the fact I coordinate everything. They trust me to turn up and allow trades people into their homes and leave no trace of our visit – other than the completed work of course!
So next time you’re thinking of building, renovating or even just a new look, don’t go past a decorator or designer. You choose.. 😉