For people who are building or remodeling a home, an interior designer will do it all.
AFN file photo

Most homeowners want their place to look amazing, but let’s face it: Not all of us have the time or skills to pull off Pinterest-worthy decor without a little help – or a lot.

If a homeowner’s mastery of color coordination or furniture trends is shaky, they might have considered hiring a pro. But who?

For starters, they’ll have to choose between an interior decorator and an interior designer. What’s the difference? Is there a difference?

Well yes, there is. Here are the details, and how to decide which one is right.

For people who are building or remodeling a home, an interior designer will do it all. She or he will consider rooms critically, taking into account the structure, the light and each area’s purpose. Then they guide the owner through the entire process, from blueprints to the finished product.

This includes obtaining permits, adhering to local building codes, working with an architect and hiring and coordinating contractors, painters, plumbers and electricians. Most interior designers have formal training or a degree in design and may be members of a professional organization such as the American Society of Interior Designers.

“Interior designers also tend to have relationships with vendors from whom they like to purchase items – lighting, rugs, furniture – on behalf of clients,” said Charla Traugott and Jill Shuey, interior designers and owners of Decorating Den Interiors in Texas. This means they’re able to get discounts that they’ll pass on to the client.

While a degree or official background in design isn’t required, an interior decorator should have an excellent eye for assessing scale, choosing colors and fabrics and arranging everything.

“An interior decorator may not have suppliers on hand, but she’s definitely willing to shop with clients to pick out pieces and accessories,” Shuey said.

This decorator can also help find a style (modern, country, shabby chic, traditional) and then achieve the look in the home.

Expect to pay more for an interior designer.

“She’ll cost anywhere from $100 to $500 an hour,” Traugott said, adding that an interior decorator might ask $50 to $250 an hour.

Both decorators and interior designers with the proper credentials can get furnishings at a discount, which can knock off up to a third of those items’ cost.

One limitation to consider with interior decorators is that they specialize in finishing touches.

“An interior decorator may not work with new builds or remodels,” Traugott said. “In those cases, an interior designer is better.”

Homeowners should review their portfolio and speak with a few of their past clients to make sure their aesthetic meshes with their own.

And remember‚ no interior designer or decorator is a mind reader, so make sure to show them pages from magazines or Pinterest links that are of interest. The more they know the homeowner’s desired look, the more easily the decorator or designer can make that happen.

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