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Interior Designer vs Decorator

Interior Designer vs Decorator

Do you understand the difference between engaging an Interior Designer as compared with a Decorator?  Dominique Hunter, of Hunter and Richards, one of Victoria’s most successful Interior Design firms, shares her thoughts about the appropriate questions to be asking before engaging the services of either an Interior Designer or a Decorator….

1. Do they have the relevant qualifications?

A good interior designer will have a minimum of two to three years of formal education, or five years of professional experience in a related discipline such as Architecture, Industrial Design or Building Design. It is also important that the institution they gained their qualifications from is recognised within the industry for providing quality graduates.

2. Are they a Designer or a Decorator?

It is important to note that there is a big difference between an Interior Designer and a Decorator. An Interior Designer can play the role of a decorator as well as having a thorough knowledge of construction, project management, documentation and the Australian Codes and Standards that relate to these areas of expertise.

3. Are they a Member of a Professional Industry Body?

Any interior designer worth their salt will be a member of a professional industry body such as Design Matters, to keep up-to-date with developments in the ever-evolving building industry, and to maintain a balance in their professional activities.

4. Are they a Registered Building Practitioner?

Registered building practitioners (RBPs) are required to carry insurance to protect consumers. This is the law in Victoria for building works in excess of $10,000, in accordance with the Building Act 1993. Always ask your RBP for their building registration number. If they are not registered, they are more than likely not qualified to carry out the proposed work, meaning their work will be uninsurable.

5. What kind and how much experience do they have?

Interior design is an intricate business, with many potential pitfalls for a beginner. Interior designers generally spend anywhere up to ten years working for established firms in order to gain the necessary experience when creating spaces for people to live and work. If they are a small operator and without business experience – let alone design experience – they may find things getting out of hand, even on seemingly small projects.

6. What resources do they have available to them?

A good interior designer will have a wealth of resources available to them: a great sample library with the latest products from around Australia and the globe; an art space for presentations, model making and concept work; up-to-date databases of all their suppliers, contractors and tradespeople for any odd tasks needing to be done on a project and, most importantly, the right computer equipment – hardware and software.

7. Are they home based or do they have an office?

While a home-based operator can offer good rates, they sometimes lack the support that a professional office can offer. Will there be someone there to handle your queries? Are the administrative functions of running an interior design practice being supported? How much work can one person handle before things fall apart?

8. Are they covered by the right kinds of insurance?

This is probably the most important question of all. Interior Designers generally need to be covered with business insurance for their office, as well as Professional Indemnity Insurance which covers them for their advice and knowledge in construction situations. Having the right insurance in place can mean the difference between winning and losing everything.