Home Interiors – Clients Guide No1 – Interior Designer / Interior Decorator – What’s the Difference?

“Do you do Curtains & Cushions?” As a professional Interior Designer that’s the phone call we dread to receive!

It happens more than you may think; I then have to go on to explain (without sounding patronising) what this person really needs is an Interior Decorator, this will then no doubt follow-on with me having to further explain what the differences are between the two disciplines and try to steer them in an appropriate direction.

I don’t blame these people for getting the two mixed up; the general public have been feed hours and hour of TV “instant” make-over programmes and continuous glossy magazine features all under the misleading label of Interior Design. Also this has prompted those in the Interior Decoration and Soft Furnishing business to elevate their tile to Interior Designers; again I don’t blame them for doing this, it makes good business sense to up sell yourself. But the lines have become blurred as to what these two very different services offer – there is a market for the two approaches, but where confusion resides with the customer this has to be a bad thing!

So here with this Home Interiors – Client’s Guide – series of articles I will address the key aspects for client’s that have a Interior Design project in mind as to how they should go about searching for a Designer, what to look for, how they work and charge, how to get the best out of them and how a project gets off the ground to become a finished built reality.

ABOUT HOME INTERIOR DESIGN

Home Interior Design is not to be confused with Home Interior Decoration, as this tends to be only a skin-deep treatment to give a style change or “make-over” to a property. Home/Residential/Domestic Interior Design (whatever one may call it) is a much more fundamental approach to the way you live in a property and how a building can be made to work for the individual owners needs. This will not be just a coat of paint (some new curtains and cushions) it is likely to start with a in-depth rethink at how the property is planned and may involve some considerable changes put in place before one even thinks of decorations.

Interior Designers who specialize in Home Design can be viewed as Interior Architects, and their abilities should cover all aspects of building and architectural work to a property included minor/major structural alterations and building extensions etc. They will go on to cover all the “decoration” elements such as colours, finishes and furnishings, but this is not necessarily the starting point for a project. Kitchens, Bathrooms, Staircases etc are some of the core planning elements that can structurally and technically change a buildings layout; the flow and shape of a property can change dramatically when approaching these areas.

All the technical services that make up an Interior Design project will be undertaken by the Designer; Electrics, Lighting, Plumbing, Heating and Ventilation etc, all are fundamental that need to be design-in at the early stages of a scheme, even if it is just the principles of how these may work. It is becoming even more important these days with the opportunity for client to add-in to their project energy efficiency solutions for the whole building.

Many Clients only have a very basic idea or framework of what they wish from a project; it is however the Designers role to gain that information and drawer out of the Client the full details of their requirements, this then forming the project brief. This can be a very personal experience with the Designer asking questions on how you live now and changes you wish to make to your life style. Be as open as you can as this forms an important foundation for any new design, remember that the Designer is designing for you and not for them, so they need to know how YOU tick!

For most Clients they really enjoy this consultation, as this may be the first time that they have truly thought about their life style and what they really need from the project, apart from a floor, walls and ceiling. A good Designer will have the talents of a “pick pocket”, you will not know that so much information has been taken from you until you see the first concept design, and then you will realise that the smallest details have been included that reflects you and your life style.

HOW DO YOU FIND A GOOD DESIGNER

Personal recommendations are always good, but remember, the Designer has designed for the person who gave you the recommendation, so even if their project is not to your taste this does not necessarily mean that the Designer cannot design to your taste. If they were satisfied that the Designer produced a sound creative solution that matched their brief, then this Designer would more than likely be able to satisfy your project requirements.

Web Sites are a good way of looking at a Designers portfolio of work without making direct contact. Use the search engines and directories to track Designers that are within the broad area to where you live. It is no good having a Designer from Scotland if you live in London, and vice a verse, so aim relatively local of around a 50 mile search radius! Also be aware of companies that call themselves Interior Designers, but are really Home Furnishing companies and they are only really interested in selling from their shop or showroom. Offers of “free design service” will always have a sales agenda behind it. A true Design Consultant will be totally independent of any affiliated retail business and will use the global market to source what is right for your project, no commission or incentives involved.

Professional Bodies such as The Chartered Society of Designers have registers of designers in your area and can be contacted for a list. They also have a web site at you could visit. The Chartered Society of Designers is a body that vets individual designers to make sure they meet a professional standard, it starts with a student quantification “Diploma Member” and then “Member” (MCSD), and the highest level is “Fellow” (FCSD) and you should look for these qualifications or similar from your Designer.

I hope this has given you an insight into the world of Home Interior Design and if you are considering employing a designer is of help as to how to start to make a selection. Part of that selection process will be that first (no obligation) meeting with them; what can you expect to come out of this? Look out for the next article in this series by Chris Page.

Choosing the Ideal Restaurant Interior Design

Restaurant interior design is very important, and can influence the way customers feel about the restaurant before they have even eaten there. More and more people are dining out, and the choice of different restaurants available is huge. First impressions really do count with any business, and where people are going to spend time such as a restaurant, it needs to be perfect.

There are several factors that will influence the decision on whether you like a restaurant or not, however, interior design is as important as the food or staff. When deciding on the overall theme for the restaurant you should ensure that you employ someone who knows what they are doing. Although designers are great you need to ensure that you employ a qualified restaurant interior designer.

This type of designer will specialize in restaurants, and know how to create the perfect ambience for your customers. They will understand the importance of creating the correct feeling for the type of food and drink that you are serving. Interior design for restaurant is about many different elements, and not simply what color to paint the walls.

Employing the correct designer for your restaurant will ensure that they have considered every part of the kitchen and restaurant. They will need to fully appreciate how a restaurant works, and how the movement flows throughout them. All restaurants flow in a particular way and how the food reaches the table will need to be considered.

Both the employees and customers need to be considered when looking at the ideal restaurant interior design. It is surprising how many great ideas the employees will have, and they will also know what works well when trying to do their jobs. Not only is the decor very important when looking at restaurant interior design, but also durability of the furnishings.

Restaurant furniture needs to be considered carefully, and should be bought with industrial use in mind. Although there is some great domestic furniture available it will not last, and will end up costing you more in the long run. If you spend more on the fixtures and furniture when looking at the restaurant interior design you will ensure that they are ideal, and very durable.

Although you want the best design you also have to ensure that you do not spend too much money. If you go over budget when designing the interior other areas of the restaurant may suffer. If the correct design is put into place the employees will enjoy working in the restaurant, and be more efficient. This will ensure that the food is brought to service far quicker, and that the profit margin is higher.

Understanding your target market is very important, and you need to decide who you want to attract into the restaurant. Although you will never turn anyone away if the restaurant interior design is aimed at specific people you will attract them. Younger clientele may want chic, stylish, and trendy where as older clientele may prefer classic, calming, sophisticated interior designs.

If you are having a revamp of an existing restaurant you may want to consider asking your customers what they would like. Although this will give you a huge choice there may be similarities with what some of them say. If you want your customers to feel at home, and that their opinion matters you should consider what they say. They may have some great restaurant interior design ideas that you may think are a success.

You will need to think about the ambience that you want to create and the type of food that you are serving. If your restaurant has a particular type of food the restaurant interior design will need to fit with this. Although you may not want to turn it into themed restaurant elements can reflect the type of food that you are serving. Small subtle touches may be better than huge dominating factors that are too imposing for the restaurant interior design.

You want your regular customers to return time, and time again, however, you also want to attract new ones. Often people will stop, and look at new restaurants, and in those first few moments they will make a decision whether to enter. When deciding on your restaurant interior design you will need to consider every bit of space. This includes from the entrance to the bathrooms, and every corner in between.

When it Comes to Interior Design – Wait!

Don’t let the lack of an interior design budget stop you from creating the look and feel in your home that you have always wanted for you and your loved ones. This article will show you how to acquire everything you need. Interior design is not a simple act of instant gratification. It’s steady, incremental changes made as time and circumstance allow.

The most comfortable and well designed homes have been created over time. Don’t be fooled by those 60 minute television shows. What you don’t see is hours, weeks, months of preparation by a team of experts to put it all together, lickety split.

But for real, every day people, like you and me it’s a step by step process. It takes time to locate just the right furniture piece for your room and to buy it, find it or create it with amazing affordability. Believe me when I say – patience is an absolute must to interior design do it yourself success. That said, don’t put your interior design goals on hold.

Start by having a clear idea of the interior design look you want to create. Try not to be too specific about each item that way you will be able to apply some creative license to the over all design.

How does this work?

Let’s use a table lamp as an example. Maybe you have one currently in your home that no longer fits into the pending design scheme. Add some additional ribbons, or change up the shade with stencil art, ribbon or fabric? By being creative with what you already own is an excellent way to bring quality items up to date. Or maybe that bathroom hutch can be turned into a dining room buffet by giving it a fresh finish and changing the door pulls to ones that better suit your decor ideas.

Don’t settle for something that you simply don’t LOVE. Don’t buy something just to fill in a space, wait for it – it will present itself in the most unexpected places. Don’t be afraid to leave a room looking blank or sparse for a season as you wait for the perfect opportunity to present itself.

It could be in the form of:

  • A Seasonal sale
  • A Scratch and Dent Clearance –
  • Going Out of Business Liquidation
  • A Yard or Moving Sale
  • Craig’s List Item
  • Inheritance
  • Real Estate Model Home Furniture Discounts

While you wait be sure to review your interior ideas and goals frequently so when you come across an item you will be able to act quickly.

This system has been proven to me over and over again. One of my favorite experiences happened a few years ago, though it had been anticipated for several years prior to its fulfillment. I had a specific size, shape and style of mirror in mind. Being that it was an antique, I knew my resources were limited. So, I waited AND kept my eyes open. Be it window shopping, antique hopping, or yard sale stopping I would be ever alert to catch a glimpse of “my mirror”.

Then one day, though sad, a member of my community had died and his children were cleaning out his house and placing items near the road for anyone to take. Lo and behold, I spotted it. It was the mirror I had envisioned,. It was perfect. And, best of all – it was FREE! Today, years later, my “miracle mirror” still brings me great joy by not only accenting my wall beautifully but as a monumental reminder to the power of patience applied to interior design.

What Subjects Can Be Taken on an Interior Design Course?

Potential candidates of interior design naturally would like to know what subjects are studied on an interior design course so that they can decide if they want to take the next step into a new career.

There is a wide variety of subjects that can be taken on these types of courses, some of which are not necessary for someone who quickly wants to start work as an interior designer.

If you were to ask a group of interior designers what they considered to be the best sessions to take to become familiar with the processes of interior design, you could compile a list of common choices as there would likely be agreement on those which are the most useful.

Everybody has a different set of personality attributes and because interior design students are changing their careers from a diverse range of work backgrounds, there are different subject types and different approaches to get the necessary information to them. There is always more than one way to learn something, for example, interior design can be taught by demonstration (learning by doing) or from reading up on the subject and applying, for example, what has been done before to what makes sense to you. In addition, some people are organised, some are very creative and courses will hopefully train individuals to have both of those traits or meet in the middle.

There are a number of courses that many have deemed as fundamental to their careers in interior design and I will list them here:

1. Interior Design

The main subject itself, is obviously necessary. Organisations might have different names for this topic, for example, the ‘business of interior design’. Interior designers actually work on projects, earning fees by contracting with clients to design a room or rooms in their homes. Any good course will therefore explain to the student what is involved in the process of acquiring the project, doing the client presentation, showing how to choose the correct fabrics and discussing anything a design student would need to know while working on a project such as time management, presentation etc.

2. Soft Furnishings

The subject could also called be F, F & E (Furniture, Fittings and Equipment) and shows how to correctly dress a given room with all of the items that are going into it. For example, if you imagine the permutations available when giving an interior designer an empty room to fill, they would need to choose the correct sofas, tables, cabinets etc to fill that space. Some of these items can be bought from retail channels but a good course will deal with the natural exceptions to the rule. Given that the designer is going to fulfil the client brief, that brief could change over time or the client might want to have something made especially for them. This course would also deal with contemporary styles, current colour trends and would need to make sure that students understand every stage of completing the brief.

3. Auto cad

This is the go to software for dealing with 2 dimensional and 3 dimensional projects and because of its wide usage; all students of interior design need to learn how to use it at some level. There are courses on this software ranging from beginners to advanced but normally a student ingrained in the basics can then find their way around its more advanced features. A good course will also deal with exporting .dwg files so that they can be imported into additional software later. Thus ensuring a much wider range of uses so that once the hard work of creating the drawings in the cad software is done, the student can produce exceptional 3 dimensional images to show off their project.

4. Technical Drawing

This subject is covered by most of the best schools at some level. The course involves students taking out a pencil and using a drawing board which can be a shock to those who have never been creative at school. This subject also gives candidates an idea of the rigours of drawing but those individuals should not be too concerned because once the processes are understood, later when working as a designer, the work can be delegated to somebody else who prefers the technical aspects. The 3 point perspective of a room drawing is a standard exercise and once undertaken the student will really have a clearer idea of what an interior design project involves. Understanding a technical drawing means that the student has a full grasp of all of the measurements relating to the room they are working on and they can now relate this information either to the client or a potential supplier of produce to them.

5. Photoshop (Visual Packages)

Adobe Photoshop and drawing packages like this help the student learn how to become creative while also becoming familiar with computers. It is vital that potential interior designers acquire the tools to get together ideas and inspiration for when they are working on projects in the future. Often the client will only see the end result of the work done by the designer but in order to take on a project, the student designer needs to be able to produce presentations for the client and these will be undertaken in a package like Photoshop. Students can learn how to scan in drawings or photographs they have taken into layers. This will allow them to be creative and produce different versions of the scanned items, eg changing colours of carpets, flooring, introducing new textures and combining other digitally content created elsewhere so that a design sketch image can be produced showing the theme of the project the designer intends to work on.

All of these types of courses are available at organisations that are serious in introducing their student designers in the real world of work.