Person I just met: So, what do you do?
Me: I’m an interior designer.
Person I just met: Oh, really?
Me: (Smiling) Yes, I run my own eco-friendly interior design business. I offer several different services from consultations to turn-key installations. I provide people with creative solutions to help them create a home they’ll love.
Person I just met: (Smiling) Oh, that’s great! I should give you a call. I really need some new throw pillows.
I’ve had several versions of this conversation and it’s dawned on me that most people don’t know what an interior designer actually is.
Most people have a pre-conceived notion that designers have fun all day playing with paint colors and fabrics. Although I LOVE my job, I’m here to tell you that being a designer is HARD. There are a lot of behind-the-scenes tasks that most people don’t consider. Many believe that design is quick and easy. So here is a list of what I am, as a designer.
1. I am an educated professional. Yes, I went to college and got a degree in interior design (as well as a few others). You can’t just wake up one morning, decide you want to be an interior designer and hang up a shingle. There are requirements that vary state by state. There are a lot of higher education and continued educational training requirements that designers need in order to legally call them selves “interior designer”.
2. I am skilled in space planning. What does this mean? It means that if you’re planning a new construction or building renovation project I am qualified to work along with your architect and builder to provide key information that they may over look. Architects and builders are great at what they do, but interior designers are specialists in INTERIORS. I can detail those plans to make sure that the client is getting the best function out of the space. This may include removing or adding walls, moving window placement, moving lighting and electrical receptacles, etc. You get the picture. – Bring a designer in before the build, not after. Space planning also comes into play before purchasing furniture to make sure the arrangement is the best for the space.
3. I am a great listener. This is where one of my other degrees comes in handy. I have a Bachelor’s in Psychology and although I am not a therapist, I use those skills on a daily basis. Interaction and communication with my clients is KEY. I am not the kind of designer who creates the same look every time. Each concept is tailored to every individual client. I really listen to my clients likes and dislikes in order to provide them with a home that is truly a reflection of who they are.
4. I am an educator. (Yes, I have am also credentialed in elementary education, but this is the last degree, I swear.) I believe that my clients deserve to know why I choose the things I present them. I let them know the exact process of how to work with me upfront, and I explain every detail along the way. Several presentations occur throughout the design process to ensure that the client knows exactly what to expect.
5. I am creative. Okay, so this is the part where I WORK with colors and fabrics, as well as other furnishings. When I am designing a room, I create a concept board which I present to my client, along with sample paint chips, fabrics, wood finishes, etc. This allows the client to really get a feel of what their space is going to look like. Creating the visual design process is always exciting, whether I’m incorporating existing furniture and art, or starting with a blank canvas. Of all the tasks I do, this one is my favorite. It’s also what the majority of people think is all a designer does, because it’s usually all they see.
6. I am a problem solver. Design isn’t just about making a space pretty, it’s really about making a space function better. Sometimes it’s as simple as rearranging furniture, other times it’s about making modifications. When my clients tell me they don’t like a certain element in their home, I offer creative solutions to address those issues.
7. I am a project manager. I manage your project from start to finish. This means I help you develop a budget and work within that budget. I develop a contract and get it signed. I write purchase orders and invoices. I source all materials. I write proposals and submit them for client approval. I place orders and track the shipments. I schedule deliveries and collect payments. I schedule trades people and manage the overall timeline. I work alongside contractors to make sure everything runs smoothly and address any issues. I complete the final installation and photograph the space. It’s just a whirlwind of activity that most people don’t see. It’s certainly not the glamours part of design!
I hope this article clarified your perception of what an interior designer does. Stay tuned for my next article dealing with WHY you should hire an interior designer. Let’s continue the discussion. Leave a comment below.
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