Are you ready to update your space but confused on where to start? This summary of design related professionals will help you decide:

Architect: Focuses on the site plan details of a construction project. They are responsible for the building structure & materials. They have expertise in hurricane ratings, flood prevention requirements as well as energy efficiency standards. They provide site drawings, building drawings and elevation sketches. An architect is necessary for a commercial or residential new construction build. If you are embarking on a renovation that includes adding square footage, removing load bearing walls or changing a roofline, you will want to include an architectural review.

General contractor: The lead contractor on a construction project. Their job is to meet the specifications of the client and comply with the law & local building codes. Contractors are involved in small projects such as adding a deck to full home construction. A general contractor oversees the project and hires subcontractors with specific skills to complete the project. They make the architectural drawings come to life.

Interior designer: Formally trained to critically assess a space; taking into account structure, light & purpose as well as learning about building code compliance. They are required to be licensed and are typically members of a professional organization such as the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). Designers often deal directly with a supplier for furnishings and décor. Their fee will range from $100 to $500 an hour (based on geographic location  & experience).

Interior decorator: Specializes in finishing touches and presentation of a space. While a degree isn’t required; an experienced interior decorator will have an eye for assessing scale, color and fabrics as well as arranging functional layouts. They can guide you through an entire renovation process by subcontracting with general contractors & skilled trades people necessary to complete your project. When a project requires building code adherence the decorator will recommend a licensed subcontractor to ensure compliance. Decorator’s typically do not have direct suppliers but instead will shop several sources to locate the desired décor and furnishings. Their fee will range from $50 to $250 an hour (based on geographic location & experience).

Home stager: Studies real estate trends to style a home that appeals to future buyers. Home staging is a marketing tool for selling houses. Stagers employ low-cost solutions to help buyers see themselves living in the home. They decorate with a focus on architectural features rather than décor pieces by using a “less is more” approach. Their goal is to increase the perceived value of the home.

There is overlap in all of these professions. Each one has its specific area of expertise. Large design firms will employ architects, general contractors, designers and decorators so you can have a one-stop experience. However, most of these professions are small businesses focused in one of these specialties with a network of trusted colleagues to meet the needs outside their expertise. 

Most homeowners are specifically unsure whether they need an interior designer or interior decorator. Your budget and project scope will determine that for you. A designer will be best for large scale renovations involving structural changes. A decorator will serve you well for smaller projects. Both decorators and designers are eligible for furnishing discounts which will save you in material costs. Before you decide to go it alone, consider the benefits of trained professionals. Do not hesitate to give me a call 904-588-2427 and I will guide you to the right professional for your project.