I can’t tell you how many times I’ve told someone that I’m an interior designer and they respond with, “Oh My God!!! That must be so much fun to just pick out paint and pillows all day.” Or some variation thereof. I’m here to tell you that is definitely NOT what I do all day. Being a designer takes a lot of hard work, long hours, and training. So, I’m going to take this opportunity to tell give you a small insight into what an interior designer actually does. If I went into everything we did we would be here a long time.
Before diving into what we do, first a bit on what it takes to become a designer in the first place. Interior designers go to school for at least four years, sometimes more. During that time they learn to draw (either by hand or using one of the many computer programs out there), study design theory, sustainability and usability, materials, systems and construction, the psychology of color (yes, that’s really a thing, and yes, I had to study it), and a variety of practical courses teaching how to apply these principles in residential and commercial projects. Designers typically also complete one or more internships. Finally, after graduation, depending on the state, a person may be required to be licensed or certified before working as an interior designer. Pennsylvania hasn’t gotten there yet, unfortunately, but you can read why licensing is important in my post Interior Design Licensing and Why You Should Give a Damn.
Ok, so now we’ve established some of what it takes to become a designer, back to the original question: what does an interior designer do? Our primary function is to create interior spaces that are both maximized for a specific function and aesthetically beautiful, while also meeting all safety, construction, and, if necessary, sustainability codes and requirements. Every designer will have their own process for achieving this, but completing a successful project requires meeting with the client to understand their needs and goals for the space, planning how people will move around and interact with the space, presenting concepts and ideas for achieving this in a clear and concise way, selecting and coordinating all fixtures, finishes, flooring, and equipment necessary for the space, and developing drawings and specifications for everything – down to the type of door stop and where it is going to be installed. Our participation after that will depend on the project and the client, but we are often then involved in the purchasing of the finishes and furniture, coordinating contractors and vendors to ensure that the project moves along on budget and schedule, resolving any issues that arrive through the construction process, and doing final punch lists once the project is complete. If that sounds like a lot, it’s because it is!
Interior designers play an integral part in the creation of any new space, and the results from working with one speak for themselves. Not only do they coordinate a plethora of moving parts, client expectations, and vendors, they also have to stay true to the agreed upon design and budget. This is going to sound SUPER braggy (is that a word?) but we're freaking magicians and miracle workers some days.
If you are working with a designer, hopefully this gives you an appreciation for all they do behind the scenes to make your dream space a reality. And if you have a project you’ve been thinking about hiring a designer for give me a call. I’m always happy to chat and give my honest opinion, even if that opinion is that you don’t really need a designer.