- The other day a real estate agent whose listings I stage for sale introduced me to someone as a “designer”. I didn’t want to take the time to correct him, but I thought to myself, “This isn’t the first time I’ve heard people use ‘designer’ erroneously. It’s often used to label someone who’s an interior decorator. So, why does everyone lump us all in one category, when we all clearly do something different?”
To put the differences succinctly:
- Interior Design involves, among many other things, the preparation of documents often by a licensed professional for the construction of an interior space such as plans and elevations, and details and specifications, including lighting, power and communication locations, materials and finishes, and furniture layouts.
- Interior Decorating involves the adornment of surfaces in the interior space, such as fabrics, wall coverings, furniture, decorative accessories, flooring, light fixtures etc., and takes into account the lifestyle, taste, needs and preferences of the user of the space. While interior designers may decorate, interior decorators don’t design.
- Home Staging is preparing the home for sale through updates and “decorating” so that it appeals to the broadest range of buyers for the market that the home is in.
- Interior Redesign is often done by home stagers for homeowners not currently selling because it employs many of the same principles that home stagers use, such as primarily using what furniture and decorative accessories the homeowner already has, with an eye towards the future sale of the home.
Now, let’s explore each one more in-depth.
According to the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ):
- Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment.
These solutions are functional, enhance the quality of life and culture of the occupants and are aesthetically attractive.
- Designs are created in response to and coordinated with the building shell and acknowledge the physical location and social context of the project.
- Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements, and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.
- The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfills the project goals.
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) is the leading organization for interior design professionals. Certain levels of its members must meet certain education, work experience and examination requirements administered by the NCIDQ. Further, some states have licensing requirements for interior designers which include the passage of this exam. ASID also has continuing education requirements for its members.
No wonder people often confuse Interior Decorating with Interior Design. Even I had trouble finding a definition for Interior Decorating. Often it said “see interior design”.
Perhaps its best to understand interior decorating as it exists in contrast to interior design:
- An interior decorator would select floor coverings based upon the tastes and lifestyle of the client, whereas the interior designer would take it a step further and look at usage, sound transference, flammability, etc.
- An interior decorator would select lighting fixtures, whereas the interior designer would plan for the location of lighting and ensure that it is in compliance with building and safety codes.
- An interior decorator does not need to have any formal education and/or work experience, testing or licensing , whereas an interior designer does.
Home staging is the art and science of preparing a home for sale so that it appeals to the broadest range of buyers in order to sell quickly and for top dollar. The objective is to make the potential buyer fall in love with the home, envision themselves living there and aspire to the lifestyle the home portrays.
According to the Real Estate Staging Association’s Consumer’s Guide to Home Staging, it is a “systematic and coordinated methodology in which knowledge of real estate, home renovations and creative design principles are applied to attract a buyer.”
Home staging involves any or all of the following:
- Evaluating what furniture and decorative accessories (throw pillows, artwork, decorative objects, lamps, knickknacks, etc.) the owner has, and:
– eliminating some of the furniture and/or decorative accessories, otherwise known as decluttering as well as depersonalizing (removal of family photos, trophies, collections etc. so the buyer can envision living there)
– arranging the furniture and accessories for optimal placement to enhance flow (the ability to walk freely through the room), focal point enhancement (e.g., emphasizing a fireplace or a beautiful view), balance (are there too many or too large pieces in the bookcase or on only one side of the room?) and the positive aspects of the home while downplaying the negatives
Carefully selecting for purchase or rent, if necessary, the appropriate furniture and accessories for the style of the home and it’s market.
Recommending, implementing and/or arranging for enhancements, updates and repairs such as painting, flooring, sink fixtures, lighting fixtures, window treatments, landscaping, etc.
As stated above, interior redesign is like home staging, however it enhances the home for the homeowners rather than for potential buyers. And it does so with an eye towards its future sale. It is like home staging in that it primarily uses the client’s existing furniture and decorative accessories to transform the space, and may also involve the purchase of additional furniture and accessories as well as updates to the wall colors, window treatments, lighting fixtures etc.
To summarize the differences:
Interior Design involves the planning of all aspects of interior space often by a licensed professional.
Interior Decorating involves the adornment of surfaces in the interior space. Interior designers may decorate, but interior decorators don’t design.
Home Staging is preparing the home for sale through updates and showcasing so that it appeals to the broadest range of buyers for the market that the home is in.
Interior Redesign employs many of the same principles that home stagers use, such as primarily using what furniture and decorative accessories the homeowner already has, with an eye towards the future sale of the home.