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Making your home look exactly the way you want it to can be a challenge. Selecting the materials that bring your vision to life isn’t as easy as it sounds, and creating a functional, safe space that reflects your taste often requires assistance. There are many ways that an interior designer can help you create your dream space, and a number of things to consider when selecting the right professional for your renovation project.
It’s important to note that residential interior designers are different than decorators. Both influence the style and aesthetics of a space, but decorators only deal with surface concerns (paint, fabric, furniture), while interior designers also focus on the functionality and look of a building’s interior, and often have stricter training requirements. Residential interior designers typically have a two- to four-year degree in interior design and/or years of experience in the construction field. They can also specialize in commercial interiors, such as corporate offices, or the retail or hospitality fields, which require specific knowledge of building codes and other requirements.
Interior designers can provide assistance with a number of things, including space planning, concept design, and floor plans. They can also use visualization tools in 2D (elevations) and 3D (perspectives, axonometric drawings) to help you visualize what your home or room will look like. They can draft full sets of plans and elevations for city permits, and work with a structural engineer if interior walls need to be removed or altered. Interior designers are knowledgeable about building code requirements, including the ADA (American Disabilities Act), the Title 24 Energy Code in California, and new plumbing requirements for water efficiency. They can oversee a renovation project from design to construction.
Interior designers can also assist with the selection of materials, finishes, flooring, lighting and plumbing fixtures, furniture, cabinetry, custom items, and art, to create a cohesive space that reflects your style and tastes.
Many states require interior designers to pass the national NCIDQ exam and become licensed. In others, such as California, they can be licensed, but it is not a legal requirement. It’s important to check with your state authorities to learn whether or not a designer needs to be licensed before work begins.
Interior designers can be LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) accredited, called LEED AP. This signifies that they have a deep understanding of sustainable and environmental building standards. Designers can also suggest vendors and contractors, and help with the bidding process.
Interior designers are generally paid on an hourly basis, and rates vary by geographic location, accreditation, etc. Some may add a fee to the purchase of furniture and other items for order processing. Before hiring an interior designer, be sure to ask about the types of fees he/she charges, and inquire about the hourly rate.
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