Interior Design Vs Interior Decorating Vs Home Staging Vs Interior Redesign – What’s the Difference?

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.

Interior Design

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 thebuilding 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.

Interior Decorating

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

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.

Interior Redesign

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.

Summary

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.

Interior Design For The Home

Any home can be pleasing with the proper application of basic interior design methods. Some people study interior design to be very good at it but there are people who are gifted with an eye for beauty and for interior designing.

A person who is creative can do some interior designing on his own even without formal training. Those who have an eye for what is aesthetic can just as easily decorate and design his own house depending on his tastes. Of course, it helps to read books and articles about designing to be updated on the basic and latest design methods.

Any interior designer can create a specific atmosphere just by putting together several pieces and unifying them in a single theme. There are interior designers who have a bias for certain motifs like eclectic, modern or even country style. Some go for simple designs without the clutter.

Interior design is not only aesthetic but also functional depending on the requirements of the client. An interior designer can make a small room spacious and an otherwise cluttered room into an orderly one. Interior design is used just about anywhere from homes, offices to commercial buildings.

The interiors of a room should always match the personality of the person who will occupy that room. This is the reason why designers always work closely with their clients so they can make sure that they get a feel of what their clients want in terms of design style.

People have this notion that interior design is expensive. However, designers are not only creative people but they are also very good in budgeting. Most designers will work on a design that will match or fit the budget of their clients. A person can allot a minimal amount for the interior design of his home or office and still come up with an aesthetic and functional room.

Professional interior designers who are formally trained usually have basic knowledge on architecture, engineering and even accounting. They need these courses to make their design aesthetic, structurally correct and cost effective.

The terms Interior design and interior decorating have often been used interchangeably. However, the two terms actually deal with different phases of making a room or a space aesthetic. Interior design is basically the process of studying the personality of the occupant of the room being designed in order to maximize and tailor-made the room’s design for that person’s behavior and personality.

Interior decorating on the other hand is the process of actually mixing and matching the different design techniques like window treatments, the right wallpaper, wall finish and even the furnishing of a room.

There are a lot of opportunities for those in the interior design and decorating industry. An interior designer can go into designing household, corporate or commercial establishments. Others specialize in the design of health facilities or even tourism establishments.

The latest trend now for those in the interior design industry is to be able to incorporate the right engineering and aesthetic design with sustainable development. Even designers are now more conscious about the state of the environment so they tend to use environmentally friendly materials for their designs.

There are designers who specialize and use Feng Shui in their designs. This requires further study because Feng Shui deals with the Chinese’s ancient methods of designing a space to make the design work for the owner’s health, business and other life factors.

The Chinese believes that a structure should be properly designed so as to allow positive energy to enter the structure. When the structure has already been built without the aid of a Feng Shui expert, the mistakes can be corrected through proper interior design using the Feng Shui methods.

By incorporating Feng Shui in interior design, it is believed that a person can bring out all the positive energies in a room to make him rich, happy and healthy. An interior design using Feng Shui can also get rid of bad spirits that bring in negative atmosphere in an abode.

Getting the services of an interior designer can make a room both aesthetic and functional. Any person who wants to make his home livable and functional should try getting the services of an interior designer to maximize his space.

How to Find the Right Designer for Your Interior Design and Decorating Projects

Looking for an interior designer or interior decorator can be overwhelming if you are not sure which designer you need for the scope or your project. Are you building, renovating or moving and need professional advice? Are you planning to sell your property and not sure how to get ready for the first inspection?

This document gives you answers to frequently asked questions in regards to interior design, interior decorating, colour consulting and property styling.

It will help you finding the right designer for your interior design and decorating projects and eventually create your individual style in your home.

What is the difference between an interior designer and an interior stylist?

You may have asked yourself this question already when facing a building or renovation project. Do I need an interior designer, an interior decorator, a colour consultant or an interior stylist?

The answer is that it depends on the scope of the project.

An interior designer is a skilled professional who is designing interior environments according to your briefing. The interior designer either modifies what already exists (renovation) or provides an entirely new design for a space (new build). In this case the interior designer works closely with the architect and comes in at an early stage of the project. Interior designers work either along a team in design firm or on their own.

What is the job of an interior stylist? An interior stylist is a designer or consultant in a field subject to changes in style, especially fashion or interior decoration. An interior stylist cultivates or maintains any particular style and in most cases stylist are finders, keepers and collectors of beautiful objects.

The interior stylist can help you finding your own style, creating beautiful interiors that are unique and meaningful. This can be achieved with the simplest things and does not have to be expensive. The only thing you need to do is keep your eyes open to beautiful things in nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel. There is only one rule: Only collect or buy things that mean something to you!

How does a colour consultation work?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

Prior to designing a colour scheme for you the colour consultant should always talk to you about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve in your space. He will explain to you the differences between the paint companies and their products and choose the right product for your needs. After designing the colour scheme you will receive a written recommendation including a specification sheet and brushouts ready for your painter to start.

Why is it important to seek advice from a designer when choosing colours?

Colour is the most powerful tool when it comes to non-verbal communication and the design element that makes a space come alive. Colour brings individuality in a space and it is one of the most useful tools to master when finding your own style.

Leatrice Eiseman, Executive Director of the Pantone Color Institute, says in her book Pantone Guide to Communicating with Color: “Among other uses, color stimulates and works synergistically with all of the senses, symbolizes abstract concepts and thoughts, expresses fantasy or wish fulfillment, recalls another time or place and produces an aesthetic or emotional response.”

When choosing a colour for a room or house it is important to think about the mood and atmosphere you would like to achieve. Is it a dark room or flooded with natural light? In which direction is the room facing? How are the proportions? Do you live in a small apartment or a contemporary newly built house with open plan living areas? All this needs to be considered when choosing colours for a space.

If you are overwhelmed by the choice of colours available – yes, there are thousands on the market – how can you start finding your personal colour scheme?

For some people it is a longer journey, for others it comes more naturally. The most important thing is to take some time, open your eyes, walk around your home and absorb the colour combinations you see. Then start gathering all the pieces you love. This can be anything from old porcelain, travel souvenirs, photographs, artwork, clothes, tear sheets from magazines, fabric swatches, stationary, a collection of stones, feathers or glass objects.

And don’t forget nature as inspiration for a colour scheme (interior or exterior). If you live near the ocean, shades of blues and greens can be used to link your interior with its surroundings. Flowers, butterflies, stones, shells, driftwood are fantastic inspirations for colour schemes.

Once you have gathered all your beloved treasures in one spot, play around with the pieces, group them by colours and you will see a colour palette emerge. This “moodboard” is a great starting point for your interior designer, interior stylist or colour consultant to help you creating an individual and personal space, a home that reflects who you are and a place that you love coming home to.

Stylist’s tip: Before you start painting always buy a test pot and paint a large sheet of paper or cardboard (one square metre) with your colour. Tape it to the walls in your room and study it for a couple of days. Look at it in daylight and artificial light. This is very important as colours change depending on the light, the orientation of the room, other colours in the room and spatial elements like furniture and artwork for example.

What is the difference between a colour and a styling consultation?

The colour consultation focuses on creating a colour scheme for a specific room or space or the whole house according to your briefing. A qualified colour consultant can help you with interior and exterior colour schemes.

The styling consultation focuses on creating a certain (Your) style in your home or simply on answering all your questions about colours, style, furniture sourcing and placement, art sourcing and placement, displays of your collections, accessories, proportions in a space, lighting etc.

Again it is vital that the designer listens to what you would like to achieve (briefing) and makes sure that he understood what you want (debriefing). Don’t let the interior designer or interior stylist talk you into something you don’t like!

How do I maximise the output of my styling consultation?

Are you planning to colour, redecorate or renovate, but don’t know where to start? Do you have lots of questions about colour schemes, furniture placement, how to display your collections, books or other beloved things? Are you not sure whether to redecorate with your old furniture and accessories or to renovate and create a new look? Do you need inspirations where to source furniture and accessories, second hand pieces or antiques?

If you prepare your first consultation with your stylist properly, you will get answers to all the questions you have. Here are my tips how to maximise the output from your styling or colour consultation:

• Be clear what you would like the outcome of the consultation to be.

• Decide which room or space you would like to focus on. Is it only one room or the whole house?

• Prepare yourself with tear sheets from interior design magazines like Real Living, Inside Out, Belle or Vogue Living. There are plenty on the market so choose the one that speaks to you most and start collecting pages of everything you like: colour schemes, furniture, accessories, room layouts, rugs, flooring, wallpaper, decorative items and everything that speaks to you. If you do this for a couple of weeks you will clearly see what you like and find your own personal style.

• Keep your eyes open to the beautiful things around you: nature, architecture, design, museums, art, exhibitions, books, textiles and travel.

• Make sure that your stylist is listening and explain what you want to achieve with your styling project, what you would like a room to do for you and what mood you would like to create in your space.

And finally one of the most important things: Don’t let the stylist talk you into something you don’t like! You have to live in the space and you need to feel comfortable and at home! It is all about creating your home with your personal touch.

How do I find my own style?

The answer is as simple as this: explore the world around you and appreciate the beauty that lies within everything you discover!

Keep your eyes open and your mind excited! Discover and appreciate the beauty that surrounds you every day! Find inspiration in nature, buildings, shops, exhibitions, museums, art, events, markets, magazines and of course books.

One of my favourite books I spotted in a museum shop is called: How to be an explorer of the world by Keri Smith. On the back it says: “At any given moment, no matter where you are, there are hundreds of things around you that are interesting and worth documenting.”

A stylist’s tip: always carry a little notebook and a pen with you in order to be able to sketch, doodle and write down what you discover.

Keep all your findings, notes and pictures in a folder or box and keep searching for at least four to eight weeks. Then start to group things by colour or theme and you will discover what your style is. And there are no rules. It is all about finding what you like!

Books for your inspiration

This is a list of books that I personally own and love! They are all a fantastic source of inspiration and creative ideas for your home.

Sibella Court: Bowerbird

Shannon Fricke: Sense of Style

Megan Morton: Home Love

Holly Becker: Decorate

Susanna Salk: Be Your Own Decorator

Geraldine James: Creative Walls

Hans Blomquist: The Natural Home

Is it necessary to seek advice from a stylist when I want to sell my property?

If you plan to sell your house it is worth investing in a styling consultation. A professional property stylist can help you to achieve maximum impact when presenting your home to potential buyers. A property stylist will help you to get ready for the first inspection by giving you advice on how to style your house with what you have. He will help you with colour schemes that attract potential buyers. He will also advice if you need rental furniture to style each room according to its function and help potential buyers to envisage themselves in the space. Property styling is all about creating a wow factor in key areas of your home and help the buyers to envisage themselves in your space. Once the styling is done don’t forget to book your stylist for the real estate photography shoot to make sure everything looks perfect on this day!