Today is Part 2 of our 10 part series. Read Part 1: Shop in the Right Store and You May Not Need Me. In this series I am breaking down an article: 10 Things Interior Designers Won't Tell You.
MY TITLE DOESN'T MEAN VERY MUCH
2. "My Title Doesn't Mean Very Much." Interior decorator is a title that almost anybody can use. There is no governing organization, no licensing requirement (except in Puerto Rico), not even a test to prove that you know your Jacquard from your jack of all trades. Traditionally, decorators limit their services to buying and arranging furniture, fabric and accessories.
Interior designers are the ones who draw up plans and oversee contractors -- and flash impressive-looking licenses. A handful of states require interior designers to pass a six-part test and have two to eight years of education and job experience. Trade groups like the American Society of Interior Designers make a big fuss about this exam. But in many respects, it doesn't amount to much. Sure, the test includes a lot of technical information about such topics as electrical and fire codes. But only in a handful of states does failing the test prevent you from practicing interior design. What's more, because they only oversee the use of a title, most state boards have limited authority. If you call to find out whether any complaints have been lodged against someone, the boards that give out such information -- not all of them will -- generally can tell you only if the person has abused the use of his title, and nothing more.
How can you check out a designer's standing or ethical practices? You might call the ASID to see whether the candidate is still a member or not. But since less than half of all U.S. designers are members of the association, you probably won't find out a great deal -- so check your designer's references carefully.
There is no overall governing body for interior designers. Some professionals choose to call themselves an interior designer and some choose to call themselves interior decorators. Check your state laws to see what the requirements are in your area. Like everything, as a client you need to do you due diligence. First, you should feel comfortable around the designer. Check the references if you'd like, past clients, vendors, subcontractors, Houzz are all excellent resources if you are unsure of a designer.
I don't have a degree in interior design, but I worked for a prominent interior decorator for several years that taught me more than I would have learned in design school. There are many great interior designers that don't have degrees in interior design. My work is conceptual and focused on creating and overseeing a design plan for your home. I do not do commercial work and I rely on other professionals when building codes and construction drawings are necessary. I am also upfront about this with my clients. There are thousands of interior designers who are licensed and have gone to school for interior design, they have knowledge of building systems, codes, and construction that I do not and if that is something a project requires an architect can be brought on to collaborate. But perhaps that project is not the right fit for my services.
Hiring a professional is important, regardless of what they've chosen to call themselves. Just make sure that they are a good fit for your project.
And a final word for the professional interior designers, don't be sleazy, treat your clients respectfully and maintain transparency and openness in your business. Or else you give the rest of us a bad name.
read the entire series: