Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Interior design vs. interior decor

It seems that the designer vs. decorator topic is one I have to confront daily. Most recently it was with a decorator; she approached me with two issues: 1) her client hired her to redo the kitchen and she can't do floor plans and other drawings and didn't know how to proceed (she was considering having a big-box hardware store do the kitchen drawings), and 2) she doesn't like the fact that we have to compete at a professional level. Whoa! Back up a minute!!

Maybe I was rude to her. Ok, maybe it was intentional. I asked her what her educational background is. None relevant - she worked in human resources for an automotive company for a few years. I asked her about her professional liability insurance. None; she didn't think she needs it and didn't think that decorators can get any. I asked her about licenses, memberships with professional orders or associations. Again, none. I answered the same questions I asked her then asked her if she really sees herself as my "professional" competition.

The truth is that I have nothing against decorators, and I have employed a couple of them over the years when I have been too involved with design work to be able to also properly handle the decor side of projects. Decorating, or achieving good decor anyway, requires a lot of patience; strong knowledge and understanding of materials, colour theory, and pattern use; a good rapport with local suppliers; respect of clients' budgets; and a good eye combined with common sense mixed with the ability to vary from one's own tastes.

So, no offense meant to decorators in general, but it's important that we all realize and recognize that there are different professionals to hire for different jobs. And yes, some decorators truly are decor professionals. For more on this topic, see my article "Who To Hire" on the Articles page of Idealspace Design's website.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Decoration not required

Sometimes it happens that we lose sight of what really matters, and it takes an usual situation to bring it back to our minds. As an interior designer, my world often feels cluttered with decor items - catalogs arrive routinely from manufacturers of everything from pillows and candles to artificial plants, decorative vases, wall decals, and more. When not in the form of direct mailings, it's in a commercial on television, a flyer included with my morning newspaper, and in every store - even the grocery store has a home decor section.

There's nothing wrong with decorative objects; not only do they serve the purpose of adding some pizazz to a space, but they make such easy gifts. (Don't we all need yet another chrome photo frame? Yes, that's sarcasm.) But there are times when decorating does not benefit a space more than the actual design already has.

Imagine a large L-shaped room with high ceilings, two generously sized windows with a gorgeous view, an en-suite washroom, a bed, a couple of chairs, and a double wardrobe. The decor was simple: off-white walls, and you leave the room not remembering the colour scheme or if there was one. But the room was beautiful in its simplicity. Oddly enough, this room that reminded me how little decorating a space needs if the design can speak for itself was a hospital room. Just goes to show that there's no telling where you'll be when you'll be reminded of what really matters.