When Should I Start Looking For Interior Designer – Written by Cynthia Paez Bowman Written by Cynthia Paez BowmanArrow Right Personal Finance Contributor Cynthia Paez Bowman is a former personal finance contributor to . He is a financial and business journalist who has been featured on Business Jet Traveler, MSN, CheatSheet.com, Freshome.com and TheSimpleDollar.com. Connect with Cynthia Paez Bowman on Twitter Twitter Connect with Cynthia Paez Bowman on LinkedIn Linkedin Contact Cynthia Paez Bowman via Email Email Cynthia Paez Bowman

Edited by Troy Segal Edited by Troy SegalArrow Right Senior editor, Home Lending Troy Segal is a senior editor for . He edits stories about Homeownership in addition to stories about the finer points of mortgages and home equity loans. Connect with Troy Segal on Twitter Twitter Connect with Troy Segal via Email Email Troy Segal

When Should I Start Looking For Interior Designer

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Interior Design: The 8 Most Important Principles

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Putting together a room (or an entire home) takes energy and talent. After all, there are many decisions to be made about color, finishes, size, scale, focal point, room layout and more. Not everyone is forced to make such decisions. Honestly, it can be overwhelming.

Luckily, interior designers are trained to transform spaces — taking the guesswork out of home design. Colleen Primm of Colleen Primm Design, a Cleveland-based firm, explains, “Interior designers can create a feeling in a space that a client is looking for but doesn’t know how to create themselves.”

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An interior designer is a professional trained in creating an orderly, functional space within a building. Interior designers often specialize in a specific field, such as residential (homes), commercial (business) or hospitality (hotels). Within the residential field, some specialize more, in kitchens/bathrooms or (increasingly popular, as the population ages), home modifications for seniors.

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The usual process starts with a meeting. Most designers will display their portfolios so you can view photos of past projects. The portfolio should give you a good idea of ​​their style and attention to detail. If you like what you see, you can move on to discuss your goals, budget and needs.

After touring your home or the site where your new home will be, the designer can use your preferences to sketch what the final product might look like. Or, they can create boards (literal physical or 3D computer renderings) that feature many of the most important elements of the room or rooms, such as colors and themes; materials and fabric samples; lighting; floor, ceiling and wall finishing; and fittings. They will usually propose a budget and contract detailing their services.

Once you approve the design of the space, the interior designer will pick up the items needed for the room, such as furniture and accessories. In some cases, an interior designer may come with you to help you select items and/or serve as a project manager, overseeing the work of contractors.

Interior designers must earn a minimum of an associate’s degree from an accredited school, but many earn a bachelor’s degree (BFA or BS) in interior design, or even architecture. Some of the required courses may include drawing, lighting design, architecture, environmental science, professional skills and computer drafting. Some of the more prestigious institutions, such as the New York School of Interior Design, Savannah College of Art and Design and Rhode Island School of Design, are specialized, but also offer a liberal arts education.

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As the Bureau of Labor Statistics notes, interior designers must be able to draw, read and edit blueprints. They must also be familiar with national and local building codes, inspection regulations and access standards.

Because they deal with construction, electrical wiring and plumbing, interior designers must be sanctioned by the state, and each state has its own licensing or certification requirements. Most states that require credentials will require that designers pass the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.

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Besides NCIDQ certification, reputable interior designers often have other credentials. Look for these initials after their names:

Obviously, there is overlap between the two professions. Interior designers offer decorating services, and many interior decorators style themselves, rather confusingly, as designers.

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The main difference: An interior designer usually has more education than a decorator. Decoration is only one aspect of a design project — interior designers are capable of furnishing a room but also of imagining and creating (theoretically, at least) its internal structure and bones. In contrast, a decorator is not certified to design a space. They deal with providing it, but not with any major changes. They can propose structural changes, but are not qualified to implement anything.

For example, a decorator can help you change your bathroom — replace fixtures, refresh walls or floors, add new accessories. A designer will be called in if you want to significantly enlarge the bathroom, add a separate shower or rearrange the placement of the tub, toilet or sink.

If all you need is help choosing a few accents or furniture pieces, or developing a color theme, an interior decorator can work. But if the project is bigger and involves a major renovation (or new build), space planning, coordinating with an architect and contractors, a certified interior designer is the best choice.

When choosing an interior designer, ask for referrals from previous clients. Check the designer’s training and certification, as well as photos of rooms and projects they’ve completed in the past.

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Interior designer Courtney Wollersheim of Milwaukee and Madison, Wisconsin-based company FLOOR360 recommends, “Find out how the designer charges — is it a monthly retainer or an hourly rate? Also ask if they charge in products or materials purchased for your project. If on budget, the designer may offer a flat-rate package that fits your needs.”

Wollersheim adds, “Ask for a detailed description of what their services require.” And write everything down, to avoid misunderstanding.

Communication is key when working with an interior designer, especially when you get down to project planning. Choose a designer who takes your preferences into account and understands what you’re looking for. Remember

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