Sara Ray Interior Design

Designer or Decorator?

plans & fabrics

We’re often asked, what is the difference between an interior designer and a decorator? It’s a good question – it seems like everyone is a designer or decorator or stylist these days! Interior design and decorating are related; however, one requires a professional degree and the other does not.

Here’s how the Council for Interior Design Qualification explains the main differences:

“Many people use the terms ‘interior design’ and ‘interior decorating’ interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways. Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

“Interior designers apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive and beneficial to the occupants’ quality of life and culture. Designs respond to and coordinate with the building 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 — to satisfy the client’s needs and resources.

“U.S. [states] and Canadian provinces have passed laws requiring interior designers to be licensed or registered and to document their formal education and training. Many states and provinces also specifically require all practicing interior designers to earn the NCIDQ Certification to demonstrate their experience and qualifications. By contrast, decorators require no formal training or licensure.”

Sara Ray is a licensed interior designer – she has a degree in Interior Design from Watkins College of Art, Design & Film, and she earned NCIDQ certification (National Council for Interior Design Qualification). Additionally, Sara’s a member of ASID (American Society of Interior Designers), the oldest, largest, and leading professional organization for interior designers. There’s a required number of hours of continuing education that designers must complete each year for ASID membership and licensure. All of our designers hold degrees from CIDA-accredited interior design programs. We take it seriously.

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So why hire an interior designer vs a decorator?

Working with an interior designer gives you peace of mind that you’ll make the right decisions for your lifestyle, your architecture, and your neighborhood. Designers make good project managers, because we know what needs to happen and when. We keep the big picture in mind and make sure every detail aligns with the plan. We work with your budget to give the best result and the most value for your money. All that training, certification, and experience we talked about? You’ll feel it when you’re working with us. We’re experts in this field. It takes more than a good eye for pretty things to make your vision come to life. It also takes a heck of a lot of attention to detail, and knowing what those details are in the first place.

As a full-service interior design firm, we have a lot to offer! We specialize in kitchen and bath design, and we can assist with pretty much anything inside or outside your home. We are skilled at space planning to make the most of your existing space, and we can help your vision of new spaces come to life. Many of our projects includes specifying fixtures and finishes. Our designers create detailed construction drawings and elevations for tile and cabinetry, and our electrical & lighting plans ensure that the designer’s plan is exactly what is manifested. We also know the industry and “have your back” when it comes to dealing with tough decisions and working with other professionals. We work hand-in-hand with architects and contractors on many projects each year.

Now listen, it’s not all about the technical stuff. We love decorating, too! We’re passionate about it, in fact. It’s the part of our job that adds personality and completes your design. We have resources for beautiful window treatments, pillows, bedding, furniture, accessories…everything you need to make it all come together! We can completely re-imagine your space, or just give it a little update. We don’t want to downplay the importance of décor, by any means. But when you hire an interior designer, you’re getting much more than a decorator. You’re getting a plan for a beautiful space that works for you and your lifestyle!


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