I've been renovating houses since the late 1980's when my then boyfriend (now husband of 30 years) and I moved into a flat that covered the whole upstairs of a falling down house. Anyone who knows Ormskirk in West Lancashire, the house used to be where the traffic lights now are on St Helens Road, right opposite The Cricketers. We got the flat for dirt cheap rent because it was in such a state and so we set about giving it a bit of TLC. A year later and ...
Just before our wedding we bought our first house and quickly realised we'd made a big mistake because it needed absolutely nothing done to it. We had the renovation itch. But it was here that I started my interior design training in 1988,
Our next house that we bought in Birkdale in 1990, was definitely a fixer upper. Except there was a huge issue here too - we moved in the day that the interest rates went to their highest levels ever, and we could barely afford to live. In fact, we lived off baked beans on toast for a year, and for a special treat on Christmas day we had egg on beans on cheese on toast. Truly. So for that first year we struggled to do any of the renovation we were excited to get into.
It was in this house, a double fronted Victorian villa, where I understood the distinction between interior design and interior decoration, and when it comes to our own home the battle between the two has been pretty constant. In fact, I reckon if you visited us even now you would be able to identify where the interior decorator (Mr B&T) took over, and where the interior designer (me, obviously!) was in control. Clearly I can't be in control all of the time, or Mr B&T wouldn't feel like this was his home too. It has to be said, though, that his favourite room in the house is the snug ... and you guessed it, it's a room where I was in control and I got to work my interior design magic.
What, then, is the difference between the two and which do you need? (Interior decoration and interior design, not Mr B&T and me!)
The best way to answer the question is to know what it is that you are doing in your home. Let's get an understanding of what each is first. Interior decoration is the process of putting paint on the wall, changing the carpets, and putting the soft furnishings (curtains and cushions) in place. It's not a job to be belittled, and even though many of us think we can do a good job ourselves, the truth is the professionals can generally do it much better. However for many people interior decoration is the thing we do for ourselves, and it is often done to freshen up the rooms in our home without much awareness of interior design. The interior decorator makes the best of what is already there in a room.
What about an interior designer? Well, where the interior decorator might paint the wall, the interior designer may take more extreme steps and knock the wall down! Although it's fair to say, interior design isn't always about getting the sledge hammer out?
More accurately, the designer creates a concept that pushes the home owner's boundaries and helps them make decisions about their room or their home that they wouldn't have taken without the guidance and, in some cases, being pushed.
And to do that, the interior designer needs to get into the mind and soul of the client, with a high level of personal interaction and psychological understanding. This means that the interior designer gets a deeper understanding of what it is that the client needs and wants, quite often connecting with something they didn't even know they wanted.
In short, the interior designer may decorate, however the interior decorator will not design. More likely, the decorator will implement the design under the direction of the interior designer.
Which, then, do you need? That really depends on a number of things