BY ELIZABETH POWELL
When smart design and timeless décor collide, the two art forms take shape to create one beautiful home. When executed well, design and décor act as a dynamic duo instilling that It factor desired by all, but sometimes it is difficult to know where to begin.
Bringing visions to actualization often requires the expertise from a designer or a decorator, but the distinction between the two is commonly misunderstood. Your starting point will largely depend on the size and scale of your project.
Is your dream home still an idea in your head waiting to be built? Do you want to remodel your kitchen or refurbish a historic home? Maybe your bathroom needs to be updated or the colors in your living room need to be refreshed. The answers to these questions will help determine whether to call on an interior designer or an interior decorator.
At Postcard from Paris, we are committed to delivering the highest levels of service in both areas of expertise. Heather Herbsleb, a designer with the firm since Spring of 2015 helps us to define the distinction between designers and decorators.
EDUCATION VS. INTUITION
After receiving her Bachelor of Science in Business Management from Clemson University, Heather earned an Associates of Fine Arts in interior design from The Art Institute of Charlotte before beginning her career as an interior designer. Heather explains that this formal training, most often required by the state, is the first step to identifying a designer verses a decorator.
“Interior Designers bring a specific education to the project. This allows them to speak authoritatively to building code requirements and structural considerations when designing a home.”
While designers obtain legal certifications in their field, decorators can rely on their intuition and sixth sense of style to enhance and flatter a home’s appeal.
While Heather and all of our designers at Postcard from Paris are stunning decorators in addition to their role as designer, a decorator would not be qualified to serve as a designer without receiving the proper education first.
STRUCTURE VS. AESTHETICS
Designers contribute to the actual structure of the building and work closely with architects to determine building plans. They are involved in the building project from idea conception to completed construction, and individual projects can last up to two years.
Heather is proficient in AutoCAD, a software system that allows her to work seamlessly with architects and builders.
“We function similarly to an architect. Where the architect worries about the exterior, we are focused on the interiors and work closely with the architect and client to tweak and finalize drawings.”
Think of their decisions and implementations in a home as more permanent than décor. Designers assist in determining space layouts, wall finishes and colors, floorings, cabinetry, moldings, built-in specifications, door styles, and hardware.
Bringing clarity to the endless amount of options is one of Heather’s key roles as a designer.
“For people who don’t know exactly what they want, we can help them visualize possibilities. I always like to give three options, and throughout the process I start to anticipate my client’s preferences.”
Only after these design decisions have been made, does an interior decorator enter the scene to determine furniture layouts, colors, textiles, and textures in a space.
FUNCTIONALITY VS. FEEL
Interior designers focus on functionality and work closely with their clients to understand how the inhabitants will use each space on a daily basis. Heather gathers this information and builds her plans accordingly, walking her client through every phase of the project.
“At the beginning of a project, designers might meet with their clients once a week or every two weeks. Once the framing is in place, we make regular site visits with the architect and the builder to make sure everything is on track.”
After the designers have laid the foundation, decorators use their talents to bring style and feeling into a space.
Imagine a mountain home’s décor in contrast to a beach home. For the mountain home, the decorator can create a feeling of warmth and comfort with an oversized leather sofa with a wool throw nested in front of a fireplace. For the beach home, the same decorator can embody the carefree and weightless feel of summer with a white linen sofa, ocean blue accents and fresh flowers.