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01/01/2013
By: arjunv
Tina Dann-Fenwick Interiors
I want to thank Tina for her help in designing a 1BR apartment for myself and my girlfriend. As recent grads who have never thought about the difference between a coffee table and a side table, furnishing our own apartment seemed daunting. What Tina brought was not only an expert opinion but a unique ability to put our own personal styles into words and then onto a floor plan. Tina is great at asking questions that clarify what you're looking for and just as important, what you're not looking for. Quite honestly, we could never have created anything so nice without Tina. Her expert opinion was invaluable throughout the entire process. Tina had creative ideas in our living room I never considered and deftly led us through the process of shopping and selecting the perfect pieces. I look back on all the anxiety and stress we avoided and am not sure how we would have made it through this process without her. Thanks Tina!
Tips & Advices
Interior designers can generally work on every type of room, but one should not assume that all of them can work on every type of space. More complicated projects--for example those in buildings with historic preservation strictures, or those that are going for sustainability certifications--will be suited to interior designers with specific expertise. Also, interior designers that have experience in a certain type of project may not want to take on projects that are outside their expertise. For example, an interior designer who has only worked on commercial projects may not want to do a small private home.
Every interior designer has their own style, but some designers are more versatile than others. Some really do specialize in functionality and code compliance, whereas others are more focused on aesthetics. Interior decorators are completely focused on visual impact, and therefore should be reviewed and selected based on how well their style is a match for the client’s tastes.
Full-service interior design starts with an assessment of a site and the client’s long-term needs for that space. It encompasses concept design, floor plans and lighting plans, providing project specifications to contractors, supervising  contractor negotiations and installations, applying for permits, and shopping for all the materials and pieces for the project. On top of this, there are the “decorator” deliverables, i.e. creating the aesthetic of the space, selecting wall colors/covers and furniture pieces, purchasing products and installing them.
An interior designer may come into a development project very early on, working with the developer and architect from the pre-construction phase. They may be the one to design floor plans, decide where to place interior walls, and supervise contractors that are installing elements of the build. They often work on commercial projects, although many of them work on residential projects. Interior designers can “switch hats” and do interior decoration, which means they are only focused on the aesthetic elements and visual components of a residence.
An interior designer or interior decorator should ask a potential client what the scope of the project is, what the projected budget is, what payment structure the client wants, and what the timeline for the project is. Also, they should be asking whether the client has any samples of other projects they like, and would like to use as a guideline. They could also ask what the client’s budget for furniture/accessories/art is, since that in many cases is a separate amount from the budget for the designer’s labor. If an interior designer is being interviewed early into a new build or a renovation project, they might ask questions to determine whether they can collaborate with architects and contractors from early on, to execute their vision for the space. If that is not in line with a client’s wishes, the client can then say that the project scope is for interior design only.

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