• Sonja Capasso

Everyone wants to be a designer! (*eye roll)

Interior design business has become almost the type of profession that any hobbyist think they can do it.

Interior Designer's jobs are being replaced by apps and people who watch HGTV!

Watching HGTV does not make one an expert in interior design no more than watching Grey's Anatomy makes someone a surgeon.

This is bugging me - ever so slightly, and I feel the need to explain this. Interior design business has become almost the type of profession that any hobbyist think they can do it. Someone with creative talent can paint a cool paint on a feature wall, buy pretty furniture and accessories, and arrange it all and it looks great! Yes, there are some of you who can do that, don't get me wrong - but most people just THINK they can.

*But first, let me explain the difference between a Interior Decorator and Interior Designer. Did you know there is a difference? True, the law dictates who can call themselves a designer and who can use the term decorator - each state has it's own rules. But in the spirit of this PSA, you should know that the difference between a decorator and a designer is education and experience. Designers deal with space function, planning for occupant needs and provide designs that address creative and technical design solutions that adhere to code requirements. We design with style AND function. Personally, I can call myself an interior designer as long as I only provide my clients with residential design. This is Florida's law for designers who have a degree in design. Interior Designers who work in commercial design have to obtain an additional license, NCIDQ which stands for National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Interior Decorators, on the other hand, deal mostly with furnishing and decorating existing spaces. They 'normally' do not provide technical drawings, space planning, lighting schedules, or any other type of demo and construction documents.*

*Let me also clear this up for a minute. I am not here to bash or discourage anyone for trying to decorate their home. Many people just don't have the money to hire a designer - or so they think! Here is post explaining that yes, you too CAN afford to hire a designer.

But there are many of us (me included and I will explain why, keep reading!) who think we can do the job of any interior designer - yet those amateur designs will fall short on style, execution, and technical skill.

Yes, there is actually a science behind interior design. I should know - I WAS one of those amateurs before I pursued a career and education in design.

I mean, really! Watching HGTV does not make one an expert in interior design no more than watching Grey's Anatomy makes someone a surgeon. I used to do exactly that. Let me explain:

Being an artist and a creative all my life, I watched HGTV with gusto all the time and said to myself, "I can totally do that!" And so I did. I 'redesigned' our kitchen, living room, and master bedroom and bathroom BEFORE I went to design school.

So how did my design turn out? I would probably give it a 5/10 on execution and style. There is so much I just didn't know about scale, proportion, depth, elevations, textures, colors, etc. Going to school was eye opening, and I immediately realized that I actually knew NOTHING about interior design.

I 'designed' our kitchen with a kitchen planner - and it was not that pretty. Here is the example of my 'design work' before school - and after school (and years of experience and exposure to interior design as a professional).

MY design attempt of the kitchen before I obtained my interior design degree

The difference in this kitchen design between a BEFORE and AFTER image is astounding!

I tried so hard to make our master bathroom stand out and make it unique - years before I obtained my design degree. Unique, it was!

My attempt to make our master bedroom amazing, modern, and unique.

What a massive difference in this master bathroom design!

The bedroom turned out ok - with the exception that I purchased the WRONG size nightstands, as I did not know much about depth and height of furniture. Here is the before picture and after I purchased proper size nightstands.

Here is a fairly good attempt at our master bedroom re-design.

This is the result of my bedroom after I finished interior design school. Adding accessories and proper size nightstands made a huge difference.

Living room - Again, I did not think about the depth of the chairs, and so I purchased chairs that were the right length, BUT way too deep for our space. Because I wasn't thinking in 3D, the coffee table just barely fits. I never did fix this space because the mistakes added up $$$$. I did however remove partial wall so the chairs could fit better in the room. Live and learn!

This was my very poor attempt at living room design WAY before I went to design school.

While this is not perfect, it is a whole lot better than the image before!

And this is exactly my point - amateur designer and a professional designer have two different skill sets. I am the perfect example. Even if you are a decorator - i.e. did not obtain a design degree (like Joanna Gaines, Shay McGee, or any other incredibly successful designer out there), they back up their knowledge of learning on the go - because they make interior design their profession and life. They learn from experience. They keep working, learning, evolving. But a one time 'designer' that works on one project at home, will most likely end up with mistakes, problems, and costly issues.

Let me share a few boo-boo that will cost you money:

  • You purchased counter stools because you like the color and style, but when they arrive, they look minuscule. This would not have happened had you scaled those items in an elevation drawing.

  • You listen to your friends and buy Agreeable Gray paint because EVERYONE said it's a perfect paint and you can't go wrong with it. Mind you, your home is older with just a few windows, very little natural light, and the color on the wall all of a sudden looks beige instead of gray. Understanding HOW to properly select paint color is a skill, not luck.

  • Purchasing one furniture item at a time, because well, you love that piece so much. You forget to think about the overall design scale, and you 'forget' to plan design with EVERYTHING in mind. This includes wall color, trim, door color and style, hardware style, fabric pattern, color, and texture, style and the shape of furniture, lighting selections, floor choices, and more. In design, everything should work together harmoniously, and only with education, experience, and knowledge you can pull this off. (I concede that there are most definitely people out there who CAN design gorgeous spaces easily, with only their talent, but this is more of an exception than the rule.)

  • Shopping around to find the best deal, only to end up with more work than you needed to have. Following through with deliveries, furniture problems, out of stock items, price changes, are all the things you can avoid by having your designer do that for you. This way, ALL your furniture arrives at once, and is installed immediately. Done and done.

I may add to the list as I go and as I see mistakes clients make, but here are a few more reasons of why you SHOULD  HIRE an interior designer:

  • You want your home design to stand our and be unique, creative, and unlike anything all your friends are currently doing. (For example, white subway tile, farmhouse style, all white kitchens, using fiddle leaf trees, etc).

  • You want to be ahead of design trends. Designers have an inside look to things that are going to trend in the future.

  • You want to be ahead of the game? Hire a designer!If you want to complete your project on time and budget, we can help you with that. We are great at helping you stay on track with your time and budget. You will only spend what you are comfortable with, you will know all the prices before your purchase, and there will not be any surprises when it come to buying items.

  • If you want to step away from your comfort zone:  Designers can visualize your space and can help nudge you a bit out of your comfort zone, and help you design a space is not going to be generic, but rather one-of-a-kind and it will still be withing your design style.

I understand that interior design is something that most people think they can do - but in all honesty - it takes years of practice, education, and work to do things right. Even then, designers still make mistakes. It happens. But we CAN fix mistakes and realize the error BEFORE it's too late!

And so today, I really want to emphasize this:

You can actually afford a quality interior designer! Click here and see if I am right!You would not want to cut your own hair after watching your stylist cut and color it, would you? If you do, (and I did this also - guilty as charged) you will probably end up with a crooked hair cut and a wrong hair color.If you are ready and willing to pay your massage, hair stylist, nail tech, go to a fancy dinner, buy expensive shoes, and shell out 100's of dollars for something that is a temporary fix, then you can and should hire a designer. WHY? Because investing in your home is a LONG TERM investment that will stay with you for 7-10 years, and professional design WILL increase the value of your home. I should know, I am also a licensed real estate broker and have flipped improved properties for a nice profit.

So here you go! For those of you who think you can do our design job, I am asking you to save yourself trouble, headache, and costly mistakes, and hire a designer that can easily and professionally design a home (or room) of your dreams.

There are many of us who love what we do, are good at our jobs, and want to please our customers. That perfect designer that fits your style, needs, and budget is out there....Just ask!

With love,

Sonja Capasso, LEED AP ID+C, Allied ASID

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Capasso + Co

Sonja Capasso, LEED AP ID+C

Watertown, CT 06704


© 2018 by Capasso Interiors.

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