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Designer or Decorator?

I was asked the other day if I was licensed to practice as an Interior Decorator. My client was quite surprised when I told her there are no regulations in B.C.  concerning the use of the title Interior Designer or Decorator. This means anyone can tag the title onto their name and set up business.  Currently the Interior Design  Institute of BC is lobbying to have this changed but  for now here’s some information that may help you make an informed decision if you are looking for help.  
What is the  difference between a Designer and a Decorator?  Quite a lot, actually.   The industry standard is: In terms of education, Designers have completed several years of Post secondary education, for example the DID (Diploma of Interior Design)  program of Mount Royal College in Calgary, or a 4 year university program.  The Designer can be responsible for any aspect of a renovation or initial build, from decoration to guidance on heating and plumbing and  can work with architects, contractors and government agencies –  and  they often specialize in either residential or commercial applications.
Decorators have  completed some  additional education -such as the Sheffield School or a one or two year program offered by a college. Generally speaking, a Decorator is responsible for the interior styling of rooms and often has a specialty. For example, mine color coordination and the use  of fabric in decorating.
Out of respect for the high level of education a Designer undertakes,  most of us who have education in Decoration do not call ourselves Designers. A  Design Consultant is usually someone with lots of hands on experience but no formal education. The confusion for clients comes from seeing ‘Certified’ or ‘Licensed’, ‘Decorator’ or ‘Designer’ and assuming it means regulated or implies a level of education. It does not.  Is this title thing really important?  Well, in the absence of  any regulations,  if I was going to hire a plumber I’d like the guy who calls himself a plumber  to actually have credible training in the profession. 
 The discerning client should ask  questions to establish the real credentials of the ‘Designer’ or ‘Decorator’ and choose the professional who best meets their needs. While actual experience is
 invaluable; training in a chosen field and using the appropriate title indicates a  serious commitment to the profession. 
And what about Staging? Well, that’s another ball game altogether and we’ll look at this profession in  another column. 

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