Do I need an interior designer, an architect, or both?

So, you’ve decided to renovate or extend your home. You have a very busy life and know you need help with pulling the project together, so where do you start?

Architects and Interior Designers have very different specialisms, but at the same time there is a lot of cross over between the two. Here are ten useful tips for deciding who (and when) to call in the professionals.

  1. Extending your property? If you’re looking to add more space to your footprint, you’ll want the services of a RIBA certified architect to help you through this process. They are best placed to draw up a workable design and submit these to planning on your behalf. It’s important to note that this is also the time you should be consulting with an interior designer, to ensure the build will meet all of your practical requirements for day to day living. Where architects create the broader vision for how the exterior and internal space will look overall, an interior designers job is to go into the fine detail (nitty gritty) of how everything works for your daily lifestyle.
  2. Spacial planning and reconfiguring layouts? Unless the building is listed and would require planning to alter, you likely don’t need an architect for this. Interior designers (well, trained and qualified ones) are knowledgeable enough to help you redesign your internal layouts and with the support of a good contractor to ensure all building regulations are met, they will be able to work with your brief and transform the internal space of your home and these types of projects are likely too small for a busy architects practice anyway.
  3. Garden buildings? Contrary to popular belief, you can’t just building anything of any size in your garden and call it a shed/outbuilding. There are planning restrictions across the whole curtilage of your property and if you intend to add a granny annexe or large home office, you will likely have to apply for planning, so call that architect or planning consultant to advise.
  4. Garage conversions? Similarly to point 2, you likely won’t need an architect for this one, unless you’re in a conservation area and intend to do away with the garage door and change the appearance of the front of the building. In that case, it’s back to planning again..
  5. Lighting design? Many interior designers are much better placed for lighting design than architects in residential properties, simply due to the nature of the timeline of works. This is because an interior designer will ALWAYS plot the furniture out first, knowing where the light should be and what type of fittings would be suitable. Architects can also of course create stunning lighting designs, but they tend to focus more on lighting of architectural features and the levels of light, rather than furniture and artwork.
  6. Kitchen and bathroom design? These two rooms in your house need to be the most functional, so the best person for the job is usually an interior designer. Getting into the minutiae of how many pans you need to store, who eats at the breakfast bar, how many appliances you need, where you’d like your spices and oils to be and exactly how you’re going to use the bathroom is something that’s important to plan first, before the finer details of the look of the kitchen/bathroom are finalised.
  7. Designing for accessibility and ergonomics. Here is where designers and architects work hand in hand. An architect will be able to work with the proportions of your home and transform it for maximum accessibility, such as the inclusion of ramps, widening doorways, the positioning of grab rails or whatever the physical needs of the client may be. A designer will ensure that these modifications are done tastefully and in a very discreet way, so that aesthetically integrates with the rest of the home without being ‘obviously accessible’. Just because a client has additional needs, does not mean they should have to suffer with unsightly accessories in their home and as designers we spend a lot of our time becoming familiar with new products to market that are specifically for accessibility, but also beautifully designed. Ergonomics are also crucial to the comfort of any home and a good interior designer will factor this in to all of the furniture choices they suggest.
  8. Creating a sustainable home or one that greatly reduces your carbon footprint. Look for those architects that have a Passivhaus accreditation if you’re looking into technologies that can be installed or certain construction methods that will create a carbon neutral home with renewable energies. There are also a swathe of interior designers focussing more on sustainable design than ever before – specifying antiques and reclaimed materials, carefully choosing where items are sourced from and knowing the provenance of everything they source. This is another win for collaboration between architects and designers who share a common sustainability goal.
  9. Return on investment. If you’re looking to renovate or build with solely profit in mind, there are different ways in which both architects and designers can help. A good architect will be able to advise on practical build costs to keep these budgets in check, as well as creating an attractive building with masses of curb appeal, whilst a designer can help you stage your property for sale by delving into the mind of potential buyers, knowing that they’re likely looking to invest in a lifestyle, not just a new home.
  10. A home that tells the story of who you are. Enter the interior designer. We are privileged to get to know our clients and who they really are, using our detective work skills, knowing what questions to ask, looking for uniqueness in your style and the way you want to live your life to create a truly immersive interior that is a reflection of you.

So, before you embark upon your next project, think about what you’re looking to achieve and look through our checklist above to identify exactly who you need on your team, to bring those dreams to fruition.

You can follow us on social media @thestudiojq for project updates, interior design tips and other useful interiors related content – go check it out!

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