2 Interior Designers & Decorators in Chicago

Area

More often than not, we tend to think of interior design and decoration as one and the same. While there are aspects which cross over in these fields of expertise, it’s not true that they’re identical. This becomes more evident when we look at what each of these particular jobs actually entail in terms of what they do for our living spaces.

Designers aren’t just aware of objects that we use in the home; they have a unique psychological understanding of space and how we use it. Their knowledge extends to what spaces feel like and what room-to-room flow makes sense.

Decorators are more in tune with particular items and with coordinating colors. They have a practical knowledge which extends to architecture and design, and lends itself to selecting items which will either enhance a space or be physically used in it.  

Designers

The most important thing that designers understand is the way in which we interact with the spaces around us, whether they be large or small. Because they understand the psychological aspects of living spaces, they are better suited than most people to fully understand the way a room or home should be designed. This helps them to use spaces and their contents more efficiently, and maximize the potential of the area available. It also allows them to create spaces which can be used seamlessly by creating a flow throughout the home or office. For example, a designer will not plan a double-storey house with only a single bathroom downstairs and all the bedrooms upstairs! 

They also are able to pair items with places, in order to not only make the rooms flow, but also streamline what happens inside them. For instance, they will ensure that sinks aren’t near to electrical outlets, but that the crockery cupboard is only arm’s reach away when you’re done with the dishes. A designer will try to get into the head of his or her client to better create a livable home, one which is both functional and serves the client’s vision. 

Decorators

Decorators are the go-to people when it comes to making a space look really amazing. While interior designers are focused on the practical use and application of things in a room, decorators care about the stylistic choices. They’ll put specific items in specific rooms to ensure that everything fits together nicely and has the ideal ambiance. One takes a room and makes it as user-friendly as possible, while the other makes sure the room looks warm and inviting. When you need the right chair to match that beautiful old piano you just bought, a decorator is the person you want to consult. 

This isn't to say that decorators have a less important job! Even if they’re only choosing picture frames to fit the room, it’s still an integral part of how we view our homes. A good decorator will specialize in knowledge of styles by decade, color matching and what items will work in which spaces. 

If you’re looking to make a dull room spectacular, or just can’t decide on which curtains best fit your bedroom, a decorator has you covered.

Finding the right Chicago-based designer/decorator

The City in the Garden is the 3rd biggest city in America, and one of the hubs for music and culture. Its size means that there are a great number of people who will be in the field you need, so it’s important to choose the right one! It will take time to find the perfect person for the job, so here are a few helpful tips to go through when you’ve got a burning project to take care of.

Your first port of call is going to be portfolio browsing. This is an important step for a number of reasons. Firstly, you need to see what types of designers and decorators are out there. Secondly, you want to pick one that has the right tastes for your vision. The size and scope of your project will also come into play here, because your to-do list will be the deciding factor in whom you choose. It’s not sensible to get a designer who focuses on modelling large shopping malls to come in and design your lounge! They will be able to do it, no doubt, but they will not necessarily be the best person for the job. 

Decide if you need a decorator or a designer by looking at your space and thinking about whether you need a complete redesign or a touch-up. Make sure you have a clear vision of what you want at the outset. Ask yourself, does your living room need to be a completely new area from the ground up, or can you just replace that old couch set and color your walls and decorations to match? 

Looking at your budget will also be a big factor to consider. Smaller jobs like a single-room re-vamp will be much cheaper than a full-house redesign, so stick within the constraints of what you want, and be specific about them too. In short, when you’re looking to hire someone, make sure that their forte is what you have in mind, and make sure you hire someone who does great work in your financial bracket.

What to expect from an interior designer/decorator in Chicago

Designers in any American city will offer you the same thing: a complete redesign of your space to maximize the way in which you and your family and guests use it. Decorators on the other hand, will be the people you call to change specific items in that space or add something special to complete it. There are also generalist members of the community who can do both, and will enhance the way you use an area while also ensuring that it achieves the perfect ambiance. 

When setting your expectations, remember to pick the person who does what you need, and not someone who specializes in things which don’t apply to you.

Country-wide, the average cost for an interior designer is in the region of $50.00 to $200.00 per hour, not including the cost of purchasing materials or furniture. Chicago-based designers will charge a little more for residential, but they more often than not will do so with a “plus materials” cost. On average you can expect to pay in the region of about $100.00 to $130.00 per hour on residential spaces. If you’re planning on doing a commercial space, you can expect a slight increase of $120.00 to $150.00 on average; both of these figures are plus materials such as paint, touch ups, wall work etc.

For some designer/decorators, you will be charged per square foot instead of per hour, with the national average on a finished job sitting just over $5,500.00. Be aware though that Chicago is a little higher at $6,000.00 per job. Also remember that your job per square foot will cost an amount based on the size of your property, meaning that you will have a much higher price tag if you are doing a larger space!

Licences and certifications, why you should look for them

American designer and decorators have to go through a gruelling period of at least 4 years in order to be certified. Firstly, they have to pass a 3-part test, which is set by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). The 4-year period required is done prior to this testing in 2 equal parts: 2 years in a postsecondary degree, and 2 years working under an experienced, licensed professional. This means that when you look for a qualified and certified designer, you will automatically be getting quality assurance.

Some individuals do offer work without licenses, and you may think that at the end of the day the work is the same whether or not your expert learned in the field or from a book. While there is some merit to this attitude, it’s not entirely true. Passion and experience don’t guarantee professionalism, and practical know-how is no substitute for structured learning. Also, while freelance experience definitely counts for something, any certified designer will have got that as part of their studies while acquiring a license! You’re getting the best of both worlds with a certified designer, so avoid those who simply learned on-the-fly.  

A good example of this is that a licensed designer understands the psychological aspects of a crafting a space, and this knowledge isn’t something which can be easily self taught. A deeper understanding of human interaction with the world around them is a complex thing to grasp and a designer with no degree behind them will not necessarily be able to pick out the fine details that we often take for granted. Simply because someone has been in the field for a while doesn't mean that their work will be of the same standard. 

Legally speaking, a designer/decorator without a license is prohibited from saying they’ve obtained one. This means that when choosing your designer, it’s always better to enquire. With a licensed professional, quality is a certainty and you can enjoy peace of mind. 

What you should know before you hire an Chicago-based designer

Budget is probably the most important thing to remember before even considering your designer. There are many designers who will have a minimum budget constraint, and will only work for you if you have the financial capability to do what’s needed. When you start looking through portfolios, check what the requirements are and contact each specialist to find out anything you may need to know beforehand.

Another thing to remember is that designers and decorators will also purchase things for you in order to finish the work they need to do. This means one of two things: either your designer will be placing things for you, or they will buy them and tell you what it is you need to do with them.

Searching for a designer with post-design support is crucial for this. What this means is that once your designer has bought what you need to complete the space, if they aren't going to be putting it in, they will be available to show you or at very least tell you where each item needs to be placed. Some will only do this once, while others will allow you to buy things over time and guide you through the process as it goes on. Budget also comes in here too, as you will be having to put down finances for the items your designer buys on your behalf.

Lastly, don't forget to make sure that the vision of your designer/decorator needs to fit yours, so pick someone who shares your stylistic ideas. Finding someone well suited to your personal tastes is a long process, but a worthwhile one, so be prepared to take some time on it. Think how much better your space will be if it’s crafted by someone as excited about it as you are!

If you follow these guidelines, you will find yourself working with someone who loves your home as much you do. So be smart when picking your professional, and save yourself time, money and hassle in crafting your dream space!