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How to Hire an Interior Designer or an Architect (or both)

Updated: Nov 2, 2023

As you embark on your home renovation project, you may be wondering whether you should hire an interior designer, an architect, or both. To help you make this decision, it's essential to understand the difference in their skills and expertise. Here are some key points to consider:

crittall wall and arched entrance
Architectural features include the crittall wall and panelling design at this project in Chelsea

What Does an Interior Designer Do?

Interior designers focus primarily on the aesthetics and functionality of interior spaces. They can create designs and floor plans, select fabrics and furnishings, and manage budgets.


Some architectural interior designers, such as Catherine Wilman, also have expertise in spatial design, including reflective ceiling/lighting plans, opening spaces by removing some internal walls, and changing the layout of a residential property.


When an interior designer is engaged for this kind of project, they work closely with a structural engineer to confirm if the walls being removed in a design-intent drawing are structural, and if a steel support or lintel is needed. If the project involves planning permission or party wall agreements or requires an extension, the interior designer would liaise with an architect for that aspect of the work.


The Benefits of Hiring an Architectural Interior Designer:

  • They possess knowledge and training in both interior design and internal architecture, making them well-equipped to handle all aspects of a project.

  • They can work closely with structural engineers and quantity surveyors to ensure that the design meets all safety and building regulations.

  • They can manage both the aesthetics and functionality of interior spaces, as well as any necessary structural changes.

  • They can create designs that incorporate lighting, storage solutions, and other practical living insights.

  • They can work with architects when necessary to handle external factors such as extensions and windows.

  • They can liaise with a Project Manager throughout the entire project, ensuring all aspects of the design are coordinated and cohesive.

What Does an Architect Do?

Architects are trained to design buildings and spaces, both inside and out. They can draw up plans and cost estimates, supervise contractors, and ensure that the finished product meets safety standards. Architects are often required when major architectural changes are needed, such as retrofitting a home, when an extension or demolition is required, or for major renovation projects.

Key tasks and responsibilities of an architect include drawing up plans and cost estimates, dealing with the tender process and project administration, supervising all contractors involved in the design, and ensuring the finished product meets the required safety standards.

The Benefits of Hiring an Architect:

  • They can handle projects that require planning permission, party wall agreements, and other legal requirements.

  • They can oversee the tender process and project administration, ensuring that the project is completed on time and within budget.

  • They can work alongside an interior designer to ensure all aspects of the design are coordinated and cohesive.


General Arrangement plan showing furniture plan
General Arrangement plan by Catherine Wilman

Conclusion:

Architectural interior design is an effective approach to creating a space that is both visually appealing and functional. It combines the principles of architecture and interior design, taking into account the structural components of a building as well as its aesthetic aspects.

interior designer working on architectural renovation plan
Interior designer at Catherine Wilman working on architectural drawing for a renovation project

When deciding whether to hire an interior designer, an architect, or both, it's important to consider the scope of your project and your specific needs. In some cases, involving both an interior designer and an architect at the start of the design process can be beneficial, especially for large-scale projects.


The architect can handle external factors such as extensions and windows, oversee CDM health & safety, and deal with the tender process and project administration, while the interior designer can provide insights into practical living and create a cohesive interior design. Working together, an architectural interior designer and architect can create a space that is both beautiful and functional. A good example of this approach is a client who was looking for interior designers in Chelsea and opted for Catherine Wilman and a local architect for the renovation of their townhouse. Click the link to view the final result.



Frequently Asked Questions

For Hiring an Interior Designer:

What does an interior designer do?

Interior designers focus on the aesthetics and functionality of interior spaces, including creating designs, selecting furnishings, and managing budgets.


Do I need to hire an interior designer for my project?

It depends on the scope and goals of your project. Interior designers are valuable for enhancing the look and feel of your space, so consider your design preferences and needs.


How do I find the right interior designer for my project?

You can start by researching local interior designers, checking their portfolios, and meeting with them to discuss your project. Look for a designer whose style aligns with your vision.


What qualifications and certifications should I look for in an interior designer?

Look for designers who are certified by organizations like the British Institute of Interior Design (BIID) or have relevant educational backgrounds and experience.


How much does it cost to hire an interior designer?

The cost can vary widely depending on the designer’s experience and the scope of your project. Discuss your budget upfront to ensure alignment with the designer’s services.


Can an interior designer handle structural changes in my project?

While some interior designers have knowledge of internal architecture, major structural changes may require the expertise of an architect.


For Hiring an Architect:

What is the role of an architect in a project?

Architects are responsible for designing both the interior and exterior of buildings, drawing up plans, and ensuring the finished product meets safety standards.


When should I hire an architect for my project?

Architects are essential for projects involving major architectural changes, retrofitting, extensions, or significant structural modifications.


How do I find the right architect for my project?

Start by researching local architects, reviewing their portfolios, and discussing your project’s requirements. Choose an architect with relevant experience.


What qualifications should I look for in an architect?

Look for architects who are licensed, registered, or members of professional organizations, such as the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA).


What is the cost of hiring an architect?

Architectural fees vary based on the complexity and scale of the project. Be transparent about your budget to ensure the architect’s services align with your financial constraints.


Can an architect work with an interior designer on my project?

Yes, architects often collaborate with interior designers to ensure the design is cohesive and coordinated in both interior and exterior aspects of the project.


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