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How to Decide Between Hiring an Architect or a Designer

Backyard with Pool of Contemporary House

Upper class Modern houseSimonLong / Getty Images

The big question is: What’s the difference? You want a new home from top to bottom, so who do you hire— An architect? An interior designer? Or both?Few people realize that many designers have some knowledge and training in architecture, similarly, many architects have knowledge and training in design. While both these professions revolve around home and building design, there remain some skills that necessitate the hiring of one over the other.Here we will outline all you need to know, helping you decide whether it’s a designer or architect that you need to call.

Modern Kitchen with appliances, Chicago IL

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What Do Architects Do?

The best way to know who to hire is to first know what each professional does.  Here is an outline of the key tasks and job responsibilities of an architect (see below for Interior Designers):

  • Architects design ALL types of buildings—not just homes. Hospitals, hotels, churches, commuter stations etc. are commonly on an architects to-do list
  • After communication with all those involved, the architect(s) will draw up plans for your design, usually with a computer-aided model
  • They then closely supervise as a construction firm takes over to build said design
  • Their designs incorporate function, form, safety and needs of the future owners
  • Their designs incorporate both beauty and functionality
  • Architects have strong mathematical and logical thinking, ensuring a stable, sound structure

Architects are very unique-minded individuals; inside their mind lay of a myriad of numbers, lines and angles, along with creative possibilities that most could never dream of. Let’s see how this skill-set compares to that of an interior designer.

Backyard with Pool of Contemporary House

Brooks / Getty Images

What Do Interior Designers Do?

While many people believe interior designers have a single-minded skill-set that revolves around making things pretty—they are sorely wrong. Here is an outline of the key roles that interior designers play:

  • Interior designers are professionally trained in space planning for ALL types of buildings including, hotels, homes, office spaces, hospitals etc.
  • After consultation with the client(s), they create renderings/drawings of designs that are both functional and aesthetic for the interior space
  • Once design is approved by the client, the designer then creates the space.
  • Sometimes the space can be created through simple allocation of fabrics, paints and furnishings while other times it may require a more intensive remodel whereby construction contractors are hired
  • Their designs incorporate both beauty and functionality, while maintaining safety through adherence and knowledge of building codes and safety
  • Interior designers have strong spatial skills along with a myriad of aesthetic design skills

Interior designers are certainly the ones to hire if you crave a beautiful space, but their skills go way beyond beauty—with most having received training in the fields of architecture, design, construction, building codes and sustainability.

Home Interiors

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What’s the Difference Between the Architect and the Designer?

Now that we have laid out all of the key job responsibilities—what’s the difference? Both professions seem to hold skills that simultaneously beautify and build; both seem to have the skills of designing an aesthetically appealing home while maintaining safety.Here is the big difference between these two professions: Architects design the interior and exterior spaces of our built environment, designing how spatial relationships within a building are laid out. While interior designers, hence the name, work within the already established interior spatial platform, using their skills to add aesthetic value. While some interior designers are more than willing to help with exterior color choice or selection of details such as windows, doors etc. their main responsibilities lie within the building. And while architects may be able to help with interior designs, their key responsibilities lie on the exterior or shell of the building.This creates a relationship of sorts; one where cohabitation between a designer and an architect may be required; one where a designer does the interior work of the architect’s exterior work. So who do you hire? Perhaps both.

Kitchen in new build luxury house

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How to Choose Who To Hire?

As we outlined for you above, architects and interior designers seem to rely on one another to get to the end result—a well-designed building inside and out. Both bring to the table a set of skills that are intrinsic to a proper design.So, who do you hire? Well, we suggest it depends on your individual scenario. If you already have a structure built and are looking for interior design help, then in most cases you require the help of an interior designer. And if you need a home built from scratch, then we say hire the architect —and possibly the interior designer if you need help on the inside of the home.These above-mentioned scenarios are pretty clear-cut, but what about an interior remodel or rebuild where walls will be coming down and the structure will be changed? Then who do you hire—the architect or the designer?  In these cases, we suggest hiring both an architect to draw up the plans of the new structure and an interior designer to help ensure the new structure will be aesthetically pleasing and functional for your personal needs.  Some may argue with this and say that an interior designer is skilled enough to help with both aspects of a remodel (the structural and aesthetic) and they would be right to argue that, but we say be safe by hiring both professions, giving you the best of both design worlds.

Modern living room

Kadaj / Getty Images

Architects and interior designers are both interesting, creative creatures who bring much-needed skill-sets to the table of home design.  As we have shown here, there is a marriage of skills that are needed when it comes to home design—with the architect offering exterior design skills and the interior designer offering interior skills.  Look at your individual project to decide whose skills best fit your needs.

What do you think? Would you prefer to hire both the architect and the designer? 

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