When I first began my career in interior design, I was an inexperienced novice–I had no formal design schooling, only a passion to help people enhance their lives by transforming their surroundings. The path from registered Army nurse to entrepreneur began with an apprenticeship under the lead designer of a DC firm followed by my eventual enrollment in and completion of field-related coursework. During my apprenticeship and a separate internship, I did everything from Bed Bath & Beyond returns to room sketches, paint selections to installations. Really, even to this day, my to-do list hasn’t changed much from those initial tasks. The distinction, however, is that now I have formal training and experience that I didn’t possess before. Much like you wouldn’t call someone a lawyer until they’ve completed the necessary schooling, it would be incorrect to assume that anyone practicing design is a designer. 

I frequently hear “decorator” and “designer” used interchangeably, though after wielding both titles, this is my passionate plea for clarification: a decorator is someone who chooses colors that match, art that fits the aesthetic, and furniture that fits the room dimensions. An interior designer is an industry professional who has the training, expertise and ability to execute every phase of a meticulously curated design plan from blueprint to move-in. 

So, should you be in the market for guidance on a new construction project, a renovation, or you just want to spruce up your home to make it feel magazine-ready, ensure that you’re selecting a qualified designer to make those design dreams come true.