What Interior Designers Actualy Do
Clients often ask what Interior Designers really do, and how they differ from Interior Decorators. Interior Designers are extensively educated, trained in field and subject to regulation by Professional Organizations and Government Regulation. Most Interior Designers have a minimum of six years of training and experience, and have passed rigorous exams before they call themselves by that title, which infers the status of a true Professional. Interior Designers adhere to a code of ethics, are governed by the State in which they practice and must engage in continuing education in order to maintain their licenses in good standing.

Each state has different regulations that govern the practice of Interior Design. In regulated states, such as Florida, Interior Designers are permitted by law to work on any commercial (also called contract or non-residential project) as well as residential projects. Decorators may not work on any commercial projects legally, at all.

The scope of work that a designer does may be limited to consultation, or be expanded to a "full service" project work which is rather complex. One of main differences between Decorators and Designers is that Designers follow a prescribed set of steps in order to ensure that the client's project unfolds as flawlessly as is humanly possible.

Decorators require no formal training or education, and are not regulated by Professional Organization or Government. They do not necessarily follow a given set of directives or plan of action in approaching a project, as this is not part of training.

Below is a list of tasks or series of steps that all qualified Interior Designers follow when engaged in a full service project. Utilizing the services of trained and educated professionals greatly enhances the quality and success of Interior Projects.

1) Programming
a. Determine specific client needs, goals, and project objectives
b. Check existing site conditions
c. Review existing or in development floor plans
d. Evaluate existing furniture, furnishings and equipment

2) Schematic Design
a. Begin initial space planning
b. Develop other conceptual sketches as needed
c. Develop preliminary materials and products specifications
d. Update programming information as needed
e. Prepare preliminary budgets
f. Ensure proposed design solutions to comply with codes
    and regulations
g. Meet with any needed consultants such as Architect, contractor,
    and engineers
h. Present preliminary concepts to client

3) Design Development
a. Refine space plan and furniture plan
b. Refine materials and specifications
c. Refine budgets
d. Verify all code issues as related to refined plans
e. Prepare other design documents needed to clarify design
     concepts such as lighting plans, elevations, perspectives
     of concepts to client
f. Provide presentations of concepts to client

4) Contract Documents
a. Prepare working drawings and specifications of approved plans
     and concepts
b. Obtain required permits and/or approvals
c. Consult as needed with architect, contractor, engineer, etc.
d. Prepare and distribute bid documents
e. Communicate with project stakeholders
f.  Review contractor schedules

5) Contract Administration
a. Issue necessary addenda
b. Collect bids and make recommendations to client
c. Provide for client review and acceptance of work in progress
d. Issue purchase orders, invoices and payments as client's agent
e. Conduct periodic site inspections
f. Review submitted shop drawings and samples
g. Track orders of F&FE
h. Conduct final walkthrough