Monthly Archives: February 2012

Designer vs. Decorator

Functionality is the key to any space, but especially in the bathroom. If in order to achieve better functionality you need to make major structural changes then you are best to hire an interior designer.

Documentary film producer, Jason Cohn, recently shared one of the primary lessons he learned about interior design while making a film about famed, interior design icons, Charles and Ray Eames, “It’s not a surface gloss you put on a product.  When it’s practiced correctly, it’s about problem solving at a deep level.”

As an interior designer with more than 30 years experience, I couldn’t agree more with Mr. Cohn’s assessment of what constitutes good design.  Clients and curious friends often ask me what the difference is between a designer and a decorator.  My answer often is as simple as:  “it’s surface versus substance.” What I mean by this is that a good decorator can help you create a new and beautiful “surface” for your space by helping you decide what color to paint the walls, what type of window treatments to use and how best to position your belongings and furniture so that it is pleasing to the eye.  On the other hand, an interior designer is often called upon to go well beyond the surface, which means a designer needs to be able to deconstruct a room and know structurally how to put it back together again—often in a whole new way–so it will function properly.  As a designer, my primary duty is to help my clients conceptualize, from floor to ceiling what their space could look like, create the design and then manage the design execution.  I love that my work requires me to be both creative and strategic in order to create a space that is functional, structurally safe and aesthetically pleasing to my clients and all who visit their space.

Knowing the difference between a decorator and a designer can save you time, money and a lot of headaches.  So remember, if you were thinking about hiring someone to help give your master bedroom and bath a two-dimensional facelift (i.e. change the paint color, buy new bedding, change the furniture placement) then you would be wise to hire a decorator. However, if instead of a two-dimensional facelift, you want to knock out a wall, add some new French doors in place of a window then you are better to hire an interior designer who can consult with you about how to creatively get the look you want and also advise you on what is structurally and functionally possible in your space.

At the end of the day, neither one is better than the other, but knowing whom to hire at the unset of your project is important.  The next time you are considering taking on a design project think carefully about the scope of your project, what needs to happen in order for you to realize your dream room or home and then hire the right designer or decorator for the task.



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London Calling – Travel Entry #5

One of the most breathtaking and beautiful accessories I saw while visiting the Maison & Objet show last week in Paris were  colored vases and bowls that were cut in such a manner that they made dynamic and illuminating patterns on and around any nearby surface.  Some of the pieces I saw sparkled so brilliantly that I could have sworn they were gemstones.  The colors were fantastic and I adored them for their beauty and purpose.

To my amazement, as I moved onto London earlier this week, and continued to tour multiple stops around the city, including a museum or two, I came across a display that essentially mirrored the pieces I had seen the week before in Paris.  On display in London, an ancient, incrusted bowl, and right next to it,  a modern-day re-creation of what the piece would have looked like when it was newly minted–thousands of years ago–before it became a victim of time.  The craftmanship on the replica gave me a good idea of how the piece would have appeared in the home of someone who lived in ancient times.  All I could image was how treasured and admired such a piece much have been to its owner.

Having seen the beautiful glass in Paris, and now standing in front of this display in London, reminded me of the old adage: everything old is new again.  And of course it proves to all you pack rats out there that if you hold onto something long enough, in this case thousands of years, you are likely to see it come back into vogue like the pieces seen in the picture below. 

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London Calling – Travel Entry #4

We recently arrived in London, and took a stroll down the Portobello Road. The pastel colors on the buildings seem to make this gloomy day a little brighter.

We recently said “a bientot” (see you soon) to the “City of Lights.”  We had such a beautiful time that I hope we will get to see Paris again soon.  I love all the inspiration and ideas I got while exploring the sights, landmarks, and of course, the Maison & Objet trade show, which I posted and shared about in my earlier travel entries.  My mind is swimming with so many fabulous ideas for my clients back home that part of me wants to rush back home now and start working immediately, but alas, we have a quick stop over in London.

While Paris was inspirational, as only Paris can be, London holds equal appeal for me.  Yes, it’s a totally different culture, ambiance and design scene when compared to Paris, but it’s still London and I’m looking forward to soaking in all the sites and sounds of another European experience.  During our first day walking through the damp and chilly streets, we visited many shops on the well-travelled Portotbello Road.  While meandering from store to store, I gleefully came across Cath Kidston’s Shop.  Ms. Kidston is a British designer who specializes in many things one of them being in retro-print fabrics.  I found all her design charming, colorful and whimsical.  Most of her prints consisted of  flowers and polka dots, which in this designer’s mind is a can’t miss when you are attempting to create a lasting and timeless style statement.   While we were visiting the shop, I was elated to learn that Ms. Kidston’s retro fabrics recently have been released as furnishing fabrics for upholstery.  Are you interested in seeing more of her designs including wallpaper, fabric, oil cloth and cushions?  Visit her website at

In the meantime, for a quick view of her work, here’s a picture I snapped of one of the displays in her shop.  

Cheerio from London! I hope to share more photos and design inspirations throughout the week, and then it’s back home to put all these design ideas to work.  What a field trip this has been!

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