• Andrea Gillard

No cushions please, we’re Designers!

Okay, I need to get this out there, every time someone asks me what do I do, and I reply, “I’m an Interior Designer,” after they’ve come back from their glazed-over expression, the next question I get is either, “Where’s your shop?” or “So, you can advise on cushions and lamps?”


Now, there are a couple of ways I can answer this, but some are probably not conducive to any potential working relationship! In all seriousness, it proves the general misconception of what an Interior Designer is and, I’ll be honest, I was just as ignorant of the facts until I realised this was my chosen path.


You see there are some people out there calling themselves ‘Interior Designers’ when they’re actually Interior Decorators or Interiors Stylists.


What’s the difference I hear you ask...!?

The differences in these professions are actually pretty huge. To quote CIDQ’s “Differences Between Interior Design and Decorating”


“Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behaviour to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.


An Interior Designer will work with their client to find out exactly how they need a space to work in its entirety. They discover how their client lives, how they spend their time, who in the household currently uses which room for what purpose (without being too nosey!) and crucially at what times of day, also –and more importantly –how they’d like to use those spaces in future. The Designer will then apply their technical and creative knowledge to develop solutions for the required scheme and its function.


As part of their professional qualification (all designers must be professionally qualified (mini-rant!)), Designers have an obligation to apply environmental responsibility and sustainability requirements to any project and will consciously source the most carbon-neutral products and suppliers wherever possible.


Personally, I’m a spatial planning expert and, if you’re planning an extension, I will work with your architect to ascertain exactly what you need your extra space to provide; you’re not just having a kitchen extension (I’ve suddenly got the M&S food advert voice come into my head!), you’re wanting to change the way your household works. I’ll work with you to see how you envisage your home life and lifestyle once you’ve invested your hard-earned money, then translate this to your architect to ensure the drawings they produce capture what you’ve dreamed of and deliver the way you see your future life.












Interior Decorators and Stylists can be excellent and offer good advice on your favourite shades and finishes, however they will only be able to work with what you currently have as they have not been trained in how to assess the way in which you want, or need, a space to work for you. Even if you haven’t thought about them, an Interior Designer will consider such things as durability, sustainability, acoustic properties, flammability and resistance of finishes and products and advise you of the best options for you and your lifestyle. They’re also pretty adept at designing clever storage solutions, if you don’t like clutter!


I mention ‘resistance’ as this is especially essential for commercial or hospitality projects, where there are stringent HSE (Health and Safety Executive) requirements. Fortunately for you and me both, I know exactly what ‘the pendulum test’ is; a vital regulation if you’re a restaurant or bar owner and a customer happens to slip on your floor, as failure to meet this, could result in you spending a spell at Her Majesty’s pleasure...!


If you want to tap into my expertise, and find out how I can help bring Sanctuary to your World, please do get in touch style@andreagillarddesign.com

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