Spoiler alert: When it comes to renovations, remodels, and new home construction projects, you probably need both.
Before embarking on a home construction project, homeowners often wonder whether to hire an architect or an interior designer. The answer? If you are building from the ground up or working on an extensive remodel, you’ll likely need both.
Every home tells a story woven through the work of both architects and interior designers. In our 10+ years of design experience, the most successful new home construction and extensive remodel projects are ones where there exists a symbiotic relationship between these two professionals. As interior designers, we’ve found that collaborating with architects allows us to better complement each other’s expertise and keep your vision and preferences at the forefront. Working in harmony encourages the exchange of ideas and ensures the cohesiveness of your project.
Architect vs. Interior Designer: What’s the Difference?
The fields of architecture and interior design are distinct, but inextricably intertwined fields. To better understand these roles, we’ll summarize the differences and similarities between architects and interior designers:
Architects. Architects typically handle everything involved in the “shell” or structure of a building. In a construction project, architects are responsible for ensuring the structure, electrical, and plumbing meet national, state, and local building codes. Architects may focus on the home’s exterior design elements as well as interior floor plans. In some cases, they may also be involved in designing cabinetry and selecting elements like tile, flooring, and lighting. In some cases, architects may have their own interior designers on staff — but not all.
Interior designers. As the title suggests, interior designers handle the interior look and feel of a home. To create an environment that is functional, beautiful, and memorable, we design different rooms to suit the lifestyle and preferences of a homeowner. As interior designers, we usually oversee the layout of interior materials like furniture, finishes, textiles, window treatments, paint color, wallpaper, and accents. Like architects, we are also involved in choosing design elements like flooring and decorative lighting. Compared to architects, we often take a more active role in selecting countertops, paint colors, and tiles, and design cabinet elevations with greater detail.
How Interior Designers and Architects Work Together
Architects and interior designers rely on the other’s experience and specialized knowledge to produce the end product: a home that is beautiful inside and out. Here are some examples of how the interior design team at SSID may work with architects on your renovation, remodeling, or new home construction project.
Align goals and priorities. Maybe you dream of a more spacious kitchen with more storage. Maybe you want more natural lighting or a more contemporary look. By working with both an architect and interior designer, you ensure your goals and priorities are reflected in both the architectural and design decisions.
We recommend bringing both the SSID design team and architect at the very beginning of your project, so both parties can be present at architectural meetings. That way, we both can share ideas, insights, concerns, and updates during the initial planning stages and throughout the project. In addition, by involving our design team early in the process, you allow us the opportunity to ensure small, but key details are taken into account. Seemingly minor details — like making sure there is enough space to allow for your favorite piece of furniture or that coves sufficiently cover drapery tracks and shade the housing — can have a big impact on the aesthetic appeal and functionality of your finished project.
Collaborate on the floor plan. In a construction project, it is your architect’s job to produce the initial floor plan.
As interior designers, it’s our job to take the architect’s model and use it to create a space plan with furniture. In some cases, we will collaborate with your architect on the kitchen and bathroom layouts.
Finally, the completed floor plan, kitchen and bathroom layouts, and space plan are exported into a final 3D rendering. Oftentimes, an architect handles the creation of the final 3D model, but our interior design team can provide this service as well.
Collaborate on cabinet elevation drawings. Detailed cabinet elevation drawings are critical in remodels of kitchens, bathrooms, and offices — essentially, anywhere in the house where builtins are being installed. Elevation drawings let you see the size, location, door opening direction of your new cabinets. In bathroom remodels, elevation drawings are particularly important because of the level of detail involved in their construction. Elevations dictate to builders where to place not only cabinets, but also shower heads, faucets, niches, and tile.
Depending on their experience, your architect may or may not produce cabinet drawings themselves. In many situations, however, this task will fall to us. Our interior design team will take a completed architectural plan and create detailed elevation drawings for your cabinets, and bathroom layouts. These cabinet drawings help your builder align design and dimensions to avoid costly errors during the construction process.
How Architect and Interior Design Collaboration Benefits You
Because architectures and interior design are separate professions with different training, skillsets, and experiences, you might need both professionals to ensure your home construction, remodel, or renovation project goes smoothly. Here’s how having both an architect and our interior design team on staff benefits you:
Fine-tuning. When it comes to major construction projects, it pays to measure twice and order once. By working with both our design team and an architect, you get two sets of eyes working on your project. Working together, we can thoroughly review sizing, scale, color, and pattern before anything is built or purchased to make sure everything aligns. As a team, we can catch potential problems before they arise and spot opportunities we might have previously missed.
Facilitating communication. The world of home construction and architecture can be confusing for the uninitiated. As experienced interior designers, we are very comfortable in this world and used to interacting with architects. Particularly if this is your first renovation, we can be invaluable in helping facilitate conversation between you, the architect, and your build team. Pulling from experience, we can guide you through what questions to ask, help you understand what to expect, and explain technical terms. Open communication and regular updates among you, our design team, and architect help make sure everyone is on the same page.
Sharing experiences. Your architect and our interior design team both bring their own unique experiences to the table. While your architect may have years of experience in exterior design, local building ordinances, and big-picture items, we are likely to be savvier in trending color schemes, flooring, finishings, furnishings, and other interior elements. You’ll likely need both for a successful home rebuild, remodel, or renovation.
Pooling resources. An experienced architect will have built close relationships with manufacturers and suppliers. As seasoned interior designers, we have built close relationships with trade partners like furniture stores, antique shops, and other vendors. By pooling our connections, we can hook you up with discounted trade rates on everything from building materials to artwork.
Whether you are thinking about renovating, remodeling, or building a new home, we invite you to reach out to our team at Sarah Stacey Interior Design. For more than 10 years, we’ve worked closely alongside Austin architects on construction projects large and small. As your interior design team, we like to get involved with every step of the process, from concept creation to furniture placement. Get in touch with our team to find out more about how we collaborate with architects to bring your vision to life.