Why hire a Registered Interior Designer?

Why hire a Registered Interior Designer?

I'm Sonia, the Founder and Principal Registered Interior Designer at Sonia Rose Design. The Interior Design profession is still quite young and this industry is often misunderstood. So, I'd like to take a moment to provide my best answer to the question, 'Why hire an Interior Designer'? My hope is that by the time you are done reading this, you will understand the benefits of hiring an Interior Designer and how our role comes into play in your next project!

Let me start by defining the differences between an Architect, Interior Designer and Interior Decorator…


Interior Designer Vs. Interior Decorator Vs. Architect

A question I hear time and time again is ‘An interior designer is the same as an interior decorator right?’ This is a common misconception, there are certainly overlapping skills, and each profession has a place in our design industry, however, there are fundamental differences between them. I have listed out the main skillsets (amongst many) each profession offers below for full transparency:

Architect - specializes in the design of the structure of a building (exterior) and has extensive knowledge of building practices and code. They must have knowledge of safety regulations, legal requirements, permit submissions and policies. They are also capable of designing the interior.

Interior Designer - I like to refer to my profession as Interior Architecture rather than Design, because we specialize in the interior ‘Architecture’ of a building, and consider a broad range of factors including both functional and aesthetic aspects. These include items such as; functional space planning, building code knowledge and execution as well as design theory and practices.

We take the exterior building envelope into consideration with all of our designs and will work with the Architect (if one is onboarded / required) to ensure the interior speaks to the exterior. We are also trained and capable of ‘decorating’ the interior environment. See below for a breakdown of the differences between ‘Designers’ and ‘Registered Interior Designers’.

Interior Decorator - specializes in the decoration of an interior and their primary focus is on the aesthetic aspects within a building or room. Projects that don’t require structural work or repairs are typically a good fit for an interior decorator.

It is important to understand what you are looking for and hire someone with the pertinent skills to execute your project effectively. Often all 3 professions are hired for a complete new build project.

When selecting a designer for your project, ask yourself these four questions to help you decide what type of design professional(s) you will need to hire!

  1. Is my project an aesthetic facelift?
    • Hire an interior decorator or interior designer
  2. Is my project an interior renovation?
    • Hire an interior designer
      • Your interior designer will let you know if you need to hire any additional consultants, such as an architect, structural engineer, etc.
  3. Is my project an interior renovation and exterior upgrade?
    • Hire an interior designer and architect
  4. Is my project a new build?
    • Hire an interior designer, architect and potentially an interior decorator

What is a Registered Interior Designer?

There are ‘Designers’ and there are ‘Registered Interior Designers’ like myself. ‘Designers’ could be anyone from a decorator to a home stager or stylist, it could also be someone who studied and received a degree in interior design, but hasn’t yet taken the exams to call themselves a ‘Registered Interior Designer’.

Those of us who have chosen the route of becoming a ‘Registered Interior Designer’ have undergone extensive training after graduating from the bachelor of interior design program. We have in depth knowledge of design elements and principals, building code, construction methods, functional space planning and project coordination.

The process to becoming a Registered Interior Designer has a number of steps. After earning a Bachelor of Interior Design degree (BID), we are required to write and pass three separate exams to earn the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certification, the North American standard of qualification for interior designers.

With this certification, we obtain extensive knowledge in building systems, codes, construction standards, contract administration, professional practice and project coordination. We then become Registered members of the Association of Registered Interior Designers of Ontario (ARIDO) and optionally Interior Designers of Canada (IDC). We are then able to proudly call ourselves ‘Interior Designers’!

So Why Should I Hire an Interior Designer?

Research & Guidance

Your interior designer is there to manage the project from start to finish, coordinating with yourself, onboarded consultants and contractor. We help you set goals and expectations for your project and define a clear path in which we will move forward. Interior designer’s are responsible for coordinating your budget, timeline, interior architecture (space planning), specifications, etc.

It is the interior designer’s job to maintain a smooth process and keep your project on track with the estimated timeline and alleviate you from the many day-to-day questions that come with any interior renovation.

Design Expertise

Interior designers are able to effectively communicate their designs through a multitude of mediums, such as; inspirational imagery, sketches, 3D views, rendered elevations and plans, and the list goes on. Our knowledge of materials, finishes, equipment and, in particular, lighting, is an important aspect to consider when thinking about hiring an interior designer.

We have been trained to understand lighting levels, colour temperature and lighting types to effectively illuminate your space to create that ‘wow factor’. Throughout our professional experience, we have gathered information about manufacturers that back their product and are worth the investment, and we have made connections in the industry to provide you with expert suggestions to create your dream interior.

Technical Skills & Documentation

It is incredibly important to have a complete and accurate set of drawings to pass along to the contractor and subtrades when construction commences. Interior designers have been trained to effectively communicate design and construction details with the trades and provide a comprehensive drawing package to allow the initial design concept to be executed properly.

These drawings are coordinated with all pertinent consultants to ensure the information presented aligns. Without a tight set of drawings, there will inevitably be chaos!

When to Hire an Interior Designer?

The earlier the better. Interior designers (like myself) are able to offer valuable insight in terms of interior planning in relation to the building envelope. If you are working on a new build, it becomes even more important to include us in the beginning , at the same time you are hiring your architect and contractor. By allowing all consultants to coordinate with one another at the start of a project, the risk of error and missing information will drastically decrease.

For example, working on the exterior planning in tandem with the interior planning allows room to make changes as needed prior to the construction on site. This provides an opportunity for all consultants to coordinate items such as; column placement, ceiling heights, window and door locations and dimensions, locations of plumbing, HVAC, etc. If these elements are not properly coordinated, it can have a dramatic effect on the interior layout and function of the final space.


An interior renovation is a large investment of both your time and money, however, having the right people by your side will make all the difference. The key takeaways are:

  1. Start by investigating your project needs in order to select the appropriate design professional
  2. Interior Designers will answer your day-to-day programming needs and more with our niche knowledge in functional space planning and code
  3. You can trust us to guide you in the right direction in terms of the finishes and materials selection and overall design concept
  4. Interior Designers will provide you with a complete and accurate set of working drawings for effective communication to the contractor on site
  5. Always bring an interior designer in at the beginning of your project!

Best of luck in planning your future project and I hope to hear from some of you as you embark on your exciting journey!

For more articles like this one go to Sonia Rose Design blog.

Sonia Theriault

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Sonia Theriault

Sonia Rose Design Inc.

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