Top 10 Things You Want to Know About Interior Design & S3 Interior Design

Interior Design is an interesting profession. It’s an industry that blends creative with technical skills, so confusion about what a Designer actually does is very common.   

I spend a lot of time answering questions from potential clients, builders, acquaintances, friends… and, yes, even my own family about what we actually do.  

Join me as I answer some the FAQs about Interior Design (as a profession) & S3 (as an Interior Design firm). 

Q1: Is there a difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator? 

A1: Yes, there is! Interior Designers work on the architecture of interiors which means we deal with where the walls go and how the spaces will function. We are educated in building codes and the detailed, technical side of design. In a nutshell, we create spaces and then design what goes inside them (finishes, fixtures, and furniture).  An Interior Decorator works within existing spaces/rooms to integrate finishes, fixtures, furniture & décor within those spaces.  

“Interior Architect” would be a much more descriptive title than Interior Designer…. IMHO.”

Tracy Dyck

Q2: Do you have to go to school to become an Interior Designer? 

A2: Yes, you do! Degrees vary depending on where you go to school; but in Manitoba, an undergrad degree is three years and a Master’s degree is an additional two years. PLUS! In order to receive the designation of Professional Interior Designer, you must also complete an intensive national exam called the NCIDQ. 

Q3: Do Interior Designers only work on interiors? 

A3: Interiors are our primary focus; but, depending on the project, Interior Designers may also work on designing exteriors. This happens more often in residential than in commercial design. 

Q4: What value does an Interior Designer bring?  Why can’t I do it myself? 

A4: Depends. In commercial design there are far too many codes and technical requirements for someone without extensive knowledge to take on the design themselves. 

In residential design, the homeowner could take on the work themselves, but is it a good idea? Understanding the intricacies of creating functional spaces as well as making the hundreds (maybe thousands) of small decisions about details, finishes & fixtures can feel overwhelming and time-consuming. Also, if you don’t know how to create proper floor plans, lighting plans, elevations, details and specifications, you may not be able to translate your design ideas to a contractor.

Q5: Are Interior Designers expensive? 

A5: Much like other professionals, fees for Interior Design services vary depending on level of education, experience, and location. In my experience, the range swings from $100 – $300 per hour.  As a percentage, Interior Design services are generally 15% (or less) of the total construction costs

Q6: At S3, are you Interior Designers or Interior Decorators? 

A6: We are Interior Designers! Members of the S3 design team have earned university degrees in Interior Design – from a Bachelor’s to a Master’s Degree. Carrie and I hold NCIDQ certifications, and Zoe will begin working towards her certification shortly. 

Q7: What type of projects do you work on? 

A7: We focus on residential design and on commercial office spaces. In the past we worked within the retail and hospitality sectors (i.e., stores & restaurants), but we have since decided to narrow our commercial focus to offices only. In residential design, we work on everything from new builds (designing from the ground up) to additions & renovations, furniture and styling projects. 

Q8: What services do you provide? 

A8: We are a full-service Interior Design firm. This means we can perform the entire spectrum of services listed in Q1 above. We start every project with a Discovery Consultation which allows us to understand your project’s requirements. We then offer space planning, 3D modelling, selection of all finishes, fixtures & furnishings, and detailed construction drawings. 

On residential projects, we offer project management services as well as furniture procurement (ordering) & styling. We can offer you a white-glove “concept to completion” service experience! 

Q9: Does S3 have a specific design style & do you only design according to that style?  

As Designers, our job is to create spaces that our clients envision. It’s not about us. It’s about you! We work within the design style that you prefer; however, as a company, we definitely have design styles that we may lean towards, like mid-century modern & Scandinavian design, to name a couple. We also love modern spaces layered with texture and personality, and we are not afraid of pattern or colour. 

Q10: How long will the design process take and how much will it cost? (This is THE BIGGEST question) 

Again, I will answer with… it depends. Yes, it literally depends on the scope & scale of your project. That is why we start with a Discovery Consultation. This gives us the opportunity to compile educated numbers.  

The cost of design often ranges from 8-15% of the actual construction budget.  Kitchens and bathrooms fall into the highest bracket because they are the most detailed. Our full design packages start at $10,000. Project management fees, procurement fees, and styling fees would be in addition. 

The design process takes approximately as long as the construction process. So, if you’re doing a three-month renovation, it will likely take three months to design.  A new build could take one year or longer to design.  

I hope this Q & A has been informative & educational! If you are interested in learning more about Interior Design (as a profession) or S3 (as a design firm), please connect with us – we would love the opportunity to answer your questions.