When it comes to the interior design industry in South Africa, the results are quite diverse – a perfect reflection of our country’s different cultures and languages. It would be hard to identify a single interior design style unique to South Africa, as residential- and commercial spaces reflect a variety of designs such as modern, contemporary, rustic, colonial, and even Asian.
The South African design aesthetic undoubtedly draws its inspiration from the international market, staying up to date with the latest trends while also adding its own flair to it.
Many people may immediately imagine animal skins and rustic/earthy colour palettes when thinking about South African interior designs. However, a lot of interior designers and homeowners strive to move away from these clichéd designs. Don’t forget that while interior designers and decorators are there to fulfill the wishes of the clients, the customers also play designer/decorator. The results are uniquely varied, a marriage of designs and styles that are achieved by following the latest trends and applying one’s own personal taste to décor, colours, textures and patterns.
What does an interior designer do?
Interior designers ensure that interior spaces are functional, safe and (also important) beautiful. They do this by focusing on space requirements and selecting the right decorative items such as colours, lighting, furnishings and materials.
A successful interior designer needs to possess a multitude of skills, from technical knowledge to costing, as they need to be able to read blueprints of an architectural structure, for instance. Communication skills are also valuable, as part of the job requirement of interior designers is to speak with and listen to a client in order to understand the job of a design brief. An interior designer should also possess sales- and marketing skills to source new business for themselves and/or their firm / employer.
Interior designers’ skills can be applied to various industries, including residential and commercial.
What is the difference between interior design and interior decorating?
Although a lot of people use the terms “interior design” and “interior decorating” interchangeably, these are two very different professions that differ in significant ways.
Interior designers create functional spaces within a building (such as a house, restaurant, office, etc.). Interior decorators furnish or embellish a space with furniture and/or décor.
Keep in mind that interior designers may also decorate as part of their job descriptions, but interior decorators never design.
Why do you need an interior designer?
Even though it may sound easy (and fun) to play interior designer for, say, styling up your new living room, remember that interior designers are skilled professionals that study years and years to perfect their craft. And there are quite a few advantages to making use of a professional interior designer:
- It saves money. Hiring an interior designer helps to avoid costly mistakes, as they know how to get the best value out of a budget in terms of furnishings and décor.
- It saves time. Interior designers have a trained sense of what has to be achieved and work according to a set timeline.
- It ensures professional assessment for your space(s). A designer’s trained eye for detail easily pick up things that others miss, plus they know how to balance art and science to ensure top-notch results.
- It ensures better resources and contacts. Interior designers and decorators have other contacts in the industry, meaning they can easier find an electrician or plumber, for instance, if one is required.
- It provides the ‘wow’ factor. Interior designers have access to certain furniture, fabrics, and materials that are trade-only and not accessible to just anyone.
How do I find the right interior designer / decorator?
With homify’s extensive lists of professionals, finding the right interior designer and decorator is easier than ever before. Simply click on ‘Interior Designers & Decorators’ on the ‘Professionals’ page to see our ever-growing collection of experts, or scroll down and select your city / town of choice for the relevant professionals closest to you.
Other ways of finding interior designers are to visit model homes or designer showhouses in your area, page through designer magazines, browse design websites, or via friend / family referrals.
What to ask your interior designer
Never have only one interior designer as a potential professional for your project. Collect a few possible choices while you scope out the design industry.
And even though the style of your project will dictate the relevant questions for the interior designer during your initial meeting / interview, some choice questions to keep in mind can include the following:
- Can you work within my budget? Make sure the designer knows whether your budget is strict or if there’s a bit of wiggle room.
- How long will it take to complete the project? Agree upon a timeline so that you’re not rushing the designer and so that the designer knows what is expected of them.
- How would you describe your signature style? Most designers have a specific style which they specialise in, for instance, sleek and modernism or shabby chic.
- How much do you charge? Make sure you know exactly what is being charged (and how much) before you hire an interior designer / decorator.
How much does an interior designer cost in South Africa?
Bear in mind that even though every interior design firm will have its own set of prices for design projects, the final fee will depend on various factors such as the size of the project, the timeline, the experience and expertise of the designers, the location of the project, the quality of the materials and finishes, etc.
It is important that the designers’ fees are established right at the start of the project, during the discussion at the initial meeting, and agreed to by all parties via a legal contract.