This is a source of confusion for many clients. Generally speaking, an architect will design the external shell of the building (walls, roof, windows, etc) and an interior designer would design and specify the interior decoration, furniture and fittings. The work that sits in between – space planning of rooms, finishes and fixtures – could potentially be undertaken by either but will depend on your project requirements and the architect/designer’s expertise.
Featured image above – interior architecture by Heidi, designer from the Lake District. See her full profile and shortlist her studio for your home project here.
What do architects do?
Typical architect’s services for a residential project include (roughly in chronological order):
- Feasibility study to help plan for potential hurdles in the project
- Concept design
- Cost planning (or with the help of a Quantity Surveyor)
- Advice on statutory requirements and completion of applications such as planning and building control
- Preparation of detailed drawings, schedules and specifications for tender (builders’ quotations)
- Overseeing the tender process and helping you choose the right builder
- Administration of the contract with your builder
- Site visits and dealing with queries from your builder
Read more in our detailed article on architect’s services.
What do interior designers do?
You can usually expect the following from an interior designer:
- Concept/mood boards
- Specification of decoration, finishes and furniture
- Layout plans showing position of furniture
- Sometimes production of 3D renders and visualisations for an additional fee
- After the design work is completed, they can hand over the above work for you to engage a builder and buy the furniture yourself.
- Alternatively, interior designers often offer additional services to oversee the project on site, liaise with tradesmen and even purchase and install furniture on your behalf.
Read more in our detailed article here on what interior designers do?
Can an architect do the interior design?
Yes, some architects offer interior design as part of their services. The interior design work may be undertaken by the architect themselves or they may have an interior designer in their office. The benefit of this should be that the design work will blend seamlessly, removing any issues with communication or conflict of opinion that might occur if you hire the two design professionals separately. That said, separate architects and interior designers often work perfectly harmoniously, and can even inspire and enhance the design work of each other.
What is an interior architect?
Leading on from the point above, an interior architect’s work would span across the work that is traditionally undertaken by an architect and an interior designer.
The title of ‘architect’ is protected by the regulating body (Architect’s Registration Board), so this would indicate that the professional is a qualified architect and has additional expertise and experience in interior design.
The term ‘interior architecture’ may be used instead, which doesn’t necessarily indicate an architectural qualification. In all cases, you should ask your design professional about their qualifications, experience and expertise before appointment.
Interior architecture professionals are usually perfect for residential renovation projects, where most of the work is internal.
How do architects and interior designers work together?
Usually, the interior designer would be hired later in the project than the architect, when the architect’s plans are more ‘fixed’.
These plans are usually given to the interior designer, who would take them and produce their own set which will display a new layer of information.
During the interior designer’s design process, it’s often necessary for the architect to make some adjustments to their drawings and specification to accommodate the interior designer’s work. Lighting and electrical layouts for example, often need to be reviewed and checked against the interior designer’s furniture layouts and light fitting selections.
How to find an architect, interior designer or interior architect?
If you’re still unsure which design professional you need, I would recommend posting your project to Design for Me. You can describe your project and even mention your confusion.
We will send your request out and you will receive personal messages from architects, interior architects and interior designers, who believe they are well suited to your requirements.
- Quickly see who’s interested in your job
- create a shortlist
- invite up to three for a no-obligation consultation
- It’s free!
Emily Design for Me