Planning a structural remodel or a room revamp can be exhilarating (who doesn’t love a good before and after?)? But, it can also be quite intimidating, especially when having to deal with vendors, service providers, or just simple indecision on your part. There’s nothing like a design roadblock – real or imagined - to halt a space refresh dead in its tracks. While some homeowners revel in the challenge and thoroughly enjoy the painstaking process of seeing to every decision, others find the tasks of picking out paint colours and scatter cushions all too tedious and would rather forgo the entire project than dabble in the details.
That’s where the services of a local Capetonian interior designer or decorator comes in. With Table Mountain in the distance and coastline to rival any international beach, how can they help but be inspired. International and local influences and trends help make the city an inspiration-filled cosmopolitan hub for the creative designers and architects. When planning a space revamp, it’s important to note the difference between these two roles. While they sound like the same thing, and can sometimes be mutually inclusive, they do in fact have some varying attributes that differentiate them from one another.
An Interior decorator helps you narrow down your personal style, tastes and ideas and along with functional considerations like designing your kitchen, bathroom, storage or organization, and incorporates these into a design plan that is not only aesthetically pleasing but also caters to the needs of that space. An interior decorator can be a real asset when it comes to sourcing the “softer” elements of a design plan such as furniture, paint colors, accessories and overall style for the house. And with the home-grown and international ranges available to the South African market, you’ll find interior designers in Cape Town are spoiled for choice when it comes to décor options.
An Interior designer on the other hand, while also involved with the finishing touches of décor, is usually more occupied with the structural elements of a space. They can design a space while taking into consideration elements such as kitchen planning, electrical wiring, plumbing and architecture. They will act as the middleman between a homeowner and vendor, negotiating prices, sourcing materials and dealing with the city council to ensure all changes are up to code.
Now that you know the difference between an interior designer and decorator, it’s easy to see why having a professional touch on your project can make a world of difference.
For the longest time, interior design and decorating was a luxurious service reserved for the elite in society and most homeowners were intimidated and put off by the perceived cost of these services. They opted to DIY rather than hire a professional for fear of the exorbitant pricing but ended up paying more to do things without a professional's help.
However, since increasing the transfer tax exemption bracket earlier this year, the South African government has made owning a home in South Africa more affordable. As a result, hiring the services of a professional designer or decorator, has become more accessible for homeowners and renters alike. No longer are these professional services reserved for corporates and the very wealthy – more and more homeowners are turning to interior design and décor service providers to help them with their spaces, regardless of their economic status.
All interior designers and decorators are not created equal so it’s important to begin your design process understanding that prices, while governed by an industry standard, may vary depending on the level of qualification, experience, popularity or seasonal availability of the design professional. As such, their rates for services rendered will also vary. Bear in mind also that Cape Town based professionals’ rates may differ to those of their counterparts in other South African cities due to the general cost-of-living difference across major cities in South Africa.
So while each designer or decorator might have a different rate which you'll need to negotiate, here is a general breakdown of a fee structure to help you understand what design professional take into account when building a quote. First is the consultation fee. These are usually billed at an hourly rate and can be scheduled as frequently as needed. The design fee is also an hourly fee that is charged for tasks such as layout, drawings or 3D renderings. These fees cover the effort and time necessary to develop the design plan. A project management fee applies to interior designers mostly. This cost includes managing contractors, supervising construction and directing processes on the site. The decorating fee, usually charged by decorators, covers the design of the new space, any visual renderings of the vision, follow up consultations or travel should the decorator be required to operate out of town.
Don’t be thrown off by all the fees though. Breaking down the services into sections is actually beneficial for both the designer and the client as both can accurately and fairly plan the design strategy according to specific needs rather than general criteria. This is also helpful for homeowners who only need help with a particular aspect of the design plan – they are now able to direct their funds to only the services they need thus cutting down on costs. Note that these fees are separate to the actual renovation or product costs.
Additionally, the total of all these fees is usually charged in increments so that takes the pressure off a little. For example, a designer in Cape Town might require a 50% deposit and only request the balance on completion of the project or incrementally at different stages of development. Be sure to discuss this process in the initial consultation so both parties are aware of the expectations going forward.