When most people think about hiring an interior designer

When most people think about hiring an interior designer, they zero in on aesthetics: wall colors, window treatments, pillow patterns. But that's just scratching the surface of what a designer can add to a home. These pros go beyond cosmetic concerns to ensure that a space feels harmonious through and through, from its floor plan and architectural envelope to the last nailhead, tassel and tuft. Many states have a certification process for interior designers.

What an interior designer does: A designer envisions, plans and outfits spaces in a way that makes them both beautiful and functional. He or she balances aesthetic considerations with structural planning to reflect the clients' lifestyle, set the desired mood, complement the home's architectural features, and ensure that less glamorous details (like electrical outlets and air vents) fit into the scheme. An interior designer also cultivates relationships with trusted artisans, vendors and others who execute the design.

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