Color Consultant, or Interior Designer?

Color consultant or interior designer, blog

Color Consultant, or Interior Designer?

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Ever want a little help picking a paint color, but you’re not sure who to call – an interior designer, or a color consultant, or your stylish neighbor, or your mom?  Especially when it comes to interior design and knowing what will make their home look good, many of us freeze.  As professional painters, we hear from clients all the time about how they know what they want us to paint, but they don’t know what color to paint it!


It’s easy enough to call a painting company to give you an estimate.  What’s not so easy is knowing who to call to help you decide on a good color.  Many people have the idea that interior designers are out of reach, or only for high-dollar projects.  This isn’t true, and we love and work with many interior designers who can really help their homeowners with creating an overall vision and then making it happen.  You’ll never go wrong calling an interior designer to help you, no matter what your budget is.  But if you don’t need help with a whole array of decisions, but only with ONE decision, such as which color to paint this room or these cabinets, then a color consultant might be just right for you!


[Related: Read more about how a color consultant can save your project.]


Color Consultant, or Interior Designer – Which One Do I Need?


First, here’s an example of what a color consultant might do.  Paper Moon Painting offers free color consultations as a part of our painting projects.  What does this mean exactly?  Once you’ve reviewed our estimate and decided you want us to paint your project, one of our certified color consultants can come to your home, if you want their services.  They’ll evaluate your existing finishes and furnishings, talk about your vision for your space, and utilize their training to help lead you to an educated and informed color selection.  They can take the stress and guesswork out of choosing a color, because they know which common pitfalls to avoid, and can guide you to what colors will work in your home, with your flooring, furnishings, and lighting.  What this doesn’t entail is helping to select or find materials such as tile, linens and wallpaper.  Color consultants are not usually full-fledged interior designers, although interior designers can help with color as part of their overall services.  (Confused yet?)  


A quick word about training


To help illustrate the difference between a color consultant and an interior designer, let’s look at the training each receives.


[dropcap color=”red” background=”grey” style=”circle” size=”big”]H[/dropcap]ere’s a quote from a blog post we wrote, about how to work with an interior designer:

“A design professional usually has a degree in his or her field, and years of training and experience.  .  .  A professional designer is well versed in everything from “slip ratings” for tile, to fire codes for fabrics, to the heat resistance of various countertops.  He or she will know which rug fibers to avoid if you have pets, where to install your kitchen appliances for optimized work flow, and the best non-glare task lighting to use for your built-in desk.  The bar is even higher for commercial and hospitality design (office buildings, hotels, restaurants), where public safety is involved.”


In other words, interior designers receive extensive training in the whole gamut of interior design, not just which colors work well together or how to “pick pretty fabrics”.  I’m amazed by how much knowledge interior designers have, which most people don’t even know about.


Now imagine that as part of all the classes and training they get, a designer takes a class or workshop just on selecting color within a space.  The entire class was only about color, undertones, the effects of light, etc.  That’s the training that color consultants receive.  The designer is usually a generalist, while a color consultant is a very limited specialist.


[dropcap color=”red” background=”grey” style=”circle” size=”big”]D[/dropcap]oes this mean that Paper Moon’s color consultants aren’t qualified to to help you?  Absolutely not.  We help clients multiple times a week with their color selections.  Paper Moon Painting’s in-house color consultants have all attended Maria Killam’s Color Consultant training and have wonderful tools that help tremendously when choosing color in a particular space.  We’re very honest about our capabilities and do our best to ensure that we aren’t attempting to provide uneducated advice. 


So how do I know if I need an interior designer and not just a color consultant?


Ask yourself what you specifically need from the consultation.  Do you just need someone to help you pick good colors for your space?  Then a color consultant can help you.  Do you need someone to help you revive your space and give it a totally different look and feel, with new finishes and textures?  Or even refresh your space by arranging your furnishings, helping select new key pieces, or getting new custom lighting or window coverings?  You’ll need an interior designer.  (And if you’re doing more extensive remodeling, tearing out old flooring or moving walls, you’ll need a remodeler.  An interior designer can help you find a good one, and you’ll want your designer’s guidance to design the remodeled space!)


And finally . . .


Please remember that a color consultant can offer their personal opinion on anything, but it will be just that, a personal opinion.  (It’ll be a very educated personal opinion, but still.)  At the end of the day, you are responsible for the final decisions we reach during our meeting, and you and your family will live with the results.  We do our absolute best to help you find a great color to paint your home, and we want you to have confidence in your decision!  But it is still “your” decision  –  we cannot decide for you.  (We get asked to, many times!)  And if you actually need an interior designer?  Visit the American Society of Interior Designers for a listing of designers near you.  Then visit their websites or see their portfolio of projects on Houzz to find one or two whose style you like.   (Paper Moon Painting proudly partners with several interior designers in the Austin and San Antonio areas.  We’d be happy to give you some names.)  You can find color consultants on Houzz as well.  Whether you need a full-fledged interior designer or just a color consultant for your project, getting professional advice is the best way to make sure you’ll love your home when your project is done!


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