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What is the difference between Interior Design and Home Staging?

We've all heard of Interior Design and now most people know about the growth of the Home Staging Industry in the UK. But what really is the difference, and why should home owners check the qualifications that the different styling disciplines may have?

An Interior Designer should be Interior Design qualified. A Home Stager might or might not be qualified in either Interior Design or Home Staging. However a Home Staging professional has undergone Home Staging training and gained a qualification specialising in Home Staging and Styling to sell property. An Interior Designer may have specific specialisms, but generally a residential Interior Designer will take a brief from a customer and then work with them to advise and implement a suitable interior design scheme which meets their requirements.

A Home Staging professional focuses on changes to a home which will increase the perceived value of the property, improve the marketing potential and improve the selling price. It's important that a person offering Home Staging as a service to homeowners has fully developed their knowledge of Home Staging skills and differentiates them from Interior Design services. If not the homeowner may end up paying over the odds to achieve a wonderful new look without improving the property's value or its impact on the property market.

How is Home Staging different to Interior Design?

Home Staging recommendations are not necessarily inline with a customer's personal preferences and in most instances are at odds to a customer's style tastes. This is because Home Staging is about what the homeowner needs to change in order to improve marketing potential and not how they have lived or the current style and presentation of their home.

Home Staging advice is often mainly cosmetic, involving interior decoration, style, room layout, colour schemes and accessorising; but in some instances can involve changes to fixtures and fittings such as bathrooms and kitchens to improve buyer appeal and property value. In a Home Staging project there will be no brief from the owner about style - only their requirements regarding selling timescale and sometimes, but not always, an outline budget.

"Good home stagers often with companies like ours start from a blank canvas. They have a good understanding of how to apply the latest trends and fashions - delivering a service that creates the 'wow' factor for prospective buyers. The result is a better result in terms of end price than would normally be the case," comments Ruban Selvanayagam of the leading UK We Buy Any House / refurbishment company Property Solvers.

What is the difference between an Interior Designer and Interior Decorator?

An Interior Designer should have knowledge about structural issues and fixtures and fittings as well as the cosmetic decor and styling.

According to the British Institure of Interior Design (BIID) an Interior Designer should have qualified in a course which includes structural changes to property. Described as 'Interpretation of the project schemes and technical studies related to the built environment (working drawings, building technology, and understanding of structure and services).

This means that an Interior Designer should have knowledge, for example about removing walls to open up spaces or adding false walls or ceilings to create design features.

An Interior Decorator, on the other hand, is skilled with Interior Decor - mainly cosmetic finishes such as the wall coverings, floorings, window treatments, furniture, soft furnishings, colour schemes, design themes and final design features.

Both an Interior Designer and Interior Decorator can suggest Bedroom interior design, Bathroom design ideas, modern interior design, living rooms designs etc. However for structural design a customer should check that the Interior Designer has studied a course which includes appropriate accredited qualifications. An Interior Designer has the skill to understand the implications of any changes to the structural integrity of a property and will call upon the services of a Structural Surveyor or Interior Architect if detailed structural alterations or plans are required. A none-Interior Design qualified person may have substantial skills through experience of structural changes to property, but it would be important to check their qualifications, previous work, portfolio and references.

All three types, a Home Stager, an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator need a Business Terms and Conditions document when making a business proposal and contracting for work. This is a legal document which shows the full terms of trading and is usually signed by both the client and the contact at the business.

The Interior Design industry is largely self-regulated and many private courses have emerged with varying course content. When choosing a course to study for Interior Design, it's highly recommended to check information on suggested course content at

How to become qualified in Home Staging in the UK

Similarly to the Interior Design industry, the Home Staging industry is largely self-regulated and course content varies greatly. The CHSSP Home Staging Course provides professional training for those who want to learn more and become qualified in Home Staging. The course includes comprehensive information required to become proficient in interior styling for the property market, it presents a number of clients and UK property examples with a range of Home Staging solutions to suit specific scenarios, advises on professional business communicatiions, the property buying and selling process, business setup and key marketing for business development.

The author of the CHSSP Home Staging and Property Styling Course is Anita Richardson, Director of UK Home Staging and Styling company HouseWow ®, and founder of The Home Staging Network.

Anita started her Home Staging business as a sole trader, and from small beginnings with declutter and styling jobs, built a successful business creating home staging transformations and property sales before developing showhomes, store dressing and photography shoots for holiday accommodation as part of a successful Limited company. House Wow now has a team of 11 expert Associate Interior Designers and Home Stagers. Committed to developing the Home Staging industry in the UK through shared information and education, Anita has shared her knowledge of Home Staging and Home Staging business development for over 15 years; featuring as a Home Staging expert on TV and in the media including BBC1's Right on the Money, Sky TV's 'Women in Property', 'The Telegraph', 'The Independent', 'Show House Magazine' and 'House Beautiful'.

A wealth of Home Staging industry knowledge is encapsulated in the CHSSP Certified Home Staging and Styling Professional course so that new starters can develop their knowledge and skills in a creative and practical way. It's possible to join the course at any time and work at your own pace with online Tutor support, a user-friendly student dashboard and resources.

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