The biggest obstacle in approaching a building, design or renovation project that an owner faces today is whom to work with. Choosing the right match for the project’s requirements is so important and will make a stressful situation flow smoothly and be favorably successful for all parties involved. So, where does one start looking?  Referrals, Chamber of Commerce listings, web searches? Yes, all are good starting points. The next level would be the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation. This database confirms that your assumed professional is actually licensed to do the work you’re contracting them to do. This protects you, the consumer, on all levels and also protects other businesses that are out there paying their dues, fees and earning education credits in order to operate on a professional level.

Take for instance, interior designers. This has been my profession for over 30 years and I am very proud to hold a Florida State License that enables me to use the title “Registered Interior Designer.” To initially earn this distinction, I earned a BFA in Interior Design, apprenticed for two years after college with an architect and then passed a two day exam called the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification.) Only then after completing all those requirements could I apply to the State to get my registration/certification to call myself an “Interior Designer.” For those who really know the field of Interior Design, it goes way beyond choosing colors and fabrics, the true professionals deal with space planning, finish material specifications, architectural detailing, lighting design and of course building codes. The colors are just the figurative icing on the cake and easiest part. State Registered Interior Designers are also able to do commercial interiors since they are educated in ADA rules, fire codes and public welfare issues.

A few years ago, the Florida legislature passed a ruling that individuals could use the term “Interior Designer” and not hold a state license to do so. They just ca

nnot call themselves a “Registered Interior Designer.” This opened the doors for advertisements of free interior design services and really takes the decorator or sales person and gives them an elevated title without all the background education and training that it previously took to use this title.

You can also see this gray area at times in the building field. The use of XYZ Contracting, does not ensure that the entity is actually a licensed or registered contractor. They may just be a carpenter with a local occupational license.  The important piece of information you can look for is the printing of the license number on all advertisements and business cards, such as ID# 1234 for Interior Designers and CGC#1234 for General Contractors, which is a state requirement of all licensed and registered individuals and businesses. These licensed professional also have to complete several hours of continuing education courses approved by the state and hold the proper insurances as well.

So keep in mind, if all you need are new sofas and pillows, an in-house designer is fine, but if you need a truly remodeled, turnkey interior, or newly constructed space then go with the seasoned professionals. You’ll be relieved that you did.

Antoinette C. Prisco, ASID, FL Registered Interior Designer
ID#0003428, IB#26000917