For years I have been telling people that I wanted to write a book called: “They said the D word.” In this instance the “D” word isn’t the typical four letter word; the D word refers to: Decorator. In fact I had thought of using that as the title of this blog. And I am here to tell you that I would have money lining my pockets if I was paid a $1 every time I was introduced to someone as an Interior Decorator. For those who have a higher education in the field of interior design and have studied for and passed their NCIDQ exams they shrink a little when that word rears its head! Don’t get me wrong, decoration can be a part of Interior Design, but is just one tool in the tool kit, not the whole coloring box. But the general public just doesn’t seem to understand the difference.  The other day I had been meeting with a potential client to build out and remodel his high rise apartment building. At the end of the meeting as we were leaving a question came up about the right approach to the furniture of his main lobby. He said, “I am no good with that sort of thing; I’m a guy.” “Well,” says I, “last I checked, so am I and I can still help you out!”

Another experience that happens often is when I meet someone for the first time and what I do for a living comes into the conversation, the most common response is, “How fun,” if they are a female, and if they are male, there is usually a pause and then a “how interesting.” In these instances, it is clear that their concept of Interior Design is not much more than what they have seen on HGTV –or other entertainment shows. These shows have certainly brought more attention to the field of Interior Design and have a lot of good, but do not showcase properly what interior design work is all about in the commercial world (itemizing these differences could be a blog post in itself!)

But the most poignant experience for me happened when I walked on one of my project’s construction site for the first time. I was introduced the GC’s Foreman. And while he was shaking my hand, he looked me straight in the eyes and said, “I hate Interior Designers. I think you should all be lined up and shot! You make my life a living hell.” While those around us guffawed in laughter,  I kept shaking his hand and said with a smile, “Its a pleasure to meet you… Let’s hope you don’t feel the same way at the projects end.”

On further investigation, I found out that most of his experiences with “interior designers” were actually interior decorators without the education and experience of how things are built and put together, basing their direction on pure aesthetics.

Now my intent is not to belittle or demean those that make it their living as Decorators. There are very talented Decorators out there, but there is a difference between what a Decorator and a certified Interior Designer does. We bring much more than just “color” to the table.

Because of all this, I took advantage of a movement that is happening here in Utah. Over the last couple years a number of individuals started to campaign and work to have The State of Utah recognize Interior Design as an actual profession.  The Board that was created for this is called IDEAL; Interior Design Education and Legislation.  It has been a long road, with lots of hard work completed by individuals giving of their time for this cause. I have only been involved this year, but it has been a fascinating ride, and I am so grateful for all those that got us to this point.


I am not going to get into the specifics of this legislation at this time, but there are plenty of sources for you to find out the current status of this movement.  The IIDA and IDEAL websites have lots of information to share.

map of liscencing copy

My hope is just to make you aware of it and to spark some interest in it, because what I do every day as a designer has the potential to be affected by its outcome. I invite you to study up on it, reach out to someone involved, ask questions and find a way to support your Utah based designers.



what does it take

what can I do to help

What’s most important about this legislation is that it has the potential to standardize the industry of Interior Design – from the students studying at a university level to the general public’s knowledge to what the Architect or Contractor can expect from us. We hope that this legislation will allow us to be recognized for the work we do, hand in hand with other professionals in the building and construction industry, and at last be considered as one of these professionals in the State of Utah.

I categorized this posting as a “TIDLIC”, because while in college I had no idea I was studying for a career in something that wasn’t a recognized profession in the State of Utah. Did any of you? When or how did you learn about the IDEAL movement or the need for one? I am interested in your experiences on this topic. Make a comment. Let me know your thoughts. But most importantly,

be an advocate

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