As our name would suggest, the Kitchen & Bathroom Designers Institute is made up a growing group of designers who focus predominantly (or solely) on kitchen and/or bathroom design.

Our members have come to us from all kinds of backgrounds: from interior design, interior decoration, cabinetmaking, building design, building and sales, our K and B designers have a range of qualifications and skillsets.

What they all have in common, however, is an understanding that kitchens and bathrooms can be the most profitable part of both new builds and renovations, and they’re worth honing in on.

So how does someone become a kitchen or bathroom specialist?

Our Membership is almost at a 50-50 split between trade backgrounds and design qualifications. We’ve shared a few journeys of our tradie-come-designers in the past, and will be sharing more in the coming months. In this feature, however, we’re looking at the make-up of many of our design-based Members, and exploring the differences between design and decoration.

We’ll look at each discipline from three perspectives – concept, qualifications and services – and we invite you to add your point of view in the comments section at the end of this article.

Interior Design: Concept

Interior design encompasses both the function and aesthetics of a space. It requires an understanding of space (both the broader floor plan and actual building elements), the behaviour and activities of people within an area, and the practical and aesthetic qualities of the finishes required.

Interior Design: Qualifications

In Australia, interior designers are likely to have attained a Diploma of Interior Design (residential spaces), an Advanced Diploma of Interior Design (commercial spaces), or a Bachelor of Interior Design or Interior Architecture.

In our niche specifically, we have a growing number of graduates of the Cert IV in Kitchen and Bathroom Design. As its title would indicate, this course is an intensive study in the specific areas of k and b design, and a good investment for anyone wishing to specialise.

There are no specific licences that relate to Interior Design in Australia, but designers must ensure that their scope of work doesn’t creep into those areas that do require licensing (see services).

Interior Design: Services

Interior designers provide a broad range of design advice and services, and are involved in:

  • analysing the client’s goals and requirements for a space (design brief)
  • planning, arranging and selecting finishes for the space
  • selecting and specifying finishes (colours, products etc.), furniture, fabrics, fixtures and lighting
  • preparing detailed client presentations of the proposed layout and finishes
  • working in collaboration with builders, architects and trade contractors in
  • preparing detailed design documentation

Unless suitably licensed to do so, interior designers should not be undertaking structural design (where load-bearing walls are to be removed, for instance), project management or building works. (Check your local state regulatory authority for more information.)

Interior Decoration: Concept

Broadly speaking, interior decoration places more emphasis on aesthetics than space planning. Skilled decorators can help clients decide on a particular decorative style, advise on appropriate colour schemes and finishes, purchase furniture and accessories and undertake general styling of residential interiors.

Interior Decoration: Qualifications

Many interior decorators hold Certificate IV level qualifications in Interior Decoration. Some may hold higher qualifications in related areas, while others may have accumulated years of experience. Like interior designers, interior decorators are not required to be licensed, but must ensure that their scope of work does not extend into structural design, project management or building services where licensing is required.

Interior Decoration: Services

Decorators may work with interior designers, builders and homeowners. They will often undertake the following services:

  • researching and analysing the client’s goals and aesthetic preferences
  • planning, designing and arranging furnishings within a space
  • interior styling
  • selecting and specifying colours, finishes and furnishings
  • purchasing and on-selling furniture and accessories

Since our inception, we’ve seen many successful collaborations between designers and decorators, decorators and cabinetmakers, designers and builders and more.

We understand that all of our Members – despite their qualifications or backgrounds – share a great interest and passion in residential kitchen and bathroom spaces.

With our growing body of technical bulletins, feature articles, workshops and professional development sessions, our goal is to ‘fill in the gaps’ for all of these interested parties, wherever there may be a need. In doing so, we believe we can create a well-informed and better-connected community in the niche area of kitchen and bathroom design, and highlight its position as a stand-alone career.