As an interior decorator, your job is to recognize the potential in a space and use your expertise to simplify, beautify, and make it as aesthetically pleasing as possible. But this isn’t your only responsibility—you also need to be mindful of potentially harmful elements within the home, and adhere to specific, up-to-date health and safety standards in order to create a safe environment for your clients.
Every decision you make can influence your clients’ safety and quality of life, so it is extremely important to be as knowledgeable as possible about the following health and safety considerations:
Lighting is a basic feature of any home or office space, but did you know how important it is for the safety and well-being of your clients?
People receive about 85% of their information from their sense of sight. Proper lighting can improve people’s quality of life immensely—it can prevent tired eyes and headaches, as well as keep accidents from happening as it allows for potential tripping hazards and obstacles to be avoided.
In the case of improper lighting, such as lighting that creates shadows or a glare, eyes can become strained and irritated, and accidents can happen in workspaces due to “momentary blindness” caused by adjustment to bright or dark surroundings.
Lighting can also save lives during emergencies by allowing occupants of a home or office to find exits quickly and easily.
If you were to ask an interior decorator what they enjoy most about their role, one of their top answers would likely be choosing different kinds of fabric to furnish various rooms.
Along with hand-picking furniture fabrics, an interior decorator must also be knowledgeable about fire codes and how the fabric they choose can react in a fire, as some fabrics can release poisonous fumes.
Another good habit to form early in your career is to immediately assess a space’s evacuation options. If an emergency were to occur, could the home or office be exited quickly and with minimal panic? Keep this in mind as you plan your next decorating space.
When designing a home, the client and their family are top priority. One key consideration for an interior decorator is to create a space that is friendly to all different lifestyles, including clients with accessibility issues. An open concept, for example, will allow for an individual with a wheelchair or other mobility device to move around the home or office easily, while a home with many narrow doorways and hallways will not make movement easy.
A wheelchair ramp is also an excellent consideration for accessibility, as well as wider doorways to accommodate mobility devices. For a more detailed breakdown of accessible interior decorating, check out our post on designing accessible spaces.
Health Concerns for Everyone
A home needs to be safe for everyone who lives there—that includes children and pets!
If animals live in the home, make sure to choose plants and decor that are safe for cats or dogs who may want to chew on them. We covered lots more tips on pet-friendly interior decorating in a previous post.
In the case of small children, the home can be a very dangerous place if not organized properly. As you plan each detail (including curtains, the placement of small decorative objects, and the hanging of shelves), keep in mind all the potential hazards these decorating elements can pose for a child and organize the home accordingly.Careful planning and attention to detail will improve the well-being of your client’s family, and ensure their safety.
Current Health & Safety Standards
Be sure to do your homework when it comes to researching current health and safety codes in your area!
It is the responsibility of an interior decorator to be well-versed in the current standards of health and safety practice. You must be able to draw on your knowledge and expertise when decorating spaces within buildings that have specific rules for design.
If your client lives in an apartment building, get in touch immediately with the building management and educate yourself on their building code before making any decorating changes. Similarly, pay close attention to their fire code and know what your rights are as a decorator. Being knowledgeable will prevent you from making mistakes or potentially causing illness or harm to your clients.