Many clients ask me this question: how do I know whether I need an architect or a designer? There really is no concrete answer; each project needs to be evaluated individually. Here are some things that may help you understand the process and help you make a decision.
1. If your project involves brand new construction, or if you are completely demolishing your house or business, you are going to need an architect. Some architects have design teams and some prefer to work with outside or third party designers. In my opinion, interior designers and architects often think about space a little differently and if you can afford to have both, it is best to have more heads creating design solutions for you.
2. If you are moving a few walls and updating items in your house you can most likely go with either. Most designers have the capacity to draw plans and have contractors pull permits for you. If you are remodeling a kitchen or bath, you will want to find a designer with a strong background in kitchen and bath design, or someone who has a team capable of design build and construction management. You may also need an architect depending on the complexity of your project.. The choice is yours; it should be based on who you feel listens to you, and someone you feel you could work well with.
3. If you simply want to paint, add furniture, rework layouts and get your space looking photograph worthy, an interior designer is your best bet and obviously no architect is needed. That being said, align yourself with a firm who you feel really understands your needs and dreams.