Construction & Design

Chalet renovation: Interior design vs interior decorating

Who should you turn to for help with the interior design of your rental chalet? An interior designer or a decorator?

We explain the difference between interior design and decoration to help you find the perfect balance between functionality and aesthetics, stick to your budget and stay profitable,

These two areas of expertise work together to help you deliver an unforgettable experience for your guests.

A house plan with a notebook and colour swatches
Find out what decoration and interior design can do for your chalet ©Canva

Interior decor: aesthetics and style

Interior decorating is the art of bringing a space to life. It involves all the aesthetic choices that transform an empty space into a warm and welcoming place.

The decorating palette: colours, textures, furniture and lighting

Interior decor is all about making the right choices for each element that makes up a space.

This includes selecting colours for walls, floor coverings and decorative elements, as well as choosing textures that create a feeling of comfort and harmony.

Furniture is selected for its functionality and aesthetic appeal. Accessories such as cushions, curtains and artwork add touches of personality.

The final touch, lighting, is a crucial element of interior decor, as it influences the overall ambience of the space.

A living room of a chalet decorated in neutral colours with a view of the mountains
The living area at Chalet Les Moulins d’Angelina, in Séez, is a successful combination of interior architecture and design

Influencing the ambience, comfort and character of a space

Interior decor is about much more than visual appeal. It plays a key role in creating a special atmosphere.

For example, the use of bright colours can bring a dynamic energy. Softer tones can create a calming ambience. Clever choices of furniture and accessories can create spaces that are functional and practical, or perhaps cosy and comforting.

Finally, interior decor can give a space a unique character, reflecting the personality of its owner. It can also create a specific atmosphere in keeping with the purpose of the space.

Well thought-out interior decor can transform a rental chalet into a dream getaway for travellers. It strikes the right balance between “universally appreciated decoration” and “inimitable brand image”.

The facade of a wooden chalet, illuminated at night, with a hot tub
Chalet Marinaka, in La Clusaz shows the importance of lighting in decor

Interior design, going further than decoration

Interior design plays a key role in the creation of an interior environment. This discipline encompasses several crucial elements that help to shape the interior space.

Designing a space: structure, materials, circulation

Interior design is much more than decoration. It involves the complete planning of a space so that it is both functional and visually appealing. It looks at structural and spatial aspects, considering the layout of elements and how they interact to meet the specific needs of the user.

For example, the way the occupants move through the space is a central aspect of interior design. A living space needs to be fluid and intuitive to use.

The choice of building materials is also important to meet the specific needs of guests. The challenge here is to ensure that the space is durable and aesthetically pleasing and that the functional elements (kitchens, bathrooms) are well-designed.

A double bedroom with two full height windows, storage, a chair and a desk
Light wood and soft fabrics are used successfully in this bedroom at Chalet Oscar, in Les Gets,

How interior design can affect profitability

It’s important to use every square centimetre to its full potential. Interior design therefore begins with an in-depth analysis of the space available. Spatial planning is crucial in determining the layout of rooms, their size, shape and function.

This is a strategic parameter in the seasonal rental sector. Optimised space means you can accommodate more guests in the most comfortable way possible. This will have a positive effect on the property’s profitability.

An extra long dining table set for dinner in a wooden chalet
Chalet Happyview, in Le Grand Bornand, can accommodate 23 guests, thanks to a great use of space

The relationship between interior design and decoration

Two areas of expertise that work well together

Using interior designers and decorators together is common practice to ensure the best result.

Interior designers will concentrate on the structure and spatial layout, while decorators will choose the aesthetic elements. For example, the interior designer may design a modern, ergonomic kitchen while the interior decorator will select finishes and accessories to transform it into a warm and welcoming space.

The versatility of interior designers

Many interior designers are multi-skilled. Their training often encompasses both the structural and aesthetic aspects of interior design, enabling them to design spaces holistically. They integrate spatial planning with the ideal selection of colours, materials and furniture.

This dual expertise streamlines the design process, ensures aesthetic consistency and ensures that form follows function.

A designer's sketch of a house
Interior designers are often multi-skilled and masters in the art of decoration. ©Canva

Working together on an investment project

Difference in rates between decorators and designers

An interior designer has completed more in-depth training. They are qualified to handle more complex tasks such as creating plans, optimising space and coordinating construction work. This additional expertise is generally reflected in higher fees than those of an interior decorator.

Interior designers generally charge by the hour or by the square metre, depending on the size – and sometimes the complexity – of the project.

For the complete management of a chalet, including structural design and project management, rates can vary from 10,000€ to 50,000€.

Interior decorators will charge between 50€ and 200€ per hour of work. For an average-sized Alpine chalet, interior design will cost between 5,000€ and 20,000€. The final fee will depend in particular on the complexity and range of furniture and accessories chosen.

Architect's plans, paint swatches and a cup of coffee on a desk
Interior designers often charge more than decorators. ©Canva

Allocating your budget between the two areas

The division of the budget between interior decorator and interior design depends largely on the scope of the project and the owner’s priorities.

As a general rule, it is advisable to allocate a larger share of the budget to the interior designer for the structural design and space planning phase. An effective general split might be 70% for the interior design and 30% for the decorator.

When should you call in the professionals?

It’s best to contact professionals right at the start of your project. This applies whether you are building a new property or buying an existing one.

The interior designer can be involved right from the architectural design phase, to ensure that the layout of rooms, circulation and structural aspects meet the specific needs of Alpine chalets. Even if the interior designer is only brought in later, he or she will need to work on your project in advance. It can take from several weeks to several months to draw up the plans and do research with craftsmen or in shops.

A floorplan with colour swatches and a pencil
Calling in an interior designer and decorator is always a good option. @Canva

Are they both necessary?

It is possible to do without either of these two trades. This will depend on the specific needs of the project.

Managing without an interior designer

In cases where the spatial structure of the space is already well defined or does not require major changes, it is possible to concentrate mainly on interior decoration. For example, in an existing house where the layout of the rooms is appropriate, a major architectural overhaul may not be necessary.

For light renovation projects or simple aesthetic updates, a homeowner may choose to work mainly with an interior decorator. The interior decorator will then be able to concentrate on refreshing the appearance of the space without making any major structural changes.

A 3D model of a single-storey home on a desk covered in plans
Is it possible to do without help from an interior decorator? ©Canva

Managing without an interior decorator

If the main objective is to concentrate on the functionality and structure of a space, and the aesthetic aspect is less of a priority, it is possible to focus more on interior design. This would be the case, for example, in a commercial, industrial or hospital environment, where the focus is on practicality and decor is less important.

In some cases, a limited budget may also lead to a decision to focus primarily on interior design. Decoration will then be deferred to a later stage when resources are available.

However, this can result in a functional but austere interior. Atmosphere, character and comfort can be compromised without proper attention to aesthetics.

It is therefore technically possible to do without one or the other, depending on the circumstances. However, it is generally a good idea to consider how the interior design and decoration will work together to achieve the best results.

Particular requirements of Alpine chalets

Owners who want to open up their chalet for seasonal rental are well advised to call in an interior designer who will be best placed to meet the specific requirements of this type of property. This recommendation is even more important when it comes to new builds.

A person works on the floor plans of a property
Optimising space in a chalet means you can accommodate more guests. @Canva

Considering the commune’s town planning scheme (PLU)

Interior designers generally have a basic knowledge of the building regulations and standards applicable to their field of activity. This includes a general understanding of Local Urban Plans (PLU), which determine the design constraints of a project.

These guidelines aim to preserve an area’s architectural character. Examples include certain aesthetic requirements such as the colour of facades, planting restrictions for hedges, regulations on the location and size of windows, etc.

Facilities required in holiday properties

Standards and requirements for holiday rentals may differ from those for a main residence, so careful planning is needed to meet the needs of seasonal guests while complying with current regulations. An interior designer will be able to take into account:

  • Current legislation: this may include compliance with accessibility standards for people with reduced mobility (PMR standards), fire and water resistance, as well as insulation suited to the harsh climatic conditions of the Alps;
  • Holidaymakers’ expectations: a top-of-the-range chalet should offer well-being elements (hammams, saunas), comfort (complete suites rather than bedrooms) or practicality (specially-designed storage areas for ski equipment, for example).
The ski room at Chalet Meringue, i Le Grand Bornand. with benches and a heated  boot rack
A well-planned ski room, such as this one at Chalet Meringue, in Le Grand Bornand, is a bonus for guests

Understanding the working relationship between interior decorators and interior designers will help you get the most out of your property or construction project.

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If you would like to discuss your rental investment project with us, contact our experts. With a portfolio of over 150 chalets under rental management, OVO Network can help you maximise your rental income and your occupancy rate.

Find out how much you can earn by renting out your chalet with our rental income calculator.

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