Are you getting a stylist, or an interior designer? Ask this question to a Maltese homeowner who’s about to do a renovation, or is planning to decorate their new home, and chances are you won’t get one straight answer. To be fair to local homeowners, it’s fair to get a little confused: There is some overlap between these two disciplines.

If you’re considering hiring a professional to help you with your home, it’s important to know what these differences are so you can choose the right service for your project. In this article, we make a pretty strong argument as to why, amongst other reasons, hiring a stylist actually saves you money.

We’ve chatted with Lucienne, a local stylist who has rose to prominence in Malta for her discerning eye and the gorgeous photos she puts up on her Facebook page, where you will find that a majority of her posts are inundated with likes and comments from local homeowners wishing to inject some of her talent into their own houses.

Let’s get the most important question out of the way: In Malta, what makes a stylist different from a designer?

“Simply put: Interior design is a science, styling is an art. Design is very much the science of how to use space and structure. Styling is a social science and the subject of study is the person who’s going to be using the space. The task is to communicate who that person is in ‘3d space’, so to speak. The tools are metals, fabrics, artefacts, and textiles – and anything considered soft furnishings.”

Has there always been this distinction between interior design and styling as careers in Malta?

“Certainly not. For a long time, stylists belonged to editorial projects, making rooms or sets look amazing for beautiful photographs that appear in magazines, advertorials, or catalogues. The first styling job for a private Maltese homeowner was really quite accidental.” Lucienne admits, “A client came to my place of work looking for an item to add to his living room. After some back and forth, he admitted to being quite unhappy with his interiors – which he had spent a lot of money on. To keep it brief, after some conversation, we decided I should go to his place. To be sure, it was an expensively furnished room, but I learned nothing about him by looking at it.”

“A cup of coffee and a chat later, I asked him to give me 1 day and a budget. If he did not like the result, I promised the money back, and to return all items myself. He agreed and absolutely enjoyed the work. I was pleased with myself, so I took some photos.”

Did those photos eventually inspire you to create your own Facebook page – Home Styling by Lucienne?

“Definitely. Facebook allowed me to build and update a portfolio of work and show what I can do. It allowed me to turn my passion into a hobby, which I never really thought I’d able to do or turn into my career. I dedicated myself to the furnishings and design industry all my life, and it’s thanks to that experience that I have developed a discerning eye and, a wealth of contacts. To be able to translate that into a work that helps people makes me really happy.”

How would you describe the role of a stylist in Malta? What would you expect from a professional?

Being a stylist was not economically sound in Malta until a few years back. Now, we have so much choice when it comes to furniture and décor and we see so many adverts that most homeowners are just simply lost in the noise. A stylist’s job, I find, is to separate the chaff from the wheat and guide the homeowner towards the items that are really going to a) match with who they are b) stand the march of progress.

Have you noticed any patterns in who asks for stylists, or who prefers to do it on their own?

Yes. I found that homeowners who do not necessarily have big budgets or are not necessarily in any way educated in design tend to trust in the value a stylist brings far more. They will still use Pinterest, which I encourage, and will have lots of ideas, but they’re very willing to listen.

What else do stylists and designers approach differently?

First, a good designer will have a strong understanding of spatial planning, material specifications, and layout. In most cases, an interior designer will create amazingly detailed, rendered scale drawings of the room, house or area you want to work on. For an interior designer, the priority is effective use of space, space creation, functionality, and presentation that appeases the eye – the latter is, I assure you, more scientific than it is artistic.

Can a designer be a stylist and viceversa?

Both a stylist and a designer will have an eye for what looks good, of course. Styling demands that you become a study of character, and that’s what it really taps into. Some designers can have the artistic impulse to be stylists, and stylists can learn design. I personally think a stylist should definitely have a sound understanding of interior and spatial design – and it is hard not to. It’s just a matter of what your focus is – the manipulation of space or the study of character.

Get inspired by Lucienne’s discerning eye by giving her Facebook page a follow!