Architecture was born around the 27th century B.C.E., when the Egyptian high priest Imhotep discovered columns were handy for keeping roofs in place. Interior design dates back even further, some 64,000 years ago, when Neanderthals in what is now modern-day Spain started dabbing their cave walls with red paint (fine, yes, technically more of a burnt umber). Today’s architects and decorators are, of course, far more sophisticated, by which we mean expensive—and, for that matter, mean. Between these two notoriously entitled professions, which wants to fill you with satisfaction, and which is really there to sate its own ego? Most importantly, which makes wiser use of your hard-earned cash? In the battle of house against home, the answer could come down to who’d be more fun to have a drink with. 

Architect

Interior Designer

WHO YOU WANT TO HIRE

Deborah Berke,
the N.Y.C.-based mastermind who has penned modernist residences from the Hamptons to Fort Lauderdale—and somehow finds time to serve as dean of the Yale School of Architecture.

WHO YOU WANT TO HIRE BY

Rafael de Cardenas.
If the man can make an ornate Haussmann mansion look contemporary, he can probably handle your weekend place (yes, even the water feature in the apocalypse bunker).

WHO YOU WANT TO AVOID

Rex Heuermann.
(Look him up; you’ll remember.)

WHO YOU WANT TO AVOID

Anyone suggesting Schoolhouse White paint, barn doors, or animal-print anything.

dog or cat bed or couch isolated on white background


WilleeCole/Getty Images

WHAT THEY NEED BEFORE THEY CAN START

A professional degree from an accredited program, reams of licensing, sign-off on the floor plan, and a close, 20-year friendship with the perfect contractor.

"College medical degree diploma. University name, seal, location, date  and signature are fictitious and/or have been altered"


Getty Images

WHAT THEY NEED BEFORE THEY CAN START

Your AmEx.

American Express Black Card


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WHO’S EASIER TO GET IN TOUCH WITH DURING THE JOB?

“Oh, you’d like to add a third new wing to the stable-block renovation? Of course, I’ll put you right through.”

WHO’S EASIER TO GET IN TOUCH WITH DURING THE JOB?

They’re in Avignon with your AmEx looking for end tables and cannot be reached.

WHO DID BETTER AT VERSAILLES?

Over the course of 150 years, the structure evolved from a simple hunting lodge to Europe’s most influential palace—despite not having flushing toilets until the 18th century.

Aerial view of the garden maze


Wengen Ling/Getty Images

WHO DID BETTER AT VERSAILLES?

Those 2,300 rooms didn’t gold-leaf themselves.

Versailles interior


Hemis/Alamy

WILL YOU STAY FRIENDS?

You rejected their hedge maze. They have new clients who understand their genius.

WILL YOU STAY FRIENDS?

They’re still drinking Champagne on the original Jorge Zalszupin Cubo sofa they sourced for your living room. 

WOULD RATHER NOT TALK ABOUT

The headquarters of the defunct Longaberger Company in Ohio was designed to look like one of its signature baskets—complete with handles on top.

B6M459 Basket Building Longeberger Company Headquarters Building near Newark Ohio The company makes baskets. Image shot 10/2007. Exact date unknown.


Stan Rohrer/Alamy

WOULD RATHER NOT TALK ABOUT

Whichever brilliant mind pioneered carpeted bathrooms.

On the colored carpet, he walks, barefoot, toward the toilet at the bottom of the room. To his right, a wood cabinet and glass bricks completes the scene.


Mark A Paulda/Getty Images