ANNAPOLIS -- The General Assembly ended a four-year turf battle between architects and interior designers yesterday by passing a bill that would give designers official state recognition and partly define the types of work allowed to the interior-design industry.
The bill creates a state Board of Certified Interior Designers and prohibits anyone from using the title unless they pass various educational and training requirements.
It also states that designers may draw up plans to reshape interior spaces within homes and offices, within certain restrictions.
"It's a terrific victory for the state of Maryland to have appropriate consumer protections" on interior design work, the bill's sponsor, Delegate Dana Lee Dembrow, D-Montgomery, said.
"It represents a modest disappointment to both the architects and interior designers, which is a sign that it's a good bill," the delegate said.
Some designers are disappointed because they believe the bill doesn't allow them to do what they call "space planning," which often entails drawing up plans to move walls within an office space.
The bill allows them to move "non-load bearing" walls, but only if the walls aren't an integral part of the building systems.
Designers argue they've been doing that work for years.
But some county licensing offices have rejected such design plans unless an architect has approved them.
The issue has become important to both industries lately because the slow pace of building construction has driven many architectural firms to take up space planning as well.
The Senate passed the bill 37-9 yesterday. The measure cleared the House last month.