What’s the Difference Between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator? – DezignSpace

What’s the Difference Between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator?

So you’ve decided to make a few (or many!) updates to your home, and you come to the realization that you’re going to need some help. When you search for design services, you’ll find that some professionals describe themselves as interior designers while others are interior decorators. Is there even a difference? Let us answer that one right away- YES, BIG TIME! Though they have similar job titles, the duties differ in a few classic areas like schooling, credentials, services, and clientele. It’s essential that you know which one is the right fit for your project, so read on, and we’ll fill you in on all the deets.

Interior Designer

Schooling: Required. Formal training and specific schooling is required for Interior Design. Some of the topics studied include space planning, programming, UBC (unified building codes), ergonomics, color and fabric, drawing, furniture design, lighting fundamentals, and basic architecture. Computer-aided design (CAD) training is also used to help create, modify, analyze, or optimize a design. Once graduated, designers typically intern with a well-established interior designer. Then, taking their newfound knowledge, they begin firms of their own.

Credentials: Varies. Check your state regulations because some states and provinces require pro designers to pass an exam and become registered with a governing council to obtain the title of interior designer, while others don’t.

What They Do: Designers are masters at spatial planning and can program and revise the function of any space. They’ll be involved in the entire design process, from pre-planning and concept to the finishing touches. 

Who They Work With: Architects and Contractors. They all work together to ensure the function, and the look is just what the client ordered. Clients can be residential and commercial spaces, hotels, retail, health care, or really any indoor or outdoor space. 


Interior Decorator

Schooling: Not required. Although many interior decorators might have degrees or certificates in related fields, interior decorators primarily focus on aesthetics. Once the structural planning, execution, and renovations are completed, the decorator comes in to jazz up the place on the surface level.

Credentials: Courses and certifications focusing on the same skills as Interior Design are not required, but they’re helpful. Certified Interior Decorators International (CID) is an organization that helps decorators authenticate their practices. Courses in color and fabric, rudimentary space planning, room layouts, furniture styles, decor, and more.

What They Do: Decorators are highly skilled at improving the visual impact of a room. They thrive in new spaces to help clients decide on a style, color scheme, furniture purchases, and accessories. If an existing space needs sprucing, they’re a good option to call on for an update.

Who They Work With: Interior Decorators come in when the space is complete, so they don’t typically work with contractors or architects. They do work with decor professionals like furniture makers and upholsterers. Primarily, they work with homeowners or business managers.


Designer or Decorator – Who to Hire?

Wondering whether to hire an interior designer or an interior decorator? Here’s how you’ll know…

Structural changes often will require either an architect or an interior designer. Wall removal, new windows or doors, and moving wiring or plumbing all need the expertise of a designer who works with contractors, architects, and structural engineers to make the job go smoothly. 

On the flip side, if you purely need aesthetic assistance, a decorator will suffice. Interior decorators can select the wallpaper, paint colors, textures, window treatments, furnishings, decorative lighting, decor accessories, and overall interior style. Decorators understand what works well together and can transform any room.

Overall, the right pro for you has the skills you need rather than a specific title. Many designers simply decorate even though they have a formal education, and many decorators have experience working with contractors and builders. Generally speaking, designers are the right choice for a project that consists of more than one room in addition to structural execution and space planning. Decorators are best for renters and single-room decor updates.

And, of course, DezignSpace is a FANTASTIC resource when it comes to ALL your design questions, whether you post in the Clubhouse, ask a quick question in ClubChat, or join a Live Event

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