Interior Designer Vs. Interior Decorator


As an interior designer myself, I get asked this question many times: What is the difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator? People often get confused with Interior Design and think that it is all about picking nice paint colors, and “pretty” furniture that match the paint color; but being an Interior Designer is much more than that. Interior Design and Interior Decoration are often mistaken of being the same thing, but they have many differences.

In my opinion, the easiest way to classify between a designer and a decorator is that Interior Design is a profession, but Interior Decoration is more of a hobby. Anyone can be an Interior Decorator if they like choosing colors and furniture, but it takes special training to be an Interior Designer. An Interior Designer can be an Interior Decorator, but an Interior Decorator can’t be an Interior Designer.

Here are four main differences between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator:

1. Education

One of the main differences between a designer and a decorator is their education and experience.

Interior Design: A professional Interior Designer has a degree in Interior Design. Design requires special education and special training. A design degree takes about 4 years to complete in university. In addition to an educational background, interior designers are established professionals with a number of years of practical experience in the field.

Interior Decoration: You don’t need a degree to become a decorator, anyone can become a decorator. There is no formal training, as long as you have a good sense of color, or a flair for “design” and are interested in those things. Even though no schooling is required to become an Interior Decorator, there are programs and courses that you can take to learn more about decoration. These courses often focus on color and fabric, room layouts, and furniture styles.

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2. Credentials

Interior Design: In order to become a professional Interior Designer, many countries require designers to take a test and have their license by passing that test if they wish to pursue Interior Design as a career in the future. Interior Designers need to be licensed in order to work, because not everyone is qualified to be a designer, and design is built on systems and codes, and that can be dangerous if you are not knowledgeable in those factors.

Interior Decorator: Don’t need any license.

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3. What They Do

Interior Design: An Interior Design takes a project from the beginning till the end. They focus on forming functional interior spaces by drawing floor plans, which includes the proposed furniture layout and space planning, all drawn to scale and precision. In addition to ensuring that the furniture and accessories are correctly proportioned, they consider circulation and flow, and how a person can move from one space to another comfortably. They consider ceilings and electricity planning. They study building systems and codes, and learn the right way to design a universal space for everyone, including people with disabilities. Their education provides a variety of coursework in subjects ranging from Furniture History and Color Theory, to lighting and acoustical sounds. They focus more on functionality rather than look.

Interior Decoration: Interior Decorators can decide on a style, choose a color scheme, purchase furniture, and accessorize. They often work on an existing space that needs to be updated or redone. An Interior Decorator isn’t involved with the design of the building or the layout of the interior space. They are focused entirely on the furniture, colors, textiles and textures of a room. Their job is to capture the personality and style of their clients, and express it in their space.

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4. Who They Work With

Interior Design: Interior Designers often work closely with architects and contractors to help achieve the look the client desires, whether that client is designing a residential home, an office, a hotel, or any other interior space.

Interior Decoration: Decorators are more independent. They don’t generally work with any contractor or architect since structural work is usually complete before they come on board. They do however sometimes work with furniture makers, upholsterers, and other industry professionals.

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To summarize:

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