Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator: What’s the Difference?

If you think that interior design and interior decorating are the same, you’re sadly mistaken. Many people use these terms interchangeably. But the work of an interior designer is quite different from the work of an interior decorator.

Both interior designers and interior decorators are primarily concerned with creating beautiful and functional living spaces. However, there are many critical differences between them.

When you need help in upgrading your home’s style, you’ll have to either choose an interior designer or an interior decorator. But if you don’t know the difference between them, how will you choose the right professional?

Interior Design

Interior design is the art and science of improving the interior of a building along with understanding the clients’ behavior to achieve more functional and more aesthetically pleasing interiors.

This profession requires specific schooling and formal training. Students usually study color and fabric, drawing, CAD training, space planning, architecture, furniture design, and other related courses in interior design.

Once they graduate, interior designers often apprentice with a skilled and registered interior designer. After that, most interior designers move on to establish their own companies.

Interior Designer

Interior designers are mainly concerned with spatial planning. They help design and renovate interiors, including everything from sketching the initial floor plans to placing the final decorative accent. Along with enhancing the look of a space, interior designers also improve its functionality.

Interior designers also have experience within the construction field. They often work closely with contractors and architects to design the interior space.

In some states, interior designers have to pass an exam to get registered with a governing council. Only after passing the exam they can be called designers. However, there are many states where no credentialing is required.

Interior Decorating

On the other hand, interior decorating is the art of decorating a space according to a clients’ personal preferences and style. From selecting color schemes and flooring materials to furniture, and accessories, everything is included in interior decorating.

Unlike interior designers, interior decorators don’t require any formal training or schooling. The reason is that they focus on aesthetics only. Interior decorators don’t play any part in renovations and structural planning.

Interior Decorator

Interior decorators are skilled enough to transform the style of your space. They can help clients choose a style, decide a color scheme, purchase the right furniture and accessories. Interior decorators are brought in to update or redo the interiors.

Although no schooling is required to become an interior decorator, many programs and courses are available. To authenticate the practices of decorators, organizations like Certified Interior Decorators International (CID) offer certifications and coursework.

Interior decorators often work with furniture makers, upholsterers, and many other professionals. But they don’t work with contractors or architects. The reason being that all the structural work is completed before they come on board.

Who to Hire?

It depends on your needs. When you only need aesthetic help, you should hire an interior decorator. He/she will help you decide on a style, choose wallpaper, paint, furnishings, and accessories.

But if you need structural changes like adding new doors or windows, removing walls, changing wiring, etc., you should hire an interior designer.


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