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4 Differences between an interior designer and an interior decorator

4 Differences between an interior designer and an interior decorator - agp wood panel

4 Differences between an interior designer and an interior decorator

Interior Designer | It looks like you’ve decided to make some changes at home, and you realize that you’ll need a little help. You start looking for a service and find that some professionals describe their job as interior design while others are interior decorators.

Suddenly you are faced with a new question, which is, “What’s the difference?” And more importantly, “Which one do I need?”

Interior design and interior decoration are often mistaken for the same thing, but the terms are not completely interchangeable. There are many similarities between the two jobs – so much, in fact, that opinions differ about where exactly to distinguish them.

There are also more than slight differences between professions – some subtle, some significant. When you decide what kind of help you need when planning a change in your home, it helps to understand the difference between a professional designer and a decorator – their school, their credentials, their services, and their clients.

4 Differences between an interior designer and an interior decorator


  1. Education

Interior design is a profession that requires special education and formal training. The work involved usually includes studying colors and fabrics, computer-aided design (CAD) training, drawing, space planning, furniture design, architecture, and more.

After graduation, designers often intern with registered and established interior designers before moving on to set up their own companies.

  1. Credentials

In some states and provinces, professional designers are required to pass an exam and be registered with a governing council (which will depend on the state and state / province in which they are located) before they can be called designers.

However, there are many locations that don’t require credentials. So it is a good idea to find out what the situation is in your area before starting your search.

  1. Type of work

Designers are comfortable with spatial planning and can help design and renovate interiors – from putting together the initial floor plan to placing the final decorative accents. Designers don’t just enhance the look; they also enhance the function of the room.

  1. Working Partners

Interior designers often work closely with architects and contractors to help achieve the look a client wants, whether the client is designing a residential house, office, hotel, or other interior space.


  1. Education

To practice professionally, interior decorators are not required to attend formal or school training as they focus primarily on aesthetics and do not participate in renovation or structural planning.

A decorator appears in the drawing after the structural planning and execution is complete to focus on the surface appearance of the room. Many professional interior decorators have a bachelor’s degree in a related field, but that is not a requirement for the profession.

  1. Credentials

While it doesn’t take a school to become an interior decorator, there are many programs and courses available. These courses often focus on colors and fabrics, room layout, space planning, furniture styles, and more.

Certifications from organizations such as C.I.D. (Certified Interior Decorators International) offers courses and certifications to help decorators authenticate their practice.

  1. Type of work

A good decorator is skilled at stepping into a room and turning it into a visual form. For a new room, they can help clients decide on a style, choose a color scheme, buy furniture and accessories.

They are also often brought in to tidy up existing spaces that need to be updated or repaired.

  1. Working Partners

Decorators don’t usually work with any of the contractors or architects, as structural work is usually completed before they join.

However, they do work with furniture makers, upholsterers, and other industry professionals. Most often, however, they work directly with a home owner or business manager.

So, which one should I choose?

Who you should hire depends on your needs. If structural changes are required (such as removing walls, moving plumbing or wiring, or adding new windows or doors), then interior designers are generally a better choice.

Designers can help plan significant structural changes and help make them happen by working directly with architects and builders.

On the other hand, if no structural changes are needed but you need aesthetic help – decide on a style; choosing wallpaper, paint and furniture; choosing window treatments, and choosing lighting and accessories – an interior decorator will probably do well. Experienced decorators know what works and can transform a room to suit the needs and desires of the client.

Ultimately, however, choosing the right professional depends a lot on specific professional skills, not on the job title. A great many designers with formal education spend most of their time doing work that is best described as decoration because it does not involve renovation or structural work. And there are many professional decorators who, through long experience, are perfectly capable of working with contractors and builders in the same way as a designer.

When hiring a professional, start by clearly understanding your own needs and look for a professional who has a proven reputation for meeting those needs, regardless of the formal position.

In general, it is true that designers are for space planning and structural execution, whereas decorators are for the final aesthetic decisions. But don’t be afraid to hire a decorator with a reputation for being a good designer, or a designer with a knack for decorating, as long as their skills are proven.