The key differences between designers and decorators

The key differences between designers and decorators

What distinguishes an interior designer from an interior decorator? We'd not really thought about this all that much until the time came to hire in some outside help, an we weren't quite sure who we should be searching for. In our mind, interior design and interior decorating are pretty much interchangeable, aren't they?

What distinguishes an interior designer from an interior decorator? We'd not really thought about this all that much until the time came to hire in some outside help, an we weren't quite sure who we should be searching for. In our mind, interior design and interior decorating are pretty much interchangeable, aren't they?

So, to a browser and search engines. With the wealth of information at our fingertips nowadays, it's not knowing the immediate answer to a question that is appropriate (if it's outside of your normal area of expertise) - it's knowing what you need to Google!


Academically speaking

Interior design requires specific schooling and formal training. The work involved usually includes the study of colour and fabric, CAD, drawing, space planning, furniture design, architecture and more. After university designers usually apprentice with a registered and established interior designer before moving on to set up their own companies.

Interior decorators don't require formal training or schooling as their focus is primarily on aesthetics & they don't generally take part in renovations or structural planning. They come in afterwards and focus on the surface look of the room. Even though no official studying is required to become an interior decorator there are many courses available focussing on colour and fabric, room layouts, space planning, furniture styles and many more - so don't assume they're typical Bob the Builders!



An easy way to distinguish

After our long search engine session we found that there are plenty of long-winded, varied explanations of the differences but we think the National Council for Interior Design Qualification website sums it up the best:


These professions differ in critical ways. Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things*. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design. 


The last sentence being the crucial point: interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design. 




So who should you hire?

It depends on what you need. If structural changes are needed then an interior designer might the best choice. They could help plan for significant structural changes and help make them happen. On the other hand, if there are no structural changes needed but you need help deciding on a style; choosing wallpaper, paint, and furnishings and even bedroom accessories, a decorator will probably do the trick.

Ultimately, who you hire should be based on the right decision for you and your home rather than what job title they have.