What is the Difference Between Interior Designer and Interior Decorator?
When does this question pop up? When you need the services of one or the other and you can’t decide the difference. Uh-hum, you ask around and you get more confused. Ah!
Let us confirm that you are not alone. That also explains why the feedback you got when you asked around turned out to be confusing. Let’s say that it is not a mortal sin to mistake one for the other. However, it should not be the case, despite little similarities.
This post will help you make the decision, or at least show you the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer.
So, as a customer (that is you, yes), the first determining factors are what you have and what you need, i.e., do you have a room and/or house that you need to brighten, enhance, dress up? Or a room and/or house that you need to restructure, renovate, fix up and adorn? Or a new house to be built? Those questions already give you hints as to what service you need.
Tip: change the word house on this post to office, industrial space, gyms, game rooms, studio, etc. depending on your project, and decide on the same post.
Degree and Accreditation. The profession of interior designing requires a bachelor’s degree. In some states in the US, an accreditation certificate is necessary. Having said that, is it possible to become an interior designer without a degree? There are certification programs available for interior design. In addition, as skills and experience in any field can be acquired, the practice of interior designing can find its way into one’s portfolio.
Interior decorators, on the other hand, do not necessarily need any degree nor certification to practice the profession. There are interior decorators whose degrees are unrelated, but that is not of primal importance to the practice.
Coverage of Work. The work of interior designers covers the application of colors, textures, lines and drawings, space, design, which interior decorators also cover. However, interior designers’ coverage goes as deep as understanding space and planning, walls and measurements, electrical wirings, human movement, and/or the full function and built of the structure. Interior designers also work with building contractors, engineers, architects for full coordination of plans and renditions of the client’s goal.
To sum it up, when you think of interior designing and interior decorating, it is wise to keep in mind that designers cover more functions and projects than interior decorators. It is also safe to think that interior designers can decorate. Designers’ work begins from the initial house and floor plans and their vision of interiors includes the full structure. Interior decorators, on the other hand, enhance space, re-decorate, accessorize. Both can do the selection and purchasing of furnishings, upholstery, and fixtures. It would not be surprising to know that they have their list of contacts and are widely networked in their field of specialties
Should I Hire a Designer or a Decorator?
Yeah, again, it all depends on what your needs are. A home renovation that includes restructuring of walls, the rebuilding of rooms, new windows, new doors would be the work of interior designers. Their expertise calls for planning spaces and studying human movements to fit the client’s needs – home, commercial, industrial, etc.
On the other hand, an existing structure that needs an aesthetic design would call for the services of an interior decorator who can help you decide on a style, colors, wallpaper, paints, lights, fixtures, accessories, furnishing, window treatments, or the like.
There are many ways to find interior designers and decorators. If you do not know of anyone yet, you can seek the advice of your friends. Such recommendation adds to your confidence that you are getting the right one due, of course, to the fact that the person you know does prefer to make you happy. Otherwise, and to guide you in your selection, you should look for years of experience, good reputation, and portfolio, which they would be more than willing to share with you. In fact, in this kind of business, their portfolios are the ones they mostly update regularly. Just like any other in the field of sales, they know that they are as good as their last delivery.
You are not sure of what you need, at this time, yet? Let them make the decision for you! They can easily assess that. It is part of their business, too.
Before we close, let us share this story with you:
Bryan, whose condominium unit was designed by an interior designer he found on LinkedIn. Cecil worked for another more experienced interior designer, Debra. So, Bryan, Cecil, and Debra met, agreed, and worked together for the completion of the interior design of Bryan’s new condo unit. The work covered removing one wall in the unit and moving two windows from their original location and to all that was required to have the unit ready for occupancy. It involved paper works, government permits, selection and purchase of furniture and fixtures, to name a few, and it lasted 11 months. They were happy with the results.
Another year later, the same client, Bryan, returned to his LinkedIn contact, Cecil, for another project – this time a house on a lot he owned. By then, Cecil has started operating on her own. Bryan’s requirement covered other contacts, the first of which is a construction engineer. Cecil comfortably introduced Bryan to a contracting engineer she works closely with.
This scenario is ordinary. The networking and connections are not surprising. What is impressive, of course, is the continuing working relationship between the client (Bryan) and the interior designer (Cecil) that spans more than one project and the changes in the structure of Cecil’s business and connections.
Where is Debra? She continues to operate her interior design firm and remains friends with Cecil and Bryan.
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