Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator

You recently acquired a new home and want to change its layout. Unfortunately, you don’t have an idea of where to start. You pick up your phone to browse some design ideas on Pinterest but end up with thousands of confusing interior styles in your gallery. You opt to hire an expert. Upon searching online, you encounter parties with ‘professional interior designer’ and ‘interior decorator’ tags. You wonder who among the two is most suited for the task. Here is a guide to help you differentiate between the two.

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

Interior designer and interior decorator terms are often used synonymously. While there are some similarities between the two professions, the truth is that you can’t use them interchangeably. This section details each of the two professions to help you create a clear-cut distinction between them.

Interior Designer

An interior designer is a professional who creates functional, secure, and aesthetically appealing interiors as specified by property owners. 

More specifically, they achieve their clients’ desired outcomes by: 

  • Analyzing space requirements 
  • Altering structural designs 
  • Choosing decorative items  
  • Determining furniture layout 
  • Reading and editing blueprints
  • Researching any existing legal provisions to ensure compliance 

Also, the professionals in interior design Los Angeles-based work closely with home/ business owners, contractors, and architects to achieve an interior layout that appeals to their clients.

Interior Designer: Education and Credentials

To qualify as an interior designer, one must attain formal training, usually 2 to 4 years of training from an accredited institution. Typically, the training involves the study of Computer Aided Design (CAD), space planning, architecture, drawing, furniture design, color and fabric, decoration, etc. 

Besides the training, the designers should apprentice with established interior designers before starting their companies. Some states require interior designers to produce National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) certificates to prove their field competency. In some other states, interior designers must be licensed to operate legally. 

Though not required in every state, most interior designers undergo credentialing and registration to improve their skills and differentiate themselves from decorators.

Interior Decorator

On the other hand, interior decorators are professionals who outfit existing spaces with beautification elements like colors, rugs, wall coverings, furniture, etc., to embellish their interiors. 

Unlike interior designers, interior decorators can’t make structural changes in internal space. Additionally, they don’t work with architects or contractors. Instead, they work with home dĂ©cor professionals like upholsterers, furniture makers, and the like to source beautification ideas.

Interior Decorator: Education and Credentials

An interior decorator does not need any training to operate professionally. This is because their internal beautification role is simple to perform. Plus, decorators can easily correct any omissions and errors they may commit while executing their role.

On the same note, the decoration process follows after the interior designers have executed any structural alterations and internal layouts.

Regarding credentials, internal decorators do not need any certifications or licensing to offer their services. However, some decorators who want to take their skills to a higher notch pursue training in subjects like color, space planning, fabric, furniture styles, room layouts, etc. 

Also, the most adept decorators get decoration certifications from Certified Interior Decorators (CID) International and other organizations to build their reputation.

Interior Designer/ Interior Decorator: Who Should You Hire?

Whether to hire an interior designer or an interior decorator depends on the work at hand. An interior designer will be your go-to option if you want to make structural alterations, like building/removing a wall, changing window designs, installing a new lighting system, changing the plumbing system, renovating an office, etc.

On the other hand, a decorator is ideal if you need help to beautify your internal space. This may include adding wall paintings, accent walls, window treatments, lighting, wallpaper, and mixing paints, among other aesthetic elements.

Concluding Remarks

As you can see, Los Angeles interior designers are skilled at decorating your space’s internal layout. That means they can perform the roles of a decorator perfectly. However, they charge their services more than decorators.

Conversely, decorators aren’t skilled at making structural changes, hence they cannot perform the roles of a designer. That is why their services are less costly compared to interior designers. Now that you understand the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator, you can pick the best candidate for your home improvement project.