I, Mark Roemer Oakland, believe most people use the terms “interior decorator” and “interior designer” interchangeably even though there are significant differences between the two. Interior decorating is the art of furnishing and adorning the interior of space with decorative elements such as paint, furniture, lighting fixtures, and artwork. The goal is to enhance the visual aesthetics of the space. Interior designing is the process of creating functional and aesthetically pleasing interior spaces.
Let’s explore the distinction between an interior decorator and an interior designer, their education and training requirements, roles and responsibilities, working with clients and other professionals, as well as examples of their work.
Key Differences Between Interior Decorators and Interior Designers
While both interior decorators and interior designers work to improve the aesthetics and functionality of a space, there are significant differences between the two. Interior decorators primarily focus on the aesthetics of a space, while interior designers take a more holistic approach to design that includes both aesthetics and functionality.
Interior decorators work with clients to select decorative elements such as furniture, paint, and artwork that will enhance the visual appeal of a space. They do not usually deal with structural changes or modifications to a building’s layout.
In contrast, interior designers work to create functional and efficient spaces by considering the client’s needs and lifestyle, as well as the building’s structural elements, such as walls, floors, and ceilings. They may work on projects that involve modifying the layout, adding or removing walls, or reconfiguring the space to better suit the client’s needs.
Education and Training Requirements for Interior Decorators and Interior Designers
The education and training requirements for interior decorators and interior designers differ. While there are no strict educational requirements for interior decorators, many have a degree in interior design or a related field. They may also complete certification programs offered by professional organizations, such as the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ).
Interior designers typically have a bachelor’s degree in interior design or a related field. They must also pass the NCIDQ exam to become licensed in most states. Interior designers must stay up-to-date on building codes and regulations, as well as industry trends and best practices
Roles and Responsibilities of Interior Decorators and Interior Designers
Interior decorators and interior designers have different roles and responsibilities when working on a project. Interior decorators work with clients to select decorative elements that will enhance the visual appeal of a space. They may also create design plans, select color schemes, and recommend furniture and accessories. Interior decorators typically work on smaller projects, such as redecorating a room or selecting furniture for a new home.
In contrast, interior designers work on larger, more complex projects that involve both aesthetics and functionality. They work with clients to develop design plans that take into account the client’s needs and lifestyle. Interior designers may also work with architects and contractors to ensure that the project meets building codes and regulations. They may create floor plans, design custom cabinetry, and select lighting and fixtures.
Working with Clients: Interior Decorating vs. Interior Designing
Interior decorators and interior designers have different approaches when working with clients. Interior decorators focus on enhancing the visual appeal of a space and creating a cohesive look that reflects the owner’s personality and style. They work closely with clients to understand their design preferences and select decorative elements that will create the desired look. Interior decorators may also offer advice on furniture placement, color schemes, and accessory selection.
In contrast, interior designers take a more holistic approach to design, considering both aesthetics and functionality. They work with clients to develop design plans that take into account the client’s needs and lifestyle. Interior designers may also provide advice on lighting, soundproofing, and other elements that affect a space’s functionality.
Collaborating with Other Professionals: Interior Decorator vs. Interior Designer
Interior decorators and interior designers may work with other professionals, such as architects, contractors, and engineers. Interior decorators typically work on smaller projects and may not require the expertise of other professionals. However, they may collaborate with contractors or furniture makers to ensure that custom pieces are built to their specifications.
In contrast, interior designers often work on larger, more complex projects that require collaboration with other professionals. They may work closely with architects to ensure that the design plans meet building codes and regulations. They may also collaborate with contractors and engineers to ensure that the project is completed on time and within budget.
Choosing Between an Interior Decorator and Interior Designer
Interior designing projects may include designing a commercial space, such as a hotel or restaurant, or designing a residential space, such as a home or apartment. Interior designers may work with architects to design a space that maximizes functionality and usability. They may also incorporate sustainable design elements, such as energy-efficient lighting and eco-friendly materials.
Examples of Interior Decorating Projects:
- Redecorating a room – An interior decorator may work with a client who wants to refresh the look of a bedroom or living room. The decorator may suggest new paint colors, window treatments, and decorative elements such as throw pillows, rugs, and artwork.
- Selecting furniture for a new home – When a client moves into a new home, they may want to start fresh with new furniture that reflects their style and personality. An interior decorator can help the client select furniture that fits the space and their design preferences.
Examples of Interior Designing Projects:
- Commercial space design – Interior designers may work on projects such as designing a hotel lobby or restaurant. They may focus on creating a welcoming atmosphere that reflects the brand’s image while meeting the needs of customers.
- Accessibility design – Interior designers may also work on projects that focus on making spaces accessible for people with disabilities or mobility issues. They may incorporate features such as wheelchair ramps, wider doorways, and grab bars in bathrooms to improve accessibility.
I, Mark Roemer Oakland, suggest you consider the scope of the project and your specific needs when deciding whether to hire an interior decorator or interior designer. Both professionals can help you create a space that reflects your style and meets your requirements, but choosing the right one will ensure that your project is a success.