Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator – What’s the Difference?
Most people think these two terms are interchangeable. Wrong. Most people think an Interior Designer simply selects fabrics and colors, develops the desired “style” or personality, arranges furniture and other interior elements. Wrong again.
True, Interior Designers do all of these things. But, in addition, they are normally associated with a construction project, often working with the architect to determine the proper function of the space, the lighting plans, coordinating wall placement and space planning. Residential Interior Designers design every conceivable space in the home including kitchens, baths, additions, mudrooms, family rooms, living rooms, dining rooms, basements and new home builds. They coordinate the placement of plumbing parts, cabinetry, fireplaces, windows and doors, the correct materials needed and the correct quantities of each material. They must adhere to the product specifications as well as the appropriate Residential Building Codes. Commercial Interior Designers operate in much the same way, but their expertise lies in the knowledge of the materials and finishes as they apply to commercial spaces. They also abide by the regulations of the appropriate Commercial Building Codes. Most Interior Designers fall under the Residential OR Commercial category and seldom both. They all must have extensive construction knowledge, in all phases of construction including the various trades involved. In many states a license is required to become an Interior Designer, whether Residential or Commercial. Interior Designers finish the space by decorating it. This is the last step in the design process and the style while the style and look are considered throughout the process.
The American Society of Interior Designers, (ASID) adds the following distinction: “Also important, is that Interior Designers usually possess vast knowledge of the History of Art, Architecture, Furniture and Design. They can put everything into a historical context, and because they have studied all of the influential periods, styles, trends, motifs, etc. they can better apply and manipulate them to positively affect the space at hand. They can also design new elements from scratch using this knowledge and their studied skills in sketching, drafting, modeling, and rendering. Thus, a primary difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator is that the Interior Designer is certified on many levels and has obtained, through their education, a wide range of technical skills needed to provide a full range of interior design services to augment their natural artistic talent.”
Interior decorators are normally not involved with the design of the building or the architectural planning of the interior space. They are focused entirely on the furniture, colors, textiles and textures of a room. Their sole job is to capture the personality and style of the resident or the business owner’s vision and express it in the space. A decorator doesn’t need any official training to adopt the title.
When hiring a professional you should ask about these differences and tailor the person’s skills and talents with your needs. The Interior Designers at Masters Touch are professionals with formal training and lengthy experience in predominantly Residential Interior Design. However, we have had successful experience in Commercial Interior Design projects (specifically restaurants) as well. We work with existing architect’s plans or participate in the development of new ones. We provide sketches, renderings and physical samples to increase our clients’ visual understanding of the proposed space.
Now you know the difference!