Designer vs. Decorator: What’s the difference and who do YOU need for your space?

Ah, the age old question- what is the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?  While these occupations are similar, they most certainly are not the same and there are some key differences that you need to know in order to make sure you have the right person for the job.

An interior designer is a trained professional- ready and able to help you analyze your space & the behavior of people within that space to ensure it is functional.  Interior designers obtain a degree from an accredited college or university and often also pursue other professional licensure- such as passing the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) exam.  They also often work with architects or contractors to design interior spaces- taking into consideration local building codes, safety, accessibility requirements, and the relationship of multiple spaces within the structure.

An interior decorator may pursue a degree or certificate, but no formal training is required.  They often make room layout suggestions and will help select furniture or decorative items to create a pleasing space.  Their focus is more on aesthetics- things like flooring, paint, furniture, & fabrics.

While designers and decorators can both be found working in the commercial and residential realms- the commercial side really needs the expertise of a trained interior designer.  Corporate, healthcare, & educational entities have many factors to consider when designing their spaces.  Workspaces need to be functional and meet all code and accessibility requirements to support the productivity and well-being of employees and students.  Real estate is often expensive, but designers analyze usage of spaces and make suggestions of how clients can get the most of each square foot of space.  Designers will also consider topics such as how color and light play a role in the well-being of healthcare patients or how students need a variety of posture options to support different modes of learning.

In short- designers and decorators are often similar individuals who share traits of being creative, innovative, thoughtful, and organized. However, a decorator does not get into the nitty-gritty like a designer can and will!  Even if you think you just need some new furniture- nothing more- give your designer a call!  Because a designer can always decorate, but a decorator can’t always design.