The Difference Between Interior Designer and Decorator

by Charmaine Kenita | February 27, 2024 | 6 mins read

Difference between interior designer and decorator, make your choice

Pick the right home interior decorator to help you with the home of your dreams

Home interior designer or a home decorator? There are two choices, two people under whose care your home will come together. Confused about which one to choose? Let this article guide you.

It’s time for a celebration!! Your 10th wedding anniversary is coming up and you must be so excited. Preparations for it are on in full-swing. There’s clothes to be stitched, home to be brightened up, furnishings to be bought. In the midst of it is the preparation for the actual party, food that you’re going to serve, cutlery and groceries, decor and invites. There’s so much to do and you’d like all of it coming together a certain way. But preparing for a celebration like this takes time and work. Will you have the time and energy to actually be involved in everything? Won’t you need help of some kind? Do you have the expertise to cook some lip-smacking food in huge quantities you may require to feed your guests?

Putting together a successful party needs your ideas but will be greatly enhanced when experts weigh in, from caterers to event planners and more. Apply this thinking to the interiors of your home and you’ll understand why there’s a huge difference between having an interior designer do the job versus an interior decorator. Although they sound the same, they aren’t, with both roles having distinct and clear deliverables.

Home makeovers or even for that matter, putting together a new home must be a carefully planned process. Besides all that you will lend to make it your personalised space, you will need professional help in equal measure. But who are these professionals? How do you distinguish between what they do and how they will intervene to give you what you want?

If you’ve faced this quandary of choosing between an interior designer and an interior decorator, you’re not alone. Most of us burn our hands in finding one. Their distinction lies in their expertise, credentials, to services and clientele. Here’s your handy guide to tell one apart from the other.

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Interior Designer’s

Difference between interior designer and decorator which creates architecturally and aesthetically optimised spaces
interior designer’s home

When you think about a home interior designer, the closest reference comes to an event planner you will hire for your celebration. Just as a planner tries understanding your likes, dislikes and preferences and puts together everything for your party, so does a designer work to create fully functional architecturally and aesthetically optimised spaces. By studying the age, physical location and direction of the building shell, interior designers combine artistic and scientific solutions, societal and environmental factors to create a functional space. Everything that interior designers do is rooted in methodology, a plan; research, analysis, planning, integration to arrive at what you need.

Academic Credentials – An interior designer comes with his/her own credentials and expertise of work. Studying colour, fabric, structure, design, spatial planning, architecture and furniture design brings together a deep knowledge of how a home should look like eventually. This matches the planner’s work of knowing what may be required where, and how much material will suffice.

Professional Expertise – Designers of homes have a bird’s eye view of how a space should come together by bringing together different elements. They choreograph architectural design, spatial arrangements and interior renovation. They are the masterminds of orchestrating everything, from floor plan to materials, structures to what goes in them. They work very closely with ergonomics and in turn civil contractors, architects and engineers to bring a house to life.

Interior Decorator’s

Difference between interior designer and decorator focuses on colour and furnishings and artistic decor
interior decorator’s home

Unlike designers, interior decorators can be compared to food planners or MCs, someone who actually executes what the designer comes up with. Interior decorations pivot around space’s aesthetics, enhancing the structural layout of a home. A decorator’s expertise is specific and not immersed with the building alone. He/she focuses on colour and furnishings, selecting curios and artistic decor. Therefore while a designer may be focused on the entirety of a wardrobe including material, flammability, water-resistance and usage, a decorator will only be focused on colour, texture and grain of the wood.

Academic Credentials – Interior decoration requires inherent talent and aesthetics and not necessarily certification in the field. They need to have a creative flair and an eye for design covering color and decor styles, spatial design and material planning. A degree only helps to some extent. What matters is whether the decorator can take your idea and visualise how it will look in reality.

Professional Expertise – Called style savants, interior decorators can visualise in their mind’s eye how your space will look eventually. Just as a food planner will know the kind of palate your guests may have and select the right food to satiate their choices, so does a decorator. They can play with colour, furniture, look and style and know what’s the perfect vase that will match your decor or the wall mirror to embellish your living room. Interior decorators usually come on board once designers have done their job and an architect’s job is finished. They work closely with decor firms, furniture suppliers, upholsterers, and home enhancement enablers to finish what a home interior designer begin and complete the home.

Having understood the merits of both these kinds of experts, the question then remains; Who will be apt to intervene in your home and which expert will you need?

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Before reaching out to anyone, ask yourself what kind of need you have.

Call an interior designer if,

Your home needs structural changes such as wall modifications, waterproofing and rewiring, breaking and building home sections. Interior designers often partner with architects and contractors to work on projects and lend their experience and expertise. They help in putting together the outer shell as well as liaising with all parties concerned in building the house.

Call an interior decorator if,

Your home just needs styling or a makeover without any structural change, especially in colour, furniture and furnishings, lighting and accessories. Decorators know what goes well together to create a vibrant, cohesive and functional space.

The success of a party and celebrations that make it memorable come from the little things that add to the big day. The success of a home also depends on everything coming together and having the right resources who use their expertise, knowledge and experience to build a home that becomes a reflection of you.

So there you have it – now you know the difference between an interior designer and decorator. You can scout for interior decorators or designers online and check their customer reviews before making your choice!

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Charmaine Kenita is a content writer at Design Cafe home interiors blog.

Charmaine Kenita

Charmaine Kenita is a content strategist, editor, marketer, & doctor. A professional storywriter providing content across various verticals, she searches for metaphors in everyday experiences connecting ideas and thoughts across industries. She mentors startups & women entrepreneurs, and works with NGOs in the handloom sector.

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