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Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator – is there a difference?

March 14 2018

There’s no doubt that all the different roles in the interior design world can get a little confusing. In fact, it’s pretty common for people to think that an interior designer and interior decorator are the same thing, using their titles interchangeably.

After all, they do sound pretty similar. Here at Luxe Walls, we thought we’d clear up some of that confusion between these two roles. This way, if you ever need some extra help with interior design, you’ll know exactly who to call.

Interior Designer

An Interior Designer is usually involved in a building project from the beginning. Essentially, their main job is to make sure each room is designed to fulfil its individual purpose and is functional. Often, interior designers are employed for specific rooms, making sure all the space in a certain room is laid out, allocated and used properly.

To become an Interior Designer, someone must have a tertiary qualification, being either a degree or advanced diploma in interior design. Interior Designers need this level of qualification as the job itself is usually done on a standalone basis, with the occasional collaboration with builders and architects. Interior Designers study the theory and practice of design, including:

  • Lighting design
  • Materials, finished and colour
  • Design theory and history
  • Building systems and technologies
  • Project management
  • Relevant design codes and standards

Interior Designers normally have a good working knowledge of construction practices and documentation requirements to ensure the design of a space is appropriate and properly implemented. In fact, in some states such as Victoria in Australia, Interior Designers are registered under the Building Practitioners Board, allowing them to apply for Building permits rather than having to go through a builder.

Interior Decorator

The main difference between an Interior Designer and Interior Decorator is that Interior Decorators are not present during the initial design process, or involved with the overall layout of a space.

Interior Decorators are completely focussed on the decorative elements of a room and how to arrange them, including the furniture, textiles, colours and textures of a room. An Interior Decorator’s main aim is to capture the overall style and personality of a space, as per the resident’s request.

An Interior Decorator usually holds some form of qualification in interior decoration (such as a diploma), however, a decorator does not need any official training to adopt this title unlike an Interior Designer. Usually, an Interior Decorator is concerned with things like paint, furnishings, floor coverings and fabrics for aesthetic purposes.

Finding the Right Designer or Decorator

Looking for a Designer or Decorator that will suit you? If you’re wanting a keen professional it’s definitely a good idea to do your homework. The best tips to find a good designer or decorator are:

  • Looking for professionals whose prior work you like
  • Have a look around and compare at least three different quotes
  • Always check someone’s qualifications and credentials to make sure they know their stuff
  • Most importantly, find someone who shares your vision! It will be near impossible to create the style you’re imagining if the person you are working with doesn’t see it the way you do

So there you have it. Hiring a professional should make the process of styling easier, rather than making it more confusing.

Now that you know the truth, it should be much simpler to navigate those designing waters. All that’s left is to get styling!