Should I Hire An Interior Designer Or An Interior Decorator?

interior designer or interior decorator

The Difference Between An Interior Designer and An Interior Decorator

A person might not understand the difference between an Interior Designer and an Interior Decorator. Likewise, you might wonder which you should hire for your design project, home renovation, home staging or spruce-up.

The two professions are vastly different, even though they are both involved in aspects of interior design. Which one you’ll want to employ…is up to you.

Interior Designer

Interior Designer Spokane

An Interior Designer is sometimes required to have a license. Licensure may be state mandated, though this requirement varies by state. To achieve licensing, some states require the passage of the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam (NCIDQ).

To qualify for the exams and to practice in a given state, a person often has to have a certificate or diploma from an accredited institution such as an art college or university and a combination of hours of experience. Many Interior Designers also complete internships in addition to schooling.

A degree in Interior Design involves much more than the creative aspects. An Interior Designer has to be capable of reading blueprints and other technical documents. A designer needs to learn drafting and blueprint programs such as AutoCAD, Revit or Sketchup. A designer is also well versed in the basic principles of architecture and needs to be able to plan a space. Interior Designers are involved from the programming phase and can be involved in the final furniture and accessory installation.

Interior Designers sometimes design custom furniture, help with construction coordination (depending on if your state requires a General Contractor’s License), project management, budgets and estimates and much more. Interior Designers are also employed far beyond the scope of merely the residential sector; designers also do commercial work for business and corporate spaces, health care, government and indeed any type of building that people will occupy.

Many designers specialize in one particular area. Some specialize in Residential Interior Design, others in health care, some in bathrooms and kitchens only and so on, and many niches of design have their own accredited programs and certifications were the designers are encouraged to attain.

Interior Decorator

Interior Design for Spokane Fall Festival of Homes

An Interior Decorator, on the other hand, selects the furnishings and accessories of a room. This can involve many elements including paint, furniture selection, accessory selection and also custom drapery. Just like an Interior Designer, there is a creative element in that the aesthetics and functionality of a space have to be created out of thin air. Additionally, a Decorator needs to keep an eye on the function of a space.

The education, certification and technical knowledge required for the job, however, is often much less than what is required of an Interior Designer. That said, there is still a good deal of knowledge required for a competent Interior Decorator.

A person has to have a good understanding of colors, namely what colors contrast with each other and what effects they have on people that are living in the space. A Decorator should also have a thorough knowledge of furniture design; the lay person, after all, has no idea of the differences between furniture of Modern design and furniture from the Arts and Crafts school, or for that matter Japanese or Amish carpentry.

There are a number of schools that offer coursework in interior decoration, and some professional organizations that offer certifications. However, licensure is not a mandated requirement by state governments.

Interior decoration involves much more of the creative aspect of design, but still requires a great deal of knowledge.

Should I Hire An Interior Designer Or An Interior Decorator?

In truth, your specific needs may guide you toward choosing an Interior Designer or an Interior Decorator, as both have their place. There is also significant overlap between the professions; both are heavily involved in the creative aspect of designing a space. Given the expertise required for interior design, it could be said that most interior designers also decorate rooms, but interior decorators don’t engage in programming and space planning of a room that Interior Designers do.

Sometimes it comes down to this, do you click with your potential Interior Designer or Decorator?  You will be spending a considerable amount of time together planning your space.  You want to make sure that you feel comfortable with the person and feel like you can share what you want for your room.  Ultimately, this is what helps to achieve your dream space!

Spokane Interior Designer Wendy NolanWendy is a military spouse who has returned home to Spokane,  after exploring the world and experiencing varied clients that each new location brought.  She is very excited to grow business roots in the Inland Northwest while raising her children along with her husband in this beautiful part of the country.

Contact us today to schedule your initial design consultation.  We look forward to hearing about your project and sharing how we might help you.