When considering help for a home renovation, it’s natural to get confused between designers and decorators. Certainly interior design and interior decorating sound like interchangeable terms for the same job — and in fact, some overlap does exist: Both deal with the inside of a property, making it an attractive, functional, habitable space.
Still, there are significant distinctions between the two. In a nutshell, interior designers generally deal with structural issues; decorators with stylistic ones. But the designations and the duties can get squishy when it comes to homes. Many interior designers offer decorating services, and many interior decorators deem what they do “designing.”
Knowing what the differences are between interior designers and interior decorators, and understanding when you should hire one over the other, can save you money, time and grief — and improve your odds of a successful home project.
What is an interior designer?
An interior designer is a professional trained in creating harmonious, usable rooms and areas within a building — the architect of its insides, so to speak. The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) defines interior designers as those who “make indoor spaces functional, safe, and beautiful by determining space requirements and selecting essential and decorative items.”
Interior designers take a complete, structural approach to a space. They are trained to work with the things you see — the shape, size and layout of rooms — but also the things you don’t see, like placement of HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other functional systems and their equipment and fixtures.
Interior designers often work alongside architects and general contractors on new builds. Many also specialize in a specific niche, such as office buildings, hospitality, green spaces — or residences.
No U.S. state requires a license or qualifications to do interior design for homes (though some mandate certifications to work on commercial projects). However, the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) does set specific requirements on how to qualify, and style yourself, as an interior designer. They include:
- Completing 40 semester hours or 60 quarter hours in an accredited interior design program at a design school or other academic institution
- Passing the National Council for Interior Design Qualifications (NCIDQ) exam
- Getting at least 10 additional hours of interior design education every two years
Along with passing of NCIDQ and membership in ASID, many interior designers earn credentials from other industry associations. Common supplemental ones include: American Lighting Specialist (ALA), Council for Interior Design Accreditation (CIDA) and the Interior Design Continuing Education Council (IDCEC).
What is an interior decorator?
Interior decorators are more like home stylists. They furnish and adorn areas and spaces, but they aren’t qualified to construct or …….