bedroom design

What is the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator

This is a question that many individuals tend to ask, especially students who want to venture into either of the professional fields. Although people tend to use the two terms interchangeably, there's a significant difference between an interior designer and interior decorator. So, what is the difference between the two? You can refer to interior decorators as designers, but can you refer to an interior designer as a decorator?

Whether you need a residential interior designer for your high-end design, hiring the most suitable person to make your building aesthetically pleasing and functional is essential. As it turns out, an interior designer can do a decorator's job, which is designing the space with the main focus being on aesthetics. However, anyone can be an interior decorator.

Below we'll have a look at some of the things that set them apart. And maybe next time, you won't refer to an interior designer as an interior decorator!


Interior designer vs. Interior decorator

The main difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator is that an interior designer needs to be certified and licensed, while an interior decorator can be anyone.

When it comes to homeowners or clients, they do not recognise any difference between the two: designers and decorators. Most people assume it's pretty much the same thing. Discussed here are some of the significant differences in the roles and qualifications of each:

  • For one to qualify as a professional interior designer, acquiring formal training and professional certification is a must. The same can't be said for a decorator, as this can be a skill learned on the job or progressively depending on the exposure one gets. However, there are courses you can take to better your skills.
  • Interior designers need to acquire a license or necessary credentials to practice, whereas decorators do not.
  • With interior designers, they have to understand their client's behaviour, taste, and preferences to be able to create functional, safe, and beautiful spaces for them. On the other hand, interior decorating involves furnishing space with decorative accessories or furniture.
  • For interior decorating, it's simply about choosing the colour, understanding the different hues, texture, or pattern of various things to be incorporated in the space. With an interior designer, he/she needs to apply technical and creative solutions towards creating a functional space that's per the client's lifestyle and preferences.
  • Interior design involves a coordinated process. The design must suit the building structure as well as the client's resources and desires. This might include incorporating knowledge, analysis, and research into the whole process. This is not the case when it comes to decorating.
  • When it comes to interior designers, they need to be well conversant with the building regulations as well as having the health, safety, and welfare of their clients in mind. Aesthetics don't play an essential role as it does with interior decorating.

From the various things discussed above, we can see that interior designers may decorate, but a decorator can't do a designing job.

modern room

Do I need an interior designer or decorator?

As a homeowner, you may ask yourself which one you need the most. One significant difference we have seen between the two is that interior designers create functional spaces for their clients, whereas interior decorating involves working with the one that already exists.

When it comes to some design and build companies, especially those that offer end-to-end building services, they have professional interior designers. The interior designers work with the entire team: from structural engineers and builders to make sure you get your desired design. With such a builder, you do not need to ask yourself this question because you'll be having everything you need at your disposal.

The type of work you want to be done on your interior will play an important role in determining what you'll need. If all that's required is a simple embellishment or perhaps a makeover of your interior, then a decorator can come in handy.

In situations where you're working on a remodel or building your new home, then a designer would be the best choice. With an interior designer, you will be able to get advice beyond pure aesthetics regarding your interior design.

With this information, knowing what you want or what suits you best won't be a problem at all. As much as you may be having the right person to work with, having the right design that conforms to your taste and needs is equally important.

According to designers from, the layout you choose for your furniture plays a significant role in determining the outcome of your interior design. Be it that boho, rustic, mid-century, contemporary, maybe a coastal or modern interior design, everything should be curated with you in mind.

The interior design should reflect on your taste and style. After all, it is said that the interior design mirrors the homeowner's personality. It's only by collaborating with the right person that you can be able to achieve a comfortable interior for your home.

A good designer knows to make sure that every detail of the interior design is tailored to create a comfortable, safe, and beautiful place for you, the client. You might as well find yourself unleashing the creativity in you!

Clara Annesley

Clara Annesley is an interior design and construction content writer. She holds a BSc (Hons) in Architectural Design Technology from the University of West London. Clara specialises in residential construction for topics like health & safety, architectural design and writing cost guides for renovation and remodelling projects.