4 Distinctions Between A Designer and a Decorator and why you need to know the difference

There’s something about the New Year that makes us want to clean, organize, purge, remodel and redecorate! I’m no exception. Though we’ve had an unseasonably warm and dry winter, Monday morning was cold and cloudy. I watched from the window as the  ice and sleet turned to snow. It seemed like a good day to spend a little time sitting by the fire and working on the plans for the organizing, remodeling and redecorating I want to do in this New Year.

I’m not alone. Many of my friends and family are embarking on home projects. I think there’s something innate in most of us that causes us to want to create beautiful living spaces. Certainly, networks like HGTV and DYI have tapped into this and it’s made them very successful.

Sometimes, as you embark on your project you might find that you could use a little help. But getting help can be confusing. For example, Interior Decorator and Interior Designer are titles that are often used interchangeably. While there is certainly overlap, there are really two distinct things. If you’re seeking help with your projects, make sure you understand the difference so you get the help you need.

So, what is an Interior Decorator and what does he or she do?

  1. Interior Decorators address the aesthetics of a space. They are responsible for applying the finishing touches to an area. They choose colors, fabrics, textures and furnishings. It’s their job to make sure these things work together to express the preferences and personalities of their clients.
  2. They work within the confines of an existing space to make it beautiful. In addition to applying finishes, they determine furniture placement. Correctly placed furniture enhances the functionality and beauty of a space.
  3. They often shop for their clients, sourcing furniture, fabric, finishes, curtains, rugs and decor.
  4. While there are courses available for Interior Decorators, there is not a licensing requirement.

Interior Designers, on the other hand address the function of a space. Of course, function has a tremendous impact on the aesthetics, and sometimes Designers will also function as the Decorator as well, but Designers work within a scope that is deeper and wider than that of a Decorator.

  1. Designers need to be knowledgeable and aware of building code and structural requirements. They need to understand the building process because they may need to suggest moving walls, doorways, windows, plumbing, or even building an addition.
  2. Designers can work directly with architects, engineers and contractors.
  3. They seek to understand how a client will use a space.  After understanding the needs and desires of a client, they will design structures and changes to best meet those needs.  Again, these could include structural changes. They consider how light, sound, heating and cooling will affect the comfort and function of a space.
  4. In most states, Designers must meet educational and testing requirements and be licensed before they can claim to be a Designer.

So next time you’re in the middle of big project and decide you need some help, you’ll know where to turn. In the meantime, if you’re tackling a DYI project and get a little stuck, send me an email. Chances are good I’ve tackled it at one point or another, mostly because I am addicted to remodeling and decorating. I really would love to help!