If you’ve decided it’s time to make some changes to your home décor, you might also decide to enlist a little professional help. Some folks will rely on friends and family to give them an honest opinion, while others might choose to hire an interior decorator or an interior designer.
So what’s the difference and how do you know which type of professional you really need? Although the names are similar, there are some distinct differences between the two.
What is Interior Design?
Interior design is a profession that requires specific schooling and formal training. The work involved usually includes studying color and fabric, computer-aided design (CAD) training, drawing, space planning, furniture design, architecture and more. After graduating, interior designers often apprentice with a registered and established interior designer before moving on to create their own companies.
In some states, interior design professionals are required to pass an exam and become registered with the state before they can be called designers. Professional who meet the criteria, are often members of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID)
What They Do:
Interior Designers are comfortable with spatial planning and can help design and renovate interiors, right from drawing up the initial floor plans to placing the last decorative accent. They don’t just enhance the look, they enhance the function of a room.
Who They Work With:
Interior designers often work closely with architects and contractors to help achieve the look the client desires, whether that client is designing a residential home, an office, a hotel, or any other interior space.
What is Interior Decorating?
Interior decorators don’t need to have formal training or schooling because decorators focus primarily on aesthetics. Decorators don’t generally take part in renovations or structural planning. They come in after that part is complete and focus on the surface look of the space.
Even though no schooling is required to become an interior decorator there are many programs and courses available. These courses often focus on color and fabric, room layouts, space planning, furniture styles and more.
What They Do:
Interior Decorators are great for coming into a room and whipping it into shape.
They can help clients decide on a style, choose a color scheme, purchase furniture, and accessorize. They’re often brought in to spruce up an existing space that needs to be updated or redone.
Who They Work With:
Interior Decorators don’t generally work with any contractors or architects since often any structural work is complete before they come on board. They do however work with furniture makers, upholsterers, and other industry professionals.
Who should I hire?
Who you should hire will depend on your needs. If structural changes are desired (such as removing a wall, moving plumbing around, or adding new windows or doors) then generally an interior designer would be the better choice. They can help plan for significant structural changes and help make them happen. On the other hand, if there are no structural changes needed but you need help deciding on a style; choosing wallpaper, paint, and furnishings; picking window treatments, and choosing lighting and accessories, a decorator will probably do the trick.
They know what works together and can transform a room to suit the clients’ needs and desires, without doing any technical work.
In the end, however, making the right decision for your home will likely be more a matter of what you’re hiring someone to do than a question of job titles. The majority of formally schooled designers spend most of their time doing work that would be described here as decorating because it includes no renovation or structural work.
At the same time, there are any number of decorating professionals with no formal schooling who are capable of working with contractors to perform whatever structural work may be required in a home while providing the same high level of aesthetic detail that a formally trained designer would. Given that, the best thing to do when faced with this choice would be to assess your needs and compare them against the services being offered before making a decision.