Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator

What is the difference?  I have been asked this question more times than I can count! In fact, many articles have been written trying to discern the difference. The terms “Designer” and “Decorator” are not interchangeable. Interior designers can be decorators but decorators cannot be interior designers.

Here’s why:

Interior Designers are professionally trained by education, experience, and examination.  They have graduated from a 4-year CIDA accredited school, with a degree in Interior Architecture or Interior Design. Interior Designers are often mentored by a more senior design professional and have  passed the NCIDQ exam.  This exam tests the core competencies of interior design: building systems, codes, construction standards, contract administration, design application, professional practice and project coordination. They must stay current with continuing education to maintain their professional accreditation. Interior Designers can design and renovate; from drawing construction documents and floor plans to arranging furniture and accessories. In short, Interior Design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces.

Interior Decorators do not need formal accreditation to provide their services.  Decorators are skilled in interior aesthetics; using paint, furniture, fabric, lighting and accessories to furnish a space.

How do you know who to hire?

If you need help with the aesthetics of a room, help picking paint colors, selecting new furniture, or staging, an Interior Decorator can help.  

On the other hand, if you need help with all of the above AND you have a problem with how your space FUNCTIONS an Interior Designer is for you.  

A kitchen is often referred to as the “heart of the home” and is the perfect example. You want beauty AND functionality; one cannot exist without the other. An Interior Designer is able to help visualize the space and make changes, whether it be moving walls or appliances, reconfiguring seating or lighting to make your kitchen flow and function with efficiency.  Every space in your home deserves to function at its very best and be a beautiful space you can truly call home!

To find an accredited designer in your state, visit the American Society of Interior Designers.

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