Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator
By Cathy Osoria
Interior design professionals typically study the behaviors and movements of individuals to aid in designing commercial and residential structures that enhance the function and ambiance of a space. Interior designers may also perform the interior decorating work on the spaces they design. An interior decorator does not design the space in which he or she works. Instead decorators focus on the furnishings, accessories, fabrics, color choices, floor and wall treatments and artistic touches that provide atmosphere and ambiance to the interior space.
So which one do you hire?
Most interior design professionals are usually employed by architectural firms or construction companies and work in conjunction with builders and architects to design useable spaces for a client. Interior decorators are typically hired by homeowners to improve the aesthetic appeal of a residential or commercial existing space. If structural changes are needed such as removing a wall, moving plumbing or removing doors and windows, a designer is the better choice to hire. If no major structural changes are needed but help is needed in decision making and in creating an overall look and style, then a decorator can help to transform the room.
What are the differences in educational requirements between a designer and a decorator?
Most interior designers acquire a four year degree in their chosen field. In most states designers are required to pass an exam and become registered with a governing council. Their formal education provides them with knowledge in safety issues, spatial planning, building codes, traffic flow, architectural issues, and computer-aided design. Once a designer has graduated, they typically serve in an apprenticeship to gain field experience from drawing up initial floor plans to placing the last decorative accent. Decorators require no formal training because decorators focus primarily on aesthetics and not structure. They are able to learn aspects of home decor through courses available at most colleges focusing on color, scale, fabric and room layout, and they may complete courses in marketing and business because a large percentage of decorators are self-employed.
What are the benefits to be obtained by hiring a designer or decorator?
Whether the client has no idea where to begin or has an idea but needs help in executing that idea, a designer or decorator can serve a purpose for everyone. Maybe the client simply does not have the time to devote to design or decorating and, therefore, needs the professional to execute the desired changes. Discard the notion that decorators are only for the rich and famous. In reality they can save clients a great deal of time and money and maybe a few headaches. They can help save money by staying on a budget and avoiding costly mistakes. Also some existing items may be repurposed to aid the overall budget. The trained eye of a professional will help to obtain the most “bang for the buck.” A decorator can use his/her resources to compare quality, style and prices. Most have developed close relationships with fabric suppliers, carpet and plumbing companies, as well as furniture and lighting stores. They can be of great assistance as a liaison on those nail biting decisions between the client and architects, builders or contractors. Decorators can also assist in staging homes that are being sold to give potential buyers a better vision for furniture placement. A professional assessment from a decorator will lead to a solid plan of action and leave the client grateful for the original and creative results.