Designer vs Decorator

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What is the difference between Interior Design and Interior Decorating? This is a question we hear quite a bit with students who are exploring their training options.
There are varied explanations explaining the differences.
Many people use the terms “interior design” and “interior decorating” interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways each has its own job description and function.

DESIGNER study people’s needs to create functional, structural living or work spaces to satisfy those demands. DECORATOR furnish interior spaces with furniture and accessories, creating an aesthetic environment.
An interior designer creates interior living or work spaces to accommodate people’s needs. A designer problem-solves difficult structural living arrangements to create spaces that enhance residents’ qualities of life.
Interior decorators don’t create interior spaces; they embellish interior spaces that already exist
The National Council for Interior Design Qualifications, NCIDQ, states, “Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things.”
An interior decorator often uses her skills to adorn a living space once an interior designer has made necessary structural or functional changes.

Should I Hire a Designer or a Decorator?

This question is the one we’re tackling today. While these two professions are very similar, a few key differences can have an impact on your project.
Need to decide between an interior designer and an interior decorator? Here’s how.

Who you should hire depends on your needs. If structural changes are needed (such as removing a wall, moving plumbing or wiring around, or adding new windows or doors), then generally an interior designer is the better choice. Designers can help plan for significant structural changes and help make them happen by working directly with architects and builders.
On the other hand, if there are no structural changes needed but you need aesthetic help—deciding on a style; choosing wallpaper, paint, and furnishings; picking window treatments, and choosing lighting and accessories—an interior decorator will probably do the trick. Experienced decorators know what works together and can transform a room to suit a client’s needs and desires.

When hiring a professional, begin with clearly understanding your own needs and look for a pro who has a proven reputation for meeting those needs, no matter what the formal job title. It’s generally true that designers are for space planning and structural execution, while decorators are for the final aesthetic decisions. But don’t be afraid to cross lines to hire a decorator with a reputation as a good designer, or a designer with a flair for decorating, provided their skills are proven.

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