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Interior designer or interior decorator, what’s the difference?

Flat lay arrangement of samples, swatches design ideas Source: The Kuotes

Thinking about engaging a professional to help you with your home’s interior? Before you do, it’s a good time to get educated on the difference between the roles an interior designer and an interior decorator play. While the terms are often used interchangeably, there a few major distinctions between the professions and the services they provide. 

What’s an interior designer?

An interior designer will have formal education, most likely in the form of an Interior Design degree, or they’ll have at least five years’ experience working in a related field such as Industrial Design or Architecture. They’re also often a member of an industry association, which allows them to remain up-to-date on industry developments. 

If it’s a new build, an interior designer will often work with the architect or building designer from the beginning of the project. They’re focused on not just creating aesthetically pleasing spaces, but also highly functional rooms for the inhabitants. They’ll consider elements such as light, acoustics, accessibility, materials and structural considerations.  

Interior designers will have an in-depth understanding of building systems, sustainable design, project management, construction practices and Australian Codes and Standards. If they’re registered, the interior designer can apply for building permits. This is because they’ll have the appropriate insurance and accreditations. They’ll also be able to prepare plans and renders which can be later interpreted by contractors on the job. 

If you’re renovating, an interior designer won’t hesitate in moving walls or entirely gutting an interior if it means improving the function and overall aesthetics of the space. They’ll also play a role of an interior decorator in choosing finishes, colours and furniture for each room. 

What’s an interior decorator?

An interior decorator may hold a diploma in interior decoration and take on a similar role of an interior designer, but they don’t have the required skills to focus on the design and construction of the building. Typically, an interior decorator’s main role is improving the aesthetics of the space instead of getting involved in the level of structural planning an interior designer will take on. Unless registered with appropriate insurance requirements, interior decorators are unable to provide the same full service as an interior designer. 

Interior decorators are mainly concerned with spaces that are already built. Their role is to style the home to reflect the resident’s personality and needs. They’ll focus on elements such as paint colours, floor coverings, furniture and fabrics. They’re often hired to style properties for sale or magazine shoots because they have a great level of knowledge on beautifying a space. 

Tips for engaging an interior designer or interior decorator

Before you engage a professional to help transform your space, it’s worth ensuring they are qualified to carry out the job and have the experience you require. Here are some tips before you hire an interior designer or decorator:

  1. Check their qualifications and level of insurance;
  2. Ask to see their portfolio of similar projects and even references; 
  3. Meet with them face-to-face to ensure you can communicate well and share the same vision;
  4. Compare quotes from two or three other professionals;
  5. Enquire about their resources and trade connections particularly if your home is located in a different area.

 

What's your experience in hiring an Interior Designer or Interior Decorator? Tell us in the comments.

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