I get asked the question all the time is there a difference between an interior designer and a decorator? And the simple answer is yes. The main difference between an interior designer and a decorator is education. And interior designer is going to have a college degree in the design field, while a decorator usually does not. Now that does not mean that the only difference is a degree but that is where the basis for the difference is going to begin. Because a designer has a degree there are certain things that they automatically do for their clients that a decorator probably will not do. Interior designers will draw full scale renderings and space planning diagrams. These can be done by hand or with a computer program usually AutoCAD or Rivet. And many designers will use a combination of both the hand drawn rendering and the computer added drawing. For instance, I will do a hand drawn rendering for a space that I will be remodeling and furnishing but I will also do an AutoCAD drawing for any tile designs so that the installer has a clear scale drawing to order product from. This kind of work is extremely rare from a decorator since they simply do not have the background.
An interior designer will have the knowledge to read and draw blueprints. One disclaimer the blueprints will still need to be stamped by an architect and/or engineer. But the knowledge that the interior designer has gained through their schooling allows then to know how a building is constructed and what building codes need to be followed. This also gives the interior design the knowledge to understand a set of blueprints and know what can be moved or changed to an existing structure. Very few decorators have the full understanding of a set of blueprints and even fewer know how to draw blueprints.
And interior designer knows and understands the construction of furnishings. When designers are in school they are required to take classes on the construction and history of furnishings. And most interior designers have at least once made a piece of furniture to complete their intricate knowledge of the product. Most decorators rely on sales people at retail furniture stores for their knowledge of furniture production.
Interior designers are trained in color theory and the psychology of color. Part of a design education is the knowledge and understanding of how to properly use color. This includes not only the best way to put colors together but also how the color combinations will effect people. An interior designer has studied what are the best colors for a productive work environment, to create an appetizing dining environment, and how to create a relaxing retreat. These skills are extremely important because how the space feels to the occupant is a major part of how it will function. Decorators usually rely on how they feel about colors when creating spaces.
And interior designer is concerned not only with how a space looks but how it will function. An interior designer understands that all good design must function properly. Form and function are one and the same with an interior designer. A decorator usually is more concerned with the overall look instead of if the end result functions properly. If you have ever heard someone say that the project is reminds them of the creator it was most likely a decorator that created it. Designers know that the design is not about them but the people that will be working in and living in the space.
Interior designers spend a great deal of time honing their craft through education. This education is what sets them apart form the decorators in the field. By working with a skilled interior designer you get their vast knowledge and skills that simply are not available to the common decorator. And considering that decorators are now charging the same as interior designers it is definitely worth the money to seek out the educated interior designer.