There are many times that as a designer I am called a decorator. And although my husband knows that can annoy me most people do not know there is even a difference. So I thought I would talk a bit about the difference between to two and here are my top six differences.

The first big difference is that a designer went to school for their trade. One of the comments that I can be heard saying to a friend when they make the mistake of calling me a decorator is “hey don’t take my degree away from me” with a big smile and a small cringe inside. A decorator needs no formal training.

The second difference between a designer and a decorator is the scope of the projects. A designer, since they have formal training is able to read and draw blueprints. This matters especially if you are looking at a construction project.

The third difference is in how the project is managed. A designer will do scale renderings and floor plans while a decorator does not. The renderings and floor plans take away the possibility of items of the wrong size or scale being ordered or purchased for a space.

The fourth difference is knowing about current codes for the area. There are many constantly changing building codes and fire codes that effect how a project can be done. Without the full knowledge of those codes the client is at a major disadvantage to have the project properly managed. For instance did you know that there are restrictions on the types of fabrics allowed to be in a commercial space? There are weight requirements for furniture in a commercial space. A decorator most likely has no idea about these things and could cause a very costly mistake for a client, especially a commercial client.

The fifth difference is the knowledge that a designer has about construction, furniture, fabric and color. A designer who has studied knows why certain fabrics are made a certain way, why furniture is constructed in a certain way, why a sink has to be a certain distance from the toilet, and why certain colors make you feel different things. This knowledge allows us as designers to help our clients make the best choices for them. It is not just about what looks pretty.

The sixth difference is the buying process. A designer has the ability to purchase directly from manufacturers. This means that you as the client can get the best product at the best prices. A decorator does not usually have those trade relationships. Designers do not purchase of websites like Wayfair and Joss and Main. We work with the companies that sell to those websites. We cut out the middleman which is why you save money working with a designer.

So when you are looking for someone to help you through the design process remember you get what you pay for. Look for the right background and education, talk to past and current clients, and know that the right designer will guild you in the best direction for you, not just to what they like.


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