What is the Difference between a Designer and a Decorator

Do you need to decide between an interior designer and an interior decorator? Here’s how:

While these two professions are very similar, a few key differences can have an impact on your project. Keep reading to learn what sets the two apart and how to figure out which one will best suit your needs.


What makes an interior designer?

Higher Education: To become an interior designer, you need to go through formal training. It’s typically a four-year program. In some areas, designers may have to pass an exam in order to become registered with their local governing body,

Special skills: A large part of an interior design education focuses on space planning. This process includes conducting an in-depth analysis of how the current space is being used, as well as any functional changes that should be made in a redesign. Usually, this will include things like changing the layout to achieve better functionality or usage throughout the space. Plus, they can handle tasks such as managing the design build team, scheduling sub contractors to make the best use of your time, selecting color schemes, purchasing new design items, arranging furniture layouts, and hanging wall art.

When to bring one in: An interior designer is your best choice if you’re working on a remodel and require guidance beyond aesthetics. They can help you redesign your space from the ground up, as well as navigating day-to-day details like working with contractors.


What makes an interior decorator?

Less Education: Since interior decorators generally focus solely on decorative details, there’s less of a need for them to have a standardized education. 

Special skills: Interior decorators are all about aesthetics. They can handle tasks such as selecting color schemes, purchasing new design items, arranging furniture layouts, and hanging wall art. They can help you bring a new look to your existing space.

When to bring one in: Bringing in an interior decorator might be the right choice if you need another set of savvy eyes to help bring your design inspiration to life, or if you want to give a room a makeover, and don’t have time to handle it on your own.


Which one should you choose?

Ultimately, which type of professional you decide to hire is a matter of personal preference. If you’re on the fence between the two, we’ve compiled a list of questions to help you sort out which pick is right for you. Read them over before making any hiring decisions:

  • Are you planning to make any structural or functional changes, or want to explore if it’s an option?
  • Are you planning on redoing a room like a kitchen or a bathroom, where functional fixes, such as plumbing changes might be more difficult to navigate? Or, somewhere like a bedroom or living space where you may need to change the way you live in the room?
  • How important are education and credentials to you?
  • Are you looking for someone who can manage the project from top to bottom?

One thing to keep in mind: Every decorator and designer is different. You should research individuals in your area to see what services they offer. As always, we recommend that you do your best to look over design portfolios, read reviews, and get your questions answered before deciding who’s the best fit for the job.


Why Hire an ASID Designer?

ASID Interior Designers have chosen to be members of the oldest and largest professional organization for interior designers. All ASID members agree to abide by the Society’s Code of Ethics and Professional Conduct. Many have passed a professional qualifying examination administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. Members of ASID are required to maintain and enhance their knowledge through ongoing continuing education.This means that ASID designers have the most current information on appropriate materials, technology, building codes, government regulations, health and safety standards, design psychology, and product performance.


Find an ASID Interior Designer here: Find A Pro