Interior Designer vs Decorator: Which One is Best Suited for Your Project?

If you’re considering a significant remodel of your home or office space, it’s common to feel unsure about whether to enlist the expertise of an interior designer vs. decorator. While both professions share the primary objective of enhancing the visual appeal of a space, they bring different skillsets and approaches to the table.

What is an Interior Designer?

These professionals specialize in understanding the needs and preferences of clients to perfectly put together a space which reflects their style and personality. Interior designers don’t solely focus on aesthetics, but also consider the functionality of a space. Which means they factor elements like lighting, acoustics, and layout planning when designing to create a space that’s not only beautiful, but also highly functional.

Education, Training & Credentials

Interior designers usually have undergone formal education in design and completed an accredited program. This extensive training provides them with an understanding of design principles, building codes, and the project management process. In large, complex projects, these skills are invaluable.

When working on projects, they take the time to understand a client’s needs and requirements. This gives them the ability to create a customized design plan that reflects both their lifestyle and their unique esthetic vision.

To practice as a designer, many states have a licensing requirement while others also require the NCIDQ Certificate – the industry’s indicator of proficiency in interior design principles. In other words, depending on the location, interior designers aren’t all formally trained.

Trades Interior Designers Work With

To bring their designs to life, they work closely with other professionals, like contractors, architects and various other trade professionals. Through these collaborations, designers are able to execute their designs seamlessly. 

Throughout the process, they proceed to act as project managers, overseeing the entire design process to ensure the end result meets the client’s expectation.  This is something invaluable to a client, as the time and experience required for a client to do this on their own is immense.

READ MORE >>> Interior Design Styles: Discover Your Design Personality

Luxury kitchen designed by an interior designer with warm grey cabinetry, glass upper cabinetry and brass hardware.  Backsplash is a glossy penny tile paired with a marble stone with contrasting grey veining.
Image Credit

What is a Decorator?

A decorator is a professional mainly specializing in the aesthetics of a home. They are also proficient in selecting finishes, colors, fabrics, and accessories to create a cohesive look and feel. It’s also their job to work to understand a client’s style preferences and create a design plan that aligns with their preferences.

Education, Training & Credentials

While decorators may not have a formal education in design, many have completed training programs or have extensive experience in the field. Their experience ranges from small home updates to large-scale commercial spaces but primarily focuses on aesthetics.

When doing large scale remodels, they do not plan or participate in structural planning and only focus on the surface look of the space.

This is the main difference between their skillset and that on an Interior Designer.

READ MORE >>> Interior Design and Mental Health: How Design Can Improve Your Wellness

Professionally decorated bathroom with wallpaper and dark builtin units.  Brass sconces flank a mirror above the custom wood and marble vanity.
Image Credit

Trades Decorators Work With

Because Decorators solely focus on the aesthetics of a space, they are not involved with architects or contractors. Their expertise can be best used when working with industry professionals like upholsterers, furniture makers and painters.

Interior Designer vs. Decorator: Which is Best Able to Make Your Home Instagram-Worthy?

The answer to this question largely depends on the scope of your project. If you are planning a lengthy, large-scale renovation that involves structural changes, I highly recommended that you hire an interior designer. They have the expertise to ensure that your project is executed properly while taking into account many factors involved in a remodel that a decorator isn’t always experienced with. 

There are many nuances that arise in a large remodel requiring extensive expertise and knowledge in building codes and material performance.  Here are instances where an interior designer’s skillset shines.

If your project is solely focused on aesthetics, a decorator may be the right choice for you. They can help you choose the right colors, fabrics, and accessories to ensure your space feels as you envisioned. 

READ MORE >>> The Pros of Hiring an Interior Designer for a Stress-free Home Renovation

Nufacet Interiors Design Services

Are you looking to upgrade your home to reflect your true style but don’t have the time (or the know-how) to put it all together?  We provide busy professionals with a full-service design experience, a streamlined process and a beautifully curated home to match. 

Call (917) 267-9880 or email at today to get started!

Found this article helpful? Share it with a friend.


Hi, I’m Isfira

Your guide to timeless interiors.

Free Resources (4)