What’s The Difference Between An Interior Designer And An Interior Decorator?

Have you ever wondered what the difference is between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

If you've recently decided on making changes to your home, you've realized you're going to need help. As you may have noticed, there are services listed as interior designers and others as interior decorators. So who should you be hiring? Allow me to offer some clarity.



Photo courtesy of The Opus Way.


Although both titles sound similar they are not to be confused as the same thing. An interior designer is involved in the building and structural work of a project and often works hand-in-hand with the architect. Their job is to plan the space in a way that flows from room to room and ensure the area is functional as well as beautiful. They are well versed in building code and technical development; this is why they need official training and licensing. It is their job to design any physical changes happening to a building itself whether that be a change in electrical, plumbing or a more comprehensive renovation. In short, interior designers work primarily on spatial planning, building component design or renovating interiors in order to elevate a property. To find interior designers in your area you can visit the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) designer directory.



Photo courtesy of Qanuk Interiors.


Alternatively there are interior decorators. Their skill is to focus on the aesthetic of a space after it is built by means of furnishings and finishings. They need no formal education and are not involved in any of the designing of the building or layout of the space. Decorators work with an existing space plan and address soft furnishings, lighting, window coverings and paint colours within the space. They work with textiles, fixtures, furniture, artwork and decorative items like cabinet hardware in order to enhance your space. They add elements to an environment rather than structurally changing it. To sum it up, Interior designers may decorate but decorators do not design. You can find local decorators by using the Canadian Decorators Association (CDECA) decorator directory.



Photo courtesy of Marianne Kearney Design.


So who should you be hiring? Well it all depends on your needs and what you are looking to accomplish. If you're looking to make structural changes, such as removing an existing wall and adding building elements, then an interior designer is the way to go. If you're looking more for someone to assist in beautifying your home, including choosing paints, window treatments and other finishes and furnishings then an interior decorator is the one for you.



Photo courtesy of I D Collaborative


Both professions play an important role in the successful end result of your home but in entirely different ways. Now that you're clear on each person's qualifications you can hire the professional you need with reassurance.



Interested in seeing the works of some talented Canadian designers and decorators? Check out these houseporn articles:

A 3 Unit Residence in Calgary By Davignon Martin Architecture + Interior Design

Qanuk Interiors Designs A Modern Toronto Townhouse

An Interview With Toronto Designer Adam Fullerton



Researched and Written by Syrina Gatta, Interior Design student at Sheridan College

Posted In: Canada

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