Interior designers and interior decorators

A lot of people think the terms ‘interior designer’ and ‘interior decorator’ are interchangeable names for exactly the same profession. This isn’t the case though, and depending on the services you’re expecting, it might be pretty important that you know the difference.

The distinction between these two professions is arguably subtle, and you could definitely be excused for assuming they’re the same. There’s even a little confusion in parts of the industry about who should call themselves what…

To set the record straight:

  • An interior designer holds a tertiary qualification in this discipline (typically a degree or advanced diploma in interior design) and is concerned with every aspect of the way in which interior spaces are laid out, allocated and used.
  • An interior decorator typically holds a qualification in interior decoration (normally a diploma), and is concerned with dressing an interior with things like paint, furnishings, floor coverings, and fabrics for aesthetic purposes.

What is an interior designer?

There are a lot of different aspects to building design. It’s not uncommon for an architect or building designer to be tasked with designing every single part of a house, but in many cases specialist designers (interior designers, landscape designers and specialist lighting designers, for example) will be employed to design particular bits of a home.

In the case of interior designers, this work is often done on a standalone basis, usually to improve on existing buildings rather than as a part of the initial design process. Ultimately, an interior designer’s role is to create functional, safe, efficient, comfortable and beautiful interior spaces that are fit for their purpose.

What is an interior decorator?

While interior decorators study and work on many of the same things as interior designers, their job typically doesn’t involve moving walls, installing services or planning for things like safety and utility. This is really the main difference — interior decorators are exclusively concerned with decorating what’s already been built.

Interior decorators are aesthetic specialists, and are likely to have diploma-level qualifications in their field.

How to find the right interior designers and decorators

It’s not hard to find interior designers and decorators, but if you’re keen to hire a talented and committed professional it’s worth doing your homework. To find a good designer or decorator, you should:

  1. Look for professionals whose prior work you like
  2. Get at least three comprehensive quotes — itemized quotes will help you to ensure you understand what you’re paying for
  3. Check credentials, qualifications and insurance — ensure you’re employing someone with the right qualifications, and with current professional indemnity insurance.
  4. Find someone who shares your vision — this can’t be stated strongly enough. Good communication with designers and decorators is vital.
  5. Check for membership of the Design Institute of Australia — while association membership isn’t necessary, it does indicate that an interior designer or interior decorator has the necessary qualifications and experience. DIA members also undertake continuing professional development (CPD) to ensure they’re up on the latest technologies and trends.

Looking for an interior designer, decorator or stylist? Click Here: Best Architectural Firms in Dubai

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