The Differences Between an Interior Decorator and an Interior Designer

The differences between an interior decorator and an interior designer may seem inconclusive, but there are actually many things that set these two careers apart. People who work as professional interior designers typically have more education, typically in the form of a bachelor's degree from a four-year university.

Some designers also extend their education and complete a graduate degree in a design specialization, which makes them more desirable to future employers and clients. Interior decorators may also receive training and education in their chosen field, but usually it is either from a community college or online distance learning institution. This difference is just the beginning, though.

The essence of an interior design career is more than just creating the outward appearance of a room, building or space. Interior designers often have experience with architecture and understand how to pull elements from the building itself into the room and implement the other items that are arranged through the design space. They can handle everything from choosing and arranging the furniture to configuring the lighting to dressing the windows and doors, or even choosing where the windows and doors will go in the case of new construction. Interior designers may also change the current structure of the architecture if it fits with their design plans.

Interior decorators are more concerned with the outward, aesthetic appearance of a room, building or space. They may choose the furniture, paint colors, wallpaper, flooring, cabinetry, tiles, linens, window treatments, artwork and accessories that are placed in a room. They are experts at picking out and arranging things to achieve a desired look. Interior decorators may be hired by individuals to decorate a room or an entrenched home, or they may work for corporations, small businesses and / or nonprofit organizations that need help decorating their offices or retail space.

While interior decorators usually work with all types of homes and businesses doing all sorts of decorating, interior designers typically have a specialty such as commercial spaces, offices, art galleries, private homes or building exteriors. These two professions also have a lot in common, though, and it's not uncommon to find designers and decorators working hand in hand.