As human beings, we are forever trying to make sense of the chaos around us.  We organize our thoughts about the world we live in by creating categories and labels in a fool-hearted effort to keep everything neat and tidy in our minds.  The reality is that, no matter how hard we try to sort things into black & white, the world is and always will be mostly shades of gray.  Take, for example, the labels interior designer and interior decorator.  Unless you work in the industry, the two probably seem interchangeable.  In reality, there are some key differences between the two and the job both professionals can do for you.  So let’s see if we can make some sense out of the chaos that is interior design.

Interior Designers are trained (and usually licensed depending on state law) in the art and science of understanding people’s behavior as it applies to creating functional spaces within a building.  Interior designers are expected to master knowledge and skills beyond the ‘look & feel’ of a space.  Designers are generally required to meet specific educational requirements and pass a qualifying test like the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification) exam.  This exam tests interior designers on building and fire codes and the health, safety, and welfare of occupants.  Aesthetics do not play any role on this exam.

Interior Decorators, on the other hand are professionals skilled in the furnishing or adorning of a space with beautiful things.  Interior decorators specialize in the use of decorative details to make existing spaces more aesthetically pleasing.  Interior decorators focus on design elements like color palettes, furniture and accessories.  Think of an interior decorator as your home’s personal stylist.  Interior decorators are hired to create an atmosphere in the home which reflects their client’s personal style. They use paint, fabric, furniture, and accessories to change the visual aesthetic of the spaces they touch.

Geo pattern chairs in Living Room

Interior decorators do not have to meet specific educational requirements.  However, many seek training & certification from a number or organizations like Certified Interior Decorators International (CID).  There are also many programs and courses to help interior decorators fine tune their skills from selecting colors, furniture layouts, understanding furniture styles and more.

It’s been said that, while interior designers may decorate, decorators do not design.  In reality, the line between the two designations remains blurred.  Try as they might to try and differentiate between the two, the average homeowner will never truly understand or even care about these labels as long as the professional they hire is able to provide them with the services they need & want.

To complicate matters even more, another lesser-known designation in the industry is Interior Redesigner.  Redesigners are interior decorators who are masters of reusing, repurposing and restyling their client’s existing furniture & decor.  Redesigners have a keen eye for reinventing a space using only what is available to them, whether from the same space or elsewhere in the home.

Another sub-category of interior decorator is the real estate or home Stager.  Stagers are interior decorators with a specific expertise in helping homeowners & realtors maximize the salability of a piece of property.  Stagers decorate specifically to “merchandise” a home and make it appeal to the broadest possible pool of potential buyers.  Unlike traditional interior decorators, stagers aren’t concerned with creating an aesthetic that reflects their owner’s personal style.  Instead, stagers are tasked with creating the illusion of the picture-perfect home most buyers want, even if it is only just an illusion.  Professional stagers are experts at highlighting the best selling features of a home while disguising less desirable ones.

So, there you have it.  Still confused?  Trying asking yourself:

  • Do I need someone to manage the entire project for me and assist with the build out and aesthetics?
    You should consider hiring an interior designer.
  • Do I want to update a room(s) in my home and am looking for someone to make my design vision come to life?   Working with an interior decorator is probably your best choice.
  • Does my project involve making functional or structural changes that may be difficult to solve when things pop up unexpectedly?  This type of project sounds more suited to an interior designer.
  • Do I need help determining my distinct vision, remodeling & creating a space that celebrates my home’s character in a new, updated way?  This could be a design project for an interior decorator or an interior designer. Both can help you!
  • Do I need someone who can help me see the hidden potential in my “stuff” to create a new look using only what I already own?  You need to call a decorator who specializes in interior redesign.
  • Am I looking to maximize the visual appeal of my home for resale purposes?  This is the perfect time to call a home stager.

When all said and done, labels are hardly worth more than the paper on which they’re written.  In our chaotic world, being smart enough to hire professional help and choosing the right professional for the job will make your world make a little more sense.

Happy designing, decorating, redesigning & staging from your friends at Decor Designs.  815-245-2433