What’s the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

I have people all the time asking what the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator is.  So, I’m here to answer all your questions about it.  Often times people use the terms interchangeably, but they are not the same thing.  There are some things that are similar and some that are not even close.

What is an Interior Designer?
The American Society of Interior Designers (ASID) defines an Interior Designer as one who “…is professionally trained to create a functional and quality interior environment. Qualified through education, experience and examination, a professional designer can identify, research and creatively resolve issues and provide a healthy, safe and comfortable physical environment.”  While interior designers may decorate, interior decorators do not design.

Typically interior designers have gone through 4 years of schooling and training, this usually involves extensive training in CAD (Computer Aided Drafting), drawing, space planning, architecture, furniture design, rendering, hand drafting, and possibly more.  These schools are FIDER accredited.  Many schools also require their students to internship with an established interior designer or design firm.  Interior designers also work toward taking licensing exams NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification).  They also have a vast knowledge of the History of Art, Architecture, and Furniture.

What is an Interior Decorator?
To be a decorator, it would require no formal schooling because they focus mainly on aesthetics.  Since decorators have no formal schooling they may not have extensive knowledge about space planning, rendering, architecture, furniture design, or other aspects.  Interior decorators don’t typically work with contractors or architects because the structural work has been done.


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