What Are the Major Differences Between Interior Design and Interior Decorating?

So, you’re interested in interior design but not sure what the difference is between it and interior decorating? Well, there are a few differentiating factors. The first one is that an Interior Designer typically focuses on the whole space whereas an Interior Decorator usually focuses on one room or part of a home. Another important distinction to keep in mind is that designers focus more on structure and function while decorators focus more on aesthetics. It’s also worth noting that an interior designer may have their own line of furniture for sale so they can fully furnish your new home with their signature style!

There are many differences between interior design and interior decorating. Interior design is the act of designing a space or room in accordance with your personal preferences, while interior decorating is the act of choosing furnishings and accents to create an aesthetically pleasing environment. While both processes may include elements such as colour schemes, furniture arrangements, lighting fixtures, etc. They each have their own unique qualities that set them apart from one another. 

What’s the Difference Between an Interior Designer and an Interior Architect?

Many people think interior design services and interior architecture services are the same. Not really. Though there are many similarities between the two services and many in the design industry often use the words interchangeably, there are some differences between interior design and interior architecture and the services they both provide.

Interior Designer 1

However, both interior design services and interior architecture services are closely related, are part of the same industry, and are within the same niche.

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.

As we’ve already mentioned, interior designers normally hold a bachelors degree or advanced diploma in interior design. Interior designers study the theory and practice of design in considerable detail – some of the things they learn about include:

  • Lighting design
  • Materials, finishes and colour
  • Design theory and history
  • Building systems and technologies
  • Sustainable design/building practices
  • Design for accessibility and utility
  • Project management
  • Relevant Australian Codes and Standards

As well as designing and decorating building interiors (something they also do), interior designers normally have a good working knowledge of construction practices and documentation requirements and can work confidently with other designers and tradespeople to ensure that the interior spaces they design are appropriate and properly implemented.

In Victoria, a few qualified interior designers are also registered with the Building Practitioners’ Board as Registered Building Practitioners (RBPs). This allows them to apply for Building Permits directly rather than through a builder, who would otherwise have to accept liability for the designer’s drawings.

What Is An Interior Architect?

Interior architecture is a practice that incorporates the art of design and the science of architecture, and it focuses on the technical aspects of planning and building a room. This field involves making the room safe and functional as well as designing aesthetically appealing lighting, colour and texture for space. Professionals who practise interior architecture typically focus on a combination of structural elements, building materials and artistic components.

Interior architects often manage complex sets of tasks to address when planning a room. Their projects typically begin with meeting with clients to determine their requirements and preferences for spaces. Some interior architects specialise in designing new spaces, while others focus on refurbishing existing spaces. Those who focus on the latter analyze the existing interior structure of the space to assess any limitations or requirements. Those who specialise in designing new spaces may work with other architects to ensure that their plans for the interior space work seamlessly with plans for the rest of the structure.

As they develop interior plans, these architects assess the environment around the space, study the natural light and assess the feasibility of potential plans. Many interior architects then sketch their preliminary ideas manually before using computer-aided design (CAD) and drafting and building information modelling (BIM) applications to create scaled plans for the interior space. These plans often reflect aesthetic aspects of the design along with structural elements like electrical, plumbing, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems.

Interior architects are also responsible for creating project plans that include cost estimates and proposed timelines. Most seek out contractors to carry out their projects, which may involve drafting agreements and hiring temporary team members. Interior architects also frequently collaborate with other architects as well as interior designers, engineers and construction teams, especially when working on complex projects.

Because their projects involve safety and sustainability, architects must understand and abide by building codes and government regulations that apply to the interior space. They often research and test building materials and construction methods to confirm that they adhere to required codes and regulations.

How to Decide Between Hiring An Architect or a Designer

As we outlined for you above, architects and interior designers seem to rely on one another to get to the end result—a well-designed building inside and out. Both bring to the table a set of skills that are intrinsic to a proper design. So, who do you hire? Well, we suggest it depends on your individual scenario. If you already have a structure built and are looking for interior design help, then in most cases, you require the help of an interior designer. And if you need a home built from scratch, then we say hire the architect —and possibly the interior designer if you need help on the inside of the home. These above-mentioned scenarios are pretty clear-cut, but what about an interior remodel or rebuild where walls will be coming down, and the structure will be changed? Then who do you hire—the architect or the designer? In these cases, we suggest hiring both an architect to draw up the plans of the new structure and an interior designer to help ensure the new structure will be aesthetically pleasing and functional for your personal needs. Some may argue with this and say that an interior designer is skilled enough to help with both aspects of a remodel (the structural and aesthetic), and they would be right to argue that, but we say to be safe by hiring both professions, giving you the best of both design worlds.

Architects and interior designers are both interesting, creative creatures who bring much-needed skill-sets to the table of home design. As we have shown here, there is a marriage of skills that are needed when it comes to home design—with the architect offering exterior design skills and the interior designer offering interior skills. Look at your individual project to decide whose skills best fit your needs.

What Are the Reasons Why You Should Hire an Interior Decorator?

There’s no denying that hiring an interior designer adds substantial cost to your project, but the potential benefits are priceless.

Interior Designer 2

Define Your Style

With resources like Pinterest and Instagram, there are literally millions of inspirational home design photos at your fingertips. The problem many homeowners run into is that they fall in love with too many different styles. One day you might decide you want a traditional farmhouse kitchen, but the next day you see a beautiful modern kitchen and change your mind completely. This can happen over and over again until you become design-decision-paralyzed. An interior designer has the skills to help you define your style and incorporate it into their design plan. By asking the right questions and showing you options, a designer will help you finalise a design concept that fits your taste, lifestyle and personality.

Avoid the Headache

Beautiful before and after pictures on social media and heavily edited home improvement TV shows make the home design process seem like a breeze. The reality is, designing and decorating a home is a long and arduous process. From ordering items, directing vendors, and keeping track of the budget, your interior designer takes over all the complicated day-to-day operations so that you can focus on the final result—a beautiful home!

Access to Qualified Vendors

If you’ve ever hired a painter, plumber, or trim carpenter, you know how difficult it can be to find the right person. It can take hours of scouring reviews, checking with friends, and collecting bids to finally find someone you trust to do the job right. When you hire an interior designer, they already have a list of preferred vendors that you can rely on to provide quality work for your project. Plus, those trusted vendors will likely give their best price to your designer, knowing it will lead to more work in the future.

Professional and Beautiful Results

The most obvious reason to hire an interior designer is to design your space! An interior designer’s trained eye and knowledge are essential if you want the end result to be as gorgeous as those Pinterest inspiration photos. There are a lot of tricky elements that go into decorating a room. An interior designer can lead you through decisions like furniture placement, window treatments, rug size, and art arranging, just to name a few.

No More Annoying Returns and Mistakes

How often have you ordered something online for your home, only to have to return it because it’s the wrong size, wrong colour, or simply doesn’t quite look the way you envisioned it? Unfortunately, design mistakes are common. And the ordering and returning process are time-consuming, expensive, and frustrating. An interior designer has the experience and knowledge to help you make the right decisions the first time.

Finish Your Project

When you tackle home renovations and interior design projects on your own, the fact is, it often goes unfinished. You can easily get distracted by another pressing matter in your family life or at work, and that home improvement project gets moved to the back burner. That last bit of baseboard never gets installed, or months go by before you finally get around to ordering the cabinet hardware. A good interior designer sees your project through from start to finish. They’re there every step of the way until the end to ensure you get the result you’re looking for.

Increase the Value of Your Home

An interior designer can help you make the best decisions for your home that will lead to increased value. This is especially true when designing kitchens or bathrooms, two rooms that are the most expensive to renovate but also the most likely to add value to your home. Your interior designer will guide you to the finishes and materials that will stand the test of time and appeal to a wide range of buyers.

Access to Trade-Only Items

Interior designers and other home professionals have access to trade only furniture, fabric, and accessories. The right designer can incorporate these exclusive items into your decor and get them for you at a discounted rate. Although designers do add their own fee when you purchase trade-only items from them, the final price is still often less than retail. Be sure to hire a designer that is open and honest about their trade-only pricing.

Have Someone in Your Corner

When working on a major renovation, it can be intimidating to deal with contractors, inspectors, and other tradespeople—especially if it’s your first experience. An interior designer can be there to ask the right questions and even be the bad guy when something isn’t done right. A good designer will always have your best interests in mind and will make sure your vision is executed by everyone involved.

What does your home say about you? Here are 15 things your decor reveals about your personality.

Clever and Unique Ideas

In addition to simply designing a beautiful space, an interior designer can help you solve problems and come up with unique solutions for the function of your space. Whether it’s converting an awkward nook into a reading corner or finally finding the right curtains for those corner windows, a designer will come in with a fresh pair of eyes, ready to present ideas you would have never thought of on your own.

Scroll to Top