Designing vs. Decorating

We’ve seen and heard countless misconceptions regarding designers vs. decorators. Many people are under the impression that the two are the same, with no distinction from one to another. Today we want to discuss these common misconceptions to bring some light and understanding to the big differences between the two. 


As we just mentioned, designers and decorators are definitely not the same! That being said, for a home to be designed to its full and beautiful capacity, both are needed. That’s why hiring designers with both capabilities is highly recommended. But what are the differences between the two? Let’s get into that, shall we?


As a general answer, interior designers are the technical home designers with thorough interior design degrees and industry knowledge. They are the ones who design the structural aspect of the home (kitchens, fireplace layouts/designs, wall treatments, etc.), where decorators handle the home’s pre-built canvas. Decorators step in once the home is completed to cosmetically finish off the home with furniture, drapery, artwork, decor, etc. 


To be an interior designer, as we mentioned above, they must attend a university to attain an interior design degree. Through that schooling they will gain knowledge of the technical side of design; like how to create and understand reflected ceiling plans, kitchen cabinet and layout designs and detail drawings, construction documents, technical specification sheets, etc. They will also learn required software capabilities in AutoCAD, Revit, SketchUp, and Adobe Photoshop. Interior designers are able to create construction documents that can be handed over to, understood, and built by contractors. The reality of design is that a good designer should be able to put all of the finalized design documentations and specifications into a dropbox or drive folder, share them with a contractor across the country, and have the home built in perfect unison to the plans. 

In short, interior design is the technical end of home design that does require more than just good taste and a keen eye. 


Interior decorating on the other hand does not require a degree, and is more likely to be performed by a person with good taste and a keen eye. Good decorating will still take thorough time cultivating vendor relations, product sources and trade accounts. They’ll likely still have the ability to space plan and properly lay furniture out, but won’t have gone to school for it to gain the ability of drafting furniture plans and technical documents. Good decorating abilities cannot be taught in school, but is a more intuitive skillset that a person either does or doesn’t have. 

It is commonly misconceived that good designers are also good decorators, and vise versa. However, this is not the case more often than not. Designing and decorating are two very different skillsets, and being strong in one typically means being a little weaker (or incapable) in the other. When looking for the right designer, make sure you take this into consideration to see that they have the capability of finishing your home the right way! A well designed home without the proper decorating can fall flat. On the flip side, it is hard to pick up the slack and properly decorate a home that was designed poorly. 

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