What is the difference between a Interior Decorator and an Interior Designer?

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by Kritika
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RE: What is the difference between a Interior Decorator and an Interior Designer?

Deepak Rana
Deepak Rana
Verified Career Expert
Author: Sky Beyond the Clouds
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There's a lot of confusion about the difference between interior designers and interior decorators. Let's try to differentiate the two by discussing each on eseparately:
Interior Decorator:

An "Interior Decorator" is a professional who mainly deals with colors, finishes, and furniture and typically stays within the residential boundary of interiors. Typically they might charge a fee for their creative services such as laying out the furniture in a room, or putting together different colors and finishes in order to create several palettes from which the client can choose. In most cases a decorator will charge a "mark-up" on all the products they sell to you. This mark-up can vary wildly, anywhere from 20% to 50% in some cases. Most decorators are reluctant to prepare a formal contract or letter of agreement spelling out what the services are that they are going to provide, and how much they are going to charge.

Interior Designer:

An "Interior Designer" is someone who can complete an interior design project from start to finish, including preparing construction documents for bidding and permitting, as well as supervising the construction and installation of the work. This person in essence becomes your agent to deal with local building codes and building departments, and licensed contractors. They have the expertise to handle all of these different players, whereas you may not, or may not have the time or inclination.

Interior designers cover all types of projects from commercial (offices, medical facilities, retail shops, restaurants, hotels, retirement and nursing facilities, to name a few) to residential. Typically an interior designer has a lot of education and experience, as well as possibly having sat for one or more examinations in order to test their competency and to attain state recognition of their profession.
Again, just because someone uses the title "Interior Designer", it doesn't mean they are any more qualified than an "Interior Decorator", or any one who chooses to use either title irrespective of their qualifications or experience, which may be none at all."
Interior designers do it all

I should add that interior designers also do all the same work that decorators do - this is definitely not an "either/or" proposition. Furniture, finishes, etc. are all integral parts of a quality interior design. It's just that designers can do so much more, including manage the entire project, coordinating the work of all other design and construction professionals such as architects, contractors, lighting designers, landscape designers, and many specialty trades.

The very best interior design jobs happen when the designer is either hired first or at the same time as the architect and contractor, because then you get the input from all sides from the beginning, and you end up with a much more cohesive project than you would if you just hired a designer or decorator once the architect was finished.

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