Interior Designers vs. Interior Decorators

“Oh, you’re a decorator”. I’ve heard it over and over again. And the truth is that I am not, but my career does entail similar responsibilities of a decorator, and much more.  I’m not looking at paint chips and holiday decorations from Hobby Lobby all day.  I spend time analyzing behavioral patterns, test fitting floor plans, drawing elevations, and brainstorming through architectural details to improve the end-user experience.

While deciding what to major in college, I considered my ‘good eye’ to be my best skill and so I decided to pursue Interior Design.  It was not until my second year in college that I realized Interior Design is not all about pure ‘eye-candy’. In the end, we are searching for ways to connect with the people whose life we touch. We touch people’s lives at every age and every stage witnessing and accommodating every ability and disability.

What is exactly Interior Design?

“Interior design is the art and science of enhancing the interior of a building to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the people using the space. An interior designer is someone who plans, researches, coordinates, and manages such projects.”

We apply creative and technical solutions within a structure that are functional, attractive, and beneficial to the occupants’ quality of life and culture.  Usually, Interior Designers work closely with architects, engineers, and contractors to coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge of the physical location and social context of the project.

The Reality of What we do

Being an Interior Designer involves much more analytical, technical and, psychological approach than you would think. At the end of the day, it only takes an open mind to see the value we bring onto people’s life whether we are designing solely for a single end-user or for a mixed group of all age groups, various cultures, and people with all types of physical and psychological needs.

In a nutshell, we have to study the disability act, construction & fire codes, anthropometrics, ergonomics, construction techniques. We analyze behavioral patterns in the workplace, schools, entertainment, in lodging, at home, and all spaces. 


Interior Designer duties ranging from new construction to full-scale renovations
    • Analyze the end-user’s behavior and psychological needs
    • Gather information related to the client’s requirements, timeline, and spatial needs
    • Develop diagrammatic sketches to illustrate the basic concept of design: spatial relationships, basic scale, and forms
    • Create floor plans, 2D elevations & 3D renderings
    • Research  materials and furnishings white taking durability and functionality in consideration
    • Create design specifications including, wall treatments, lighting, cabinetry, countertops, doors & windows, flooring, glazing, kitchen & bath fixtures, paint & wall treatments, paneling, and anything else you can imagine
    • Select furnishings such as, casegoods, mirrors, storage, wall décor, window treatments, outdoor furniture, and much more
    • Coordinate the procurement of furnishings, whether purchasing directly or through a purchasing agent
    • Oversee the architectural design and construction efforts of all involved parties and trades
So what is a Decoration?

Decoration is rather defined as the furnishing or adorning of a space with items that are not fixed to the interior architecture.  We often take on the role of decorators, but decorators do not design.

Decorators furnish and adorn a space to enhance aesthetics, but most are not trained to take in consideration safety and technical considerations.     

Decorator duties
    • Gather information related to the client’s budget, timeline, and aesthetic
    • Develop decorative layouts and floor plans
    • Select color schemes
    • Determine placement of furniture, décor, and artwork
    • Select furnishings such as, casegoods, mirrors, storage, wall décor, window treatments, outdoor furniture, and much more
    • Coordinate the procurement of furniture and décor
    • Oversee the on-site install
Which one is right for you?  

I’ve created a  DOWNLOADABLE GUIDE  highlighting the different professional roles in the Interiors industry. Trust me, friends!

These guides will really come in handy when you have to lead clients to the professional best suited for their needs.  

As always, please reach out to ask for questions, recommendations, and further advice.



Feb 20, 2019

Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator: The Real Talk


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