This is a question that many clients ask themselves as they are beginning the search for an interior designer. It becomes a bit more confusing during the search as many designers may have verbiage for both in effort to capture the searches for those services. The main differences is in how we look at the verbs in these two titles.

Designer: An interior designer will typically have experience in working on projects from the beginning of that project, and be an active part of the design process for not only what goes into the space, but how the space itself is shaped. Interior designers will have access to software that allows them to create floor plans and details to communicate to the design and build teams what they hope to see incorporated into the structure. They may have suggestions such as walls to be removed, new door or window opening locations, how to configure a new bathroom into the space. Often, they also have experience in lighting plans as well. They have a full knowledge of construction plans, the permit process, and are hands on and solution oriented during the build and installs. An interior designer will typically have a degree or a certificate in interior design.

Decorator: An interior decorator may definitely have some of those skills listed above, and often they use software for space planning, or to communicate how the space will look in 3D (renderings). Their own skill level in these areas and knowledge fo the construction process is usually dependent on how long they have been in the industry, rather than through a degree or certification testing. However, decorator is often working with a client less on making changes to the structure, and more on what will fill the space to bring the joy or feelings that the client is looking for through finishes and furnishings. Because they are so practiced in finding ways to work with an already existing space, they often have incredibly creative ideas for how you can create the illusion of architectural details in your space.

On thing to note, is that not all states have requirements for who can call themselves an interior designer. In some states, there are education, certificate, or years in industry requirements, but not in all. Therefore, if you are looking for someone who is practiced in seeing ways to work with you and the design team on the structure, then the simplest way to determine that is during the initial consultation. Here are some questions you can ask them:

At what point in the project do you typically begin your scope?

Are you able to suggest changes to the wall lines?

Do you have experience in creating plans for permit, and expediting the permit process?

Can you create plans for my contractor and architect to review?

Remember that most interior designers will also do the decorating portion of the project, and that many decorators are able to give input even if they can’t provide plans, early in the project. The most important aspect is working with someone that you can speak to with honesty, that you trust, and that communicates in a stye that works for you. So call around!

If you are in the Bay Area here in Northern CA, please give us a call with any questions, and we are happy to talk you through next steps! If you are feeling overwhelmed, please check out our service, Overcome the Overwhelm, to get you moving forward with confidence in your remodel.