Interior Designer or Interior Decorator?

Created on Posted by Fawn Interiors Studio

These days, interior design is certainly becoming a lot trendier and cooler thanks to prominent designers such as Ilse Crawford, Rita Konig, Abigail Ahern and many more. And with a plethora of gorgeous interiors blogs for inspiration (Remodelista, Design Sponge, Interior Style Hunter, etc) people are recognising that good interior design really can change the way you live. 

But too often people think that it’s just a cushion or rug change (or new curtains!). While the role of an architect is clearly understood in the UK, we are often frustrated when the terms interior design and interior decorating are used (incorrectly) as interchangeable roles. Interior designers are more than just pretty swatch carriers and, to a certain extent, are still tainted somewhat by the old perceptions of interior design businesses being hobby businesses. The problem is also exacerbated because in the UK it is illegal to use the term Interior Architect, as the title ‘architect’ is protected. Which, we think, would clear up a lot of confusion and better delineate the two.

So...what is the difference?

The definition of interior design on Wikipedia is: the art and science of enhancing the interiors, sometimes including the exterior, of a space or building, to achieve a healthier and more aesthetically pleasing environment for the end user. An interior designer is someone who plans, researches, coordinates, and manages such projects. Interior design is a multifaceted profession that includes conceptual development, space planning, site inspections, programming, research, communicating with the stakeholders of a project, construction management, and execution of the design.

So now we know what an interior designer does, what about an interior decorator?

From SBID, the Society of British Interior Designers: A decorator provides styling and adornment of beautiful items and objects after the interior design is complete. This is possibly the most misunderstood role within the interior design industry. Decorators do not provide advice on space, structural reconfiguration or fittings. 

And, summing it all up, we love this comparison between the two from the CIDQ, Council for Interior Design Qualification in the US: Many people use the terms “interior design” and “interior decorating” interchangeably, but these professions differ in critical ways. Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behavior to create functional spaces within a building. Decoration is the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.

We’ll leave the differences there, clearly defined by credible sources. Conclusion? If you want curtains, cushions and rugs, you can give us a call but, as interior designers, we would recommend that they become part of a much broader renovation scheme and that we create a whole home for you that you will love.


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We are a residential and commercial interior design studio based in Hampshire, also covering London, Surrey, Dorset, West & East Sussex, Berkshire & the South.

Fawn    .    Old Down Cottage, Swelling Hill, Ropley, Alresford, Hampshire SO24 0DA    .    .    +44 (0) 1962 435 035
All meetings are by appointment only, please call or email to arrange.

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