Interior Decorator vs. Designer: Who is Right for You?

Nov 29, 2019 | Decorate with Confidence

Interior Decorator vs. Designer

Here’s a question I get asked ALL the time: What’s the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

There are some key differences I’m sharing with you today, but I want to preface this post by saying that one isn’t better than the other — it depends entirely upon what your home project requires.

Are you picturing your forever home in your mind? Can you see what it looks like? Feels like?

Okay, you’re ready to talk about two paths to getting there…

What does an interior designer do?

An interior designer creates a design plan for all of the fixed and built-in elements of a home. This could include:

  • Creating floor plans, electrical plans, lighting maps
  • Selecting bench top materials, flooring, hardware, sinks, tiles, etc.
  • Designing wall paneling, islands, and spaces to house appliances
  • Overseeing colour palette

Many interior designers also play a role in building the team (architect, builder, landscaper, etc.) and in holding the design vision together. They champion the clients’ wishes throughout the project and often consult on site to make decisions and solve design dilemmas. At the end, they may also decorate with furnishings.

Ainslie Heritage project

Here’s a fun little video where I explain some interior design work done in our Ainslie Heritage project.

At the end of an interior design project, what you get in your hot little hands for your money is  documented design. We call it our build bible, as it has everything a builder needs to know to quote or build your project:

  • Demolition plan
  • Floor plan
  • Lighting and reflected ceiling plan
  • Joinery drawings
  • Documentation of specifications of fixtures and fittings such as bench tops, taps, tiles 

The build bible gets handed off, and they go to work!

Our 1960s Deakin Revival required extensive remodeling, and therefore, interior design work!

Our 1960s Deakin Revival required extensive remodelling, and therefore, interior design work!

What does an interior decorator do?

Imagine that you have a house, you pick it up from the bottom, flip it over and shake it. Everything that falls out (or is hanging on for dear life, like your window furnishings) — these are your soft furnishings and the realm of an interior decorator. 

Okay, you got me, we select paint colours inside too.

When it comes to these soft furnishings, we…

  • Create the aesthetic design concept and furniture plan for your space
  • Identify a colour palette that harmonises all aspects of the room
  • Source and order furniture, window furnishings, accessories
  • Oversee installation and do final styling

Our services allow you to enlist our help to Signature 4-Stage Decorating service (start with any stage and take it at your pace!) or we can manage the details for you with our All Stages Custom Decorating option.

Room with curtains and chair

At the end of an interior decorating project, it is a little more sexy. You can walk into a room that is fully furnished and styled. And along the way, you get:

  • Furniture plan
  • Furnishings selections
  • Visual aids such as a mood board
  • Costings 
  • Furniture finishes and fabric samples 
Nadine Neilson

When should you hire a decorator vs. an interior designer?

If you know that your project will require a new floor plan, extensive demolition and renovating, and new materials for bench tops, cabinets, and other fixed surfaces — your best option is to find an interior designer.

If you prefer to keep the walls where they are and change the look and feel of your existing space, an interior decorator is your best choice. 

Still unsure? Book a 15-minute discovery call with us and we’ll point you in the right direction!



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