Designer vs. Decorator: What's the Difference?

WARNING: This post is a little bit sassy. I'm not trying to be sassy. But it's a little sassy.

When someone calls a designer a decorator, they may have a quiet moment. During that quiet moment, the designer is picturing doing something like this to the poor, unsuspecting citizen:



...OKAY, in reality, it's rare that would actually happen. But it can be tiresome to introduce your interior design career and have 95% of people respond with "Oh my! It must be so fun shopping for furniture and picking paint colours!". Yeah, it must be! But that's not what we do. 

There is a very significant difference between a designer and a decorator. Both have a keen eye for style, space planning, and finish selection, but what really sets designers apart is their technical knowledge of construction. The education of a designer involves a varied spectrum of topics, which includes drawing & technical drafting, materials, functionality, use of space, universal designfinish selection, and more. While we completely respect what decorators do, our professions are quite different. It's sort of like explaining what exactly my degree in "Human Ecology" is (don't go there).

Fine, we'll go there. Human Ecology is an interdisciplinary study of humans & their surrounding environments, including spacial, textile, material/cultural, and personal relationships. Yeah.

Fine, we'll go there. Human Ecology is an interdisciplinary study of humans & their surrounding environments, including spacial, textile, material/cultural, and personal relationships. Yeah.

So how can you spot a designer? For one, take a look at the letters behind their name. If you see C.I.D., I.D.T., I.I.D.A., or I.D.C., you're in luck! Certified Interior Designer, Interior Design Technician, members of the International Interior Design Association, and Interior Designers of Canada are all Interior Designers. These people will have had the technical training required to understand the ins & outs of construction

Another way to spot an interior designer is to research their past work, and ask about their process. Is the majority of their work focused on construction work, such as renovations or new builds, or is their portfolio more centered around furniture selection, colour consultations, or staging? Construction-based work will immediately indicate a designer.

The fact is, an interior designer wears many different hats. In one day, a designer may be drafting, meeting clients, selecting plumbing with one client, and proposing a structural wall be taken down with another. Designers & Decorators are BOTH able to adapt quickly and always want to make sure their clients are happy! In many ways they are the same, but in many ways, they are different

- Aims