A common misconception among homeowners is that a designer and a decorator do the same tasks. Many sites, even this blog, use the terms interchangeably. But these two professions are very different. Should you decide to hire one or the other, you’ll need to know the distinctions, because you should pay more for an interior designer.

Interior Designer


Interior Designer


To qualify as a designer, one must meet certain educational requirements:

  • Attend a four-year college that is CIDA (Council of Interior Design Accreditation) or FIDER (Foundation for Interior Design Education Research) accredited
  • Complete an internship with licensed professionals to get involved in real world practices
  • Have either successfully passed, or are working towards completing, the National Council for Interior Design Qualification exam
  • Knowledge of art, history, architecture, furniture, design, styles, trends and motifs
  • Extra credit for membership in American Society of Interior Designers, American Institute of Architects, National Kitchen and Bath Association or the United States Green Building Council

All this studying gives them expertise in the following:

  • Project management
  • Lighting
  • Sound
  • Making your home healthy, safe and comfortable
  • Working within your budget
  • Building codes
  • Structural considerations
  • Communicating with architects and other building professionals

Interior Decorator


Interior Decorator


Educational requirements:

  • No formal training needed
  • Some have a two-year Associates degree

What they can help you with:

  • Changing the look of a space through furniture, paint, fabric and accessories
  • Improve the comfort and beauty of a room
  • Match the appearance of a space to its residents

What they can’t do:

  • Alter the structure
  • Change anything electrical
  • Make mechanical alterations


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