CONVERSATIONS WITH THE DESIGNERS - Interior Designer & Interior Decorators...let's discuss the difference


As Interior Designers we are often asked by prospective clients about the services we provide as there is often confusion between what Interior designers and Interior Decorators can do.

Many new clients assume we will only be adding the paint colours, furniture and cushions to their project. Yes, of course we do this however this is only one aspect of the skills a qualified Interior Designer possess. 

An Interior Decorator or Stylist, focuses generally on how a space looks rather than how it functions. Having said that they are able to improve on the flow & function (within the limitation of the existing walls/space) through the manipulation of the layout of the loose furnishings. Decorators are not usually consulted on the structure of the space and they are usually brought in towards the completion of the project. Decorators are very creative, can visualise and have a good eye for the creative use of surfaces, finishes & aesthetics.

For clarity, the discipline, 'Interior Design' is sometimes known as 'spatial design' or 'interior architecture' (as referred to in the US). An Interior Designer will have undertaken formal education for approximately 4 years either at University or a Technical College, studying design, technical drafting & developing an understanding of the building construction.

A qualified Interior Designer, ideally would be involved very early on in a project prior to the commencement of construction. They would provide advice on & manipulate the placement/position of the structural elements affecting the flow & functionality of the intended purpose & use of the overall space. These structural changes or alterations include things such as, moving walls, closing windows or openings, designing new Kitchens, Bathrooms, Laundry etc.

They have a good understanding of spatial awareness, functionality &  building construction. As a result of their design & drafting skills, Interior Designers are able to ensure that they maximise the floor space & flow of any given floor plan, be it for a renovation or new build. 

What many people are unaware of, is that Interior Designers produce drafted documentation in the way of detailed & dimensioned floor plans, elevations and schedules. The drawings produced can then be handed to a Builder or joiner to construct from. This is the key point of difference between an Interior Designer and Decorator. 

Typically an Interior Designer will draft & document the following;

  • Concept floor plans
  • Floor plans
  • Demolition plans
  • Elevations
  • Custom designed joinery details such as Kitchens, bathrooms
  • Indicative Lighting layouts
  • Electrical layouts
  • 3D views and fly throughs


The crossover between an Interior Designer and a Decorator is in the professional advice on the aesthetic decisions & style. Both disciplines are skilled in selecting the...paint colours, furniture and cushions. Along with the tiles, basins, tap ware, flooring, window furnishings etc etc.

An Interior Designers' understanding of spatial awareness along with their technical & drafting skills, means that they work well in collaboration with an architect. Collaboration between Architect and Interior Designer is ideal for the client as every aspect of the project will be considered and documented from the outside in. This in turn leads to a smooth build process. The builder is left with very little to question in regard to design & selections as the documentation covers all aspects of the build. Not only that the builder has all information provided in order to provide a fairly accurate quote.

Unfortunately, because of the lack of understanding in what an Interior designer is capable of, they are often confused with a decorator and seen as a luxury that often feels out of reach for many people. Or their skills are not fully utilised because they are engaged toward the end of the project rather than at the beginning where they can have quite an impact on the success of the project. 

Hiring an Interior Designer from inception often proves to be a good investment that can actually save you time, money and energy in throughout the course of your project, whether you are building from scratch or renovating.

 The best professional for the Interior of your project is someone with all the above mentioned skills. It is extremely important to create a space that is not only aesthetically pleasing & practical for its' end use  but also highly functional.

Remember, an Interior designer should be involved form the inception of your project if you are to take full advantage of their skills.

An Interior Decorator, usually becomes involved after the completion of construction or when a cosmetic change is required.

If you're deciding on whether to engage the services of an Interior Designer and would like to discuss further, feel free to reach out by sending us a DM or email.


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