3 differences between interior decoration and interior design

The terms interior decoration and interior design have been the subject of discourse for a long time with many professionals unable to unanimously agree on how to differentiate between these two concepts. In fact, even some dictionary definitions as well as definitions appearing in many academic books don’t quite clearly distinguish between the two. This perceived confusion has helped widen the debate about what the main distinguishing aspect between these two professions really is.

We’ll attempt to create some clarity on these two professions by highlighting 3 differences between interior decoration and interior design.

#1 The nature of their skills

It has commonly been argued that an interior designer can perform the work of an interior decorator but this cannot apply the other way round. This is because the work of a decorator is somewhat superficial and will entail beautifying a space through the use of good and fashionable furniture, and other items of beauty. The work of an interior designer however goes beyond just decoration. Theirs is an art and science that will take into consideration people’s behavior as they work towards creating a functional space that these people will be able to utilize.

#2 The level of technicality

Whereas the interior decorator will rely on their ability to visualize a space and decide which type of furniture and other decoration will look best within that space. Their job is not really technical and will not involve much of innovation. It’s purely down to visual creativity. The work of an interior designer is however more technical and will involve different innovative solutions as they work towards transforming a space into what the client demands. They don’t only look at aesthetic aspects of the space but also the structural.

#3 Their level of involvement in a project


In most cases, the interior decorator will not be involved in any of the construction processes. They are mostly brought in when all the structural work is complete and their task just becomes that of applying the final gloss to the space. The interior designer on their part is likely to be involved even before the construction work begins. They help the client to be able to visualize how the space will look even before the actual structure is built. This is because the interior structure of a building greatly influences the exterior as well as other structural elements.

We trust that with this information, you are now much better placed to distinguish between who an interior designer is and who an interior decorator is. From their roles, you can clearly see that they are very different. The only common area between the two is that both are involved in decoration of a space but that’s as far as the similarities go.

What’s clear is that an interior designer can play the role of a decorator but the converse is not the same. Therefore if you have been using these two terms interchangeably, it’s time to stop.

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