When most folks think of interior design, they imagine room makeovers and someone who will come in and choose color palettes and accessories for a living space. That’s actually the role of an interior decorator. Interior designers have studied the art and science of interior design to create functional spaces within a building.

Interior Design vs. Interior Decor

Although the role of interior decorator can overlap with interior design, there are fundamental differences between the two. The first is education, training, and experience. Interior designers have formal education and training in interior design. Their studies and training include studying color and fabric, drawing, space planning, and furniture design. They are also trained in computer-aided design (CAD). Many states, including Mississippi, require interior designers to be certified by the Mississippi State Board of Architecture before they can professionally be known as interior designers. 

After graduating, designers typically work with an experienced designer before establishing their own interior design business. Interior designers are skilled in spatial planning and help design and renovate interior spaces. They can draw up floor plans, choose the best materials and aesthetics, and improve the functionality of the interior space. Interior designers work closely with architects and contractors to achieve their client’s vision.

First Image: Interior designer, Jessing, doing a hand rendering of the exterior elevation of a new, custom home.

First photo: Interior designer, Jessing, doing a hand rendering of the exterior elevation of a new, custom home. Second photo: Jessing walking through new construction, developing a plan for lighting. 

Interior decorators don’t need formal schooling or certification to work as a decorator. However, many courses and program options are available. They may also receive a certificate from organizations like Certified Interior Decorators International.

Interior Decorators help create the room's aesthetic, or look, with coordinating decor as seen in this Blairhaus-decorated bedroom

A bedroom decorated by Blairhaus. Scroll to the bottom of this blog to shop items featured in this image. 

Interior decorators don’t assist in structural planning and renovation. They focus on the interior’s aesthetics and improving its visual appeal. Interior decorators may be brought into a newly purchased or renovated home to help the homeowner choose styles, color schemes, and furnishings. 

Bedroom nightstand decorated by Blairhaus. Click the image to shop the items featured in this photo. 

Some interior decorators are also home stagers. Home stagers help home sellers stage their homes to appeal to all potential buyers. Interior decorators also work with furniture designers, painters, and other industry professionals to coordinate a project.

Should I Hire an Interior Designer or Interior Decorator?

The answer to this question depends on your needs. Are you planning a renovation or remodel, which may include removing walls, installing new windows, or changing the layout of a kitchen or bathroom? Or do you want to update your living space as it is, with no structural changes?  

If you’re making structural changes, you want an interior designer. If you want someone to help you choose new wallpaper, window treatments, lighting, or furnishings, an interior decorator can take care of your needs.

Blairhaus Interior Designer, Kim Jessing, working alongside a client and contractor to create a dreamy, custom closet.

Blairhaus Interior Designer, Kim Jessing, working alongside a client and contractor to create a dreamy, custom closet. 

What we recommend is that you are well-researched on the interior professional you want to hire. Know their reputation with the industry, get real reviews from clients, and ask for their portfolio to ensure they have the skills you need to accomplish your project goals. You want to know their process for each phase of a project, an estimated time for completing the project, and how your budget will be spent. 

You want to be sure that whomever you work with is skilled and experienced with your project’s design requirements. Hiring a newbie or someone with little experience for a complex design project may not be the best choice, but they may be perfect for helping you refresh your living room’s decor. The professional you hire should have a clear understanding of what you want in your design and aesthetic. It’s like going to a hairstylist and asking for blond highlights, but they made you an all-over brunette instead. It might look great, but it’s not what you wanted. 

At the end of the day, an interior professional’s skills and experience are more important than their job title. Some interior decorators also have impressive design skills from years of experience. Likewise, some interior designers have a flair for decorating and excel in choosing the right aesthetics. 

The team at Blairhaus Interiors is a beautifully mixed blend of designers and decorators that have learned skills beyond what their degrees and certifications entail. Our designers and decorators work together to bring the absolute best results for our clients.

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