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  • Writer's pictureStephanie Nolan

Interior Designer vs. Interior Decorator...What's The Difference?

Thought I would explain the difference between an interior designer vs. and interior decorator. In this industry, there are many of us that do both and terms overlap; however there is distinct difference.


Interior Designers “design” space; which means they can act as an interior architect designing all of the elements and facets of an interior (other than structural) which can be a house, or a commercial space (like an office building or restaurant). An interior designer actually can design everything within the exterior walls meaning, they can actually layout the space and create plans & drawings including: determining room sizes/areas and placing walls, designing ceilings & ceiling details, creating the reflected ceiling plan (determining all of the architectural and accent lighting and switching), electrical plan (layout of the electrical locations for the entire space), finish plan (determining all of the different materials, placement & patterns), kitchen & bathroom design including cabinetry and of course specifying all of the interior products and finishes including: flooring, wall tile, wall treatments, plumbing fixtures, doors & hardware, cabinetry & hardware, countertops, architectural trim (wall base, window/door casing, etc.), stairs, railings, feature walls (fireplaces, built-ins, stone elements) and of course what you would expect including paint colors, wallpaper, etc.



Decorators “decorate” the space. Meaning generally, they do not have the expertise with local & federal building codes to alter space and don’t have a working knowledge of ADA (Americans with Disability Act) Codes, Fire Protection & Egress Codes or building construction, in order to “design” a space. Most of these codes are for public spaces (rather than residential) so generally most commercial interior designers are formally trained and many states have licensing laws governing the profession and who can call themselves an Interior Designer.


In residential design, there aren’t those codes governing design of personal homes. Decorators can call themselves Designers and they can choose building products & finishes, supply furniture, lighting, cabinetry and all of the elements that go into a home.


So what type of professional is right for your project? If you want a design professional that can assist you with all facets of design and you may need drawings and want someone with more of a building/construction knowledge; an Interior Designer would be a good fit. If you are just looking for help with paint colors, furniture, accessorizing, bedding or window treatments; an Interior Decorator may be all you need.


We at Distinctive Interiors function in both roles. We have the technical knowledge, expertise and background to design any space from a blank page through to installation. We are registered/licensed by the State of Florida Architectural Board as an “Interior Designer” (FL License Number ID6153) ; and are able to design commercial and contract spaces.


However, we also do “decorating” services as well and provide furniture, window treatments, lighting, table lamps, area rugs, bedding, accent pillows, artwork, mirrors, accessories, tabletop and florals - providing all elements of a complete home interior. We like to do a complete home design, so the finish product is magazine shoot ready.....meaning a completely original space designed for your style preferences, lifestyle and taste while being at the highest level of design and strong enough for publication.




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