Do you need an interior designer or an interior decorator?
An interior designer can completely reshape and remodel a space and fill it with new and exciting things. An interior decorator can recreate the space you already have with different styles or ideas without having to tear down walls.
Asking whether you need a Designer or a Decorator can sometimes be confusing, as the two have elements of both. Instead, you should ask yourself what you want to do and how you want to get it done.
This subtle difference between them comes from what you want to accomplish, which will help you decide which option best suits your project!
What is the Difference between an Interior Designer and a Decorator?
Fundamentally, an Interior Designer can remodel or design your home, while an Interior Decorator can only revamp and decorate the space you already have.
Otherwise put, Interior Decorators give an area a face-lift, while an Interior Designer can provide the space and its structure a do-over.
Also, an Interior Designer needs to have a license to provide you with their services (or work under a company that has those licenses in place), while an Interior Decorator is under no obligation to have any licenses, although many do have further education in their profession.
Note: not all countries or states require interior designers to have a license or degree, but some do, whereas decorators never need one (unless they otherwise label themselves).
What are the Most Typical Jobs for Interior Designers?
Interior Designers determine space requirements, are able to read blueprints, and are aware of all the building codes and regulations.
They can also select and outsource all decorating items that will make the space functional and aesthetically pleasing to the eye.
Interior Designers work alongside the Architects, Mechanical Engineers and Civil Engineers of a project. They also work with contractors or construction workers that will be needed to complete your project.
Designers are great at coordinating everything from the initial consultation and the logistics of every little detail all the way up to the final review.
With that in mind, typically, you would hire an Interior Designer when you have decided to expand the master bedroom to include an en-suite bathroom, or you have decided to enlarge your kitchen space by eliminating the dining area.
Any significant changes in the structure of the building would need an Interior Designer to draw up a design that meets all your criteria, as well as all the building codes and regulations.
What are the Most Typical Jobs for Interior Decorators?
Typically you would hire an Interior Decorator for smaller projects, like decorating your lounge area to make it feel more inviting; or revamping your entertainment area to create an atmosphere of relaxation and comfort.
Maybe you have moved into a new home and have decided to redecorate the entire house! An Interior Decorator would definitely come in handy to help create the home of your dreams.
Decorators beautify any area, and with all their knowledge focused on the latest trends that can stand the test of time, having one on the team can also save you quite a bit of money in the long run.
There is a saying I’ve adopted – I am not rich enough to be cheap!
If I buy cheap, I will no doubt be purchasing again and again and again – whereas, if I buy quality (more expensive) items slowly over time, I will only need to buy them once.
If you hire a designer to help you with this the first time, you’ll find the process to be a lot easier!
10 Things that Designers and Decorators Both do Well:
- Decorating – helping you to create your vision
- Have an Artistic Eye – making decisions they feel you would approve of or wouldn’t have thought of yourself
- Work within your budget
- Plan within your timeframe and be flexible with your needs
- Outsource everything needed to bring everything together
- Hand-picking furniture, carpets, accessories, paint, etc.
- Hiring contractors, seamstresses, landscapers, painters, etc.
- Arranging numbers, paperwork, budgets and logistics of everything needed
- Networking – working with manufacturers, contractors, and professionals for years in their field
- Use their Discounts – professionals build up relationships with those contractors and are usually offered discounts on bulk items
What is the Difference in Cost?
The cost between a designer and a decorator can vary tremendously – but all of it depends on precisely what you want to be done.
Since you will be paying by the hour for the majority of Interior Designers and Interior Decorators, it comes down to time. The more hours spent on your project, the more you will be paying.
Some do charge a flat rate for their services. This would exclude any extra things like logistics, warehousing, etc.
This flat rate fee will only be for their time and services. It will not include things like your furniture, lighting, flooring material, etc.
You could, however, opt to do some things yourself if you are on a tight budget.
If this is the case, discuss with your Designer/Decorator the different options and ways that you could reduce the bill without compromising on the final results.
Remodeling vs. Redecorating
If you are remodeling, you would need the Interior Designer who does cost a bit more per hour. Designers range anywhere from $125-$200 per hour, which can escalate to $250-$450 per hour with more experienced and established designers.
If you are redecorating, the Interior Decorator would be the cheaper route to follow. Their average hourly rate can be anywhere from $100-$200, with the higher end decorators charging $200-$300 per hour.
Time is Money
When you see hourly rates like those, the main thing to keep in mind is that you are being charged for everything your designer or decorator does.
While they are phoning around sourcing, buying and arranging delivery of your items, that is time spent on your project. When they are calling contractors or negotiating shipments or orders, they are earning money from you.
If your designer or decorator is driving to and from your premises, or to shops or suppliers, they are billing you for it!
Because of this, you have to make sure that you are very considerate and respectful of the time they spend on your project. You also don’t want to find that their time is being spent on things you don’t need, causing hidden fees and lots of headaches.
You especially don’t want to create “wasted” time, because that just wastes your money.
Always be sure to ask, “how will you be billing me for your services?” and go from there.
For more information on how to cut costs and prices on your interior designer, check out: Interior Designer Cost: Fees & Prices (Examples Explained)
It is always so exciting to just think about remodeling or redecorating an area of your home. You get wrapped up in how it will look and how much more comfortable it will be once everything has been renovated.
This can cloud your judgment and lead to a state I call the pink-lens stage. This is where everything in your mind looks easy, rosy, and peachy.
A couple of sleepless nights down the line, and you start wishing you had instead opted for that Interior Designer or Interior Decorator.
Yes, they might cost you more than if you did everything yourself, but unless you have nerves of steel and the patience to deal with setbacks or frustration, you may want to hire one.
In the end, you may find that it was well worth it in your newly decorated, beautiful home.
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Maria is the founder of GoDownsize. While studying architecture in Denmark she became fascinated with designing living spaces for boats, tiny houses, RVs, and other small spaces.
She mainly writes about space optimization, interior design, and downsizing. She’s also in charge of our YouTube channel. Read more about Maria here.