Interior Decorators vs. Interior Designers

I wanted to briefly (or not so briefly) mention the difference between an Interior Decorator and an Interior Designer because people often think the terms are interchangeable when in fact they are two very different occupations.

First and foremost, if someone is calling themselves an Interior Designer and they don’t have an Interior Design degree from an accredited school they are WRONG.  It is even illegal in some states.

Any old person can call themselves an Interior Decorator.  Interior Decorators do just that… decorate interiors.

Often Interior Designers go into business doing the design and decoration of interiors.  I am in school for Interior Design and I know some people think I am in school learning how to plump pillows and pick wall colors all day and this is a very wrong misconception.

What Interior Designers learn in Design school:  Think ARCHITECTURE.  Architecture and Interior Design go hand in hand.  Architects design the bones of the building and Designers are the interior architects & designers.  In a way designers are more well-rounded (in my humble opinion) because they can draft the blueprint for the building, do the electrical and plumbing plan, and decorate, design and furnish the whole place.  SHIZAM!

Most architectural firms employ Interior Designers.

What we learn in Interior Design school:  Programs like AutoCad and Revit, the computer programs Architects and Designers use to draft (draw) floor plans, elevations and sections of buildings.  And of course before we can learn these programs we must learn how to draft by hand like they did in the old days.  Hand Drafting is a pain in the toucous, FYI.  We learn color theory, lighting design, interior and architectural building codes, electrical and plumbing systems, construction, etc etc and on and on….  Basically how to build a house from the ground up.

Now like I mentioned before, many designers go into business once they have graduated doing the interior decoration, design and furniture placement for residential and commercial spaces.  This is what most people think of when they here “interior designer” because it is what they often see in the decorating and design magazines (“the room was designed by Jane Doe…”).  There are about a million other things you can do with the degree that don’t include decorating other people’s homes.  My goal is to write about decorating & organization for a magazine or newspaper and flip houses someday.  And maybe get my General Contractor’s license because I love everything remodeling and renovation.

While I love decorating (and I write about it often here on my blog) I would have a hard time decorating people’s houses for them as my full-time job.  Decorating is such an expression of who a person is and I believe every thing you bring into your house should have meaning (this is the professional organizer in me).  My mantra is: if you don’t love it, use it or need it, why do you have it?  This is why I would rather teach and write about decorating and design than do it for someone.

A few words on Interior Design organizations.  I am a student member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID).  Members that have graduated with their Interior Design degrees can go on to become Allied members of ASID.  Once a designer has taken the NCIDQ (National Council for Interior Design Qualification), they become a full member of ASID.  For example, you many see someone’s name as “Jane Doe, ASID.”  This means she has her Interior Design Degree and has passed the NCIDQ.  The IIDA (International Interior Design Association) is another organization.

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