Interior designer vs decorator

When searching for help with interior renovation it can be hard to know which service you require. Although design and decorating can often have their lines blurred, there are many differences which divide the two. Depending on the outcome you are looking will determine which service you need.

Beyond aesthetics

A key difference between the two roles is the depth to which the space is considered. Interior designers consider human behaviour and how the space will operate. The process of design looks beyond mere aesthetics and thinks of functionality. Whether the client needs adapted acoustics, adjusted lighting, larger zones for meeting areas, or snug hideaways for escapism, are all factors that will impact the overall design and format of a space. Although decorators often transform areas, it is usually through the use of decorative items and surface level changes.

Working together

Aside from the differences in responsibilities, another element which separates decorators and designers are the people they work with throughout the process. Whereas decorators will usually meet with the clients or developers directly, after the structural planning has already been finalised, designers will work with architects and developers beforehand – to help design the way space is used and divided.  Often interior designers will shape a property from the inside out and make suggestions to the architect on how to improve the space. Advice can range from where windows should be placed to enhance the use of natural lighting, to raising ceiling heights to better fit the flow of the rooms, or adjusting where electrical fittings are placed dependent on furniture positioning etc.


Building regulations and rules can play a large part in an interior designer’s responsibilities. Each proposed design must consider functionality and safety at the core. Health safety and welfare of the public is one of the advisories under the British Institute of Interior Design’s code of conduct. These considerations in design will include the placement of an electrical output or service area – evaluating whether there is enough room around it to be functional and provide a safe working area. The placement of steps, doors and windows can additionally provide issues if not practically planned. Lighting and acoustics are also factors which are carefully configured to provide the most efficient and effective living space.


Despite the differences, there are of course crossovers between the two professions. You will often find interior designers taking on decorating tasks or decorators offering suggestions for furnishings and layout. Both roles rely on a creative outlook to find solutions to revive or create the best possible space for their clients.

Which service do you need?

Considering what your project involves should guide you in choosing the right service. If you are looking for a restructure of a space or get advice alongside structural planning, then an interior designer will be able to give you a full floor plan proposal including spatial design. They will be able to advise on room layout, the adjustment of wall positions and windows, alongside the best use of the space. If it is more surface design, decorating walls, helping with fabric choice, adjusting room layout etc that requires no alteration to structure, then a decorator would be suitable. The stage that you are at with the design process can also affect the decision – if the project is in the early stages of construction, then it is worth consulting a professional interior designer to liaise with the architect to ensure the build fits with the end vision.

To find out how we can help to transform your space, then please do get in touch here.

To read more of our articles head over here. 

Top 5 Google articles on subject: