Here we go! The question “everyone” wonders, what’s the difference between interior design and interior decorating. First off, I want to say that Interior Decorating is a trade of it’s own. Decorating and design can sometimes overlap but they fairly different.

The © 2019 Council for Interior Design Qualification, Inc. expresses the Full Definition of Interior Design as this:

 Interior design is a distinct profession with specialized knowledge applied to the planning and design of interior environments that promote health, safety, and welfare while supporting and enhancing the human experience. Founded upon design and human behavior theories and research, interior designers apply evidence-based methodologies to identify, analyze, and synthesize information in generating holistic, technical, creative, and contextually-appropriate design solutions.  

Interior designers contribute to the interior environment with knowledge and skills about space planning; interior building materials and finishes; casework, furniture, furnishings, and equipment; lighting; acoustics; wayfinding; ergonomics and anthropometrics; and human environmental behavior. Interior designers analyze, plan, design, document, and manage interior non-structural/non-seismic construction and alteration projects in compliance with applicable building design and construction, fire, life-safety, and energy codes, standards, regulations, and guidelines for the purpose of obtaining a building permit, as allowed by law. 

The Spruce has an amazing comparison on the two. See it HERE. Of course the requirement of education is a major factor, and I would say that technicality is the second. For example, an interior designer is responsible for producing documentation such as “schematic, design development, construction drawings and specifications, floor plans, partition plans, reflected ceiling plans, and finish plans; furniture, furnishings, and equipment plans; wayfinding and signage plans; code plans; coordination plans; and elevations, sections, schedules, and details illustrating the design of non-load-bearing / non-seismic interior construction and/or alterations.”

The interior decorator’s responsibility may involve producing a floor plan, ceiling plan and elevations. Simple plans are produced to show client the vision and idea for their space. Although Interior decorators does not require a high level of technical skills, it does require concentration to enhance interior design elements with accessories and fine finishings.

Note that although Interior Decorators do not require formal education, those who pursue a diploma, does have a huge advantage over those who don’t. At the end of the day, it all comes down to credibility and liability. Interior Decorators with a diploma can find work outside of residential sector and gain knowledge and experience in design showrooms, with corporate suppliers/manufactures and even government.

Interior Decorating students at Algonquin College in Ottawa, ON graduate with basic drafting skills, space planning foundation, knowledge of design elements and principles, knowledge of materials and finishes, lighting, period styles, and so much more.

Tune in to this unique interview with a talented interior decorator by trade. She shares her journey from pursuing a 2-year college diploma to the open door of opportunities upon graduating.

If you do have questions in regards to design school or the interior decorating trade, feel free to drop your comments below. It would be my pleasure to answer your questions.