Discover Your Design District

Which is which: What's the difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator?

When you’re out and about in the Dallas Design District, you'll often hear the terms "design" and "decor" used interchangeably. But what about the professions from whom these words originate? There’s a distinct difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator, and we're here to give you the insider scoop on distinguishing between the two.


According to the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ), "Interior design is the art and science of understanding people's behavior to create functional spaces within a building."


Achieving an understanding of both art and science requires higher education. In fact, interior designers have to document their formal education and training. In addition, they must become licensed or registered and earn an NCIDQ certification by demonstrating their experience and qualifications.


An interior designer's process isn't just about making a space shine. It involves research, analysis and use of industry knowledge to meet their client's needs while also being mindful of their resources. Using both creative and technical solutions, they take structures and make them attractive as well as functional to enhance the owner's quality of life. Designers also adhere to regulatory and code requirements while encouraging environmental sustainability principles. 


The NCIDQ defines decoration as "the furnishing or adorning of a space with fashionable or beautiful things."


No licensure or formal training is required to be an interior decorator. Considering that, designers can decorate but decorators typically can’t design.


An interior decorator focuses solely on the accessories, furniture, textiles, textures and colors of a space. They seek to capture the client's style and personality and then express it in the home’s furnishings. 

Who Should You Hire for Your Job?

If you need someone who can work through bidding and permitting, CAD construction documents or supervise construction and installation, you're probably best off hiring a designer. They’re trained to deal with HVAC, plumbing, acoustics, lighting, structural modifications and more. They can serve as a liaison between you and licensed contractors, building departments and other professionals. All of this in addition to decorating the space.

If you’re simply looking for someone who can transform your space through furnishings or simply update your decor, a decorator should suffice. Unless you’re working on a commercial design, a decorator can often be a more cost-efficient option, too. They can tackle single-family homes, townhomes/condominiums, apartments, lofts and vacation homes.

Luckily, the Dallas Design District is filled with design and decor professionals prepared to create or redesign your space. From Slocum to Dragon, North Riverfront to Oak Lawn, DDD is replete with industry experts who specialize in commercial and/or residential design and decor.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked with *

Allowed tags: <b><i><br>