The difference between Interior Designers and Interior Decorators

Last fall a high school student, Sara, joined the RHI family as an intern.   She is incredibly smart and dedicated; in fact, she’s the valedictorian of her class.  It is a privilege to have her on our team. To prepare for Sara’s internship, I mapped out a variety of lessons that I believed would give her a better understanding of interior design.  When she arrived, the first thing I explained to her was the difference between an interior designer and a decorator.
The average person (and HGTV) uses designer and decorator interchangeably but, in reality, there is a profound difference.  The most important distinction is education.  Interior design is a profession that requires a college degree as well as formal training.  Every college program is different but my program focused on core competencies: space planning, architecture, drafting, in-depth study of design elements and principles and, of course, extensive color theory.
RHI Quote
Interior designers focus on spatial planning, renovation and designing interiors.  We work in harmony with architects, general contractors, builders, and even landscape designers.  The biggest misconception about interior designers is that we ‘make things pretty.’ In reality, we focus on creating rooms that FUNCTION well, correctly employ design elements and principles, and thennnn we think about aesthetics.  The first lesson taught in college is “form follows function,” meaning what a space LOOKS like isn’t as important as how a space FUNCTIONS.
A decorator, on the other hand, does not need any education, training, or schooling.  Many states require licensing for interior designers and in doing so has made it unlawful for decorators to call themselves designers.  As a result, a large number of decorators and retail stores now offer ‘design services’ and call salespeople ‘design consultants.’  Be cautious, because as the adage says, “Interior designers decorate, but decorators do not design.”
I was required to complete an internship in college so having Sara join us allows me to give back to a community that has provided me with a career I love, and a design firm that I am proud to say is entering its 16th year of business.
Have a well-designed day,


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