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Interior Designer or Interior Decorator?

What's the difference?

Interior Designer in St. Louis

The question of whether you need an interior designer or an interior decorator is a little like asking whether you need a lawyer or an attorney. A lawyer and an attorney are the same thing and an interior designer and an interior decorator are interchangeable. Even though some attorneys may object to being called lawyers and some interior designers may object to being called an interior decorator, these people forget that the person who really matters is the one seeking the answer, the client.

If you are looking for someone to help you make your home more attractive, technically speaking, you are looking for an interior designer, which is the name of the profession. Just like if you need a will drawn up, you need, technically speaking, an attorney, which is the name of that profession.

Some interior designers believe that they are different from interior decorators in that they believe that an interior decorator implies someone who in effect, "puts lipstick on a pig" in that they are quick to make decisions. They believe that:

An Interior Decorator:

Interior Designer in St. Louis
  • Enters a client's home and makes quick decisions
  • Rearranges the existing furniture
  • Picks out color swatches for the walls
  • Paints
  • Buys a few commonly-found accessories, throws them around and leaves

Whereas the Interior Designer:

  • Carefully considers the specific needs of their clients
  • Plans for those exact needs
  • Budgets with those exact needs in mind
  • Moves walls
  • Does traffic planning for rooms before deciding where furniture goes
  • Considers how exactly this particular family lives
  • Moves some existing furniture
  • Shops for and buys some more exacting furniture
  • Picks out color swatches for the walls
  • Paints
  • Buys discriminating accessories and artwork
  • Places them in exactly the right place for each
  • Does follow-ups with the client to ensure all is as the client expected

But what if you already have all your walls exactly where they need to be? What if you already have an extensive and beloved art collection? What if your furniture is exactly what you need and perfect for what you are trying to achieve? Then the true role of the interior decorator is to move the furniture to its correct place, help the client pick out a paint color for the wall, and place the artwork where it properly should be. This is in no way, and under no circumstances should be considered "putting lipstick on a pig"! Any interior designer who tries to convince a client they need more, when they don't, is doing the client a disservice.

Interior Decorator in St. Louis Interior Designer in St. Louis

My point is, that no true interior designer objects to being called an interior decorator because they are too busy listening intently to what their future client is trying to explain they need to notice whether the prospective client called them an interior designer, an interior decorator or the Easter bunny.

A good interior designer is just like a good mechanic or a good teacher, if the issue is obvious, it is quickly perceived and solved by the professional but if it is a more complex issue that isn't as easily solved, the professional takes more time with the problem and delves deeper to get the correct diagnosis and solution. In other words, a person may be able to act like an interior decorator and move a few things around, and give a room a whole new attitude and future if the room for the most part has "good bones" and the client owns many promising objects already.

If someone is able to solve your problems quickly, that shows that they are a professional who knows what they are doing and in no way depreciates their value. In fact, this quick thinking can make an interior decorator more valuable to a client in that they save the client money where it can be saved.

Interior Designer in St. Louis

If however, you own no furniture, or no furniture that you are fond of, no accessories to speak of, have a home that doesn't work well for how you live and are unsure as to what you want to do with your space and your budget then an interior designer will work best for you.

So an interior designer and an interior decorator are identical, they appear in the same person but at different times depending on the needs of the client. Or at least they should. So now that you know which you need, an interior designer or an interior decorator; in St. Louis, feel free to contact me at [email protected] for a consultation.