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As an interior designer, I am frequently asked about the defining differences between an architect, an interior designer, and a decorator. It is an insightful question, because the distinctions can be so subtle, yet radical, as to make all the difference between the intended and finished project. So, to begin…

  • DECORATORS - The decorator deals with embellishment and enhancement; that is, they are mainly preoccupied with interior finishes and existing surfaces. In a way, they add life to a space, creating a three “dimensionality” that is achieved through their beautification. Typically, a decorator works only with surface decoration such as paint, fabrics, furnishings, decorative lighting, and materials. They also design drapery treatments, specify carpeting and rugs, wallpapers, accessories, and most soft items. For the most part, decorators do not have, nor need, a formal design education. While they do deal with tradesmen, such as painters and wallpaper hangers, their responsibility is limited to the degree to which they can read, interpret, or create drawings, so that, they do not move walls, lower ceilings, or add any structural enhancements to the space. They are typically concerned with aesthetics, style, and mood. For example, if you want to refurbish your home but decide that you like the given plan and feel of the space, with no desire to change or move anything structurally, then the services of a decorator will be all that is required. (Caveat Emptor - Because a license or specific kind of professional training is not necessary to the Decorating trade, workmen, such as upholsterers, carpenters, and painters, oftentimes claim to be decorators as well. They convince the public that they will save money in using their so-called free services. In addition to very limited resources, tradesmen have limited ideas about design. The client ends up paying more for less.)

Next, we’ll discuss Interior Designers…

Filed under: Design

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