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Interior Decorator or Interior Designer: What's the Difference?

Many people tend to use decorating industry titles interior designer and interior decorator as if they are one in the same. Both professions require a certain amount of talent and ability to create a visually appealing interior space. The duties of each may at times appear similar, but there are some distinct differences.

Interior Designers

According to the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID), an interior designer is a professional who has been educated and specially trained to create a functional and quality interior space. These professionals become educated by taking specific courses of study, receiving hands on experience and passing mandatory exams.

A professional designer has the ability identify, analyze, and provide solutions to create a safe comfortable interior environment. Interior design is both an art and a science. The art involves creating a visually pleasing space. The science of design requires understanding human behavior to meet both the client's design needs and the requirements of an architect's design.

The field of interior design can be divided into many different categories. For example, residential interior designers and commercial interior designers each have a unique focus and distinction. Some designers handle both commercial and residential clients, while others chose to specialize in only one area of design.

What do Interior Designers Do?

Interior designers have many different responsibilities. They help arrange and organize a room so that it functions as it should. They are also responsible for making sure that the design meets all safety and building code requirements. They are often in charge of managing the construction and any other work needed to complete the design. They should make sure that their designs complement other room elements including the acoustics and how sound is transmitted.

In many states interior designers must have a license to perform their duties. This usually means that they must have passed the NCIDQ exam. An interior design license certifies that a designer is a qualified professional with the educational training and background needed to be able to handle complex issues dealing with interior design.

Interior Decorators

Interior decorators handle the surface details of décor such as paint colors, fabric selection furnishings, lighting, and accessories. Interior decorators add and arrange decorative elements according to an interior's function and the client's taste. This is often where confusion about interior designers and interior decorators comes in because interior designers are responsible for an interior's decorative selection and arrangement as well.

The biggest difference between an interior designer and an interior decorator is that a decorator chooses design elements like floor cover based on how it will look in the space. An interior designer does this as well, but they also stay mindful of how it will be used, whether it will be durable enough, how sound will be affected in the room, whether it is made of a flammable material or produces any dangerous gasses. Decoration of a room is certainly the key responsibility of any interior designer; however they must also ensure that the space they decorate complements how individuals use the room. The function, efficiency and safety of a room are considered just as important as how it looks.


Schools Offering Training Programs in Interior Design

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            DEC Interior Design
            • A private, accredited distance learning college based in Norcross, Georgia founded in 1987.
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            • Offers all-inclusive tuition: textbooks, learning materials, and academic support are covered in the cost.
            • Allows alumni to enroll in any future program at a reduced rate.
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            Interior Design (BFA)
            • Alumni have appeared in reality competition shows such as Top Chef and Project Runway.
            • Has a team of about 4,000 faculty members focused on helping students tap opportunities in a marketplace driven by ideas.
            • Offers programs in design, media arts, fashion, and culinary.
            • Provides program coordinators who work with students to ensure they have the learning materials, assignments, facilities, and faculty to get the most out of the program.
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            Graphic Design
            Platt College , Alhambra
            Good for Working Adults
            • A Los Angeles-based private college offering programs in medical sciences, legal studies, and graphic design since 1985.
            • Has weekend programs, including certified  veterinary technology, nurse assistant, and hemodialysis technician.
            • Showcases visual communication students’ artwork and design through campus magazine.
            • 3 campuses in Southern California.
            • Accredited by the Accrediting Commission of Career Schools and Colleges (ACCSC).
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            Graphic Arts (AAS)
            • Students are issued a new laptop at the beginning of their programs.
            • All online services and study materials are available 24/7, with faculty available five days a week.
            • All programs available online, with the MBA program offered on campus in Salt Lake City.
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            Associate of Science, Film
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