The Differences Between Interior Design and Interior Decorating

You’ll often find the terms interior design and interior decorating used interchangeably, but there’s a distinct difference between the two. It’s important to be aware of what each entails, especially when looking to hire a professional in the home remodeling sector.


According to the National Association of Home Builders, more than half of American homes were built before 1980 and 38% were built before 1970. This means that for half of the country, the age of their homes is starting to show. In 2021, a report by Angi titled “The Economy of Everything Home Report” found the home improvement market to be worth $376.9 billion that same year. Statista reports that it is expected to reach $600 billion or more by 2025.

As such, the demand for interior designers and decorators is higher now than ever. So, how do you distinguish between the two?

Understanding Interior Design

When it comes to making a space more functional, interior design is considered. Interior design is about how people use the space they occupy and then optimizing it so that their needs are met. For example, an interior designer will consider the overall flow of a home, where doorways and rooms should be located, how rooms should be configured, and how rooms should transition from one to another. They also address material finishes such as architecture, molding to the walls, trim, and things built into the space such as tile backsplashes, tile color and wallpaper. As a result, interior designers often work with architects and contractors to create the ideal space for a client.

Understanding Interior Decorating

On the other hand, an interior decorator fills an already created space with decorative elements that match the desired aesthetic. This includes flooring, furnishing, paint, lighting, fixtures, fabrics, art, and many other accessories.


The difference between the two is reflected in their schooling. An interior designer must have a higher education level than a decorator. Few states have mandatory licensing requirements, but many states offer certification or registration for interior design. Many states that offer licenses require education from an accredited school, work experience, and a National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ). For instance, you can expect your certified Louisville interior designer to be accredited by the Kentucky Board of Architects, having met those requirements. In contrast, interior decorators are not required to have formal training or schooling through organizations such as the NCIDQ.

Looking at the bigger picture, an interior designer can decorate, but an interior decorator cannot do interior design. If you need assistance, feel free to contact our Louisville remodeling company to work with an interior design expert.