Differences between Interior Designers + Interior Decorators

Published on: Author: Anne Langton


NCIDQI shape up office space.  I am an interior designer.  Often I am asked what are the differences between interior designers and interior decorators?  As an interior designer, I have a high regard for many decorators.  Many are talented creative individuals but there is a difference.  Here is a link to see how the National Council for Interior Design Qualification (NCIDQ) describes these differences between Interior Designers and Interior Decorators

EXAMPLE:  Let’s pretend you need a new conference room


…create a certain “look” based on aesthetics.   This work is usually done AFTER construction is completed.  The word “AFTER” is critical.  In many cases “AFTER” means “too late to make changes that would have improved the function of the space”.  An interior decorator specifies things like colors, finishes, furniture and window treatments.


…do all of the above “PLUS”.  This “PLUS” is the big difference.  In this new conference room, a designer BEGINS  with walls, windows and doors.  Do the locations and sizes of these create an efficient layout? Do they require acoustic considerations? What is the traffic flow and important adjacencies?  Are all data, power and telephone requirements met and in correct locations?  Are all storage and presentation needs met?  Is the seating appropriate for the use?  What about appropriate lighting and locations?

I received formal training in interior design at a 4 year school.  After years of hands on working experience, I qualified to sit for a 2 day exam called the NCIDQ. Passing this exam results in certification.  At this time there are 27 states that have gone to the next step where “interior designers” must be licensed and passing the NCIDQ exam is a major requirement.

Interior Design Licensed States

In short, a space that is well designed, looks great but more importantly functions well once the space is “peopled”.  If “people” using the space feel supported then that’s a win for any interior designer!

Langton Designs creates offices that work well and feel right.