Difference Between Interior Design and Interior Decorating

Difference Between Interior Design and Interior Decorating

Both interior design and interior decorating are inherently interlinked, not only in terminology but also in nature. However, there is a very large difference between the two; while one deals with intrinsic design of the very basic parts of the space, the other relates to carefully accessorizing accordingly. Interior design is the art of combining intrinsic architectural elements and aesthetics within the context of a space to get the desired ambiance. Interior decorating is taking note of these elements and enhancing the ambiance with relevant accessories. Interior design and interior decorating both depend on a few key features, including color scheme, material palate and the selected theme or style of the room.

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1. Interior Design and Backgrounds

Design is basically the aesthetic and functional part of the interior. So interior designing includes planning the layout of the furniture, deciding the defining decorative elements on all walls, be it paint, material applications or more. Therefore, all interior design elements automatically end up as background features. Since interior decoration features ornamentation, it always inadvertently ends up becoming foreground features.

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2. Interior Decorating and Highlights

Highlights, in interior decoration, are all about creating complementary touches to enhance the actual design elements within the interior. These decoration highlights include small accessories such as vases, small pots and plants, picture frames and more. Of course, all interior decoration elements need to follow the color scheme and moodiness of the interior design. All interior décor elements can have a variation in hues, and even a small bit of contrast, but the actual color scheme remains the same throughout.

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3. Furniture and Middle Ground of Design-come-Décor

The furniture always acts as the middle ground between the interior design and interior decoration. This is because the furniture itself is a fusion of design as well as décor. Part of it is inherently functional, but a part of it is also a standalone decoration piece. Therefore, all furniture in any given interior is a pragmatic and aesthetic amalgamation of both interior design and decoration. It needs to follow the relative color scheme, but it also needs to allow the dichotomy between the design and décor show. A good interior scheme will feature furniture that acts as the middle ground between the ambient qualities of interior design, while balancing out the aesthetics of the interior décor.

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4. Interior Decoration and accessorizing

While most interior decoration elements are ornaments and accessories that ramp up the style of the overall design, many also come in the form of decorative features like paintings. The major feat of these decoration ideas is to create a visual dynamic within the interior design that keeps the eye jumping but keeps the ambiance holistic.

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The line between interior design and interior decoration is thin, and many do not care to differ one from the other. However, these two are separate entities of the same genre, and we hope this article helps you properly differentiate between the two.

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Comments (12)

Sherrie Lynn Harries

Beautifully written article the pictures are also very nice.

Nice article! People so often mistake the two and I find even within the industry itself sometimes people think of themselves as one thing and are actually the other. Both interior design and decorating are important and should be celebrated in their own right as two different disciplines. Thanks

Marisa Mariani-Starr

Well written and thank you. Happy to share this as it’s becoming harder to differentiate the two when decorators also call themselves designers and people don’t see any difference between the two genres.

I enjoyed this article. You really cannot have one without the other, and in my opinion the design has to come first.

You had described it very nicely as many people and client don’t understand the difference between Interior designer and Interior Decorator.This article is too help full. Thanks keep it going

The article has good intention but when I got to the first part on Interior Design being the ‘placement of furniture and deciding defining decorative elements’ you lost me.

How about the following? I’ve been an Interior Designer for 15 years and I do the following also:

Space planning of partitions
Ceilings including special ceilings
Detail setout of electrical and other services on ceilings, floor or walls
Extent and layout of joinery / casework
Detail documentation of floors, walls, ceilings, doors, joinery
Coordination of above with architect and services consultants
Construction site assistance

In fairness I think you meant to include the above?

Sherrie Lynn Harries

When you mentioned the intrinsic design of the very basic parts, I’m sure you were including all the elements above, but it is nice to see them listed for clients who really don’t know the difference between design, and only decorating Thanks again for your article it was great.

Thank you for this! I was just debating with a friend about this this weekend, and it now I win! HAHA

I agree with Michelle! She obviously has a degree in design and does more than just decorate with accessories to make a home look pretty. Some who do not have a degree CAN make a room look pretty but do not have the background to know all of the elements.

Thanks for this useful article. I represent my artist wife (Magdalena Morey) and we’re currently learning about the role of artworks in the interior design industry; the distinction between interior design and decorating is important to us as we need to know the approximate stage at which the artwork becomes a priority in the overall design schedule.

I generally agree with this but would like to add the following: some aspects of interior design also address the technical and functional requirements of a space. For example, in designing surgical suites, the “ambience” is of low/no concern. What is of concern is specification of finishes to meet stringent requirements such as code, licensing, infection control, environmental health and safety, to name a few.


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