Want to update your home interior? Even if you have lots of ideas on what to do with your new (or existing home), you’re probably going to need help getting it done.
But, the next question you might ask is, “should I look for an interior designer, or should I hire an interior decorator? Aren’t they the same thing?”
An interior designer and interior decorator may sound similar, but there are some differences between them. And if you don’t know the difference, you might hire the wrong type of expertise for your home.
Here is the breakdown of the differences between an interior designer and decorator that you need to understand before starting your home improvement project.
1. What is an interior designer?
An interior designer helps to create the look, feel and style of your interior space. Apart from aesthetics, their designs also help to make spaces functional and safe.
Interior designers can handle your home improvement project end-to-end, starting from a blank floor plan, all the way to the last decorative item (such as a vase of flowers).
They are comfortable with space planning, lighting, 3D computer-aided design (CAD), project management, working with renovation contractors and other suppliers, local building regulations and more.
They also often work closely with architects to complete a home project. An interior designer has a good sense of style and they start working on the initial planning all the way to the finishing touches.
2. What is a decorator?
A decorator is commonly known as an interior decorator or interior stylist. Their job is to beautify a space after all the renovation is fully completed. In other words, they don’t suggest structural changes, but mainly pay attention to the aesthetic and interior space in your home.
Decorators can help choose your furniture, lighting, and accessories, and plan the layout of these items. They will also create a colour theme that suits your taste. Decorators will also find different fabrics, textures, accessories or decorative items to make your room beautiful.
A decorator does not need to have any formal training, but must have a natural talent for colours, layouts, and spatial harmony in a room.
3. What qualifications do IDs need vs decorator?
An interior designer is required to have a relevant qualification or training in order to become certified. There are a few recognised courses that interior designers take.
For instance, a candidate must obtain a Diploma/Advanced/Higher/Graduate Diploma in Art/Design/Creative Multimedia, Architecture or equivalent.
For decorators, the most important element they need is a dose of creativity and common sense in order to beautify a home.
4. When do you need an interior designer or a decorator?
If you need to make structural changes (such as opening up a wall) or extensive renovation work as part of your redesign, then you need an interior designer. Even if you are only doing minor renovations (such as adding new built-in cabinets, or changing your kitchen cabinets), you may need an interior designer to help visualise the layout.
They will also help supervise your renovation contractors, or bring in their own partners to do the job.
If your home improvement project does not involve renovations or installation of built-in cabinetry, consider hiring an interior decorator instead. They will work with you to pick the furniture you like, placement of lighting and accessories, decide on wall colours, and decorative items like rugs, plants or pillows.
5. What are the general steps to work with an interior designer or decorator?
The process of working with an interior designer or decorator are quite similar.
First, you would need to get the contacts of recommended IDs or decorators in Malaysia. You can visit home improvement websites like Recommend.my to view the latest home improvement projects, browse customer reviews and recommendations, and request for a site visit.
When the designer or decorator responds, you can arrange a meeting to discuss your ideas, themes and styles that you want for your home.
Then, your designer or decorator will give you their proposal. This could be in the form of a rough sketch, or a detailed 3D drawing. If there are renovations or built-ins needed, the interior designer will additional specifications, such as material selection, placement of aircon units, light fixtures, plumbing, electrical wiring and more.
If you are not doing any renovations, then the proposal will focus on interior furnishing. This includes selection of furniture, installation of curtains, blinds, furniture arrangement, artwork and other final touches before handing over the home to the client.
The designer or decorator may also organise shopping trips with you to source for furniture and accessories.
Both interior designers and decorators play an important role when it comes to designing the aesthetics and functionality of your home.
However, the type of work you need will determine whether you need one or the other.
If you need to design your home to include structural changes and renovations, it’s best to hire an interior designer, who can take the project from start to finish. If your redesign is limited to loose items, you can hire a decorator instead.