Do You Need An Interior Designer, Architect, Or Decorator?

Do You Need An Interior Designer, Architect, Or Decorator?

When you are faced with the challenge of hiring a professional for your home renovation or new build, it can often be daunting if you aren’t sure who to hire. Do you need an Interior Designer, or an Architect, or a Decorator? Choosing the right professional for your specific project will make your life much easier in the long run! If you aren’t sure where to start, read further and I’ll help you figure out whether an Interior Designer, an Architect, or a Decorator is best suited to work with you on your project!

Let’s take a look at the differences between Interior Designers, Decorators, and Architects. These professions often work with similar clients and can offer similar services but they are actually quite different.
Disclaimer: While I’m writing this from the perspective of an Interior Designer but I’ve worked with Architects on many projects so I know a thing or two about what makes our professions different.


Interior Designer

While an Interior Designer does often create beautiful envy-worthy spaces, that is not their main goal. A Designer’s primary focus is on the human experience. They are concerned with the health, safety, and welfare of people. They understand building code requirements and regulations. So while aesthetics are important, a professionally designed space must also be functional and speak to its users. An Interior Designer’s job is focused on learning about the people using the space. What are their wants, needs, desires, values, personalities, and demographics? They want to create a space that speaks to a person’s soul. A Designer focuses on interior finishes such as flooring, ceilings, and walls but they also coordinate with mechanical and electrical Engineers on lighting and duct placement and coordinate with the contractor during construction.



A Decorator is more often focused on the aesthetics of a space. They are skilled in paint colour selection and furniture placement and have an eye for décor. While they are not involved in the construction or design of a structure, they provide value in residential situations where finishing touches are needed.



An Architect designs the structure of buildings and spaces. They have more extensive knowledge of structural systems and building systems and often design the layout of buildings. Like Interior Designers, Architects also coordinate with mechanical and electrical engineers as well as structural engineers. They often oversee the construction of their projects and are concerned with the safety of the building’s occupants. They are also knowledgeable about current building codes and regulations. More often than not, Interior Designers and Architects collaborate on project, especially for commercial buildings.


Let's look at the qualifications of each profession next:

Interior Designers

  • They have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • They completed the required work term
  • They passed the three required exams that focus on building code, construction standards and building systems, and project coordination.
  • They became registered
  • They became a member of a local Interior Design association and complete continuing education


  • They have a bachelor’s degree or equivalent
  • They completed the required internship
  • They passed the required exams (based on geographic location)
  • They obtained their licence (based on geographic location)
  • They became a member of the local Architect association (based on geographic location) and complete continuing education


  • Formal education is not required but there are Decorating course available

Many Provinces and States have a Titles Act which means only professionals that have completed the qualifications listed above are legally allowed to call themselves Interior Designers and Architects. Take note of this. When you are looking for a qualified professional to work with make sure you ask about their qualifications.


Services Each Offer:

Now let’s take a look at what services each of these professions can offer you. Let’s say you are looking to refresh your home with new paint, window coverings, and furniture. You aren’t looking to move walls or do any major construction.  In that case, a Decorator is likely the best consultant to hire.

But maybe you are renovating your home or building new. You need someone to help with space planning, furniture placement, kitchen and bathroom design, lighting, plumbing fixture selections, and interior finishes such as flooring and paint. Well, then that’s when an Interior Designer would be a good fit for you.

Lastly, maybe you are a developer who is building a new office high rise. In that case, the structure would be designed by an Architect. You could also hire an Interior Designer to design and fit-out the tenant spaces on each floor as well as the lobby and any common areas.

Here are some services each profession can offer you:

Interior Designer

  • New Home Build or Renovation
    • Floor plans
    • Space planning and furniture placement 
    • Kitchen and Bathroom design
    • Electrical plans and lighting selections
    • Finishes such as flooring tile, paint, wall covering
    • Fireplace design
    • Closest design 
    • Coordination with Contractor during construction 

Interior Decorator

  • Paint colour consultation
  • Residential furniture sourcing
  • Window covering and rug selection
  • Artwork and décor selection
  • Furniture placement


  • New commercial building design like offices, libraries, schools, restaurants, hotels, airports or really any space
  • New Home Design
  • Commercial Renovations
  • Feasibility Studies to help you determine your design and construction budget before you go too far down the rabbit hole
  • Exterior Building renovations


By now you should have a better understanding of what services an Interior Designer, an Architect, and a Decorator can offer you. If have a project in mind and you think you need an Interior Designer, head on over to my blog about why working with an Interior Designer is beneficial.

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