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The Difference Between Interior Designing and Interior Decorating

The distinction between interior design and interior decorating is, in many cases, defined by level of education. The earliest American interior decorating books appeared in the 19th century, so it is still a relatively new profession. “Decoration” was the rage in the 19th century, just as “design” is a hallmark of the 21 st century.

Though interior design and interior decorating are related fields, they are distinct professions. Often, the titles, "Interior Designer" and "Interior Decorator" are used interchangeably. This is misleading.

There is a line to be drawn between the two professions. Interior designers have more training in shaping the structural elements of a house and more rigorous undergraduate and graduate-level education in general. In some cases, interior designers have completed enough education to also work as certified architects. Interior Designers are subject to state liscenses and other important regulations.

On the other hand, interior decorators generally pursue less strenuous and timely educational degrees. In fact, many interior decorators may be self-taught, and work with their natural ability to identify complementary colors, fabrics, and spatial arrangements. Some interior decorators merely select objects and arrange them, whereas an interior designer may know how to design, create, select and arrange such things as furniture or lighting fixtures.

With the professionalization of the design industry overall, more people are seeking interior design degrees to compete in the job market. For example, interior designers who have graduated from an accredited program will often be knowledgeable about the use of ecologically sustainable materials, legal requirements for habitability, and computerized 3-D modeling. Depending on the program, interior design students may learn not only how to select a fabric swatch and design a couch, but sources for industrial materials or how to create a budget for a million-dollar corporate project. Studying hard can pay off in an industry that thrives on practical know-how and creativity.

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