Demystifying Interior Design vs. Interior Decorating: A Designer’s Perspective

open living room with grey couches, sunlight, wooden coffee table, and bookshelves

What’s the difference between interior design and interior decorating? While both professions aim to create beautiful and inviting spaces, the true differences lie in their scope and expertise. Many people use these terms interchangeably, leading to confusion about who to hire for their next project.

As an interior designer waltzing between the vibrant tile warehouses, wallpaper shops, and so much more, I frequently meet clients who are intrigued by the difference between these two concepts. Though they might appear similar at a glance, interior design and interior decorating each hold their own special charm and significance.

This blog post will act as your guide, untangling the mysteries of interior design and interior decorating. We’ll explore the unique skill sets and responsibilities of each profession, helping you understand which one best aligns with your vision and needs.


Interior Design: The Art of Spatial Alchemy

Imagine interior design as the master architect behind the scenes, orchestrating the entire spatial narrative of a space. Interior design is a holistic approach that encompasses conceptualization, planning, and execution, with a keen focus on functionality, ergonomics, and spatial flow.

At its core, interior design is about optimizing the functionality and efficiency of a space while harmonizing it with the client’s lifestyle, preferences, and architectural context. It involves a meticulous process of space planning, layout design, material selection, and lighting schemes, all aimed at creating cohesive and immersive environments that transcend mere aesthetics.

In the bustling metropolis of New York City, where every square inch counts, interior designers like myself are tasked with maximizing space without compromising on style or comfort. From studio apartments in SoHo to penthouse lofts in Tribeca, interior designers in NYC are adept at transforming even the most compact spaces into urban sanctuaries that exude sophistication and charm.


Interior Decorating: The Art of Style Curation

On the other hand, interior decorating is akin to the skilled curator of a gallery, infusing a space with personality, warmth, and visual allure. While interior design lays the foundation, interior decorating adds the layers of texture, color, and decorative elements that breathe life into a room.

Interior decorating is all about the finer details – from selecting the perfect furniture pieces and fabrics to choosing artwork, accessories, and accents that reflect the client’s taste and aesthetic sensibilities. It’s about creating visual focal points, balancing proportions, and imbuing a space with a sense of cohesiveness and visual rhythm.

Interior decorators are the tastemakers and trendsetters, drawing inspiration from the city’s eclectic mix of cultures, art, and architecture. Whether it’s infusing a Midtown penthouse with sleek modern elegance or adding a touch of bohemian chic to a Brooklyn brownstone, interior decorators in NYC possess an innate flair for creating spaces that captivate and inspire.

Brooklyn Brownstone

So, long story short, these two roles are not the same. While interior design and interior decorating may occupy distinct realms, they are not mutually exclusive. In fact, the most successful interior projects often arise from a seamless collaboration between designers and decorators, where design expertise meets a decorator’s artistic finesse to create spaces that are both functional and visually captivating. In my case, although officially I am an interior designer, my duties overlap between the two. (The design and architectural site Houzz has an interesting article about certification differences between the roles of designer and decorator.)

Whether you’re embarking on a renovation journey or simply looking to refresh your living space, remember that both interior design and interior decorating play integral roles in shaping the ambiance and character of your home. Embrace the synergy between design and decoration, and let your space become a reflection of your unique personality and lifestyle. If you’re looking for someone to help create or transform your spaces into the version you have on your Pinterest boards, don’t be a stranger and send us your requests!


About Jarret Yoshida

Jarret Yoshida has worked in the New York interior design world for more than two decades. With a varied portfolio of projects including residential and commercial spaces, he draws inspiration from his Asian interior designer heritage to create stylish, welcoming, and sophisticated design solutions.

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