Do you know the difference between an Interior Designer Or Interior Decorator?

Many individuals often find themselves unsure about the exact role of an interior designer or Interior decorator. There is a common misconception that these professionals might make excessive suggestions for costly renovations or exceed the allocated budget. Furthermore, confusion often arises when trying to distinguish between the responsibilities of a interior decorator, interior designer, and architect. In this article, we aim to provide clarity, dispel any misconceptions, and emphasize the advantages of hiring an interior designer or decorator.

An overview of an interior designer or interior decorator’s Job

According to the Design Institute of Australia, an interior designer/decorator is someone who will “plan and prepare building interiors for effective use with particular emphasis on furnishings, finishes and aesthetic presentation.”

DIA goes on to say a interior designer or interior decorator is someone who’s going to work directly with a client rather than a building professional. There’s a sense of personalisation and customisation with the services offered by an interior designer/decorator. It is a client-centric process where the person who will be living in the home or using the commercial space is the one guiding each step of the designing journey.

The Queensland Interior Decorators Association (QIDA) is a professional organisation to which Rochele Interiors belongs. QIDA describes its members as being very skilled individuals who can assist clients with a wide range of both residential and commercial design projects.

The role of a QIDA decorator is to take into account a variety of factors including clients’ needs, tastes, lifestyle and budget to create spaces that are not only beautiful but also functional. A designer/decorator works closely with clients to bring together a variety of design elements including colour, texture, fabrics, accessories, lighting and spatial planning.

The ultimate goal is creating a space that’s not only visually appealing and cohesive but is also in-line with client expectations and well-suited to their lifestyle.

Why hire an interior designer or interior decorator?

Since the goal of an interior designer/decorator should always be to cultivate and maintain the client’s personal style and wishes, a frequent question we hear is why hire an interior designer to design your home?

There are many benefits to hiring an interior designer.

Clients frequently have difficulty identifying or expressing their personal style. It is our job to help you discover your unique style and ways of expressing it through interior design. We help you uncover colours, patterns and pieces you will love having in your home or work environment. We help guide you to find pieces for your home that will formulate a coherent style that is unique to your individual style and essence.

Many are hesitant to hire an interior designer due to perceived cost. They worry our services will be out of their reach in terms of budget. We offer affordable services that can save you money. Our knowledge and expertise help you avoid potentially expensive mistakes that will need to be remedied in the future. We can also help you stay within your predetermined budget. Staying within our you budget and financial comfort zone is an incredibly important aspect of our job.

We have access to resources that aren’t available to the public in most cases. We can connect you with the very best in finishes, furnishings, art and more, much of which is “to the trade,” meaning only professionals can introduce these products to clients. When you work with a designer/decorator, you may discover products you would not have have dreamed of if you were trying to do it yourself.

Along with helping you stay on budget, it is always our goal to keep projects within a specified timeline. The process of decorating a room or an entire home or commercial space can be time-consuming. A decorator will ensure you can complete the project on-time, without interrupting the rest of your life.

An interior designer or interior decorator is someone who’s able to bring knowledge of the most progressive and timeless designs and colour concepts. We can combine that sense of cutting edge design with timeless elements and artistic inspiration. Excellent design allows us to help you create a space that will feel fresh and modern for years to come, and perhaps inspire you to make choices that would have been previously outside your comfort zone.

We can help you highlight the architectural beauty of a space and draw attention to the strongest features. We also minimise the appearance of the less sightly elements of a room and make small spaces appear larger. Size doesn’t matter as all spaces deserve to look brilliant. An interior designer/decorator can also make a small space glamouress, functional and inviting.

Designers have a strong eye for detail. They are going to put their focus on not only the broader elements of a room’s design but also the small touches that elevate a room from the mundane to the exceptional. Layering with accessories is what turns a beautiful room into an exceptional space.

The Process

Many prospective clients are uncertain about the process. Each client is unique and we approach every project with this in mind. The process is fun, creative and inspirational. The general process is as follows:
  • Consultation: For us this is the most important part of the design process because it is the point where we first get to know you. During this time, we want you to share as much as possible with us about your taste, your preferences, your budget, the scope of the project and your desired outcome. You can feel free to share images that inspire you and let us know how you envision your dream home or office. This is our opportunity to connect with you as our client, and what we learn during our consultation is going to guide the decorating process.
  • Photos: The next step in the process is centred more on the technicalities. We’ll use this as an opportunity to photograph the rooms we’ll be decorating. We will also take measurements.
  • Floor and Space Plans: Once we know what you want out of your space and the areas measurements, we’ll begin working on floorplans and a basic overview. This is primarily in terms of furnishings and placement. We can create several different layout options for you to select from.
  • Concept and Presentation: This is really where the creativity and excitement of the design process begins. Using the information we gathered during the consultation, we’ll create a general design concept including elements like overall style, colours, flooring and finishes. We’ll put our concept together into a presentation that will provide you with an in-depth look at how we suggest decorating the space. We’ll bring together various elements including pictures, drawings and renderings, and colour and product samples so that you’ll have a clear image of the design concept. You’ll then have the opportunity to either approve the entire project, make suggestions or changes, or alter the direction of the concept altogether.
  • Product Selection and Ordering: Once we are all on the same page, we’ll then select and order specific products. We’ll introduce you to our sources including to the trade vendors and we’ll also work as a liaison between you and the vendors and other professionals that may be working with us on the project. This step of the process may involve shopping and visiting showrooms together if you prefer.
  • Installation: This is the point in the project where our vision and creativity takes form. We’ll oversee the installation of everything from paint to soft furnishings and ensure the final product is perfection.

Keep in mind that the process is flexible to meet the needs of each project. We will accommodate your working style and requests.

Specific Services Provided by an Interior Designer

Rochele Interiors is comprised of industry veterans; allowing us to bring together distinctive strengths and perspectives to collaborate on a range of projects. Projects range in size and scale, from simple colour selection to large-scale office redesign.

Services include:

Colour Consultation

One of our many areas of expertise is colour consultation. Choosing colours can be an intimidating prospect for homeowners. They’re not only unsure of what colours they prefer, but there are other considerations. We’ll consider factors like how colours are going to work with one another and the impact colour has on the perceived size of the room. Colour consultation is not just for the interior of a home—we can also work to create the ideal colour concept for a home’s exterior. For this we take into consideration the surroundings of the home, lighting, neighbours’ colour choices and environmental elements.

When you work with a professional designer on a colour consultation, it includes the provision of colour charts and samples from a variety of manufacturers. You’ll also have access to electronic representations demonstrating how a colour concept will look in the room and recommendations regarding how colour impacts light, architectural elements, and overall design. During the colour consultation process, you will receive documentation of the paint colours used, to have it handy if you need touch-ups or a refresh.

Interior Designing

A decorating project can be as large and comprehensive or relatively small. We are unique design firm because we offer a variety of package options that can be customised to suit diverse spaces and budgets. Some of the many aspects of the decorating process include the selection of fixtures, including lighting and plumbing, surface materials, flooring, furniture, artwork, soft furnishings and accessories.


Art is a key piece of the decorating puzzle, and an interior decorator can be used as your source for either commissioned, customised art or as a means to purchase from an artist or gallery.

Commissioning art can be an exciting prospect for clients. It allows for the creation of a piece that’s not only one-of-a-kind but is also tailored to fit perfectly within a space and alongside a larger design concept. At Rochele Decorating, we have an in-house artist who can work with you through each step of the commission process to create a piece that’s going to reflect your style and home.

How to Select and Work with an Interior Designer

It may seem overwhelming to work with an interior designer. Of course, you want to make the right choice and find someone whose style and methods work well with your own. How do you choose the right person or design firm?

  • Before you start the process of hiring the ideal interior designer, begin by having a clear idea of the scope of your project. This may change in the future, but it is important to have a general idea of your needs, budget and timeline.
  • Consider meeting with potential designer before hiring someone to see if your personalities and overall decorating preferences are synergetic.
  • When creating a shortlist of potential designers think about their level of experience, their network of potential vendors, their past work, portfolio, and references. Consider if they belong to any professional organisations and if this is important to you.
  • When you embark on the hiring process, get a feel for the potential decorator’s balance of listening to your desires and offering opinions. Of course you want a decorator with professional opinions and creative insights, but you also want to work with someone who’s going to take the time to understand your goals as the client.
  • When you hire a designer, try to have all decision-makers present at the initial consultation. It is important for your designer to hear the input of everyone who’s part of the decision-making process to avoid potential conflict. For example, both spouses should try to be present at a consultation so they can each provide their input. The designer can then work to find a sense of balance and harmony between each of them.

When you begin working with an interior designer always be vocal about your wishes. Don’t be afraid to express your opinions, but at the same time, be open to considering new possibilities. Finding this balance is what makes for the best design projects. Come into the process with clear communication and an open mind for the best experience.

Ultimately an interior designer can become your greatest resource in your quest to create the home or the space of your dreams. From fine-tuning the details to shopping for the perfect natural stone or light fixtures for a home, a professional interior decorator can bring together all of the dreams you have for your home. An interior designer will also ensure it is attainable and realistic, and stay within your budget. Interior designers help you unleash the full potential and beauty of your home or office.

About The Author:
Kate Festa, the founder, lead interior designer, and colour consultant of Rochele Interiors, launched the company ten years ago. Over the past decade, she has transformed Rochele from a small home office into a thriving studio renowned for its award-winning projects and honourable mentions in various publications (Australia House & Garden, Queensland Home Magazine and Country Living Magazine).

Contact Kate Today

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