Design Or Decor - Which is Which?

There is a distinct difference between interior design and interior decorating.  Also check out some of our other articles for great ideas about interior painting.

Interior Decorating Defined

Interior decorating is the art of decorating a space so that it is eye-appealing, easy to use, and so that it functions well with the existing architecture. It allows you to create a certain ‘feel' for the space and encompasses such details as wall finishes, painting, furniture, light fixtures and floor finishes. It also provides for the use of other types of decor items such as paintings, sculptures and exotic carpeting. It is usually done professionally by a certified interior decorator (CID), and it is considered a design field.

What is Interior Design?

Interior design, on the other hand, encompasses the definition of decorating, but goes far beyond the surface decoration of a room or space. Interior design involves changing the architectural integrity of an interior space as well as creating a lifestyle experience. Interior designers are professionals who have extensive training which qualifies them to work with structures, architecture, and systems such as plumbing and electrical. They often have experience in architecture and most have been accredited in the art and science of designing interior space.

A Little History About Interior Decorating

Historically, the role of the interior decorator is thought to have come into existence in the 1720s in Western Europe and interior design was a profession sought after by men of various backgrounds. William Kent, often cited as the first person to take charge of an entire interior, was trained as a history painter. His ‘design' position required him to oversee and design internal architecture, make furniture selections and hang paintings.

A Decorator by Any Other Name...

In London the role of ‘decorator' was fulfilled by an upholsterer and in Paris a marchand-mercier (merchant of goods who acts as a general contractor) was the first to receive this title. Architects in Great Britain and on the European continent also filled the role of interior decorators with the most famous example being Robert Adam, the neoclassical architect who took on interiors all the way down to the doorknobs.

Decor Styles and Themes

During the 1830s, interior decorators were responsible for the resurgence of Gothic and Rococo styles in England and by the late 19th century, some firms differentiated themselves as being "art furnishers." It's interesting to note that most of the very famous designers and decorators during the 20th Century had no formal education, but were trend-setters and innovators in the world of design and decor.

Today's Trends in Decor

The idea of using themes, to create continuity and flow in a room, used to consistently follow period styles - for instance, Louis XV, Victorian, Minimalist, Gothic or Art Deco. Today, the evolution of interior decoration has expanded to include themes that are not necessarily tied into period styles, including the mixing of styles from different periods. The one common denominator in today's trends of decor is for each element to contribute to form or function, or both, and decor that should maintain a consistent standard of quality, combining to create the desired design and decor.