What Does An Interior Designer Do?

What Does An Interior Designer Do

There are a lot of misconceptions revolving around interior decorators. Some people think that they spend their time working mainly with fabrics or decorative items. Many watch television shows featuring interior redesigns or house flipping and assume that these experts are unaffordable to the general public, merely self-indulgences for celebrities or others with wealth. Others think that you have to live in an exotic area such as the beaches or mountains and hire a Denver interior designer or Hawaii interior decorator for it to be worth it. The bottom line is that decor and design are for everyone.  

Still, many feel like there’s nothing that can be done to improve their home or that the expense of employing an interior designer is not worth the money. There is even a general confusion as to what the difference is between interior designers and interior decorators if there is one at all. 

Perhaps a better understanding of what interior designers do will demonstrate how useful they can be and how their work can revolutionize and personalize a home to extraordinary benefit.

Interior Designers vs. Interior Decorators

First of all, there is a distinction between interior designers and decorators, albeit one which is unlikely to offend one or the other if the titles are reversed. In many cases, these two jobs are remarkably similar. The differences usually lie in education and the scope of the work involved. 

Interior decorators are not generally required to have an advanced degree to perform their jobs, although many of them do. In most instances, they come into a home in which the owner wants a smaller project completed, such as specific rooms or alterations to an already extant theme. 

They listen to their clients and work to understand their personalities, desires, vision, color preferences, and budgets to update existing space to create the desired atmosphere. This often involves working with paint, fabric, furniture, accessories, and other aesthetic objects. 

On the other hand, interior designers often become licensed with the American Society of Interior Designers and often possess and usually hold a two or four-year college degree in a related field, such as Studio Art or Architecture. 

These professionals are usually consulted before a home is built or during the design process. While they do work with many of the same aspects as interior decorators, interior designers often start from the ground up, or even before that, working with the architectural design team to design the floor plan. 

They oversee spacing and organization within the home and design key features to accommodate their client’s preferred atmosphere or theme, sometimes even facilitating plumbing and electrical planning! 

As interior designers are involved from the get-go, they are often given a free hand to choose appropriate furnishings and or design furniture, ultimately taking advantage of every aspect of the home to create the best results.

In short, interior designers make modifications to what is already there to improve the home while interior designers manage, plan, and establish a concept from beginning to end working from scratch.   

Job Responsibilities

Interior designers have a lot of responsibilities to ensure that their efforts meet the client’s needs, especially since they are granted an incredible amount of control over the process. 

Their purpose is to design functional, attractive, and secure indoor areas, making skilled use of colors, natural and artificial light, paints, furniture, accessories, and other materials. 

Here are the major job responsibilities that interior designers have to bring their client’s home visions to life: 


Rarely is an interior designer given a blank check. In most cases, clients have a specific budget and often want far more than that budget may warrant. An interior designer is responsible for being able to allocate money where it is needed and plan appropriately to stretch those funds as far as possible in pursuit of the best result possible within these established parameters.

Developing A Plan That Meets Deadlines 

As the one responsible for making the client’s dream a reality, it’s important to be able to develop a feasible plan that addresses the end goal. This not only requires the organization of all elements, from architecture, to furniture, to accessories, to paint, to color . . . the list goes on and on. 

All of these elements are limited by two often uncompromising barriers – the aforementioned budget and the expected completion date. In other words, not only do designers have to organize everything, they need to do it within budgeting limitations and a specific time frame. 

Needless to say, interior designers should be able to read, draw, and modify blueprints. 

Designing A Mood Board 

This is more or less a visual rough draft of the design plans, allowing the designer to “see” things in perspective. This is a great tool to test how everything feels and looks before pulling the trigger on a concept idea, and a good designer is going to want to make the best use of all visual aids.

Larger mood boards can represent the entire house or estate, allowing the designer to evaluate the entire project and how each room or feature affects the overall vision.  

Using Appropriate Tools 

There is no shortage of computer programs and applications that can provide incredible shortcuts and enhancements to the design process. It’s the designer’s responsibility to find which will save the most time and prove effective enough to push interior design to the next level or beyond. 

Traits That Can Make Or Break An Interior Designer

While that list of responsibilities may seem short, each item contains within it a huge amount of steps to fulfill those expectations. It takes a lot of skill and talent to perform this role, and those who excel often exemplify the following traits: 


For any project to meet client expectations, the designer must be able to understand exactly what they envision, as well as the mood they want to feel when in the house or even individual rooms. 

The best way to ensure satisfaction is to work backward from the client’s dream concept with the end goal in mind. However, communication does not end there, as it is important to consult regularly with the client to make sure all major choices are in line with that person’s personality, goals, and vision.

Cognizance Of Space 

Space, or the illusion of it in some cases, is an important aspect of interior design. Having the ability to make the most of all that is available can help create an immersive atmosphere that goes beyond client expectations, opening up a room to create a soothing atmosphere, or designing alcoves or other features in the architecture to enhance a design theme.


Maximizing the aforementioned space and finding the right decor to evoke appropriate feelings and atmosphere requires a good deal of creativity. This trait is really what sets one interior designer apart from another and helps establish new and exciting trends that keep the interior design world fresh and vibrant.

Ability To Analyze & Evaluate Trends 

Trends come and go, and a savvy interior designer needs to be familiar with what is hot and what is not. When establishing a project after understanding the client’s desires, being familiar with new work in the field can help solve problems, find new ways to organize furniture, demonstrate new ways to evoke emotion, and keep interiors from resembling too many others.

Color Coding

As color is such an important part of establishing an atmosphere, interior designers must be able to mix and match colors in ways that maximize a room’s atmosphere. From furniture, to paint, to accessories, color is one of the most important details and is one of the first aspects that someone notices when entering a room for the first time.   

Education & Experience 

The more an interior decorator knows, the more tools are available to create the optimum designs. Whether they choose to specialize in general interior design or luxury interior design, they always have an eye for style. Participating in degree programs specializing in key artistic concepts and design tools establishes a great baseline for beginners, and that makes a great foundation. 

However, these tools are only truly sharpened when they are put into action, allowing the interior designer to express their talents in service of someone else’s dream, trying new ideas and examining the results to tweak and improve these skills. 

Reflective Observation 

Once significant goals are met, it’s essential to be able to evaluate how effective the result is. Observing the final design and being able to reflect on whether it meets the client’s goals is important because it allows designers a chance to revise or tweak the mood, sometimes even squeezing a bit more essence out of the available space. 

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