Design Tips

Differences between a designer and a decorator

Designer or Decorator which is right for you?

Have you decided you would like design assistance with your new home build, renovation/extension or commercial project? The next question is – do you need a designer or decorator? And what is the difference?
Envy Hotel before and after images from Danka Interiors

If you have decided you would like design assistance with your new home build, renovation/extension or commercial project, the next question is – do you need a designer or decorator? And what is the difference?

Interior Designer

An interior designer is qualified to:

  • Undertake all major structural work
  • Provide exterior and interior selections of all your hard surfaces such as:
  • tiles
  • timber flooring
  • fixtures
  • fittings


Many will hold a degree in architecture, construction, or similar type of qualifications.

They will:

  • work closely with your architect or
  • drafting company as well as
  • your builder and contractors

to ensure that you have selected is supplied and installed.

What you’re really getting

Most designers will see the project through from the initial concept stage to construction and handover.  Because they have been involved in the project since the beginning, they should have developed an in-depth knowledge and appreciation of the owners’ requirements and preferences.

They will help owners to incorporate existing furniture and furnishings, as well recommend and supply additional items that will be sympathetic to the new home style, requirements, and location.


Interior designers usually charge an hourly fee for consultation work during the build.  This can vary depending on the distance that the designer will need to travel.  In most cases, this is worked out and agreed on in the initial consultation stage.

Contractors and Suppliers

A good interior design firm will have established relationships with contractors and suppliers that they can recommend.  If the designer holds a building licence, then they will be able to provide a quote for the work for all the work under consideration.

Furniture and Furnishings

When it comes to furniture and furnishings (such as window coverings, lounges, art, mirrors, etc) the designer will provide a design board and a schedule detailing specs and the final price.  Most designers have relationships with furniture and accessory suppliers and pass on their wholesale price with a small margin for processing, delivery, and installation.

Interior Decorator

There are times where you may only need services of a decorator.  They certainly have an important role to play in home renovations or purchase.  Decorators have usually completed some type of short course in colour consultation, furniture placement and finishes.

In cases where you are generally happy with the way your home works but just need some advice on colours and arrangement of your current furniture, then this is a great way to go.


Fees will be lower than those of a qualified interior designer, as the time and work performed are less.

Where to find decorators

Some paint shops, carpet stores, and furniture stores employ or sub-contract decorators to assist their customers during product purchase.  You could also get inspired by other sites, such as Houzz, Pinterest, and Instagram.

Finally how to decide which specialist you need

To summarise the key points, an Interior Decorator maybe the right choice for you to help with colour and finish selection and furniture styling.  An Interior Designer would be a better choice for more complex and major decisions.  Interior Designers work closely with architects, builders, and contractors to oversee a lot more of the work to achieve the final look and feel you are after.

                When choosing a theme with a designer or decorator it will need to run through your entire home.

If you do decide you need an Interior Designer – please contact us or give us a call – 07 5504 7709 and tell us about your project.