A recent Huffington Post Blog entry challenged the legitimacy of the Interior Design profession, in particular the “arbitrary” legislative efforts to regulate it. Unfortunately for the industry and our members, once again the practice of interior design was confused with interior decorating.

The blog post opens, “Homeowners hire interior designers to beautify their living space. It’s an industry focused on style, design, and aesthetics.” This prevailing market misconception of interior designers as merely “decorators” or purveyors of home design secrets and tips makes it all the more important for IIDA, its Members, and the design community at large to educate the general public on what professional interior design really is, and in doing so, advocate for legal recognition of the field.

Interior designers must be highly skilled in order to create interior environments that are functional, safe, and adhere to building codes, regulations, and ADA requirements. They go beyond the selection of color palettes and furnishings and apply their knowledge to the development of construction documents, occupancy loads, healthcare regulations, and sustainable design principles, as well as the management and coordination of professional services including mechanical, electrical, plumbing, and life safety – all to ensure that people can work, live, and learn in an innocuous environment that is also aesthetically pleasing.

We know this. But, we – IIDA, our Members, and interior designers – must continue to educate the public at large so we can dispel this misconception once and for all.

For more information to share with your clients, peers, and friends on the differences between interior design and interior decorating, please visit the National Council for Interior Design Qualification or this excerpt from the Architect’s Handbook of Professional Practice on Interior Design.


  1. Thanks for sharing the best posts they very useful and very help us. You made a good site and giving us the best graphic designs from this site, I like them a lot. You did a good job. You sharing such a good information about this topic and posts It’s very interesting one.


  2. Danielle says:

    I have an interesting experience that covers both. I just bought a new wine rack online from which is awesome by the way. Choosing the right size, color, where it would go would be the interior design choices? Installing it, placing it and filling it with wine would be the interior decorating action? Thoughts on this? Does drinking the wine constitute interior subtraction. LOL!


  3. I think it’s interesting that interior designers have to be so skilled. I like that they’re able to follow and adhere to building codes, regulations, and ADA requirements! I’m thinking about decorating my home soon, so I’ll be sure to find someone who sounds and acts professionally. Thanks for sharing this post!


    • Ok but to be clear- an Interior Decorator can certainly help you decorate your home. An Interior Designer would also be willing to do that, but the important thing to note is that they aren’t the same thing & have different training. An interior designer has experience and a professional education on all the article above mentions. As the saying goes, a square is a rectangle, a rectangle is not a square! Whichever route you go for your home, thank you for reading & helping to support good design!


  4. Thanks for the great clarification, this will be important and I move into my new home. The difference between design and decoration is actually quite surprising to me, and I’ll make sure I don’t mix it up again. It would be embarrassing to do so in front of a professional.


  5. You’re absolutely right. It’s common for people to have that misconception that interior decorating is the same as interior design, while the latter in fact the goes much deeper than just aesthetics. It looks at the functionality of the space, and how best to design it to allow the space to best execute what it was designed for.

    It’s good to hear that the IIDA along with it’s members is actively taking a role in educating the public of the actual meaning of interior design.


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  9. Thank you for taking a stand, but until State Legislation around the country allows designers to pull permits & file drawings with local municipalities for non-structural upgrades, trying to change public perception will only go so far with exception. Currently, there are only 3 States that acknowledge construction documentation by certified designers.


  10. Pingback: IIDA STEPS UP ADVOCACY EFFORT | Professional Interior Designer's Blog

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