You Do What, Again? Interior Designer vs. Decorator vs. Stylist - Who to Hire When!

Updated: Mar 2, 2021

We have been asked this question a lot lately, so we thought we would go ahead and break it down here for future reference! Most of you might even be thinking - is there really a difference? Short answer, YES! Here are the major differences between the three roles, and who to hire depending on your project needs:

Interior Designer

The biggest difference between an interior designer and the other two professions is education and qualification. An interior designer is studied in art history, architecture, furniture, and design philosophy - usually requiring a degree from an accredited school. In most states, an Interior Designer is also required to complete their NCIDQ certification and acquire their license with the local jurisdiction they work in.

Interior Designers are skilled in design technology like Computer Aided Drafting (CAD) programs that allow them to communicate with architects and other professionals in the building industry. They are trained to have an understanding of human behaviors and psychology to create functional and inviting spaces for their clients.

Interior Designers are also deeply involved in the many moving parts of a design project including architectural details of an interior, furniture and finish selections, as well as complying with codes and other regulatory requirements that might be encountered during your project (just to name a few). Interior Designers are also required to complete continuing education on the latest trends and products in the market. If you are working on any larger projects in your home that require coordination with a contractor and/or an architect, an interior designer is the way to go!

Interior Decorator

An Interior decorator is someone with inherently good taste and sense of style, but might not have the formal education and qualifications required to be called an Interior Designer. A decorator will have a good eye for colors, fabric and furniture selection, accessories, and maybe even helping with furniture placement and space planning. However, they will not be qualified to alter a buildings structure or make major changes to a buildings interior.

A good decorator will keep up with current trends, and if you are just looking for assistance with paint selection, furniture and fabric selections, or minor space planning needs - then you could look into hiring a decorator for your project.


A stylists primary job is adding, editing, and curating items in such a way that makes a space more interesting. While the basic goal of all three roles is to make a room look beautiful, a stylist will dive deeper, adding the extra layers needed to make things feel lived-in and are trained to really pull out the entertainment value of a space. This may be for a party, a photoshoot, or if you want to style you house for a new season or a lifetime!

You can also find a stylist working a photographer or film director to create beautiful pictures and locations/sets. They are also responsible for the smooth running of photoshoots when it comes to the styling needs of each shot. You might consider hiring a stylist if you are looking to put the finishing touches on your home, style a dinner party, or bring an extra creative eye to your next photoshoot!

To Wrap-Up...

If you are reading any sort of design magazine - there was probably some kind of collaboration between an interior designer AND an interior stylist. SHOCKER - I know!! It can be an extremely hard process getting design projects past the finish line. Some projects take years to complete, and it is hard enough keeping up with your furniture and finish selections let alone worrying about "what kind of flower arrangement would look best on this dining table?"! No one person can do it all, or know it all, and sometimes it is just helpful to have a fresh eye bring new life into your interiors.

Where do we fit-in you might ask? Our design Principal Designer/Curator, Karen Beben, has completed all her hours and qualifications to sit for the NCIDQ exam, and is currently working on studying for a portion of the exam in fall of 2020!! That being said, we have many years of interior design and styling experience under our belts!! We would LOVE to help you with any design or styling projects you might have - see more info on how we work HERE, and reach out to schedule a consultation HERE!

Here is to you creating that perfect space you always wanted - no matter what type of creative role you decide to hire to do so!

All the best,

Team Bedding Babes


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