Interior designers solve problems

Decorator. Designer. Stager. Stylist. What’s The Difference & Which Do You Need?

Have you ever asked yourself “what does an interior designer do”? I’m going to break it down in the simplest way possible.

Years ago, the designer vs. decorator debate was hot on the interwebs. Thankfully that finally died down. But lately I’ve been getting questions about it again, specifically from people who are not clear on what I (and many of the people they see on social media) do.

Interior designers solve problems like finding the space for an office & library in an unused closet
The library & office space tucked into a former closet

in Summary:

Your home was designed by an architect who may have worked directly with a designer.
When the build was complete, it was likely staged by a realtor, stager, decorator, or stylist.
The staging worked because you bought it!
CONGRATULATIONS!!🍾

You bought new furniture & accessories and decorated it to your liking (or paid a decorator or stylist to do it for you).

Then you realized you needed some major (functionality, aesthetic, accessibility, etc.) changes beyond where to hang pictures, what color(s) to paint, and which throw pillows/linens/textiles look best.

You have a problem that needs to be solved in the most beautiful & functional way possible. That’s when you need a designer – Interior Designers solve problems. Beautifully & efficiently.
We are an expense that is well worth your time & money because we save you time & money.

*DISCLAIMER: These term definitions are not official or job descriptions. Just layman’s terms from your designer friend based solely on my experience & my state’s law.
Carry on 😁

STAGER:

A stager’s job is to give a home mass appeal. The end goal is to create spaces that are attractive to as many people as possible. This usually means neutral pallettes, simple layouts, widely accepted accessories, and a space devoid of personality. This is what we see in model homes, homes being prepared for sale, & vacation rentals.

DECORATOR/STYLIST:

I love a great decorator or stylist!
When you’re ready to put your own stamp on a room or entire home but don’t need extensive changes, this is an excellent option! They always have a great eye, amazing style, & can pull things together in a way that’s SO you.
I grouped them together but there is 1 major difference… usually. Stylists almost always work on projects beyond interiors. They work on photoshoots, in film & TV, and in so many other settings.

DECORATOR:

Well well well…
I put decorators somewhere between a stylist & a designer. Here’s why…

1. Decorators & stylists do many of the same things to put the finishing touches on any space that is specific to YOU & YOUR project.

2. In some states, a person who does the work of a designer can’t use the title because of state regulations. Instead they use the title of decorator to avoid legal repercussions.

3. Decorators typically work on residential (& sometimes commercial) spaces & storefronts.

DESIGNER:

So what does an interior designer do?

The short answer is all of the above plus more. There’s been a long debate over the difference between a decorator & a designer – here are some major differences:

  1. Being a designer is very different depending on where you are. In Texas, we have very strict regs around being able to use the title “designer” (specifically “registered interior designer” & especially in contracts & LOAs). Best to stay on the safe side on the law 😉
    If you have questions on this, shoot me a message & I’d be glad to explain more.
  2. Depending on where you are registered (or not), designers can deal with permits & prevent a lot of headaches for property owners. We work with contractors & architects to make sure everything is up to code AND to make sure you don’t have major (or minor or ANY) problems later on long after your beautiful home is “done”.
  3. Designers with credentials can save you LOADS of time & money. And we can get furnishings not available to the general public. For our clients, we get specialty products not available at retail & often use a mix of retail & items only available to the trade based on your style & budget.

A designer’s creative solutions, selections, & installations are bespoke. And you absolutely get what you pay for.

Bottom line: In general, a designer can also be a decorator, stager, or stylist. But that doesn’t work the other way around. Who you need depends on what you want. What are your goals for your home?


The one professional I left off this list is the handy-person. If you have great taste & style, know what you want/need & just need someone to execute the list you give, a handy-person is your best (and most economical) bet! You think through & buy all the things. And they get it done!


So there you have it! Design professionals & what we do, simplified.

I hope this helps. And please… let me know if you have more questions or comments. I’m always an open book.

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