4 min

Interior renovation work: differentiating an architect from a decorator

Do you have some changes to make to your home? Or do you want to change the atmosphere of your decor? Find the best value for your renovations and call on the right professional to assist you. Indeed, it is not always easy to decide who to entrust with the interior design of your home. Several specialists offer their services in this field, namely interior architects and interior decorators. These two professions tend to be confused, as they all deal with the layout of your home. However, they are two completely distinct professions, and the result of your work depends on the craftsman you choose. Mission, training, price..., discover here the differences between these two experts.

The missions of each professional

The interior architect and the interior decorator propose different missions, but often complementary. Depending on the client's needs, it will be more appropriate to choose one or the other. Here are the different services of these professionals.

Interior decorator: a specialist in interior design

Also called interior coach or interior stylist, the interior decorator, as its name indicates, decorates the interior of a place. He never touches the structure of the building. Thanks to his strong knowledge of space design and furniture trends, he can advise, optimize and harmonize your interior spaces.

This decorator can intervene in private and public spaces, such as an apartment, an office or a store. According to the style of decoration desired by the customer, he will take care of the choice of the furniture, the decorative accessories (covering, curtains, tiles, luminaries), the color and the materials which emphasize the aestheticism of the house. His role is to ensure the visual aspect and aesthetics of a room.

Calling on a decorating coach allows you to benefit from a beautiful creativity. After having reviewed the situation with his client, he presents his ideas in the form of sketches, 2D or 3D views. In this way, the owner will be able to have a first visual approach of his project, and to modify the parts which do not suit his expectations. 

Interior designer: a specialist in interior design

As for the interior architect, he takes care of the more technical projects. He designs the spaces and carries out the layout according to your needs and requests. This professional will follow your project from beginning to end. Sometimes, he can offer you his services in interior design, while the interior decorator will do the interior design without claiming.

This type of architect can eliminate partitions or install a staircase to connect two levels. He can renew the lighting and advise on the choice of materials and the arrangement of furniture. However, he is not authorized to modify the structure of the building. As a project manager, he is in charge of finding the potential craftsmen who will carry out the work. His other main mission is to transform a house, an apartment, an office or a theater to make them more welcoming and comfortable.

The role of an interior architect can extend to the renovation, construction or extension of a room. Most often, he carries out a feasibility study in order to answer certain problems (water supply and drainage, creation of stairs, calculation of heights, etc.). This specialist can also establish a building permit or a preliminary declaration of work for exterior modifications. Like the decorator, he also masters 3D projection, technical plans and sketches.

The training courses to be followed for the two professions

The training courses in decoration or interior design are aimed at both students and professionals. The objectives remain the same, to bring all the essential knowledge on the layout of a space, the furnishing and the creation of a particular atmosphere in the house.

The training in interior design

Since the interior designer is able to create new spaces or expand existing ones, it is essential that he or she has a basic knowledge of building. The main difference between the interior designer and the decorator is the degree. This professional must have a baccalaureate +3 or a baccalaureate +5. Their qualifications can be certified by two organizations, including the CFAI (French Council of Interior Architects) and the UNAID (National Union of Interior Architects). Several schools can provide training for these future professionals. After 3 or 5 years, they will master technical knowledge, design and drawing software. They will also develop their skills in architecture and space design.

Training as an interior decorator

To exercise the profession of an interior decorator, unlike the architect, it is not mandatory to have a degree. On the other hand, it requires a solid culture in design, and certain technical and artistic skills. However, it is possible to follow an initial training, such as a BTS in space design, or to make a professional reconversion. The number of decorator diplomas has increased, but they are not always recognized by the State. In addition, training in the major art schools is the most popular course. There are two-year degrees (study and realization of layout), three-year degrees (professional license layout) and five-year degrees (DSAA [Diplôme supérieur d'arts appliqués option espace]). These courses are recognized by the CFAI.

Prices for the services of a decorator and an architect

If the trainings are not the same, it is because the jobs to be done are different, as well as the prices of the services. Generally speaking, the rates of an interior designer are much higher than those of the decorators. This is because the structural work involves greater costs than a space design.

It is difficult to give an exact price for each professional. It depends on the scope of your projects as well as the labor of the specialists you call upon. For an interior architect, his first visit with the evaluation of the work to be done can cost about 150 euros. For an interior decorator, count approximately 500 euros to arrange a room. Obviously, the final bill should not exceed 12 to 15% of your total project! So, when choosing between an architect and an interior decorator, it all depends on your project.

A few other differences to note

The interior designer and the interior decorator are two closely related professions. However, there are differences in the personality of each technician. Clients can therefore choose the one that corresponds to their needs in order to find the best value for money for their renovations, based on the following qualities.

A great interior designer:

      • likes to advise his entourage on their decor;

      • is on the lookout for the latest trends;

      • has a creative mind;

      • has a strong taste for lighting;

      • sets the mood in the rooms;

      • is well organized and trustworthy;

      • etc.

    A great interior designer:

        • transforms the parts according to the rules of art;

        • seeks the best spatial optimization of a place;

        • is attentive to the rendering expected by the customers;

        • is well organized and super sociable;

        • is interested in building regulations;

        • likes to manage a project with different craftsmen;

        • has a managerial mindset;

        • has extensive knowledge in construction or renovation;

        • etc.

      However, there may be jobsites that require remodeling and complete decorating work. In this case, the two professions can work together.

      Mathieu Amara

      Mathieu Amara

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