Although there is no restriction on the use of the title “Interior Decorator” or
“Interior Designer” in California, there is a difference in the inference of the title amongst the profession.
An “Interior Decorator” is someone who
primarily deals with colors, finishes, and furniture and typically stays within the residential boundary of interiors. Typically they might charge a fee for their creative services such as laying out the
furniture in a room, or putting together different colors and finishes in order to create several palettes from which the client can choose. In most cases a decorator will charge a “mark-up” on all
the products they sell to you. This mark-up can vary wildly, anywhere from 20% to 50% in some cases. Most decorators are reluctant to prepare a formal contract or letter of agreement spelling out what
the services are that they are going to provide, and how much they are going to charge.
An “Interior Designer” is someone who can complete an interior design
project from start to finish, including preparing construction documents for bidding and permitting, as well as supervising the construction and installation of the work. This person in essence becomes
your agent to deal with local building codes and building departments, and licensed contractors. They have the expertise to handle all of these different players, whereas you may not, or may not have the
time or inclination.
Interior designers cover all types of projects from commercial (offices, medical facilities, retail shops, restaurants, hotels, retirement and nursing facilities, to name a
few) to residential. Typically an interior designer has a lot of education and experience, as well as possibly having sat for one or more examinations in order to test their competency and to attain
state recognition of their profession.
Again, just because someone uses the title “Interior Designer”, it doesn’t mean they are any more qualified than an “Interior Decorator”, or any
one who chooses to use either title irrespective of their qualifications or experience, which may be none at all.
The only guarantee that the person you are hiring is qualified in some way or
another is to hire someone who is a “Certified Interior Designer”, a title that is written in to the California Business and Professions Code and protected by law to prevent anyone using the title
that has not complied with the law.
Please read our Consumer Alert on the use of CID
Verify if a designer is Certified by CCIDC.
To get a list of all designers in your area, please call the CCIDC office in
San Marcos, California at 760 - 761-4734.