How to become a designer-decorator

A designer-decorator is an interesting profession that combines two areas at once: design and decor. As a rule, such specialists work with the interiors of the premises: they develop the main concept of design, its functional part, and work out the details.

To master the profession of a designer-decorator, you need to choose one of two possible training options: enter a university or find professional training courses for specialists.

The difference between a designer and a decorator

Even if he is not related to construction and design, every person understands the difference between an architect and a designer. Still, few people know how a designer differs from a decorator.

What does a designer do?

  • Decides which style fits best in an apartment or house. He knows that a loft is unsuitable for a small apartment with low ceilings and small windows, and minimalism is unsuitable for a room with bay windows and columns.
  • Selects a color scheme for walls, floors, and ceilings, considering many factors.
  • Develops a design project. At the same time, the specialist deals not only with the arrangement of furniture and lighting fixtures but also develops plans for communications—wiring, sewerage, plumbing, and ventilation.
  • Makes a 3D visualization of the project. This helps the customer to visually see how the interior of his home will look as a result.
  • Selects the necessary products, from furniture to handles and nails. Controls that everything is in style and is within the allocated budget.
  • Monitors work processes to ensure everything aligns with the developed project.

The decorator does the following:

  • Offers options for decorating space, diluting colors with bright accents, and selecting textures and their combinations. Creates visual layouts.
  • Engaged in selecting furniture, textiles, lighting fixtures, art, ceramics, and porcelain. In addition, he thinks through even the smallest details, thanks to which a special atmosphere is created in the house: he chooses clips for curtains, plant pots, and door handles.
  • If the desired item does not exist, he develops sketches to make it to order. For example, forged products, stained glass, knitted, or textile items.

These specialists are similar to each other: they need to have a clear understanding of interior styles and artistic taste and be able to make sketches and presentations to explain their ideas better. However, the duties of a decorator are narrower than a designer’s: the former deals only with finishing materials and interior decoration. At the same time, the latter is responsible not only for finishing but also for communications and structural elements of the room.

If you need to make major repairs or completely change the look of your home (change the layout or the location of communications), you need a designer.

When the work of the designer is over, it is advisable to find another decorator who will put an end to creating a beautiful interior. It is also wise to contact a decorator if you are not going to do a major renovation but want to change the color scheme, add decor, put in new furniture, etc.

It should be understood that the designer can take on the role of a decorator, but it cannot be the other way around. Both specialists have artistic education; however, only interior designers have technical knowledge.

Pros and cons of the profession of designer-decorator

We will deal with the pros and cons of the specialty designer decorator.

Responsibilities, personal qualities, and professional skills of a designer-decorator

In this profession, you need knowledge from various fields. More than creativity is needed; you still need to develop organizational skills. The designer-decorator is engaged not only in developing projects but also in contact with clients, contractors, and workers during architectural supervision.

What is included in the duties of this specialist?

  • study of the client’s wishes, the proposal of own ideas;
  • Creation of technical plans with measurements and sketches (in this case, it is necessary to rely on building codes and regulations (SNIP));
  • development of layouts;
  • calculation of estimates;
  • selection of finishing materials for furniture, decorative elements, and others;
  • control of work on the implementation of the project;
  • Tracking the main stages of the project.

There may be additional responsibilities. It depends on the area in which it works. Much depends on the scale, nature of the order, the allocated amount, labor resources, and complexity of the developed project.

The interior designer and decorator profession belongs to the realm of creative specialties; however, in addition to the ability to create, a person must have a practical streak. If there is no last quality, the deadlines will constantly be missed, and the finished result may not turn out as planned.

The specialist must have such theoretical knowledge as:

  • Popular trends in interior design and decor
  • processes and practical measures of interior decoration.
  • Fundamentals of painting and drawing: colors, compositions, perspectives
  • Principles of design graphics.
  • Properties and features of finishing materials.
  • Fundamentals of the Psychology of individual vision of visual information
  • Contacts with the markets for furniture, textiles, decor, etc.

Professional abilities:

  • creation of decorating and artistic design projects, starting with sketches and ending with the finished result.
  • construction of drawings and plans.
  • Creation of a 3D model of the project (sketches, cutting, layout).
  • Development of college projects.
  • Make decisions about what furniture, fixtures, accessories, and decor to purchase to fit into the chosen concept.
  • Ability to work in programs for 2D graphics (Adobe CC, CorelDraw, and others).
  • Skill in working with 3D graphics (Autodesk AutoCAD, Autodesk 3DS Max, and others), renderers (V-Ray, etc.)
  • thinking through the textile image of the room.
  • Understanding and ability to work with different styles.

What personal qualities does a designer-decorator have?

  • Customer focus, ability to communicate with customers
  • Professional communication skills
  • Time management and competent construction of the workflow.
  • Independence of activity.
  • Collective work.
  • Multitasking is the ability to work on multiple orders simultaneously.
  • Increased attention to detail
  • Responsibility for the quality of implementation
  • Self-development, constant study of new information, advanced training

Even in the first conversation with a client, a professional in his field must present the big picture. He needs to immediately understand the project’s flaws, analyze the customer’s wishes, and correctly explain the possibility or impossibility of their implementation.

Tasks of a decorator

The main goal of the designer-decorator is to make the space as comfortable and cozy as possible. At the same time, it is necessary to create not just a beautiful interior but to translate the client’s wishes into reality. The specialist must consider the customer’s habits and ideas, lifestyle, and family composition. In addition, it is necessary to consider the technical characteristics of the premises, the allocated funds, and the deadlines for implementation.

The designer-decorator is well-versed in the properties of building materials and how they behave during operation. Which walls can be built and which can be destroyed? The influence of color on the emotional and physical state of a person How to harmoniously use old and new furniture in one interior

The specialist understands the furniture’s dimensions and how to place it so there is enough space for comfortable movement. He can plan the ventilation system, calculate the estimate, and understand the technical documentation. In addition, he knows the cost of various materials and ways to save on them.

What is the job of a decorator?

  • Holds meetings with clients to discuss a possible future project. Clarifies desires and studies references. Specifies the number of allocated funds, terms, and restrictions.
  • Take measurements indoors and take photographs. This allows us to find out all the necessary dimensions, such as where communications pass and the presence of wet zones. It will create a floor plan indicating the dimensions based on the information received.
  • Develops planning solutions, where he designates different zones and arranges pieces of furniture. As a rule, several options are created so the customer can choose the one he likes best.

For example, you own a two-room apartment with a separate kitchen, but you want three separate rooms and a place for family pastimes. In one embodiment, a specialist can combine the kitchen and living room. On the other, place the kitchen instead of the corridor. In the third, you divide a large room into two small ones. If it is not possible to change the walls, the designer will make several plans to arrange furniture and allocate an area for each family member.

From the options provided, the customer and the designer must choose one that remains to be finalized and think through all the little things. At this stage, the specialist should:

  • Selects interior items and colors of furniture, textiles, lighting, and finishing materials suitable for the concept.
  • Develops 3D visualizations of the project through collages, sketches, and drawings. This will help the customer see the result even before it is achieved.
  • Works on plans and drawings: a plan for the location of electrical appliances and plumbing, doors and windows, furniture, flooring, and a bill of materials The designer develops all these drawings and technical documentation in computer programs, after which he gives them to the builders, who will rely on them during the repair.
  • Finds suppliers, places orders, and resolves issues with building materials and furniture delivery. The specialist knows the places where it is best to purchase the necessary items and finishing materials and how to make the purchase more profitable for the client.
  • Seeks and agrees with the construction team. At the same time, understand what skills the workers must have in order to accurately bring the project to life.
  • Supervises all stages of construction and repair. Monitors deadlines, quality, and how builders adhere to plans.
  • When the repair is complete, the designer begins to arrange furniture, place accessories, and work on decor in accordance with the chosen concept.
  • Ultimately, it remains to hand over the finished project to the customer and discuss the possibility of photography and related issues.

Basic tools for the work of a designer-decorator

For a professional decorator, the main tool is his head, in which interesting ideas appear.

To make a visual representation of your ideas, you can use the following computer programs:

  • Adobe Photoshop is the most popular software for designers. It is a graphics editor where you can work mainly with raster images.
  • Figma. In this program, you can create vector and raster images and prototype applications or Internet resources.
  • Corona. With the help of this program, a full-fledged picture is created based on the preparation of graphic elements.
  • 3DMax is software with which you can create various graphic objects and place them in the built “room”. 3DMax allows you to make high-quality visualizations of any interior.
  • 3D Hamster This is a repository where a variety of objects may be needed when designing an interior.

In addition, many decorators are engaged in creating illustrations on graphic tablets. This requires special programs such as Sketchbook, Painter Lite, and ArtRage 4.

Training options for a designer-decorator

To become a designer-decorator, you must first find out where to study for this specialty. Now there are two options: university or short courses.

The first job and career growth of a designer-decorator

The decorator has several options for where and how he can work: become a freelancer or hire a design studio or other organizations that require specialists from this industry.


The specialist needs to look for clients independently. Exchanges, social networks, websites, and access to customers through acquaintances will help in this regard. In this format, all organizational and working moments and all responsibilities lie solely with you.

At first, you will have to work for a portfolio, so you will have to take on any orders, even if they are boring and with little pay. On such projects, you can fill your hands and improve the quality of your work. The higher your experience, reputation, and portfolio, the faster you will find new customers. You can even become the owner of your studio.

Design Studio

At the first rung of the career ladder, you will be responsible for a specific project stage (for example, creating 3D visualizations of interiors according to ready-made plans). After a while, you can get promoted, become a full-fledged designer-decorator, and fully do projects.

The main advantage of working in studios is that you do not have to look for customers on your own. But you cannot choose your work; you will do the given projects.

Beginners should get a job in a company first because working with other experienced decorators will help them gain new knowledge and improve their skills.

Many factors influence the salary of a designer-decorator:

  • Experience
  • Level of knowledge and skills
  • Amount of work
  • The complexity of projects
  • Conditions in the company
  • Commissions from furniture and building materials stores

In addition, income depends on seasonality and can be unstable.

But the best option for a beginner is to become an assistant to an experienced decorator. Everyone knows that the theoretical and practical knowledge gained during training and the reality you will face at work are different. So starting your activity with an apprentice is advisable to avoid taking full responsibility for the project.

The speed of career advancement depends only on a person’s desire. It is imperative to devote time to self-education, work on projects, and increase the portfolio. Register on such professional platforms as or Gained experience and a large number of high-quality projects completed are the main factors for career growth.

Final Tips for Beginners

What are some tips for newbies?

  • Work on vision. View the projects of professional designers and analyze them. To do this, you can buy design magazines, visit art galleries, and shop at furniture stores.
  • Never stop learning. A good specialist should know all the current trends. Much useful information can be learned through communication with colleagues or people who create and sell decorative items.
  • Try to practice more. You can do this in your home: change the furniture arrangement and the color scheme. No one will limit you in your home, so you can safely experiment.
  • Work on your portfolio. Add to it the most successful of your work: completed projects before and after photos make a particularly strong impression on potential customers.
  • After completing training in online courses as a designer-decorator, you should wait to go into freelancing. Better get a job at a design company first. There you can gain experience and build a customer base.
  • Make connections with suppliers. As a rule, if you make large orders on an ongoing basis, you can save money with the help of good discounts that such customers rely on.
  • Invest in your development, find new information, attend master classes, and read useful literature. It would be useful to join professional associations. In them, you can find friends and share user experiences.

Many people think interior design is easy because it is a creative profession, and it is enough to know what modern furniture or lighting to place in a particular interior. However, this needs to be clarified. To become a professional, you need to study a lot and diligently and always engage in self-development.

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