Advice & Design Guides

Interior Designer vs. Interior Stylist: What’s the Difference?


In the world of interior decoration and design, the terms “interior designer” and “interior stylist” are often used interchangeably. However, these two professions have notable differences in terms of tasks, educational requirements, project complexity, and the benefits they offer. In this article, we’ll explore these differences to help you determine which professional is the best fit for your needs.

What does an interior designer do?

Interior designers are responsible for planning and designing indoor spaces. Their tasks include:

  • Creating floor plans and detailed 3D renderings.
  • Developing precise technical plans, including dimensions, materials, and electrical and plumbing installations.
  • Selecting materials, furniture, and accessories that harmonize with the client’s style and needs.
  • Managing design projects from start to finish, including budgeting, timelines, and resources.
  • Collaborating closely with architects, contractors, and other building professionals to ensure smooth project execution.
  • Ensuring spaces comply with building codes and safety regulations while optimizing functionality and aesthetics.
  • Supervising the implementation of the project on-site to ensure conformity with plans and quality standards.

And what about an interior stylist?

Interior stylists, on the other hand, focus primarily on the aesthetics and decoration of existing spaces. Their tasks include:

  • Selecting decorative elements such as cushions, artwork, and accessories.
  • Arranging and organizing furniture and decorative items.
  • Creating thematic atmospheres for events or photo shoots.
  • Updating decor according to seasons or current trends.

Project Complexity

Interior Designer
Interior designers often handle more complex projects that require detailed planning. They may work on complete renovations, new constructions, or commercial layouts. Their expertise goes beyond aesthetics to include functionality and comfort. For example, a designer might:

  • Reconfigure the layout of a space to improve functionality, considering traffic flow and ergonomics.
  • Oversee the installation of lighting and plumbing systems to ensure they meet safety standards and harmonize with the overall design.
  • Select materials, furniture, and accessories that align with the project’s theme and budget.
  • Collaborate with architects, engineers, and other professionals to ensure seamless project execution.
  • Advise clients on current trends and best practices in interior design to create spaces that are not only beautiful but also durable and functional.

Interior Stylist 
Interior stylist projects are generally less complex and focus on enhancing the aesthetics of an existing space. This work requires a keen understanding of current trends and an eye for detail. Their tasks might include:

  • Updating a home’s decor for sale (home staging), which involves depersonalizing the space and making it appealing to the widest range of potential buyers.
  • Preparing spaces for photo shoots or special events, carefully choosing furniture, colours, and accessories to create a specific and attractive atmosphere.
  • Collaborating with homeowners or real estate agents to maximize the visual appeal of a property.
  • Selecting and arranging artwork, textiles, and decorative items to elevate a room’s overall aesthetics.
  • Working with various budgets, finding creative and cost-effective solutions to transform a space.

Educational requirements

Interior Designer 
To become an interior designer, academic training is essential. Typical requirements include:

  • An interior design diploma or a related field (mandatory).
  • Courses in technical drawing, CAD (computer-aided design), and art history.
  • Accreditation with professional bodies in Canada, such as the Interior Designers of Canada (IDC) or the Quebec Order of Interior Designers (APDIQ).

Interior Stylist
Interior stylists generally have less stringent educational requirements. They can often enter the field with:

  • An interior decoration diploma, visual arts, or relevant experience (not mandatory).
  • Skills in decoration, organization, and colour coordination.

Benefits of working with each professional

Advantages of working with an Interior designer: 
-Expertise in planning and designing functional and aesthetic spaces.
-Ability to manage large-scale renovation and construction projects.
-Knowledge of building codes and safety regulations.

Advantages of working with an Interior stylist: 
-Flexibility for short-term projects and quick updates.
-Expertise in decoration and creating aesthetically pleasing ambiances.
-Creative approach to refreshing and personalizing existing spaces.


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