What Is the Difference Between Interior Design and Interior Architecture?

Updated on December 14, 2019
viryabo profile image

Working as a professional interior designer for many decades, I've been involved in design-and-build residential building projects.

What Is the Difference Between an Interior Designer and an Interior Architect?

Many people think interior design services and interior architecture services are the same. Not really. Though there are many similarities between the two services and many in the design industry often use the words interchangeably, there are some differences between interior design and interior architecture and the services they both provide.

However, both interior design services and interior architecture services are closely related, are part of the same industry, and are within the same niche.

If you intend to employ the services of a designer but are not sure whether you need an interior designer or an interior architect, you will get a clearer picture of what to expect of the two professions and know whether it's best to get the services of one or the other.

If you are a student and pondering on “which to study,” this article will help you make a better and more informed decision on the path to take.

Providing interior design services involves explicit communication of ideas and effective implementation of instructions in a technical professional manner, through the use of detailed drawings, specifications, schedules, and mood boards.
Providing interior design services involves explicit communication of ideas and effective implementation of instructions in a technical professional manner, through the use of detailed drawings, specifications, schedules, and mood boards.

Interior Design Services

Interior design services go beyond what you’ll expect to get from an interior decorator. Interior designers not only offer all the design services that an interior decorator can offer, but they also go way beyond just decorating and 'prettying-up' an interior space.

Part of the services of a professional interior designer has some technical aspects including being proficient with CAD software like 3D Home Design, RoomSketcher, and even though more difficult to use than the two, AutoDesk.

Providing design services involves explicit communication of ideas and effective implementation of instructions in a technical professional manner using detailed drawings, specifications, schedules, and mood boards.

An interior designer will consult with a potential client to ascertain the scope of works.

This will be followed by:

  • Space planning
  • Production of floor plans, elevations, 3D illustrations, working drawings to create a set of blueprints
  • Lighting design
  • Specialized designs: interior construction works, kitchen designs, storage solutions, bathrooms, and bedroom designs,
  • Coordinating colour schemes
  • Designs for custom furniture (if required)

Interior designers can provide residential and commercial design services while some in specialized interior design niches can do projects that involve uncomplicated commercial projects like hotels, offices, and restaurants. Others provide services for large architectural firms who are ready to pay top designers hefty salaries.

Professional designers and students who study interior design must master the use of design software programs. Providing 2D and 3D drawings are part of the services of an interior designer.
Professional designers and students who study interior design must master the use of design software programs. Providing 2D and 3D drawings are part of the services of an interior designer.

Services Offered by an Interior Architect

As we know, the terms interior architecture and interior design are many times grouped under and referred to as interior design, but an interior architect takes on a more complex task than an interior designer.

Interior architecture covers design analysis and interior construction, a good knowledge of building regulations, and an understanding of the structure of buildings, in order to make projects safe, habitable, and functional. Areas of specialization are:

  • Art of design
  • Industrial design
  • Science of architecture

Interior architects can gut or strip the inside of an existing structure and then rebuild it to accommodate a totally different purpose. For instance, an old office block can be renovated and converted to a block of modern apartments. And though the building may retain its existing exterior design, the transformation of its interior may be a thing of great beauty. This is referred to as “adaptive re-use” of a building’s shell.

Working as an interior architect is a bit more challenging than providing interior design services. It requires a high level of skill and the ability to work on major projects, keep to tight deadlines, and communicate with consultants, builders, technician, contractors, and ‘big’ (sometimes difficult) clients with very large budgets.

How far into interior design study are you willing to go?

See results

Summarizing the Difference Between Interior Architecture and Interior Design Services

A deeper knowledge and technical ability are the major difference between the two services so if you aspire to become a part of this lucrative profession and are technically inclined to a fair degree; you can decide to study interior design. However, if you have good technical and architectural skills asides being highly creative, you can opt to become an interior architect.

And even though the interior design profession has been around much longer than interior architecture, interest in the latter has grown rapidly in recent years.

With all the new materials like environmentally friendly resources, the ‘green design’ movement, new techniques, and recent technologies like architectural glass ceilings, floors, and walls, including new technologies for heating and lighting, interior designers and interior architects have found exciting new ways to plan and design interior spaces to great advantages for humans who have to interact well within boundaries of a building’s shell.

Questions & Answers

  • If I were to be an interior designer. Would it be best to be MA in interior designer, BA in interior designer or HND in interior designer?

    It all depends on what you want and what kind of interior design services you intend to provide, or the niche you plan to work in.perhaps,

    However, I’ll take the middle road and go for the BA program.

  • I have a bachelor's degree in civil engineering, and I want to be an interior designer. I like space planning, so is it possible for me to become an interior designer, and how?

    Yes, you can. And with your civil engineering background, you can also consider interior architecture.

© 2009 viryabo


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    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      6 months ago

      Thank you Sheetal.

      You are welcome.

    • sheetal12 profile image


      6 months ago from Pune

      I like your article. The difference betwwen architect and interior designer is explained very nicely. Thanks for a goog information.

    • profile image


      11 months ago

      There is no such thing as an "Interior Architect" unkess the person has an actual architecture 5 year degree and has been licensed as such. The interior design industry has been trying to indicate the difference between an interior designer and decorator for years and picked up the architecture name to try and do so, but the true Interior Designer is educated in interior design and architecture and usually taught by architects. Don't be confused by someone saying they are an architect and are not.

    • profile image

      Chad Steinke 

      14 months ago

      Interior Designers also deal with alterating layouts, new construction and existing. The difference is an Interior Architect is a licensed architect who practices interior design and can stamp their own drawings.

      When a licensed Interior Designer makes structural changes, it needs to be coordinated with the structural engineer or AOR...or both.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      7 years ago

      You are so right vaultkeeper. Thanks for the visit.

    • profile image


      7 years ago from India

      Interior designing is a very attractive mode of career that one can choose. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to express your ideas and get paid at the same time. It has various sub categories to chose from, so make sure you go along the one that you would be more comfortable instead of doing a random design course. All the best. Regards.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Great hub.

      Pics of interior decoration are very beautiful.

    • furnitureman profile image


      9 years ago from Manila, Philippines

      Nice hub. Keep up the good works. More power.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Swimminpool furniture, thank you so much for your inspiring and warm comments.

      Thank you so much for visiting also. Im glad you like the article.


    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Teak outdoor furniture, thank you.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      AL, thank you so much for your nice comments. (sorry for my late response)

      I'm sure your home looks great since you possess great creativity and love designing.

      That's one thing about creative people. Their talent is always reflected in their home surroundings.

      Thanks & GodBless.

    • profile image

      swimming pool furniture 

      9 years ago

      I am happy to find this post very useful for me, as it contains lot of information. I always prefer to read the quality content and this thing I found in you post. Thanks for sharing.

    • profile image

      teak outdoor furniture 

      9 years ago

      good presentation. i like the article.

    • profile image

      Best furniture store AL 

      9 years ago

      I always liked to become an interior designer because I loved designing a lot but fate changed and I became a technical bug..but nevertheless I still make my house a better place to live and use all my creativity in decorating it.Your hub is great.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago

      Tracy, hi. Thanks for visiting and for leaving a nice comment. I'm glad you like the article.

      Thank you for the follow tracy.


    • tracykarl99 profile image


      9 years ago from San Francisco

      Fantastic decorating hub. Thanks for a well-written article. I'm a fan.

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      You are welcome Steve. Thanks for the visit.


    • profile image

      steve nicks 

      10 years ago

      I appreciate this post.Thanks.


    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Happy that you do. Thanks for visiting RosWebbART, and thank you for your great comments. You are inspiring.


    • RosWebbART profile image

      Ros Webb 

      10 years ago from Ireland

      Like it!

    • viryabo profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago

      Hello Keira, how are you?

      Thanks for the visit and great comments as usual.


    • keira7 profile image


      10 years ago

      Hi Viryabo, its always nice to see your hubs. Take care, see you very soon.


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