Interior design is a multi-faceted profession in which creative and technical solutions are applied within a structure to achieve a built interior environment. These solutions are functional, enhance the occupants’ quality of life and culture, and are aesthetically attractive. Designs are created in response to and coordinated with the building shell and acknowledge the project’s physical location and social context. Designs must adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability. The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology, including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process, whereby the needs and resources of the client are satisfied to produce an interior space that fulfils the project goals.
- Interior design includes a scope of services performed by a professional design practitioner, qualified by means of education, experience, and examination, to protect and enhance the public’s life, health, safety, and welfare. These services may include any or all of the following tasks:
- Research and analysis of the client’s goals and requirements; and development of documents, drawings and diagrams that outline those needs;
- Formulation of preliminary space plans and two and three-dimensional design concept studies and sketches that integrate the client’s program needs and are based on knowledge of the principles of interior design and theories of human behaviour;
- Confirmation that preliminary space plans and design concepts are safe, functional, aesthetically appropriate, and meet all public health, safety and welfare requirements, including code, accessibility, environmental, and sustainability guidelines;
- Selection of colours, materials and finishes to appropriately convey the design concept and to meet socio-psychological, functional, maintenance, life-cycle performance, environmental, and safety requirements;
- Selection and specification of furniture, fixtures, equipment and millwork, including layout drawings and detailed product description; and provision of contract documentation to facilitate pricing, procurement and installation of furniture;
- Provision of project management services, including preparation of project budgets and schedules;
- Preparation of construction documents, consisting of plans, elevations, details and specifications, to illustrate non-structural and/or non-seismic partition layouts; power and communications locations; reflected ceiling plans and lighting designs; materials and finishes; and furniture layouts;
- Preparation of construction documents to adhere to regional building and fire codes, municipal codes, and any other jurisdictional statutes, regulations and guidelines applicable to the interior space;
- Coordination and collaboration with other allied design professionals who may be retained to provide consulting services, including but not limited to architects; structural, mechanical and electrical engineers, and various specialty consultants;
- Confirmation that construction documents for non-structural and/or non-seismic construction are signed and sealed by the responsible interior designer, as applicable to jurisdictional requirements for filing with code enforcement officials;
- Administration of contract documents, bids and negotiations as the client’s agent;
- Observation and reporting on the implementation of projects while in progress and upon completion, as a representative of and on behalf of the client; and conducting post-occupancy evaluation reports.
What Is The Difference Between Interior Design And Interior Decorating?
When many people hear the term “interior design,” they often think of HGTV, “room makeover” challenges, or decor DIY projects on Pinterest. But what they are actually thinking of is interior decorating. While decorating plays a role in creating functional, beautiful living spaces, the work of an interior designer differs from interior decorating in critical ways.
Design Vs. Decorating In a Nutshell
While there is some overlap in interior design and interior decorating, they are fundamentally different. Interior design is the art and science of understanding people’s behaviour to create functional spaces within a building. In contrast, interior decorating is the furnishing or adorning of a space with decorative elements to achieve a certain aesthetic. In short, interior designers may decorate, but decorators do not design.
What Interior Designers Do
The interior design process follows a systematic and coordinated methodology—including research, analysis and integration of knowledge into the creative process—to satisfy the needs and resources of the client.
Whether working in a corporate or residential space, interior designers are challenged with applying creative and technical solutions within a functional, attractive structure, and beneficial to the occupants’ quality of life and culture. Designers must respond to and coordinate with the building shell and acknowledge the project’s physical location and social context. By implementing thoughtful solutions, interior designers can create spaces that greatly improve the experiences of the people who inhabit them.
For example, there has been a lot of research on how design elements in healthcare institutions affect patients. For example, studies have shown that surgery patients who had views of scenery in their room recovered faster than those who did not. Another study found that infants who experienced daylight cycles while staying in a neonatal unit developed their own wake-sleep cycles earlier than those exposed to constant, dim hospital lights.
Professional Requirements for Interior Designers
Because of the complexity of their role, interior designers are generally expected to achieve a higher level of education than interior decorators, who require no formal training or licensure.
In addition to learning principles of applying gathered knowledge to the creative process of designing a space, designers must also adhere to code and regulatory requirements and encourage the principles of environmental sustainability.
Many U.S. states and Canadian provinces have passed laws requiring interior designers to be licensed or registered—documenting their formal education and training—and many of them specifically require that all practising interior designers earn the NCIDQ Certificate to demonstrate their experience and qualifications.
8 Popular Types of Interior Design Styles
Were you looking to decorate your new home and seeking thematic inspiration? Search no more. We’re covering eight interior design styles that are popular in modern homes. In reality, practitioners blend different elements from several decorating styles together, but it’s crucial to identify the core aspects of each one.
There are interior design styles beyond the eight types outlined below, but I wanted to focus on the major schools currently in vogue. I will keep this list updated every year – removing those that may have fallen out of favour and adding new ones. Also, if you’re looking to add a new piece or two to your home, check out our main store, where we always curate our catalogue for the newest interior design styles.
Where we can, we made collections for the following interior design styles to simplify your shopping. I’m also creating a series of guides on achieving each look in detail, with inspirational images, furniture and decor recommendations, and more! Don’t forget to subscribe if you want to be updated on when these new guides are available.
The mid-1900s produced some of the most iconic pieces in modern design. It is characterized by refined lines, minimalist silhouettes, and natural shapes. From Saarinen, Niemeyer, Eames, Noguchi, Jacobsen and beyond, the mid-century modern masters defined creative ways to use new materials like moulded plastic, plywood, and aluminium in industrial design. As a result, its pieces are highly versatile and can complement a myriad of design styles.
Check out my Mid-Century Modern Design Guide to learn how to get the look for your home. As mentioned in the guide, I recommend mixing elements from other design styles to keep your home looking fresh. On the other hand, a purist approach when decorating a mid-century modern home can make your interior design look a bit passé.
For your shopping and inspiration needs, the Mid-Century Modern Furniture collection offers curated pieces matching this aesthetic. Most of the products found at DWR and Design Public are mid-century modern exemplars.
This is a look that hearkens back to the turn-of-the-century industrial era. It emphasizes liberal use of exposed steel with distressed wooden elements, frequently complemented by exposed brick walls. The modern variant commonly includes copper-tone accents. In terms of general feel, industrial decor is often rustic and mature.
I wrote a guide on Industrial Decor Ideas and Design to learn how to furnish your home with this look. A notable point from this post is that industrial decor ranges from modern rustic with cleaner lines to rugged vintage with elaborate ornamentations. Depending on your tastes, you can opt for a lighter, chic look or a darker, antique design.
Explore the Industrial Furniture collection to shop for rustic coffee tables, tufted Chesterfield sofas, and other essential industrial modern pieces. Restoration Hardware is a go-to source for higher-end industrial designs.
Warm, relaxing, and positive. Nautical decor (also referred to as coastal or cottage decor) reflects the New England beach house spirit. This interior design style is based on a white or sand coloured foundation, with blue as the primary accent colour.
Material-wise, nautical decor incorporates unfinished wood in its tables or chairs, combined with chic linen upholstery for your lounge seats and sofas. Your options for decorative accents are many: seashells in clear jars, jute ropes, rowing oars, sailboats, nautical maps, and more!
Our collection for Coastal Furniture and Decor includes a sampling of cottage-inspired designs. In addition, Pottery Barn and Pier 1 are great sources for furnishings that fit this trend.
An off-shoot of the mid-century modern movement, Scandinavian design introduced a popular minimalist look to the interior architecture field that lasts to this day. Although most people associate it with IKEA (I’ve covered stores like IKEA in the past), there are a variety of subset looks within Scandinavian design itself.
Featuring gentle contours, playful accent colours, and a balance of engineered and organic materials, Scandinavian furniture is simple, contemporary, and functional. Many Scandinavian designs employ Bauhaus principles and are characterized by fluid lines, focus on object proportions, and populist appeal. A great majority of Scandinavian interiors use white with grey tones as the foundation colours.
To get this clean, versatile aesthetic in your home, browse our curated collection of Scandinavian Furniture. Scandinavian Designs carry many original Scandinavian products, as does obviously IKEA.
Bohemian decor captures the carefree and adventurous spirit of the avant-garde lifestyle. It features the creative application of rich patterns and vibrant colours, especially those with red or purple tones. The key is to carefully present a purposefully “messy” look—layer on textiles (throws, pillows, rugs, tapestry) for a warm ambience.
When furnishing, look for pieces that possess ethnic or nomadic vibes. Moroccan, Southwestern, or tribal-inspired designs are currently trending. Composition-wise, boho-chic loves textile, wood, animal hide, and metallic accents.
To get this look, check out our collection for Bohemian Furniture and many complementary decors. Anthropologie and sister-store UO Apartment are two of the best affordable resources as well.
Farmhouse decor is a modern approach to cabin-inspired interior design. Mostly transitional in nature with some traditional elements mixed in, the farmhouse aesthetic should transport your imagination to French Provence. Source some dried lavender bunches and other greeneries – careful arrangement of vases and planters will really stylize your home.
Farmhouse furniture is characterized by distressed wood and upholstered linen. Colour-wise, it is similar to nautical decor with mostly white and beige base colours. Orthodox rules dictate that accent colours should be something similar to turquoise or light yellow, but I find it better to introduce some brighter colours for some pop and definition.
We have a rather new Farmhouse Furniture collection in our store to shop this style with matching decor. Pottery Barn sells a lot of pieces in that white and chic farmhouse style. I also find Zara Home to carry suitable pieces for farmhouse decor. For the high-end option, you can check out Arhaus.
The urban interior design stems from the modern designer lofts in the major cities. Taking cues from its cosmopolitan environment, urban modern is a fusion of various opposing and complementary traits. Minimalist modern, glamorous chic, ethnic heirlooms, and edgy, experimental designs all collide in a distinctively 21st-century setting.
Larger furniture (sofas, beds, etc.) tends to be uniformly sleek with low-profile. Feel free to bring home trailblazing modern furniture designs. Decorative accents (pillows, mirrors, end tables, etc.) in urban decor often demands artistic and creative expression – add some elegant geometric designs or vintage items with traditional embellishment.
Our Urban Furniture section has a mix of furniture and decor that you can shop or draw inspiration for this look. First, however, try to pick bits and pieces from different stores. CB2, West Elm, and Room & Board are great starters.
Shabby chic decor emphasizes vintage elements to recreate the antique flea market look. The furniture is characterized by its aged appearance, with distressed wood composition covered in sanded milk paint to show signs of wear and tear.
Decorative accents for shabby chic decor should be soft and opulent, often with an affected feel, to bring the overall interior design to a contemporary standard. Generously introduce linen textiles for added style. Though orthodox shabby chic colours are white, ecru and pastel, don’t be afraid to apply vibrant colours