Interior Designer vs Interior Decorator… do you know the difference?

Just the other day Heather and I were onsite measuring for an office renovation when one of the staff approached us and asked who we were. When we told them her we were Interior Designers her immediate response was “oh wonderful, are you going to make our office look pretty?”

This is possibly one of the worst things that you could say to an Interior Designer, and the most common misconception of our profession…that all we do is decorate! So many people think that Interior Designers and Interior Decorators are one in the same, but this is just not the case.

So what’s the difference??

Interior Decorators are ‘stylists’. Their expertise is in selecting and arranging colour palettes, finishes, paint, furnishings and accessories. Although they are talented in creating beautiful spaces, they are not required to have formal education, as their focus is primarily on aesthetics.

Interior Designers are highly skilled professionals with anywhere between 4-6 years of post-secondary education. They are experienced in understanding human scale, acoustics, lighting, life safety, building code, accessibility, sustainable design, technical construction, and so many other elements that make a space function before it looks ‘pretty’. They are trained to create interior environments that are not only aesthetically beautiful, but are experiential and improve the overall well-being of the user.

A Professional Interior Designer must also pass a qualifying exam called the NCIDQ which certifies that they are competent in the interior design principles that enable them to protect public health, safety and welfare.


For more information on the difference between Interior Design and Interior Decorating as well as the Interior Design Profession please visit the National Council for Interior Design Qualification website.

If you are looking for a qualified, professional interior designer for your next commercial project, give me a call!


Janine Signature Photo

Bathe in Luxury

When you walk into a hotel bathroom, what are the things you hope to find? We are not surprised by the typical things like a terry cloth robe, soft fresh towels, and sample size body washes, shampoos and conditioners. The 4-star hotels that leave an impression have unexpected elements like a floor-to-ceiling steam shower, whirlpool tub, vanishing television mirrors, heat racks for towels, slippers to go with your robe… The list continues. I had a client that wanted a piece of this luxury at home, so they put my design skills to the test.

Design Requirements

  • Gut the existing ensuite as the space was outdated & did not meet the needs of the client
  • Jacuzzi tub was unused & the shower was too small.
  • Increase the size of the walk-in-closet
  • Maintain location of the existing toilet

Include the following in the new design:

  • Large tiled steam shower w/ body jets, rain shower head, hand held shower wand & bench
  • Large vanity with single sink
  • Make-up counter (separate from vanity)
  • Separate toilet room
  • Use sustainable & eco-friendly materials

The Existing Space

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The Concept

  • Create an urban escape; a home space that mimics the amenities of a hotel
  • Space for various functions, separate toilet room, suit preparation in good lighting, make-up table, and shower for 2
  • Maximize storage
  • Shower to be the main feature of the bathroom
  • Make-up table to be designed for easy access for styling tools (hairdryer, curling iron, etc)


Inspiration Image

Click here to see the inspiration for this design.

Project Limitations

  • Working within the existing square footage
  • Staying within budget $40,000
  • Adding a new hot water tank for new steam shower
  • Compliment the glass block windows that will remain

New Design

In the new design, I started out by removing the angles that were taking up valuable square footage, which allowed for an increase in length for the walk in closet by 3’-6”. I then took some room from the master bedroom to allow for a nice sized make-up table. I maintained the existing toilet room but just shortened it to decrease wasted space. The vanity was relocated to the back wall to make it the feature when you walk into the ensuite. The shower was moved to the backside of the closet and is the focal point of the bathroom.


Millwork Design

The Vanity was designed strategically to balance the existing stepped window with the sink & mirror. We wanted to draw the attention of the viewer away from the window which we did by creating vertical elements on one side & horizontal elements on the another side. We used a stone & glass backsplash tile to bring some drama behind the mirror. Open vertical storage boxes were used in the base cabinets to emphasis the vertical line.

Ensuite sink Makeup space

We recreated the backsplash detail on the make-up counter to bring consistency through the space.

Quality fixtures


Shower Tile Design

As the shower was meant to be the focal point of the bathroom, I used a variety of tile combinations & Schluter products to bring the final product to life. We used the KERDI-BOARD system on the shower head wall for recessed accents (backed with a beautiful glass tile) as a place for the client to store shampoos, body washes, and conditioners. We also used the KERDI-LINE shower drain which allows you to use large format 12” x 24” tiles on the shower floor for limited grout lines.


Tile attention to detail Glass & tile shower

The Finishes

The clients wanted a fresh & neutral palette with a hint of colour. As a way of giving the palette an enhanced look, while keeping it neutral, we looked at using texture to give the space a boost.

Finishes Boschman

The Final Result

The final result is soft & elegant. The tile design in the shower & the reconfiguration of the space make the space feel large and luxurious.

ensuite photo

I would love to have this bathroom in my own home!

Come talk to me if you want to create your own spa in your home.


Carrie Signature Photo

“You Have the Coolest Job”

I do. I really do!

This quote is one of the best compliments you can get from someone when you’re talking about your profession. I mean, yes, being a Professional Ice Cream Taster or a Professional Roller Coaster Tester would be a little bit ‘cooler’ than an Architectural Lighting Designer, but I have to admit: I do. I have a really cool job.

I’m going to tell you a story…

This all started the other day when I was at an acupuncture appointment and I got sent to the ‘moody’ room for the first time. Most of my appointments are set on the main floor, where there’s a nice big window with soft daylight flowing in. It’s a lovely little space, I can’t complain. The one day when all of the main floor rooms were occupied, I was sent to the basement room where there were no windows to the outside world. It did, however, have a control system for the artificial lighting in the room so that I (or my doctor) could adjust the lighting according to the task at hand or the mood that could be created.

My acupuncturist was kind enough to adjust the light levels to my liking before he left the room for me to enjoy my treatment. Bach played on the radio, the lights were dimmed low, and I floated into a wonderful state of relaxation for 15 minutes. When I was finished with my treatment, the lovely nurse (whom I always get the pleasure to chat with) came in the room to remove my needles. She told me that every day before she starts work, she comes down to this particular room, she adjust the lights and lays down for 10 minutes. This is how she calms herself before starting her day. Or she’ll often come down during the day if the room is available and she has a spare moment, just to get into a ‘different’ type of space than on the main floor where the light levels are pretty constant throughout the day.

I nodded, knowing full well ‘why’ this was a good thing and excited that she was telling me this. She continued on to say that the bright, ‘fluorescent lighting’ really bothers her and she just needs a break sometimes.

Here’s where I come in! I told her that I was a Lighting Designer and that I completely understand her concerns. However, I warned her in saying that perhaps it’s not the actual fluorescent lighting that is bothering her, but rather many other factors that affect her throughout the day.

  • It could be the placement of the light
  • It could be the balance of brightness and darkness in the space


  • It could be the intensity of the light and the fact that it remains at the same intensity from the moment she starts work in the morning to when she leaves when it’s dark out to go home.
  • It could be the colour temperature of the light (is it warm or cool). Cooler temperatures can make you feel much more alert and productive than warmer sources of light.

 Then I went to explain to her that varying the colour temperatures along with the intensity levels over time, can mimic natural daylight over the day and help people synchronize with their circadian rhythm (this is related to their sleep-wake cycle). Contributes to people either feeling tired and sluggish to alert and productive.

Well, I had her hooked and she just exclaimed “You have the coolest job!”.

I completely agreed!


This is why I became a Lighting Designer and why I want stress the fact that I don’t ‘pick out pretty fixtures’. It’s something I can do, but it’s not something that I solely focus on as a Lighting Designer.

This conversation and topic is at the heart of what lighting design really is: making people feel good and creating experiences that enhance overall well-being in our every day lives.

Click the image above to more information on Lighting for Health.

Ask me how I can help you feel better in your daily life!


Non cropped thumbnail Elaina