Personal Note: “Interior Designer” or “Interior Decorator”? What’s in a name?

Recently there was a post on Linked-In asking “How do you handle it when someone calls you a decorator instead of a designer, without offending them?” Some responses pointed out that some of the biggest historical names in interiors (Billy Baldwin, Sister Parish) were all “Interior Decorators” and suggested embracing the title.  In fact, Billy Baldwin abhorred the title “Interior Designer.”   Others asked “who cares what they call you as long as they write the check?” Still others said they had “studied too hard and put in too many hours to be called a ‘decorator’.”

I am definitely in the camp of ‘who cares what they call me.’ Not because the client has the power of check-writing, but because my mission is to help people feel more at home in their home.  If they need decorating services and I can help with that, great! If they need help with a remodel and I can help with that, great! If they just need help letting go of Aunt Suzie’s armoire and I can help with that, great!

Rebecca West, a designer for

Rebecca West, a designer for “the rest of us.”

We all came to be home interior professionals from different paths.  For some the *art* of the project and being on the cutting edge of design is paramount, and the title will go hand in hand with the position they seek to establish for themselves in the design world.  Others have been spurned too many times by an Architect who called them ‘just a decorator’ without any respect for what a color and materials specialist brings to the table, and the training to be a ‘designer’ comes with a great deal of pride in that investment.

What bothers me is that there is still this lack of respect *within* the design community for our colleagues. There are plenty of clients in the world for a stadium full of designers, decorators, redesigners, stagers, and color consultants.  Instead of getting hung up on titles and heirarchy, why not create a collaborative, supportive environment so that we can more easily bring beauty and order to this chaotic world?

Am I too plebeian in my world view?  Maybe.  With catch-phrases like “Design for the rest of us” and “Design for real people”I doubt my voice will be heard among the upper echelons of the design world.  But I stand by my opinion because, in the end, the client’s needs should always be paramount.  For me, that means that no question is too small, no worry too inconsequential, if it leads to a happier life and home for the client.  The title has no bearing on that outcome.

Hi! I’m Rebecca West.

I’m not your classic interior designer because, frankly, I don’t care if you buy a new sofa. I do care if your home supports your goals and feels like “you.” Remember, happy starts at home!


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