What’s the difference between interior design and interior styling

by | May 19, 2022 | Design, Inspiration, Interior Design | 0 comments

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With the popularity of social media platforms like Pinterest or Instagram, many have discovered inspiration for styling their homes (and can easily source the featured products online at the same time). Others have embraced an interior stylist or decorator to enhance their spaces and breathe life back into certain rooms of the home. 

Decorating and styling are quite similar… to decorate is to add soft furnishings to the home, furniture, cushions, throws, and curtains to name a few. Interior styling or interior decorating is dressing a room. As interior designers, while we are designing we are also styling, otherwise a project would feel unfinished at the end as we walked away. 

Although there may be some crossover between the roles of an interior designer and an interior stylist, their roles are very different. Interior designers may style spaces, but stylists are not likely to design spaces.  

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Interior designers design spaces

For interior design to work, it is first our role as the designers to understand how a space is going to be used. As much as we are creating spaces that are aesthetically pleasing, the foundations of our design are ensuring that the space is practical and satisfies the needs of our clients. By implementing thoughtful design, we create bespoke spaces that feel effortlessly like home. 


Interior design is literally designing the space; understanding what goes into that space, moving walls, redesigning kitchens, and furniture placement, to name but a few examples. An interior designer knows how to use proportions effectively, maximising the use of the space yet maintaining style and practicality, whilst considering other important elements such as lighting or appropriate finishes in the process. That’s not to say that interior stylists don’t do this; they certainly do have to consider space, size and proportions when styling, but not to the extent that an interior designer does. 


An interior designer is responsible for designing the finishes for a space. What materials would provide the best outcome for each individual client and their space? These are elements left to interior design and then considered by a stylist when deciding on the best way to formally ‘dress’ these permanent fixtures. 

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living room interior design

My thoughts on interior styling

At Marylou Sobel, we offer our clients “turn-key design”. “Turn-key” is a phrase made popular within the building industry initially, describing a development in which the developer completes the entire project on behalf of the buyer, and then turns over the keys to the buyer upon completion. We’ve adopted this phrase, and in interior design, it can be interpreted as designing an entire home from the initial brief, sourcing for the project, project management during the installation phase and then completing the project with styling.

When I style a project myself, I can ensure that all of the intricate selections are immaculate within the design. I like to select objects and art and special pieces that give a sense of permanence as opposed to little touches like magazines, books, candles, flowers, etc. whilst these add value to a space it’s the permanence and artistic elements that make it a home. When styling, or designing, the aim is to create beautiful spaces that make a client feel instantly at home, as if they have slowly culminated these pieces for themselves over time; they just fit perfectly. 

When we are shooting our projects we often bring in an interior stylist to dress the space in advance. An interior stylist is an important role within this industry, and choosing who to work with has many considerations to make. A stylist not only needs to be equipped with the appropriate products for the space but also have the same vision for the overall design aesthetic to create a perfectly finished product. 


I’m always open to new ideas and working with stylists is always insightful and enlightening. If you would like to know more about how we can help you with your next interior design project, please feel free to reach out to us. 


An invitation to collaborate

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