What’s the Difference Between Architecture and Design?

By HomeAdvisor

Updated January 21, 2021

When you’re thinking about home improvements, you may need to hire an architect or interior designer. These pros can help you create a design that will look great and solve current problems.

They perform many similar tasks for your house, but they are not the same. Here’s how they differ and a few tips to determine which pro is right for your project.

On This Page:

  1. Interior Design vs. Architecture
    1. Architectural Interior Designing
    2. Interior Design Architects
  2. Designer vs. Architect
    1. Cost Differences Between Interior Architects and Design Pros
    2. Education, Certifications and Licenses
    3. How They Work
  3. Building Designer vs. Architect
  4. FAQs
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Interior Design vs. Architecture

Architecture concerns everything about a structure. This includes:

  • the design of the exterior
  • interior floorplans
  • the general function of the space

Interior design focuses on the building’s inside, covering:

  • layout
  • colors
  • finishes like flooring and countertops

You might hire either one to help you develop a floorplan and carry out a remodeling project. There are times when you must have an architect, but you might not always need an interior designer.

Architectural Interior Designing

In your search, you may encounter architectural interior designers. These pros usually have:

  • a degree in interior design
  • knowledge of local building codes
  • experience with drafting floorplans

When you consider hiring an architectural designer vs. architect, remember that they are not the same. In many cases, designers are trained professionals with additional experience who are working toward their architect’s license.

Interior Design Architects

Since there is a lot of overlap between these careers, many architects offer interior design services. They may have degrees and certifications in both fields. These pros are qualified to help you create a new building or remodeling plan with a refined eye for color and style.

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Designer vs. Architect

Cost Differences Between Interior Architects and Design Pros

Hiring an architect costs $2,100 to $8,400. By comparison, the price to hire an interior designer runs $1,900 to $11,000. The difference relates to their unique roles. An architect may spend many hours devising and developing the blueprints, with little involvement in the actual construction. A designer’s work often requires more time throughout the entire improvement process.

Education, Certifications and Licenses


Interior Designer

How They Work

Pros in both fields can work independently or in a firm. With an active license, architects can serve as a primary point of contact on new construction projects. Designers’ qualifications usually do not meet this requirement.

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Building Designer vs. Architect

Building designers, interior designers and architects are similar. The major difference is their involvement with the project during various parts of the process. Architects tend to do more work at the beginning, while designers work throughout. Certified Professional Building Designers often have a degree, but it is not required. They may cost less to hire as a result. To certify, these pros must pass a series of exams on topics related to structural design and construction, with six years of experience in the field. They can:

  • build a residential design for a new home or remodel
  • draft blueprints
  • help you request and select bids from contractors
  • oversee construction at every stage

Home designers may work with a licensed architect to ensure that the plan meets local building standards.

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What’s the difference in salary between interior design vs. architecture professionals?

Nationally, interior designers make about $55,000 per year, compared to around $80,000 per year for an architect. Architects go through a stricter licensing process, which gives them the authority to take on higher-paying jobs with greater responsibility.

Can you be both an architect and interior designer?

It’s common for both types of professionals to sell a package of architecture and interior design services. Interior designers can’t legally operate as an architect unless they have the proper qualifications.

How does home designer pro vs. chief architect compare?

Home Designer Pro and Chief Architect are software packages built for DIY enthusiasts and pros respectively.

How do you know to hire an architect vs interior designer?

You should hire an architect if you want to:

  • design a new structure
  • build a home addition
  • expand the exterior
  • make significant changes to the interior floorplan

If your project involves minor alterations to the home’s inside, you may want to hire an interior designer instead.

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