Architecture And Interior Design: Comparing Two Career Paths

Is there a difference between architecture and interior design or does an architect design the interior? This is a common question those considering a career in building and construction ask. The difference might seem obvious to some people, but if you are not into building and construction, the roles of an architect and that of an interior designer might be conflicting to you at some point.

There are some architects that specialize in architecture and some interior designers who choose finishes and décor. There are also professionals who do both. The design process in both fields is the same, and so a professional can choose to do both. However, the set of skills needed to do either is different from the skills needed to do the other. Read on to learn more.

Architect and Interior Designer Difference

 Their Roles

An architect designs the exterior and the interior of a building. However, they are not only concerned with forms of space, but also other aspects of a building, including safety, engineering, materials, and building codes. After an architect does their job, a house will perform excellently from an energy perspective, building permits will be approved, and the interior aspects of a building will be easy to lay out.

On the other hand, an interior designer handles the appearance of the interior of a building. One architect and interior designer difference is that while an architect chooses where the cabinetry inside the house will appear, the interior designer chooses interior finishes, furniture and soft furnishings, and colors, among other aspects of beauty and functionality of the interior living space. Architecture and interior design professionals have to work together to ensure the layout of spaces is smooth, and every interior aspect falls harmoniously into place.

The overlapping tasks and symbiotic relationships of interior designers and architects are contributing to the beauty and durability of the final results. Many modern buildings are responsible for putting different countries on the world map of famous architecture. This article, for example, presents 10 architecture firms that make Australian cities look like they are from the future.

The Gray Area

Despite their different roles, there are services that an architect and an interior designer can both perform. Both professionals can select interior finishes (tiles or woodwork), draft elevation details, and plan the interior space for furniture placement. The architect is involved with some aesthetic aspects of a building, and the interior designer plans some interior parts that the architect would have done. While the architect and interior designer salary is different, they might find themselves performing some similar tasks.

Note that the work of an interior designer is not just to decorate – decorating is only a subset of interior design that involves selecting soft furnishings and window treatments. There are lots of decisions that need to be made in buildings from where the windows and doors are placed, to the colors on the walls, and the position of the fan in the house. These decisions are made by architecture and interior design professionals.

Architect and Interior Designer Salary

Who earns more between an architect and an interior designer? To be an architect, you will go through a stricter licensing process. Again, architects design both the interior and the exterior of a building and are concerned with meeting safety codes and many building regulations.

An architect is there before construction starts and will still be there at closeout. Due to the strict licensing process, the extensive experience required, architects can take on higher-paying projects. An architect earns about $80,000 every year while an interior designer earns about $55,000 per year. However, either professional can take on more projects to improve their earnings.

Can you be an architect and an interior designer?

The main architect and interior designer difference is in their roles. However, you might find a professional that performs the roles of an interior designer as well as that of an architect.

Interior architects are involved in designing the interior of a building to be safe, functional, and aesthetically pleasing. An interior architect, therefore, needs to understand the strength and durability of materials, the functionality of different rooms, how cabinetry and other fixtures related to doors and windows in a room, and how to use light, color, patterns, and textures.

Interior architects are involved with drafting plans to refinish spaces, considering the taste of their clients. The interior works with the client, architects, and interior designers to create versatile space. When creating space, the designer needs to take into account interior construction, furnishings, and lighting. These professionals need to understand federal, state, and local regulations on buildings, so their buildings match safety codes.

So, can you be an architect and an interior designer? Yes, you can do both. However, it is easier for an architect to do interior design than an interior designer to do an architect’s work. An interior designer who needs to become an architect might need to go back to school and learn more about building regulations and exterior factors that influence design. However, if you want to get the architect and interior designer salary, go ahead and do so.

What is the Role of a Client in Architecture and Interior Design?

While both architects and interior designers can work independently, they have to put the considerations, tastes, and preferences of the client. Whether designing an office space or a residential home, the client recommends the design they would want, which in most cases, is an image of what the building will look like.

Again, the budget of the client might limit the design that the interior designer or architect has in mind. Here, both the interior designer, the client, and the architect work together to create a plan that falls within the budget and meets the expectations of the client.


A career in building and construction is not only enjoyable, but it will always pay well. In the future, more skilled labor is needed in the building and construction industry, and this will include architects and interior designers. The best career between the two should be what you feel comfortable with. Like mentioned earlier, the design process is the same, and there is a gray area so you can be one or the other at different times. If you would love to explore these professions, why not study both and experience the best of both worlds?


Tags: architecture, carrer, interior design

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