Residential Vs. Commercial Interior Design: Understanding the Difference


Interior design is an all-encompassing term that relates to anything and everything regarding embellishing an interior space. That being said, there are, of course, major differences in this field, the main two being between residential interior design and the commercial one.

While the end goal of both of these is to make the space they’re dealing with amped up in style, the approach to that matter varies significantly. Here, we’ll explore some of the main differences between the world of residential and commercial interior design.

Different needs

As mentioned, depending on the sphere of interior design you’re operating in, your clients will have different needs. While the commercial interior design focuses more on making the space breathe professionalism and functionality, residential clients are more focused on making their abodes cozy and welcoming. These distinct differences bring forth the need to approach the project in an entirely different manner. Additionally, commercial interiors are usually entirely impersonal – except for the brand image, while personality is the thing that makes residential interiors feel homey and cozy. 

Residential interiors

To make things a bit clearer, the residential interior design – as the name suggests – refers to designing the interior of personal living spaces. People who specialize in this type of interior design can expect to be hired to design the interiors of residential properties that have not yet been built or to redesign an already existing living space. If the project is being drafted for the already existing client, their wants and needs make an integral part of the design. However, if the interior space is not yet inhabited – e.g. if we’re talking about a freshly built residential building – then the style and the interior design of the space takes on a much more minimalistic and neural shape. 

Commercial interiors

Professional operating in the commercial sphere will mostly be hired to design the interiors of commercial buildings and business offices. While this area may appear to be more bland to some, there is actually still quite a bit of room for creativity. Current industrial design solutions in Sydney, for example, are trying to steer as far away from what’s considered to be “ordinary” as possible. Since the modern business world has already evolved so far from the once omnipresent cubicles, there really is no need to harshly limit the creativity and go for the interior that will just look stern and bland. 

The functionality of the design

In both the residential and commercial interior design, the functionality of the design still plays a huge role. In the residential realm, the client is usually an individual or a family and it is on the designer to take their specific needs into account when designing the space. However, when it comes to commercial design, the type of company or business you’re designing the space for will dictate the way you need to approach the design. 

Commercial spaces also need to be in accordance with the brand image of the company, which can prove to be helpful when it comes to interior design. If, for instance, you are hired to design a hospital interior, you will need to take on a different approach than if you were to be hired to design a school interior. Also, designing an office space will leave more room for creativity than designing a commercial warehouse.

Depending on the area of interior design you’re operating in, your clients’ needs may vary significantly. That’s why you need to be sure that you completely understand the client as well as the space you’re working with. On the other hand, if you’re looking to hire an interior designer, be sure that you opt for the one you actually need – again depending on the type of space you are looking to decorate. 

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