Think of your favourite hangouts while out and about with friends. Then think of the lavish lobbies and interiors of hotels and airports. Think of your workplaces and other retail establishments. And finally, think about the safety and comfort of your own home. What do all of these have in common? The answer is that they have all been touched by the effects of interior design and all benefit from its use.

But the way that interior design impacts each of these places are very different. There is a good reason why interior design for residential spaces look very different to commercial spaces like office buildings and retail establishments. This is because the space requirements for each of these spaces are not similar.

Residential vs commercial interior spaces

The best interior design ideas are those that can tailor the space according to the needs of the owner or occupant while taking into account the functions and aesthetics of the space. There are several obvious differences between spaces made for the public compared to spaces made for private use. Commercial spaces, on one hand, need to exude professionalism and be catered to multiple workers and employees, whilst residential spaces are more personal, and focuses on making the space more welcoming and livable.

A little bit more about commercial spaces


The sphere of commercial spaces is vast. It can include everything from modern offices to retail spaces like shops and restaurants. With commercial interior design, you have to focus on how you can transform the space into something that accurately reflects your business theme and how it can accommodate a potential large amount of users or occupants. Because of this, the interior design of commercial spaces can be thought of as a more complicated endeavour than residential interior design. It is not uncommon to hire an interior design firm that is more specialised and suited to commercial spaces, because this type of interior design requires a keen sense for business as well.

Gone are the days where offices are drab and bland spaces filled with cubicles, or where retail establishments are purely places where you sell your products. Today’s modern commercial interior designers can recommend to you many out of the box designs that are sure to provide many benefits such as raising the productivity of your workers or helping customers to associate the fun theme and design back to your brand. With commercial interior design, you are more likely to build a space in consideration of other people.

What qualifies as a commercial space? You’d be surprised. Commercial spaces don’t just include offices and stores, they also include various other places of business, such as:

  • Schools
  • Hospitals
  • Government facilities
  • Factories
  • Research centres
  • Museums
  • Airports

…and many other industrial and manufacturing areas. Because of this diversity, people about to embark on a commercial interior design project should see the specific requirements, needs, and expectations of how the type of commercial space should be designed.

A short description of residential spaces

Residential places, on the other hand, are normally much more personal spaces that cater more to the owner or inhabitants of the building. This means that interior designers for residential areas usually have much more freedom and leeway to help you with your requirements, and these places are usually made to fit the aesthetic preferences of the homeowner. These spaces are made to be the living or personal quarters of individuals, so creating a design for their home would mean taking into consideration their likes, dislikes, wants, and needs. Other considerations also include the safety needs, building codes, regulations, and other residential policies that need to be taken care of.

This diversity is also the reason why you can see a wide variety of home styles and designs. Two homes are rarely alike because the interior design of a home is specifically catered to one person. Residential interior designers are more adept at communicating with their clients and coming up with an interior design project that their clients can get behind.

What are some examples of residential spaces? Your typical house isn’t the only example of a residential space. Other examples include:


  • Condominium units
  • Apartments
  • HBD housing
  • Mansions

…and more.

What are the similarities and differences between residential and commercial interior design?


What’s the most important common aspect of interior design for both residential and commercial spaces? That’s right, it’s functionality. Every interior design project in Singapore (or anywhere else, really), requires one to be more knowledgeable in how spaces operate and how design elements work together so your spaces can be used effectively. In fact, for some projects, some residential interior designers focus on only parts of the house or specific rooms such as bathrooms and bedrooms so they can focus on enhancing the efficiency of their spaces.

With commercial interiors, the success of the business can rest on how well the space is designed. Whether or not a space looks good to a customer and whether or not it can be used well is a determining factor in attracting and retaining customers. This is why so many businesses get involved in the project as well and hire only the top commercial interior design firms for the job. It’s because their business is also at stake– if the project is done poorly, they may even stand the chance of losing valued clients and customers.

With residential interiors, the job revolves around the client and how well they can use it. It’s not all business. While commercial interior designers have to put functionality above all else, residential interior design prioritises the functionality of a space primarily for the inhabitant or occupant. Most interior designers will get involved in the picking and choosing of themes and colours, and will be much more hands-on in helping you decide which colour schemes work, what elements mesh well together, and what furniture, appliances, and technological equipment fit your home. Since it is mostly for personal use, you can expect that residential interior designers may make more adjustments according to your personal preferences and would put a little more emphasis on aesthetics as compared to commercial interiors.

Starry Homestead is the best place to find specialists in retail, office, and home interior design in Singapore. Reach out to us for more details regarding what we can do to make your space pop.