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Oxford Dictionaries Online defines [interior] decorator as follows:

1.1 chiefly North American A person whose job is to design the interior of someone’s home, by choosing colors, carpets, materials, and furnishings.

1.2 chiefly British A person whose job is to decorate the interior of buildings by painting the walls and hanging wallpaper: she became a painter and decorator (emphasis is mine.)

Other example sentences:

The police had been informed, together with the building contractor and the decorator, who came to view the damage we had caused.

There was a time when a decorator painted walls in small rooms white as a matter of course, believing that white would make a room appear larger.

Our builder tells us that it is all right to paper the newly plastered walls, but our decorator says that he is a traditionalist and would prefer to wait some time for possible cracking, due to drying after the heating is switched on.

Per Collins English Dictionary:

(Professions) Brit a person whose profession is the painting and wallpapering of buildings.

Per Cambridge Dictionaries Online:

UK a ​person whose ​job is to ​paint the inside or ​outside of ​buildings and to do other ​related ​work: a ​firm of ​painters and decorators

What would be the AmEng equivalent for BrEng decorator as defined by ODO?

I thought of painter and paperhanger and painter and [wall]paperer, but I would be better off with a single word, if there ever is one.

WALLPAPERER

A worker who papers walls Donald was a painter and wallpaperer for the Painter's Union, Local 48 in Worcester for many years. (emphasis is mine.)

The Free Dictionary by Farlex

PAPERHANGER

One whose occupation is covering or decorating walls with wallpaper; a paperer.

American Heritage® Dictionary of the English Language

PAPERER

One whose occupation is decorating walls with wallpaper.

The Free Dictionary by Farlex

  • 2
    Interior designer. Sometimes interior decorator. – Jim Mar 20 '16 at 22:08
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    @Jim Thanks, but "interior designer/decorator" is defined by AHD as a person whose profession is the planning and execution of the layout, decoration, and furnishing of an architectural interior, thefreedictionary.com/interior+decorator – Elian Mar 20 '16 at 22:14
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    Well, I can only tell you how we actually use the term (my sister-in-law is an interior designer her college degree is in Interior Design) and she “designs the interior of someone’s home, by choosing colors, carpets, materials, and furnishings as well as “decorating the interior of buildings by painting the walls and hanging wallpaper.” I’ll tell her the dictionary says that’s not her job... – Jim Mar 20 '16 at 22:19
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    @Jim Does your sister also paint the walls and hang the wallpaper of the building interiors that she decorates? ;-) Actually, I'm looking for the AmEng equivalent for what is called an interior decorator in the UK, i.e. someone whose profession is to decorate the interior of buildings by painting the walls and hanging wallpaper. – Elian Mar 20 '16 at 22:27
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    Yes she does, but I will admit that once an interior designer has reached a certain level of renown in their profession they tend to hire underlings and subcontractors to do the painting and wallpapering for them – Jim Mar 20 '16 at 22:27
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+50

There is no such word in U.S. English.

If you google "painting and wallpapering", you find a large number of U.S. businesses called "XXX painting and wallpapering". And that doesn't even count those decorators who call themselves "XXX wallpapering and painting", "XXX painters and wallpaper hangers" and other similar variants.

Painter and paper hanger has been a somewhat common phrase in the U.S. since around 1880, and is much less common in the U.K., presumably because they are decorators there.

  • It's possibly useful to point out that wallpaper has become an uncommon wall covering in the U.S., and that this has diminished the interest in finding a word that encompasses the business of actually hanging wallpaper. – Derrell Durrett Mar 24 '16 at 16:28
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A person who applies wallpaper to walls for a living is called a painter.

The second definition of painter covers it:

a person whose work is covering surfaces, as walls, with paint

It would be widely assumed that any painter could also hang wallpaper.

  • I have also seen painters described (in the US) as "decorators", apparently depending on the lack of the "interior" qualification to differentiate them from "real" interior decorators. – Hot Licks Mar 21 '16 at 0:56
  • So, if you wanted somebody to paper your walls, you would ask your friends and colleagues if they knew of a good painter? That seems a bit counterintuitive. – Roaring Fish Mar 21 '16 at 1:54
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    I don’t see how the second definition covers it. It says, “covering surfaces ... with paint – Jim Mar 21 '16 at 3:23
  • @RoaringFish That is exactly what I would do, and have done. Wallpaper and hanging supplies are sold in paint stores. – jejorda2 Mar 21 '16 at 10:01
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    To me, as a Brit, that is really weird. A painter paints but he doesn't do anything else, at least in vocational terms. – Roaring Fish Mar 21 '16 at 10:07

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