Your home is most likely the biggest asset you will ever own. It’s your peaceful haven after a crazy day at work, it’s where you raise a family and entertain your friends, and it’s where you play, argue, relax and interact on many levels. It’s not just where you live; it’s where you experience living. Whether it’s a new construction or a remodel, you want create the best possible living experience for you and your family.
Likewise, your workplace, whether it be a large office, a small clinic or anything in between needs to provide the best experience for you, your staff and your clients. A well-designed space not only reflects the quality of your services but can actually affect the emotional well-being and productivity of your staff.
Looking at these two places where you spend most of your time through this perspective should make clear the importance of considering having them professionally designed.
What surprises me is that so many people never consider hiring an interior designer. Well, perhaps it’s not that surprising given the misconception people have about interior designers and what the work of an interior designer entails.
This article will discuss the bare facts and basics about interior design to help you make an informed decision about whether you should hire an interior designer. Let’s start by demolishing those misconceptions people have about interior designers.
Common Misconceptions about Interior Designers
- An interior designer is nothing more than a glorified color coordinator. They pick out fabrics and match them with paint swatches, add some pretty touches and move on to the next project - no! That’s what an interior decorator does. In fact, anybody with an eye for color can be an interior decorator. Color coordination is only a tiny part of the interior designer’s job. An interior designer is sometimes more aptly referred to as an “interior architect”. Just like an exterior architect designs a building, an interior designer works with the interior space to create flow and functionality, ensures that furnishings and colors are shown to their best advantage and that fixtures, cabinetry and furniture comply with safety standards, have high functionality and work together to provide ease and comfort.
- An Interior Designer is too expensive for my budget. This has got to be the biggest misconception and one that makes so many people shy away from hiring an interior designer. The reality is the exact opposite - if anything, an interior designer will save you money! First of all, he or she will help you avoid expensive “design mistakes” where you may have to discard certain items you have bought or tear out and reinstall fixtures or cabinetry, etc. Moreover, many designers are happy to work on tight budgets and will actually consider it a challenge to get you the best deals for your money. Savvy designers use their connections and market knowledge to get you amazing deals. They also know exactly where to look for specific items and can save you a lot of legwork if you are too busy to go on expensive shopping trips. As long as you are very clear about your budget from the start, a good designer will be able to get you the best value for your money.
- Interior designers only work on big projects with huge budgets. This is totally false. An interior designer will accept projects ranging from tiny apartments, family homes to large offices and hotel complexes. Spaces of every size and shape can be transformed into beautiful and functional areas by a creative interior designer. Any beautifully accomplished project, whether big or small us always a welcome addition to the interior designer’s portfolio.I would go so far as to say that smaller spaces absolutely require an interior designer to allow you to make use of every inch of space.
- An interior designer will impose their own taste on you and you will lose control over what you want. This is a valid concern given the typical stereotype we have in our minds: The arrogant, imperious guy who walks into your home, looks around with disdain, waves his hand and says, “Everything’s got to go.” And from that moment on, you become a spectator to the design of your own home. If you dare to make a meek suggestion you are told condescendingly to leave everything to him because he knows best. In the rare event that you do come across such a designer, drop him/her like a hot potato.
Now that we have clarified some of the most common myths about interior designers, you may still be wondering whether you need to hire one to handle your home or business interior. So why hire an interior designer? Here are some of the many reasons:
- You have a vague idea of what you want but don’t know really know your design style.
- You and your partner or family members have different tastes and can’t agree on a unified style.
- You have a specific design style but just don’t know where to start; you are overwhelmed by all the beautiful colors and furniture out there and can’t decide what to buy or the best placement for everything.
- You want to remodel but don’t know what to keep, what to refurbish or what to get rid of completely.
- You want a great layout that takes advantage of all the available space without appearing cluttered or tacky.
- You want a beautiful home like the pictures you see in magazines but don’t think you can afford it.
- You can’t afford to buy all new furnishings and want to keep some of your old stuff and add a few new pieces to it.
- You want a childproof home that combines functionality with elegance.
Remember, a good interior designer will take the time to get to know your personality in order to accommodate your preferences and avoid your dislikes. A designer is almost like a psychiatrist, in the sense that he or she will probe into your personality to discover your needs and preferences, so make sure you try and articulate those as best as you can.
Here are some of the questions a good designer should ask:
- The first question most designers will ask is what is your preferred design style? If you are unsure, he or she may guide you by asking you to look at photos of interiors and choose those you like best.
- When visiting your home, the designer will ask how you use a certain room. For example,the kitchen; is it normally used as the main gathering place for the family where the kids do their homework, where the family eats together or where friends sit and have coffee? Another example is your bedroom. Do you use it mainly for sleeping or do you spend more time relaxing there and watching TV in bed?
- “What do you love most about this room?” It may be a vintage rocking chair, a comfortable sofa or even the curtains. Your answer will be an important indicator to the designer about your tastes and the type of furniture/furnishings that will appeal to you
- A good designer will ask if there are special needs that should be considered, such as small children in the house, family members with disabilities, pets, etc.
- A good designer will ask what your budget is at the very first meeting. This is essential to avoid future complications. The designer will also ask if your budget can be stretched a little if he or she finds something exceptional but a bit costly that would be a great addition to your home. If your budget simply does not allow for any such extravagances, be sure you are very clear on that point.
What is the interior designer’s role?
- The most challenging part of the designer’s role is to fit everything together. An interior designer is trained to architect a space to achieve the best flow, lighting and functionality that will best showcase your furnishings.
- An interior designer will use his/her resources and connections to bring in the best professionals for the installation of cabinetry, fixtures, lighting, flooring, etc. This is extremely useful and saves a lot of hassle if your space is a new construction.
- The interior designer understands how spaces flow together and will design a space that works for you. He or she knows how to combine fabric and how to place furniture and fittings so that they don’t interfere with other fixtures such as electrical sockets.
- The interior embarks on the creative selection of fixtures, cabinetry, furniture, furnishings and paint color, and various other materials, design the correct sizes and oversee their correct placement.
- If you have hired a contractor, it is a good idea to bring in the interior designer early on.
- They coordinate with the contractor in the early stages of construction with regards fixtures and installments to avoid costly redos.
- An interior designer works with natural and artificial light to enhance your living experience and comfort, as well as bring out the best features if your rooms.
- The goal of the interior designer is to enhance the space they are working with to combine elegance with functionality and beauty – as well as your preferences and bring all of that together.
Your role in the process:
Being an active participant in the design of your home or workplace is crucial for achieving the best outcome and avoiding misunderstandings. Remember, you and the interior designer are working as a team. That is not to say you should interfere in every little detail but there are a few ways in which you can be more involved in the process:
- Let your designer know in advance which pieces you simply cannot part with so that he/she can work around them
- Collect photos of rooms and furniture as well as fabrics and show them to your designer to use as guidelines.
- Regularly requests receipts for purchases and other work to make sure you are on track with your budget. Try not to be a “designer’s nightmare”. Think through your decisions and choices before articulating them. Constant mind-changing will not be in your best interest and will be too time-consuming and costly.
Ultimately, the decision to hire an interior designer is one that will potentially save you time and money – and can be the difference between nice and breathtaking.