One of my core beliefs has long been that everyone deserves to live in a beautiful and functional home. When you consider how things like clutter and a lack of color in our environments contribute to low productivity, depression, and anxiety, it's clear we're talking about a necessity - not just a luxury.
No matter how deserving, though, many people struggle to create beautiful and functional spaces for themselves. They are often unsure of the how-to's involved in designing their homes, or they simply don’t have the time to take on the task. Either way, they may be considering hiring a professional interior designer.
For both new construction and remodeling projects, it's best to get a qualified professional designer (one who has met the minimum industry requirements of having attended an accredited college or university to major in Interior Architecture or Interior Design, and then completed an internship) involved at the construction stage. Designers are accustomed to working together with architects and builders, using their skills and knowledge right from the start to contribute to creating functional, quality interiors that match the homeowners' requirements.
Importantly, designers don't just understand what can be seen on the surface of a room. They also have knowledge of building codes and regulations, which makes it possible for them to create functional environments that are aesthetically pleasing while also adhering to all applicable construction laws.
Their level of training and ability to help plan, schedule, and execute a project typically make designers' services an invaluable investment. While hiring a professional designer is commonly considered to be a luxury, the truth is that any project is likely to be much more costly in terms of time, money, and end results when you go it alone.
My bias as an interior designer aside, here are my top 8 reasons I strongly believe you should consider hiring a professional interior designer before starting your project.
1. Save You Money
"If you think it's expensive to hire a professional, wait until you hire an amateur." That says it all when it comes to deciding whether or not to hire a designer. By hiring a professional you'll avoid making costly mistakes. I can’t tell you how many times clients have contacted me after painting their entire home the wrong color or investing in an item for their space that turned out to be either too large or too small - and is completely non-returnable.
2. Save You Time
Most of my clients are busy professionals who don’t have the time to spend designing their homes themselves. Considering that furnishing and accessorizing just a single room from top to bottom requires the careful selection, sourcing, ordering, picking up or receiving, unpacking, and installing of at least a few hundred items (from curtain rods to rug pads and literally everything in between), even homeowners who are capable from a design standpoint are completely overwhelmed by the project management aspects of their projects.
In short, hiring a professional designer to handle everything for you allows you to spend your time doing what you love and what is most important to you instead.
4. Budgeting & Planning
A skilled designer will make the most of your project's budget. Sometimes that means expertly reusing as much as possible of what you currently own, and it always means helping allocate your “design dollars" wisely to give you the best possible results.
Along with guiding you on the best ways to spend your money now, a designer can also help you plan for future phases of your design project. Many times, my clients' budgets or timelines won't allow for everything to be done at once. Rather than compromising on what they truly want and need, I help them create a plan that will spread their project out over time while in the meantime allowing them to enjoy what we've already done. Then when they're ready, the plan allows us to pick up where we left off and complete their dream spaces.
5. Wide Availability of Resources & Contacts
Homeowners often believe that the items they see available from retailers are the only options out there. Most designers, however, have a large Rolodex or contact list filled with every type of resource needed to create a beautiful space. They go to industry events such as KBIS and High Point Market to vet wholesale products and solutions in person. By hiring a designer, you have access to countless vendors you wouldn't have on your own, plus their contacts include resources for solutions and ideas that you wouldn't have thought of.
6. Act as Your Liaison
There are many, many details that go into designing a space (see #2 above!). A designer can be the go-between for you and the vendors as they handle ordering and deliveries, not to mention any problems that may arise with damaged goods. They also coordinate with contractors such as electricians and painters, and they handle the headaches that come with problems and delays. With just about anything that happens, the designer protects you from having to deal with the inevitable stress design projects bring with them.
7. Education & Experience
Most homeowners will have the opportunity to design only a handful of spaces over their lives, while professional interior designers have not only extensively studied design, but also have significant experience with designing numerous homes, often from top to bottom. The experience they bring to the table means they're able to avoid many problems before they occur and troubleshoot any that do arise.
They're also able to think of your project's design from every angle - literally and figuratively. One of the areas that's especially tricky for homeowners to master is scale and proportion. A professional designer has the experience and training to know what size and scale the items should be to look the best in a given space.
The photo below is a great example of scale gone wrong. A non-designer may look at this space and know it looks 'off' somehow but have no idea how to fix the problem. A designer, however, knows right away that the sofa is too large for the space and there are too many pillows in all the same size and color. The coffee table is the wrong size, shape, and style - all of which contribute in making this space look visually 'heavy' and lopsided.
8. Create that Wow Factor
When you put all of their knowledge, experience, and access to products together, good designers are capable of achieving spaces that are more beautiful and functional than you could ever have imagined. Their training in color, space planning, lighting, etc. plus having their 'fingers on the pulse' of what's available on the market allow them to push beyond what the average person can accomplish within any budget level. Not to mention, by having a designer get your dream space right the first time, you will love it for years to come.
Whether you like this space of not...this is what I call a WOW factor!
As a final thought, while I understand the appeal of the home makeover shows we see on television, I think it's important to recognize that much of what we see on our screens doesn't accurately represent design projects in real life.
Through the 'magic of television,' the timelines and budget numbers used are much, much lower than is realistic in real life. Between having enormous crews that literally work around the clock to get that new kitchen installed in three days, and having everyone's time (including the designers') paid for by the network rather than coming out of the homeowners' budgets, the picture these shows paint of what to expect from your own project is far from complete.
Any good professional designer will be happy to talk you through what it will realistically take to achieve the results you're looking for in your home. Even better, they'll be able to advise you on how to make the most of your investment in your design project, making it more than worthwhile to trust in their expertise.
Before contacting an interior designer, take some time to think about what you want and need. The first step is to consider the types of questions a designer is going to ask you regarding your project:
- Do you have furniture, artwork, collectibles, heirlooms or other objects that will be part of the design?
- Who is the space being designed for?
- When do you want the project to start? When does the job need to be completed?
- What activities will take place in the space?
- Are you working with a contractor or will you need recommendations?
- What is your budget?
Have you ever worked with a designer? What did you like best? What types of things were you having trouble with that your designer was able to help you with? Would love to hear about your experiences.