Why do you need an interior designer?
This is an interesting question and is one that needs to be examined from different angles before settling on a response of ‘because you just do’.
When you embark on a project of the home there is often a residing acceptance that you will need external help. This could be as basic as needing an electrician, a plumber or a painter and decorator. Or, it may be that you are embarking on a more extensive project and require planning permission and therefore require an architect to help convey ideas into drawings to then gain permission to start working on your project. You may also have someone project managing the builders and fitout acting as your site manager. These costs are factored in and you accept them as part of your budget. When it comes to an interior designer and the services they bring it is often deemed as a “nice to have” and something that is exclusively for the rich and famous. A sad but true fact but one which needs dispelling. An interior designer sees things differently. They look at a space and consider light and shade, how you will use each space, how you will live in it alongside the placement of furniture, the types of products that are needed to support your lifestyle whilst bringing out your personality and respecting the building. They are also likely to have an opinion on whether the wall that is under discussion is in the right place, will accommodate the furniture that is needed whilst allowing you to move around with ease. They can save you money, time, heartache and a lot more. They are as necessary and as integral to your project as any other trade and should be budgeted for accordingly. In the scenario with the wall, bringing an interior designer on to the project in the early stages will allow for your architect and interior designer to work together to create a seamless design as they see things differently but together can make your dreams come true.
A good interior designer will get to know you. They will understand what makes you tick. How you want to live your life in the space and also understand which design boundaries to push so that you are left with something uniquely different. They will work with you and your budget to source the right kinds of products that will create impact. They will spend it in the right areas and save in the right areas. They will bring an abundance of creativity and project management skills to ensure that the products arrive on time for the trades to install them. They will manage missed deliveries and part orders and they will do this with a smile on their face and convey confidence and compassion when you are having a wobble and your own work commitments are getting you down and you just want the project to be finished. They will source the best items for you and they should pass on trade discounts to ensure that you get the best possible price. They will get involved in conversations with your architect to make sure they know the oversized sofa is staying and that it needs to be accommodated before a wall goes up and causes rework. They will unpick your home and identify what makes it truly special. They will read the building and help interpret it so that the period features are centric to the scheme and they will relay this back to you like reading a good book and they will get you excited about your project in ways you only dreamed of.
Like anything in life, you get what you pay for. If you went to an expensive restaurant and had an amazing meal and gorgeous bottle of wine you would appreciate it. It wouldn’t be something you did every week but it would be an experience you were willing to pay for. Commissioning an interior designer is the same. You wouldn’t pay for it or need it every week but when it comes to a specific project you may need to take the plunge and get comfortable paying for advice, experience, creativity and knowledge in much the same way that you buy in skillsets in other areas of your life.
Some questions I often get asked are:
Is it a long and challenging process?
The short answer is no, it shouldn’t be. If you find the right interior designer and have done your due diligence, asked the right questions to get to know them and for them to get to know you and you feel like you have a connection then it will be the easiest relationship you’ve ever had.
They will guide you through the process like a gentle hand on your back, taking the pain and hassle out of the project so that all you are left with is a clear understanding of the approach, how the design scheme will look, how much it will cost and the finished product and all this before anything is ordered.
Where do I begin?
At the beginning. This may sound like a flippant response but start at the beginning. Start with asking yourself what it is you want to achieve. Are you wanting to redesign your entire home, or a room? Are you wanting to create an indulgent and decadent room or are you wanting to create a more family friendly space? Are you passionate about the past and would love to introduce Victorian inspired elements but worry that it could look like a tired old museum? Are you struggling with the identify of your home and need to define clear zones and uses?
By asking yourself these questions you will gain clarity and a clear goal for your project. The next step is to decide on your budget – be honest with yourself on what you are willing to spend and what you can afford to spend. These figures should match.
Now you are ready to start talking to interior designers. You will be able to discuss the project and assess whether or not they understand what you want to achieve and determine if you feel they are capable of delivering it and most importantly of all, that you feel like you can work together.
How do I make sure I know what I am getting?
This is all down to the client brief. The interior designer should outline in detail what they are creating for you and communicate with you throughout the process so that you know they understand you, what you’re looking for and what is in scope. There should be no surprises. You should also have the opportunity to change any elements which you feel do not meet the brief. The number of revisions and what constitutes a revision vs a change in scope should always be agreed up front.
How do I make sure it feels like your home?
This is very much down to the relationship you have with your interior designer combined with their skillset of the interior designer. They should bring to the table the ability to interpret your personal style and wheedle out the way that you want to live your life and create something that enhances your life and feels like you. They should not bring with them a tried and tested room that they bring out and recreate time after time. It should not be a reflection of them, it must be a reflection of you.
Hopefully this helps explain why an interior designer is very much needed and not a nice to have on a project. However, if after reading this it makes you feel like you can go it alone then I would encourage you to go for it. The best place to start is by creating a physical folder or using an app like Pinterest to collate images that interest and inspire you. Look at room settings, products and paint and wallpapers and critique them. Think about why you like them and also identify the bits you don’t like. In the case of the things that you don’t like it is usually an emotional reaction. It could be that you imagine the fabric to be unforgiving and cold to sit on or the colour makes you feel nauseous. Do not ignore these instinctive reactions. The same goes for your “like” pile. Don’t over analyse why you like something – it is your home and you don’t have to justify your choices to anyone. The main thing to take away is to design for you and make sure you stick to your budget. Work out what you can afford to spend at the start of your design journey and make sure you stick to it. Do not be swayed by what you see online and in shops. Decide what you want your big-ticket items to be and which elements you are happy to compromise on and remain firm. If you know you will struggle with working to a budget then ask a friend or partner to be your accountability buddy to keep you in check. It is so easy to be seduced by products and items when you start out but you must remain firm and stick to your budget.
If you do feel like you would like to work with an interior designer, then I would love to hear from you. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and we can kick start your design journey.