These are the words of one of my past clients, describing her initial hesitations.
I couldn’t help but think, “If this is how she felt, I’m sure others out there feel the same way.”
For many people, the idea of hiring an interior designer sounds “hoity toity” (in the words of my mother). I get it. Sometimes I even struggle to say, "I’m an Interior Designer”.
But the truth is, a good designer is really a problem solver.
So today, I want to share with you 10 ways that working with a Professional Interior Designer may be able to help you overcome design hurdles and even save you money in the long run. Let’s dive in shall we?
(Note: All images linked to original sources)
#1 We have spacial awareness
The #1 mistake I see when I walk into a client’s home is they have purchased furnishings that are the wrong size! For example, skimpy nightstands next to a tall bed. Or an oversized island in small kitchen. The scale of furnishings matter. A lot. And it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation either. When we are assessing your furniture needs, we’ll look at all the dimensions BEFORE buying or building to make sure you’re getting the right sized items for your particular home.
#2 We Know People
It’s our JOB to have a robust rolodex of people that can sew, weld, hammer, paint, patch, repair, source, find, alter, and create the very thing we need. Just the other day, a client was bummed that the curtains she wanted were no longer available and she couldn’t find anything like it that she wanted. So I gave her the name of a person who could quickly and affordably replicate the original ones she wanted. Problem solved.
#3 We can see the big picture (and the little picture too)
It’s often hard to get perspective when you live in the very place you’re trying to problem solve. Sometimes a fresh (and professionally trained) set of eyes is all you need to overcome a simple problem. It’s those smack-yourself in the forehead moments when you say, “why didn’t I think of that?!”. It’s okay, we won’t judge. We get it. Last week, a new client brought me in because she was struggling with finishing a room with the “softer touches”. Which I do feel are important and we’ll get to that, but first, I tweaked the furniture layout just a little and all of a sudden she was overwhelmed with delight. She now had a seating arrangement that actually facilitated conversation and (bonus!) gave them better views out the beautiful picture windows.
#4 We don’t get overwhelmed with the process.
Because we do this for a living, we don’t get bogged down with the details (very often). We are professional project managers with the tools and processes needed to take a lot of information and organize into meaningful steps. With design, there is an order of operations that should be followed. We know what that is and can help move a project from ideation to completion.
#5 We understand materials and how things are made.
Materiality is a word we use to describe the characteristics of materials such as feel, look, durability, cost, etc. When considering the options for materials, we will assess the materiality of each option and make suggestions that fit the location and lifestyle of your home. Let’s take countertops for example. The possibilities seem endless: quartz, marble, granite, butcher block, stainless steel, want more? Right off the bat, we will eliminate the ones that just don’t make sense for your lifestyle, and give you the pros and cons of the remaining options. Armed with this info, you can make a confident and educated decision for your final selection.
#6 We can see into the future.
The introduction of sites like Pinterest and Houzz have exploded into the market place giving everyday people access to hot buzz-worthy trends. And that’s a good thing…until it isn’t. Being too quick to jump on hot trends without consideration for it’s longevity is a recipe for disaster. It’s important to invest in more expensive items that will stand the test of time, while saving super-trendy purchases for things that are of the "easy-come-easy-go” variety…like pillows for example.
#7 We have a filter that can prevent you from making bad buying choices.
Once we have gotten past the information-gathering phase of design, we start to look at specific options to suit your specific needs. And to do that we look at each option through a variety of lenses such as: budget, materiality, lead-time (how long it will take to arrive), size (will it fit up the flight of stairs), and more. Your eyes would glaze over if we began to list all the ways we assess a recommendation before we present it to you. The important thing to know is - IT’S OUR JOB - to do this work for you and bring you only the best options to choose from. You’re welcome.
#8 We are focused on your specific needs and wants
This may sound obvious, but let me explain. I get design crushes all the time (like the pineapple wallpaper from Hygee & West) and would just die to be able to use them right away. But because we are laser focused on making recommendations suited to your needs, we sometimes have to put those crushes in our back pocket for the right moment. Case in point, a client of mine and I decided that we were dead-set on an emerald green velvet sofa. We even managed to convince her husband he loved the idea too. Now we had to factor they had 3 kids under 4, remember it was to be in a sunroom, and that we couldn’t blow their inheritance on this thing. So none of the drop-dead gorgeous sofas we found online would work. So we turned to craigslist where we found a super cool sofa for $100 and had it reupholstered in an outdoor grade (sun and spill proof) green velvet instead. We splurged on the fabric but it was okay because we only spent a hundred bucks on the frame. Done and done.
#9 We know where to splurge & where to save.
Nice segue eh? Look, it’s easy to get attached to that gorgeous marble countertop you saw on Pinterest. I get it. But your husband is a chef from India (lots of richly pigmented spices) and you are a Sommelier with a penchant for “just one more glass”. So let’s be honest, unless you’re willing to be diligent about maintaining them, they will look terrible in less than a year. Instead, let’s put in a more durable countertop and save our money for a beautiful marble backsplash instead. This is the kind of thinking we do when helping you make rational decisions.
#10 We will keep the project moving along.
While every project has its obligatory delays, it’s our job to make sure that when (not if) something goes off, we get it back on track, hopefully without you even noticing. It becomes a check box in our to-do list to contact vendors, reps, contractors, or whoever is responsible to make sure the wrong is righted.
So there you have it. Maybe you thought our only job was to pick out pretty pillows but the truth is, we are ruthless in our quest for filtering through the endless options to bring you only the best that fit your specific needs.
One last thing you should consider before hiring is knowing the difference between an interior decorator and an interior designer. It’s simply education. (To be clear…you can’t be taught style and taste.) A Professional Interior Designer has gone through a CIDA accredited design program and learned the technical aspects of design like fire codes, flammability ratings, wheelchair accessibility, ergonomics, and more. Some states even require testing to call yourself an interior designer, even after your formal education. A decorator (sometimes called Stylists) on the other hand, does not have the formal education (and perhaps the technical expertise) of an interior designer. (That's not to say there aren't interior decorators who are self-taught in technical expertise)
Which type of professional you hire really depends on the project at hand. If you are doing a major renovation, consider working with someone with the technical knowledge required for the job. If you’re redesigning with only cosmetic updates, an interior decorator will be wonderful at helping you sort through your options.
In case you’re wondering, I am an Interior Designer that likes to decorate. I can and do enjoy renovations but I also enjoy helping with the cosmetic projects as well. I attended Texas State University’s Interior Design program, one of the best programs out there. The program has been recognized by industry professionals as breeding grounds for great interior designers. I am also a LEED accredited professional that can help you with your environmentally minded renovation.
I offer both full-service design as well as eDesign Services (HappyBox) tailored for those who want the design help they need, but can implement their design on their own. To learn more about how to work together, check out my home page with descriptions for my services.