Making The Most Of Your Smart Decision To Hire An Interior Designer

So you’ve decided to hire an Interior Designer–good move! Now what? Before you start planning your “reveal” party, you’ll need a basic understanding about the process to ensure that you get the most design for your dollar and that you have a fun and fabulous experience, no matter what type of project is ahead of you.

You’ll need to learn the basics of choosing the right design professionals, establishing a budget, outlining the details of the contract, considering your lifestyle and communicating your challenges.

Choosing the Right Designer: Beyond the Portfolio

Professionally trained Interior Designers have undergone extensive training in the various elements of modern and historical design, art and architecture. They have a basic foundation of knowledge that allows them to develop concepts in a variety of styles that range from traditional, contemporary, art deco, eclectic–or a combination of several styles.

That being said, not every designer’s talent is right for every project. For yours, you’ll want to choose someone whose portfolio “speaks” to you in a positive way. As with every profession, designers tend to develop personal styles that carry over into their projects. It could be the sense of clarity and order you see in the furniture arrangements, or maybe it’s a color palette that’s used in a unique way. It could be the modern touches worked seamlessly into a roomful of antiques, or the interesting textures of the fabrics.

Referrals are the best way to find a designer, so if the home of a friend or colleague appeals to you, by all means ask them for the designer’s number! You can also visit Web sites to get a better feel for the designer’s talent and personal style. Expect to spend a bit of time on the phone discussing your project with the designer and/or completing a questionnaire that will give them a better feel for your tastes and your project prior to the kickoff meeting.

You’re looking for someone you instantly trust and respect, who communicates excitement about your project, no matter how big or small, and who trusts and respects you as well. After all, this person is transforming your most sacred and cherished space!

Establishing a Realistic Budget

Everyone has a budget, so don’t feel bad about setting yours in stone…or tile, or brick. No matter what the amount, your designer should help you get the best value and the highest quality possible. Be wary of anyone that summarily dismisses your grand ideas based on budget alone: A first-rate designer will work hard to achieve your key design goals, perhaps by spreading the job out over time or suggesting alternative solutions for your project.

A great benefit of using a professional designer is that she has access to materials unavailable to the general public, so no matter what your budget, your home will feel unique and very “you.”

Your designer will also manage the entire process, whether it involves space planning, lighting design, purchasing, ordering, selecting finishes or monitoring the construction and installation of the project elements.

Outlining Terms of the Contract

Make sure you read and sign an official contract before any money exchanges hands or work begins. In addition to the legal aspects, a contract summarizes the plans you’ve been discussing such as your budget, design fees, accountability regarding subcontractors (painters, carpet layers, etc.).

You’ve selected the designers and signed the contract – now comes the fun part!

Considering Your Lifestyle

Your home environment should complement and support the way you and your family really live – or really want to live. For example, if you’re starting a home-based business, you might turn your cluttered garage into a functional office. If your spouse loves to cook, you might knock down a wall so the under-used formal dining room becomes part of the kitchen. Many families make the mistake of letting the layout of the home dictate their activities vs. reorganizing the space to embrace their lifestyles.

To ensure that your designer understands how you live now and how you want to live, share as many details with her as you can. Also share your personal tastes so she can incorporate them into the designs. If you hate plaid, tell her now, before she gets too deep into the first draft.

To help you better prepare yourself, answer these questions before you have your first meeting with the designer:

  • Are you a creative person? In what ways does your home limit your creativity or your hobbies?
  • Do you like the present color palette? Does it need updating?
  • Are they any rooms that feel cramped or stuffy? Any rooms that feel empty, cold or unwelcoming?
  • Is adequate, well-organized storage a problem? Can you find things when you need them?
  • Are your bathrooms functional, pleasing spaces? Do you or family members have special needs (e.g. grab bars, easy-entrance shower stalls, etc.)?
  • As you walk through your rooms, jot down your favorite qualities about each. Do you like the proportions? Is there adequate ventilation and lighting throughout your house?
  • Are there any rooms that you don’t use regularly? Could any of these rooms be used for more than one function? Could any of these rooms be used for a completely different function?
  • Does your home balance open space and private areas?
  • Does the entryway do its job of setting the stage for the rest of your home by welcoming guests and making a statement about the people who live there? If you normally come into your home through the garage, does that area welcome you?

Focus on Your Challenges

A designer works best when you share your “wish list,” express your ideas, and then keep an open mind. That means communicating how you want to live in the space and then entrusting the designer to make it happen. After all, you hired this person for her experience, talent and vision!

For example, one homeowner hired a designer to help her reorganize her tiny office so she could be more productive. Instead, the designer suggested that she move her entire operation downstairs, into the den she used once every two months to watch movies. She did, tripling her space and doubling her productivity in just three months.

Contrary to TV, where designers admonish clients for questioning their plans, real-life designers understand that you’re the person who ultimately needs to love the space. They want you to be happy and want you to give your input so you’re absolutely thrilled with the results (and so you’ll recommend them to your friends)! That’s why they do so much probing upfront about your tastes and how you live, then incrementally present their ideas throughout the process.

Hiring a designer is like giving a gift to yourself! You made the smart decision to hire an Interior Designer, you’ve been smart about the planning process, and now you can rest assured that the time, money and energy you spend returns truly smart, stunning results!

How to Begin Your Interior Design Career

Are you serious about an interior design career? Many people have a romantic idea about the interior design profession. There is a lot involved in the industry. It is not just about designing attractive looking homes and buildings. You have to be a businessperson and a sales person. You must be very attentive to detail and make sure that everything is perfect to keep your clients happy.

An interior design career can be very rewarding and fulfilling but it can also be very stressful. Besides designing, you must ensure that all building codes are met for your local municipality. An interior designer must be very organized in order to keep everything running smoothly.

In an interior design career, you must be able to sell yourself and your ideas. Interior design allows the individual to express their creative side and interact with like-minded people.
People are just getting too busy to do their own decorating and many people have the money to pay someone to come in and do the work for them. Many Businesses also hire Interior Designers to make their offices more appealing to clients and employees.

At one time, there were virtually no programs in universities or colleges for the student who wanted an interior design career. Now an accreditation process ensures a program will teach the proper principles and interior design practices at a high standard.

If embarking on an interior design career, you will be licensed much like an architect. In order to acquire this license you must take a test administered by the National Council for Interior Design Qualification. To qualify to write this test you must have a combination of six years of work experience, four years of work experience plus two years of schooling or four years in an accredited school plus two years working experience. As you, can see this helps create credible, educated interior designers.

Software such as AutoCAD would greatly enhance your interior design career. Other courses that could help your career are sales, marketing courses, and even theatre classes to help in your sales pitches. Obviously, art classes and drafting classes would be ideal as well for the person interested in an interior design career.

Your interior design career will develop as you progress in your career. You could begin as a residential designer and evolve into a commercial designer or a little of both. Once school is finished you may want to consider an internship to get into the business.

Planning In Interior Design – Is It A Job For Experts?

During the revamping of a house’s interiors, it becomes vital to hire experts that can execute the project efficiently. The best interior designers discuss the project details with the clients, should listen to their wants and ideas, and eventually create a design that is most suitable to their preferences. It is not right to hire amateurs with zero designing experience to take charge of the project. Professional interior designers are the best people that you have to talk with when it comes to planning in interior design.

Planning Your Dream Home

The chief element in designing a dream home is to look for the best interior designing company. A design team can easily take care of furniture selection; setting up plumbing fixtures; installing walls, lighting and floor finishes. Add to these the tasks of cabinetry construction, putting architectural details and space planning and you should be more than willing to look for the best people to accomplish the project. After all, every aspect of your home must harmonize with each other. Also, your original idea should not have been coated so thickly that it is no longer identifiable. In short, the design must still reflect the homeowner’s personality.

If you love playing with your home’s interiors, say, altering the color schemes every now and then or having the furniture moved around, then you should have a keen eye for balance. The best designing companies can take care of such revamps from start to finish.

Planning in interior design should be a process where the client is still the one who is in charge. All that the designers have to do is to fuse their design ideas with the client’s preference. This must be observed throughout the entire process from choosing furniture fabrics down to putting up the right wallpaper.

You can go for different looks in different rooms of your home since family members may have varied preferences. Just remember that each room must still bond with the rest of the rooms in your home. There must also be certain places where family members can unite and spend hours of quality time. Comfort must also be a top priority.

Space Planning – A Special Process

Whether you are constructing a residential home or a new office building, it helps to create the image and atmosphere that you want to accomplish. There are different processes involved during space planning which include interior design, schematic furniture plan, the presentation of preliminary diagrams, and many more. Now you have a clearer picture of all the tasks that are needful during space planning, you should have a better appreciation of the importance of space planning.

Before hiring someone to do your space planning for you, though, make sure that they have the right skills and knowledge to do the job from preliminary diagramming; regulations as well as building codes familiarity; spatial design; delineation, even presentation skills; ergonomics; knowledge of the most suitable materials and finishes; and many more.

Space planning is all about the effective use of space and to transform it into a comfortable area. The furniture layout must be optimized where the right pieces of furniture are used and enough storage is set up so that the room will not feel too busy or full.

The windows and doors must also be set up in a way that they contribute to the creation of a spacious and cozy feeling.

Home Interiors – Clients Guide No1 – Interior Designer / Interior Decorator – What’s the Difference?

“Do you do Curtains & Cushions?” As a professional Interior Designer that’s the phone call we dread to receive!

It happens more than you may think; I then have to go on to explain (without sounding patronising) what this person really needs is an Interior Decorator, this will then no doubt follow-on with me having to further explain what the differences are between the two disciplines and try to steer them in an appropriate direction.

I don’t blame these people for getting the two mixed up; the general public have been feed hours and hour of TV “instant” make-over programmes and continuous glossy magazine features all under the misleading label of Interior Design. Also this has prompted those in the Interior Decoration and Soft Furnishing business to elevate their tile to Interior Designers; again I don’t blame them for doing this, it makes good business sense to up sell yourself. But the lines have become blurred as to what these two very different services offer – there is a market for the two approaches, but where confusion resides with the customer this has to be a bad thing!

So here with this Home Interiors – Client’s Guide – series of articles I will address the key aspects for client’s that have a Interior Design project in mind as to how they should go about searching for a Designer, what to look for, how they work and charge, how to get the best out of them and how a project gets off the ground to become a finished built reality.

ABOUT HOME INTERIOR DESIGN

Home Interior Design is not to be confused with Home Interior Decoration, as this tends to be only a skin-deep treatment to give a style change or “make-over” to a property. Home/Residential/Domestic Interior Design (whatever one may call it) is a much more fundamental approach to the way you live in a property and how a building can be made to work for the individual owners needs. This will not be just a coat of paint (some new curtains and cushions) it is likely to start with a in-depth rethink at how the property is planned and may involve some considerable changes put in place before one even thinks of decorations.

Interior Designers who specialize in Home Design can be viewed as Interior Architects, and their abilities should cover all aspects of building and architectural work to a property included minor/major structural alterations and building extensions etc. They will go on to cover all the “decoration” elements such as colours, finishes and furnishings, but this is not necessarily the starting point for a project. Kitchens, Bathrooms, Staircases etc are some of the core planning elements that can structurally and technically change a buildings layout; the flow and shape of a property can change dramatically when approaching these areas.

All the technical services that make up an Interior Design project will be undertaken by the Designer; Electrics, Lighting, Plumbing, Heating and Ventilation etc, all are fundamental that need to be design-in at the early stages of a scheme, even if it is just the principles of how these may work. It is becoming even more important these days with the opportunity for client to add-in to their project energy efficiency solutions for the whole building.

Many Clients only have a very basic idea or framework of what they wish from a project; it is however the Designers role to gain that information and drawer out of the Client the full details of their requirements, this then forming the project brief. This can be a very personal experience with the Designer asking questions on how you live now and changes you wish to make to your life style. Be as open as you can as this forms an important foundation for any new design, remember that the Designer is designing for you and not for them, so they need to know how YOU tick!

For most Clients they really enjoy this consultation, as this may be the first time that they have truly thought about their life style and what they really need from the project, apart from a floor, walls and ceiling. A good Designer will have the talents of a “pick pocket”, you will not know that so much information has been taken from you until you see the first concept design, and then you will realise that the smallest details have been included that reflects you and your life style.

HOW DO YOU FIND A GOOD DESIGNER

Personal recommendations are always good, but remember, the Designer has designed for the person who gave you the recommendation, so even if their project is not to your taste this does not necessarily mean that the Designer cannot design to your taste. If they were satisfied that the Designer produced a sound creative solution that matched their brief, then this Designer would more than likely be able to satisfy your project requirements.

Web Sites are a good way of looking at a Designers portfolio of work without making direct contact. Use the search engines and directories to track Designers that are within the broad area to where you live. It is no good having a Designer from Scotland if you live in London, and vice a verse, so aim relatively local of around a 50 mile search radius! Also be aware of companies that call themselves Interior Designers, but are really Home Furnishing companies and they are only really interested in selling from their shop or showroom. Offers of “free design service” will always have a sales agenda behind it. A true Design Consultant will be totally independent of any affiliated retail business and will use the global market to source what is right for your project, no commission or incentives involved.

Professional Bodies such as The Chartered Society of Designers have registers of designers in your area and can be contacted for a list. They also have a web site at you could visit. The Chartered Society of Designers is a body that vets individual designers to make sure they meet a professional standard, it starts with a student quantification “Diploma Member” and then “Member” (MCSD), and the highest level is “Fellow” (FCSD) and you should look for these qualifications or similar from your Designer.

I hope this has given you an insight into the world of Home Interior Design and if you are considering employing a designer is of help as to how to start to make a selection. Part of that selection process will be that first (no obligation) meeting with them; what can you expect to come out of this? Look out for the next article in this series by Chris Page.