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The How & Why of Choosing an Interior Designer

Satara Sales - Monday, December 11, 2017

The world seems pretty obsessed about home improvement these days and you cannot turn on a television, open a newspaper or look at your phone without seeing a flood of imagery and information. Television shows deem interior design exciting but exhausting, with contestants of reality shows wielding paint brushes into wee hours of the morning, while Instagram makes the placement of objects and designer goods appear so achievable. But while it may seem simple and easy without training- is it? Certainly, some of us are more creatively minded than others, but it cannot be denied that professional designers and decorators bring to the table experience, knowledge and an eye that makes them worthy of their pay cheque. So when is the right time to engage a designer? And how do you go about it? 

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There’s no real right answer here, but knowing when to hire a professional designer is just like many other things in life. Feeling a bit out of your depth? Can’t seem to source that item you can picture in your mind? Uncertain how to re-work a space to make it more functional? These are reminders that this is not where your skill set lies. Perhaps you’re a teacher, a mechanic or accountant. Those are your areas of expertise and this is great. Just like you wouldn’t expect your student or client to know everything about your industry, you shouldn’t feel bad that you don’t know enough about design to make things work for you.

If you feel really confident about your design or decoration skills, that’s wonderful and go with it- it’s your home. However, where there is anything structural to change, consider at least chatting to a designer. They may point out something that would have been a costly mistake to change before it’s too late.

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Interior Design is the aspirational career of the moment and there doesn’t seem to be any lack of choice for someone looking to engage a designer. In a way, this adds to the confusion. Who should you choose to work with? In a social media savvy world, the internet is your friend. Jump online a start Googling. Check out designer’s websites and see if any work catches your eye. You can also have a spy on Instagram and follow some of the designers you come across. While you ultimately have to get along with your designer, their aesthetic is likely what will draw you in firstly.

The best way to find a designer however is just like any other service, recommendations. Has someone you know worked with a designer? Would they recommend their services to you? Having this connection is a great starting point, just as you may find your next hairdresser, doctor or gardener. When you meet with your potential designer, be ready to answer questions and have questions for them in turn. Did you feel comfortable? Do you think they “got” you? Did they seem to be clear on what you need, your budget and vision? Trust is a big part of a successful design/client relationship so take note of how you feel the meeting went. Of course, the designer needs to put their fee proposal together and their availability which has to align with your expectations, but the relationship also goes hand in hand with this.


Unsure of how to work with a designer? What will happen? How much will you have to pay? Your involvement? Unfortunately, there’s no set formula and each designer work differently. Most of the time however, you will work closely with the designer to achieve your requirements. Initial meetings may include site visits, lots of questions and sharing of ideas/ likes/ dislikes (yours and the designers). From here, a concept will be developed and the designer will present their ideas. The design development stages, which are next, include amendments and changes, possibly drawings, samples and showroom visits. This can be quick or drawn out, depending on the complexity of the project and how it plays out.

The costs involved also vary dramatically. Designers work differently and their fees will also depend on their experience, reputation and price structure. Some will offer a flat fee while others may charge hourly. Expect a high hourly rate, but within that hour, a lot can happen! Other designers will mark up furniture, accessories and fabrics from wholesale prices, making their money that way. Some charge a combination, with a fee plus their mark ups. How they intend to make their money doesn’t really matter. What does matter however is that you feel comfortable with the overall fee being changed. Be open and honest about this with the designer, they may be able to partly work within your budget if it’s outside your expectations.

If you do decide to work with a designer or decorator, enjoy the process. Make the most of the resources and knowledge of these professionals. While it may seem like something only the rich and famous can do, working with a designer can actually save you money in the long run. Consider it an investment!

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