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Is Hiring an Interior Designer the Best Fit for Your Project?


designers looking at construction progress
White cliff Studio

Of course I would like to say that you should always hire an interior designer but there are some key things to keep in mind if you are toying with the idea to bring a designer in.


I firmly believe that everyone should be able to have a home that they love and makes them feel happy to be in regardless of style, budget, etc. Some are really great at creating those spaces themselves - Hey thats how I got started! But for those people that struggle to create a cohesive space that has the end result that they have been dreaming up, a designer can be a great addition to your project team.


In order to have a smooth, stress free project and work well with your designer there are some key things to determine before hiring.


Budget


white and wood contemporary kitchen
Lemieux et cie

Having a realistic budget for the goals you are setting is key. This doesnt mean that you have to spend outside of what you feel comfortable with, but it does mean that sometimes clients have to reset their expectations to better reflect the budget that they set. We always speak about this with clients during our initial phone call as to what typical project costs are. A lot of clients dont even know what the average cost of a full gut kitchen renovation may be, so during that intake call, its fine to say....I dont know my budget if you havent set one. But we always like to make sure that before we schedule your consultation we provide a clear range for certain types of projects.


During your consultation, we continue the discussion about budget in finer detail. This means that we can discuss certain ways we can save to stay within budget, and help to identify some of the things that are requested that just arent feasible. We also provide a informational packet with average Good, Better, Best pricing for standard items. This helps to show what the typical cost of each item may be based on what the client is wanting. So when someone is scrolling through their pinterest board and starts showing me all kinds of photos of spaces with really high end finishes, or if there is a specific chandelier they are saying they love, I can clearly state what price category that falls into.


We also provide different levels of services as some client may not have the budget for full service, but that is exactly why we offer consulting only as a way to help and give guidance.


I like to be very transparent that majority of our projects that you see on our website and instagram do tend to have a higher budget, but that doesnt mean that you cant still achieve a beautiful home on a dime. So if you are limited in that aspect, I always suggest buying second hand. I do so much thrifting, antiquing, and facebook marketplace shopping and that is a great way to find beautiful pieces.


So you ask...well why cant you just do that for me Bailey?

  • It takes time. LOTS of time hunting, and scrolling, with the chance that you may turn up with nothing that day. So this is best done yourself. Designers cant be expected to spend days, weeks, or months hoping they will find all the right pieces for your home. As much as we love our jobs, it is just that a job. It is imperative that we manage our time wisely and are efficient. That is why we select either pieces from my own collection or that are new and easily sourced.

  • I cant always guarantee the quality and that is a huge liability. I dont want to suggest a piece just for it to break down in 6 months and then you be disappointed

  • Sometimes you have to get crafty, and while I do dabble in diy projects for my own home sometimes, I cant refinish furniture or do crafts for clients. This would be considered a service which in turn means that I would have to charge, and designers are not in the industry of crafts. We are in the industry of design.


So if you are on a super tight budget that cannot be adjusted to the minimum requirements of the project, then this is probably a sign that you would be best not using a designer.



Trust


living room with floral wallpaper
Lindye Galloway

It is imperative that you are able to take a step back from having total control and trust your designer. That is exactly why you brought them in. This doesnt mean that you have no say, but from experience I've found that if a client has a hard time not controlling each detail and aspect of the design it can make our job as the designer impossible.


One of the first steps we have in our process with new projects is to go over inspiration photos, end goals, desired aesthetic, functional requirements, etc. We also have you fill out a questionnaire so we can try to learn as much about your needs and style as possible. When we the designers and the client agree on the inspiration images, that is a lot of the time what we use to base color palette, feel, mood, texture, etc.


So we design each project based on the individual findings of that research that we have done with you to ensure that we can provide a complete design that is cohesive. Sometimes we make selections based on certain factors that will achieve the look you desire, but isnt something the client would typically think to choose. So when clients want to pick apart each tiny detail and micro manage the design without understanding why those things are needed to achieve their desired look it can start a chain of events. When this starts to happen we then start regressing to a design that wont have the desired look and would pretty much be what the client would have pulled together on their own. After many changes we end up with a look that is not cohesive and are then faced with a lot of extra time on changes, and ultimately a client that isnt happy in the end.


It is not lost on me that my job can be an incredibly personal one. We are coming into peoples homes, seeing their most personal details, spending time with them on a regular basis, and making decisions that they will have to live with. We are also a lot of the times handling thousands of dollars of their money, so it can be stressful. But if you are someone who cannot trust that your designer has only your best interest at heart, then hiring a designer is not suited for you.


Communication


organic design living room with brick fireplace
Ashley Montgomery

Clearly communicating your wants and needs is important. We cannot read minds, and so if you say you want light and airy, and we show you some photos of what we think that means and you dont like it, you have to let us know. If you arent sure what you want that is fine, but you have to let us know. Because once I start designing based on what I am told, and then presentation time is here and you request a completely different look, this can start to cause a break down in that trust that i spoke about above.


Good communication throughout the entire process will help. If something is bugging you, talk to your designer about it. If you prefer a certain cadence or style of check ins, talk about that with them and make a plan.





Time


interior designer working
White Cliff Studio

Good design takes time. We try to give a general estimation of the amount of time it takes for each phase, but I always like to say the design is a marathon and not a race. Finding the right pieces, ordering in samples, creating floor plans and renderings, quoting and pricing, are all essential steps to having a successful project.


This means we cant design your home in 1 week. I know most clients are so excited to get started and see what we have created, but allowing for your designer to take the necessary steps to ensure a thorough design is created and ready for presentation is going to end up being in everyones best interest.


If you do have a tight deadline, please let your designer know prior to signing a contract so that clear expectations can be set.





Aesthetic


contemporary office with
White Cliff Studio

A lot of the times the terms used to describe an aesthetic can be very fluid. It means something different to everyone. So discussing what you do and dont like in detail is going to help us to better understand instead of using the terms like transitional, light and airy, cozy, moody, eclectic.


I also think it is really important that you look at your designers website and portfolio first. The amount of times that I have heard from potential clients that were referred to me but never even looked at our work is actually quite frequent. Our Socials and website are a great start to even determine if you like our style. Because if you look at our portfolio and dont like anything you see, then that means that we probably arent the best fit and that saves us all a lot of heart ache.




It can be an incredibly hard process to make changes to your home, invest, and trust someone with a very personal part of your life. So it is incredibly important to speak openly with any potential designers if you plan to bring one on about the limitations and strengths of your project.



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