Interior Design 101

Interior Design 101 – What they do and how much they cost.

Good design is the key to an aesthetically pleasing and cleverly functional space, so what role do we play and how do we work our magic? Here is a fuss-free, straightforward guide to what an interior designer does, how they charge for their services, and how they will benefit your project.

A well-considered space can enable us to work and live more efficiently, comfortably and can add to the value of a home. 

What is an interior designer?

Interior designers are experts. We spend about three years studying spatial, structural and material elements of built environments.

An interior designer is usually someone who is already creative and good at visual communication. Those skills enable them to understand the relationship between interior spaces and those that live in them.

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What is the scope of their expertise?

An interior designer is taught to consider the modification of the interior space. Rather than just the material finishes or furnishings. We can draft plans and visual images for clients to review. Much like an architect may show a client renderings of a proposed structure.

An interior designer can also manage the production of achieving your chosen design. This means managing carpenters, furniture suppliers, architects, and decorators. As well as planning the budget and working schedules for all of them. They also have an innate understanding of design concepts, trends, colours, patterns and fabrics, as well as where to go for the best products.

An interior designer can help you with everything from custom joinery and cabinetry to recommending flooring, finishes, fittings, fixtures, furniture, colour schemes, design styles and layouts that will best benefit your home, lifestyle and family. This could include things such as anticipating the storage needs of a family kitchen.

However, it is also important to keep in mind that some designers specialise in one particular area. Some work only in residential or commercial environments; we work in both.

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How much does an interior designer cost?

When employing an interior designer, it is important to be upfront about what you can and can’t afford. Some will charge hourly, some will charge an overall fee. These can vary depending on reputation and demand for that particular interior designer. These charges will not include materials and trades labour, but only the labour of the interior designer.

Furthermore, try to work with a designer who is transparent about costs, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. No one likes blowing the budget. If your designer charges by the hour, just remember that any time you engage their services, advice or opinions, you will generally be charged for this. Phone calls, shopping trips, site visits are all potentially billable, a little like a lawyer. The key thing to remember is that the knowledge of the interior designer is what you are paying for. Our skills and services must be remunerated accordingly.

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What to look for when hiring an interior designer

When you are looking at employing an interior designer, it is very important to think about what you want to achieve visually and spatially. Look for a designer whose own style will complement your own. It is vital to research the kinds of projects they take on and view their previous work. Even better, bring along some visual cues, such as Pinterest, mood boards, even the names of brands or designers whose products you love.

Try to understand why you like a particular style, fabric or finish. But when you involve an interior designer, try to go in with an open mind. These people are experts, and their opinions should be treated with respect. Try to combine your ideas with their suggestions. They may come up with ideas or combinations you would never have thought of, or know of places that create something similar for less. Similarly, they should treat your vision for your home with respect. The relationship should be one of mutual understanding, respect, give and take.

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When it comes to interior design 101, the key points to remember are. Be realistic with your budget. Have some solid ideas of what you want to achieve. Do your research on interior designers and go into the working relationship with an open mind. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or clarify the suggestions and advice you are being given.

Look for a designer whose style emulates what you want in your own home. Someone you are comfortable speaking to, and be sure that you both respect each other and your roles. Interior designers are wonderfully creative professionals, and are more than happy to help you achieve your dream.

Interior Design 101 – Originally published by Houzz. Author Laura Barry.