Interior designers can guide clients in space planning as well as choosing colors and finishes. (Getty Images)
When, why to hire a professional interior designer
Bringing in an expert can ease the process, improve results
When you want to climb a mountain, it’s best to enlist an experienced guide who can help you navigate treacherous terrain, save time and reduce risks. Similarly, if you want to “reach the summit,” so to speak, during a remodel or new build, and not regret the choices you made in getting there, it’s wise to hire a style Sherpa in the form of a skilled interior designer.
“An interior designer is a trained and experienced professional who specializes in creating functional, aesthetically pleasing, and safe interior spaces for homeowners. Their expertise covers a range of areas, including spatial planning, color theory, materials and finishes, lighting and furniture selection,” explains Brad Smith, creative director and cofounder at OmniHomeIdeas in Nashua, New Hampshire.
Keeley Smith, lead interior designer at JD Elite Interiors, seconds those sentiments.
“They have a keen eye for color, texture and pattern and understand how to combine these elements to create a cohesive and inviting space,” says Keeley Smith. “Not only do interior designers have access to resources and materials that may not be available to the public, but they also have the expertise to ensure that your space will be functional, comfortable and beautiful.”
Kendal Cavalieri, an interior designer in Buffalo, New York, notes that recruiting this expert will save you a lot of time and money.
“The designer you hire likely has experience with similar projects to yours, meaning he or she knows every detail to plan for and can create an organized plan of action to tackle your project,” she says. “When homeowners attempt DIY design, many things can get overlooked and forgotten about. A design pro will prevent these mistakes.”
Helping homeowners choose the right materials and finishes is another specialty of an expert designer.
“They can guide homeowners through the selection process, taking into account factors like durability, maintenance requirements, and cost. They can also recommend high-quality materials and finishes that can increase your home’s value and create a lasting impression,” Brad Smith says.
On a home being built, a knowledgeable interior designer can work closely with builders and tradespeople, communicating what information they are going to need, according to Molly McGinness, a residential interior designer based on Cape Cod.
“Someone needs to come up with a plan for all the interior details, finishes, materials selections and more — and if that plan isn’t created ahead of time, the builder can only quote on the basics of what he normally does and may give allowances for average materials. You may only get options A and B for each finish decision because it’s not the builder’s job to come up with a complete design,” McGinness notes. “But a savvy designer will devise a comprehensive design and work with the builder to source the materials and follow the plan through any issues that might come up.”
Interior designers certainly come in handy on renovation and room reinvention projects in existing homes, too.
“For instance, the designer can help avoid the costly mistake of buying furniture that is the wrong scale or quality or that doesn’t work aesthetically with your existing elements,” McGinness adds.
Virtually any homeowner is a good candidate for hiring an interior designer — especially those who lack design experience or have limited time to dedicate to the project.
Often, the best way to find a designer prospect is to request referrals from relatives, friends, or colleagues who have worked with an interior designer previously. You can also hunt for experts online and via the American Society of Interior Designers to find qualified professionals in your area.
“Before selecting a designer, ask about the expert’s education, experience and portfolio of previous work. Inquire about the person’s design style, project management process and communication style,” suggests Brad Smith. “Try to choose a designer whose style and approach align with your vision and who can communicate clearly and transparently throughout the project.”
Lastly, be aware that interior designers usually charge either a flat fee or an hourly rate, depending on the scope and complexity of the project. Have a lengthy conversation upfront with the designer about their fee structure so that there are no misunderstandings.