You have good taste so you should be able to do the interior design of your home by yourself instead of hiring a professional, right? Before you start, no matter how large or small your project is, ask yourself these questions.
Many people think Inteiror Design and Interior Decorating are the same thing but it is far from true. Interior Design, which goes way beyound selecting finishes and colors, is one of the most complex professions there is and every aspect of it is constantly changing so it is never boring but also not so easy to grasp the full extend of what knowledge is needed to create successful projects.
1. Question: Do you have lots of time on your hands to do the research, sourcing, ordering and follow up needed?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers have lots of experience and already know where to look for what will work right. They will save you LOTS of time but still let you make the final selections. They will also take care of all the things going on in the background for you.
2. Question: Have you spent years looking at books and magazines with ideas and beautiful pictures of interior design?
Answer: Qualified Interior Designers have many years of schooling with full emphasis on interior design and all it's aspects plus they also are constantly absorbing many, many trade and consumer magazines, books, catalogs and seminars on the subject. That is what they do full time and what they know best just like your profession is what you know best. They have learned from all their past experiences (good and bad) and you will get the benefit of that.
3. Question: Are you familiar with the ever changing building codes regarding lighting, construction matters, ventilation, egress, etc?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers have studied these issues and have resources available to get up to date information. If they are members of professional organizations they have to keep up their continuing education every year with courses and seminars.
4. Question: Can you paint walls and woodwork and do you know the differences in the sheens and appropriate uses of different paints?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers know more than just color about the properties of paint and the quality of different manufacturers. Why do you think some are more expensive than others - just because they want to make more profit?
5. Question: Do you know a lot about space planning and traffic flow and the amount of space required to create a functional as well as aesthetically pleasing room? Do you know how high the counters should be and why and how high to place light fixtures, towel bars, artwork, etc. Do you know how high your table lamps should be and where the shade should end?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers are trained in space planning and know instinctively from years of experience how to lay out a room and what amount of passage space is needed for the room to work. They also know proper heights for installations and relationships to other items in the room.
6. Question: Are you great with color? Can you mix colors, textures and prints effectively? Do you know how to work with scale?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers can preselect colors, finishes and fabrics for your home that will work and you can narrow them down together. That will save you a lot of time and you will have seen a lot more choices than you would have found on your own. Interior Decorators can also help you with these decisions but do not usually have the education and in depth knowledge about fibers, wear ability, etc.
7. Question: Do you know how natural and artificial lighting impact the finishes and colors you select? How does lighting effect the moods and tasks you want to create in each space? Do you understand the terms Kelvin and CRI ? That is critical to creating good lighting.
Answer: Professional Interior Designers study all the different types of lighting and keep up with what is happening in the ever changing lighting industry. It is a transition right now with movement toward LEDs but they are not always right for every circumstance and there is a large breadth of quality differences in the final products.
8. Question: Do you know how to space and layer lighting and what amount of light is needed for varying needs in each room? Do you understand beam spread?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers are able to plan your lighting scheme for you so that you have the layers you need for different times of the days and different functions. If it is complex they will suggest working with a lighting designer who is a specialist in lighting - the most knowledgeable person in that area of design.
9. Question: Do you know a lot about the properties of fabrics and flooring? Which fabrics should you avoid using in the sun, which are best for upholstery and which for draperies and what about abrasion ratings? Do you understand bias cut, warp and weft, etc? What properties should you look for in flooring?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers have studied the different fibers in fabrics and the properties to look for which work best in different circumstances. There are many flooring choices available and your Interior Designer can help you select the one or ones most appropriate for your project and help you with transitions from one to another.
10. Question: Do you know a lot about furniture construction and which manufacturers make quality furniture and which ones don't? Do you know what is behind the fabric and how quality pieces are constructed and finished? Will they look good and hold up for a few months, few years or a long time?
Answer: Interior Designers have years of experience of visiting showrooms, trade shows and seminars to learn about them. They also have experience with previous clients and how the process worked so they know which manufacturers and showrooms will handle the orders in a professional and responsible manner, stand behind their products and resolve issues fairly and efficiently if needed. Service is critical and there is very little available with online sellers, who do not warehouse the products and have no direct responsibility to the buyer.
11. Question: Are you familiar with cabinet design and all the options that could account for pricing differences? Do you know how to get what you are looking for by making some modifications in the design without sacrificing quality? Do you understand the components and finishes available in the industry?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers understand the construction, components and finishes in cabinetry so they can advise you if you are getting what you really are looking for - no matter what you budget.
12. Question: Do you know how to layout slabs of granite and marble so the final result will be aesthetically pleasing? How to match seams and where to place them? How to layout tile for floors and back splashes? How to select tiles for the proper usage?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers understand layout and how it should be applied. With the materials you have selected together they will see that the tile joints are laid out so there are no uneven cuts and no tiny pieces at the edges of the room. They will see that the seaming on your counter tops is as invisible as possible when they lay out the material and match the veins by using templates in the fabrication shop.
13. Question: Are you familiar with appliances and plumbing fixtures and the choices available? Do you know what is popular, what is on the way in and what is on the way out?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers have previous clients who have been satisfied or dissatisfied with these products which is good feed back for all their future clients. They are aware of the trends in design about five years ahead of the public.
14. Question: Can you read floor plans thoroughly and visualize how they will look when done? Can you visualize in 3D?
Answer: Interior Designers have studied drafting and are trained to read floor plans. I have clients who thought they knew what they were looking at but totally missed some structural posts in the middle of the room! Your Professional Interior Designer can review the plans and tweak them, if necessary, so that you don't have unexpected surprises. They can discuss options with the architect and contractor.
15. Question: Can you communicate clearly with your architect, contractor and sub contractors? Will you leave all the design up to them and "trust them" to get it right? Can you keep the entire project clear in your head so you will not be pressured to make quick decisions that you haven't considered yet?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers are familiar with the plans, construction terminology and individual trades involved in the process so they can communicate on your behalf and act as an interpreter for you. They can help you avoid having to make quick decisions because they understand the progression of a project and can help you make quick decisions if they become necessary.
16. Question: Do you have access to all the products in the market place or just the ones you see in your local stores, on line and in advertising? Did you know there are a lot of products that are only sold through Interior Designers?
Answer: Interior Designers have access to just about everything in the marketplace, many of which are only available through an Interior Designer. Interior Designers also have sources for local artisans and custom made things that consumers will not find by themselves. The Internet only provides sources for the most common and widely sold mass produced items that are price driven - not design driven items. Often small companies don't even have a website.
17. Question: Can you manage your interior design project in a timely and efficient manner? Can you be available on site for meetings with subs and keep the lines of communication open between all the involved parties?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers can manage your project whether it is furniture, window coverings, remodeling or all of the above. They know how to manage the time line so you have realistic expectations regarding the scheduling and budget and will take care of things in the background so you won't have furniture arriving while the finish carpenter or painter is still working in the space.
18. Question: Do you have any influence with the vendors when something goes wrong?
Answer: Professional Interior Designers work with the same vendors over and over so have an established relationship with the vendor who wants to keep in their good graces. These vendors will work much harder to satisfy a repeat client (designer) than they will a one time purchaser.
If your project is not very big and your budget is small you should at least consider hiring a Professional Interior Designer for a consultation so you can get your ideas reviewed and fine tuned by a professional. If you have some issues come up, you will have someone you can call on for help.
If you are doing a larger project you will almost always save money and time and come out with a better project by hiring a Professional Interior Designer to help you. You will avoid costly mistakes of furniture not fitting properly in the rooms, items you loved not looking quite right together, poor quality fabrics and finishes, lack of coordination from room to room, poor transitions of material, long delays, issues with deliveries and damages, etc. Your remodel and/or finished rooms will looked fabulous and be a reflection of you and your style but go beyond what you could have created on your own.
It is important to select the right Professional Interior Designer for your project. They may not all have the full list of things I've mentioned to offer but these are some of the qualities I provide my clients who are benefiting from my over 30 years of experience.
Link to previous blogs here
Please call if I can help with your Interior Design project!
408-369-9801 or email me
Lila Levinson, ASID, CKD, CID, NKBA, NCIDQ, IDG