Recently, Bill and I were interviewed by Illinois Homes. In this interview they asked us a lot of questions about why home owners should hire an interior designer for their next home renovation or design project is important. I always love an opportunity to sit down with someone and share with them our story of how we started our business and our philosophy behind our business.
Below, are some of my favorite questions from the interview. Or, you can click here to read the entire article.
In your opinion, why is it important to utilize the services of an interior designer?
When furnishing your home or designing a space like a kitchen or bathroom our customers can spend hundreds to thousands of dollars. It’s really important to make sure that you are spending your money on the right products and services that work with your design tastes and lifestyle.
We have seen it too many times where a friend or potential customer has purchased an item like a sofa that is too large, the wrong style or the wrong color for the space. Sure, there are ways that we can work around a piece of furniture and make it work with a space, but it much easier (and sometimes cheaper) to work with a designer from the start.
Another important reason to hire a designer is to help you build a space that is cohesive. Many times, people will pick out an item because they like it or because they are familiar with it. Unfortunately, just because you like a particular item doesn’t necessarily mean that it will go with the space or that the items will work with the other items selected. Not only do you have to worry about making sure the heights of items function well together (a high sofa and a low coffee table can be irksome), you also need to consider the lines and visual weights of items relative to each other (an ornate, traditional lamp could look weird on an industrial style table unless you have some other ornate elements in the room.) Beyond decoration, the interior architecture needs direction to achieve cohesion. I have seen plenty of examples of Chicago style bungalows with Corinthian Columns. We love Bungalow’s and we love Corinthian Columns, just not in the same house. Importantly, if your home has a strong aesthetic concept, you’ll need to work within the styling bounds of that concept. This may mean that the concept is about rectangular, visually heavy items; it doesn’t necessarily have to be as restrictive as saying, “I have a Prairie-style home.” Knowing where and when to stay in the lines is as important as knowing when to push beyond them. A designer knows these lines.
How does the vision of an interior designer differ from that of the average homeowner?
We are able to come into a space and see the space in terms of style, overarching design concept, color, light, volume and functional needs. This allows us to listen to a client and help guide them in the right direction – much like how an Accountant can look at a pile of receipts and statements and know what to do in order to maximize your tax returns.
The discerning eye of an interior designer is also helpful when looking for a new home. Many times, potential homeowners will overlook a beautiful home because they can’t see the end potential. This is the very reason why every Realtor will have you paint your home a neutral color and have you clear out excess furniture when trying to sell it.
Interior designers bring the experience of working on hundreds of other homes to achieve many of the shared desires of all homeowners, whether its how to maximize storage, how to create intimate seating arrangements, or how big of a light fixture to use in a foyer if your ceiling is 8′ or 30′ high. We have the benefit of seeing many homes before we have worked on them, allowing us to discover the things that do and don’t work in homes.
Can hiring an interior designer help me to save money in the long run? Will they help me budget?
Many times we can help our customers spend their money more wisely. For example, if a customer has a budget of $10,000 to freshen up their home. It may be tempting to try to spread out that $10,000 across all of the rooms of the house instead of focusing on the critical spaces that provide the most impact. As designers, we do our best to help our customers save where they can and splurge where it is necessary in an effort to provide the best value for their budget no matter how much your budget is. This means that we have ideas for how to get some kind of equivalent to that 20k table you saw in a restaurant. The expertise means that you will have access to the vendors and tradespeople that the interior designer has had good experiences with.
What are some design elements I can add to me home that will really increase its value?
It really depends on what you are trying to do with your home. Depending on where we are at in our lives we may be looking to freshen up an apartment with a tiny budget, design our dream home where we have a larger budget or put your place up for sale.
In all 3 examples, we would have different objectives and different design goals.
For example, with the apartment on a tiny budget, we would focus on finding pieces that can be taken with you after you move out of your apartment. Though you may want to paint your walls and replace the carpet, apartments are usually not the best place to do this since your Lease Agreement will many times prevent you from doing those types of renovations.
When building your “dream home”, pick what you love assuming you plan on staying in the space for at least five years and it falls within your budget. For example, if you really wanted heated floors in your bathroom and it’s in your budget, go for it! Working with an interior designer will help you ensure that you don’t go overboard.
If you are planning on selling your home, it’s time to simplify, de-clutter and make the space neutral and non-offensive. Now is not the time to show off your love for a bright color or put a ton of money into some dramatic tile backsplash. What you may love may completely turn off a potential buyer.
Almost universally, however, we find that updated countertops (granite, Silestone, etc.), crown-molding, and hardwood floors are elements that impress in the Chicago metropolitan area.
Do interior designers have access to resources that the overage homeowner does not?
Some interior designers (like us) have direct accounts with manufacturers. This allows us to have access to a larger variety of merchandise since we can specify any make, model and variation that the manufacturer offers. Every year, we make the trips to various furniture shows to learn about new manufacturers and products that are available.
Other design firms may only have access to stores that sell to “the trade”. The downside to this approach is that the designer may have a smaller selection available to them since the store will many times pick and choose which models and items they choose to resell, much like any furniture store that is open to the public.
While the average homeowner may have access to all the same tradespeople, the tradespeople recommended by a designer have been vetted. For those that have dealt with shoddy craftsmanship, they know how much a good resource is worth to the end result.
Do you have any other insight on why hiring an interior designer is important?
When we first meet with customers, many times they are just sick and tired of their current home and how it looks. They usually feel “stuck” and don’t know how to get a particular look or feel out of a space. One customer once described his situation like he was looking under the hood of his broken car. He knew something wasn’t working right but just saw a bunch of hoses and cables and had no clue where to begin in order to fix it.
Sometimes customers think that their entire home is broken when in reality it may need a few small repairs. Other times, its time to start over from scratch. In both situations, an interior designer should be able to help you out. That is why we offer both single design sessions and larger design projects for our customers.
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