The question of whether or not to use an interior designer is a conundrum that many homeowners struggle with, but may often dismiss as being too complicated, too pretentious, or too costly to pursue. However, the decision shouldn’t be dismissed out of hand, as the benefits of employing an interior designer may offset the concerns they might bring.
You may also wish to check if your interior designer is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers (ASID). ASID members may be able to bring additional resources or experience to your job, that can add to the final look you are pursuing in your home. Several states also offer certification for interior designers.
Ultimately, whether to hire an interior designer is an extremely personal decision. This guide offers several pros and cons, and it should help you decide whether an interior designer is right for you.
Before meeting with an interior designer, decide on what your maximum budget will be. It’s also a good idea to have a general concept of what your timeframe should look like, and what scale project you want done. Are you renovating? Just decorating? Will you be buying new furniture, or keeping your current furnishings? How many rooms do you want designed? Also, what overall look do you want? Knowing the answer to these and other questions before starting work will save you time, money, and headaches.
In terms of cost, many interior designers charge per hour – and you can expect to pay around $100/hour or more for a qualified professional in most markets. Some also include a markup for handling the purchase of furnishings, decorations, and other items. On the other hand, some interior designers just charge a flat project fee. Price fluctuates depending on area, expertise of the designer, and the scale of your project. Certified designers are typically more expensive than uncertified, but may guarantee quality.
Another point to consider in making this decision is the reason behind your motivation for hiring an interior designer. Are you looking to improve the aesthetics and livability of a home for use by your family, or simply looking to increase the value of a home or make it spend less time on market for resale? Do you want to increase the worth of a rental property? Also, if your home frequently doubles as a business space (e.g. if you’re a consultant with a home office, or if you host business parties), there might be a significant indirect economic return on investing in a professional-level design. How much you may wish to invest in a new design will depend on local house market, but also the purpose behind this work. If done to improve the value or reduce time on market, your decisions (and costs) will likely be more “mainstream” and appeal to a broader customer base. On the other hand, if your motivation is to make your home more enjoyable for your own family, you might pursue a more customized look, with different cost considerations. Being mindful of the reason you are pursuing a new design look will help you to ensure that your expectations are met.
One major factor in favor of interior designers is that they can bring a significant amount of experience to the table. Most homeowners will have the opportunity to design only a handful of spaces over their lives, while professional interior designers have not only extensively studied design, but also have significant experience with designing numerous homes. An interior designer will also be able to make a more realistic guess as to the cost of any home renovation project, and more effectively time budgeting into planning for the changes. An interior designer can also help you develop a concrete plan to work within your budget, and then help you stay both under budget and within your timeline.
Also, many interior designers know the best place to get certain furnishings, decorations, and so on, especially if you’re pursuing a custom look or feel. An experienced professional might have access to resources an ordinary homeowner wouldn’t, and will be more knowledgeable about any local building permits or other permissions necessary before embarking on a large project. An interior designer will also already know which local companies in the home improvement industry are reliable and affordable, removing the need for a significant amount of research and guesswork by a homeowner. They should also be able to help you get better construction and remodeling contracts.
Designers can also be a tremendous help in avoiding costly mistakes, whether in time, effort, or money. Mistakes like accidentally choosing clashing furniture, choosing the wrong contractor, or starting a renovation project without a full plan can range from annoyances to costing you more than it would have to hire a professional from the start.
In addition, an interior designer may take into account things that you might miss. There’s a lot more that goes into a space’s design than just the arrangement of furniture or what decorations are on the walls. Things like lighting and textures can make a tremendous difference in a room but aren’t the sort of thing most homeowners would consciously notice. For instance, an interior designer will know how different types, sources, temperatures, and colors of light will impact the mood of a space, to make it feel warm, welcoming, cozy, fun, energetic, and/or relaxing. Interior designers will also know how lighting interacts with the room’s design, from different lights’ impact on wall color to where you should put the TV to minimize glare.
Ultimately, the decision on whether to hire an interior designer can be a complicated one but might be one that has the potential to actually save you time, money, and headache in achieving your dreams. Your home is typically not only your single greatest investment, but also the place in which your family will spend the majority of their time, and it will serve as a backdrop for your lives for many years to come. Having a welcoming, warm, efficient space in which to raise a family and/or entertain friends can be an important factor in achieving your life’s goals, and an interior designer might just be the keystone in realizing those dreams.
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