Building Series Part 3: Do You Need a Designer?

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We are continuing our Building Series today & it’s all about whether or not you need to hire a designer/decorator for your project. Of course, we think it’s essential to the building process, but we want to let you know why, when to bring them in & also things to consider when hiring one.

Why? Why is it important to bring a designer/decorator in when building or remodeling a home?

There are so many decisions to be made when building a home, and I don’t think most people realize it. It’s not just paint colors & tile selections. It’s everything from paint color & finish, tile, countertops, lighting, cabinet styles, trim styles, lighting selections & placement, grout colors, cabinet hardware, door hardware….the list goes on and on. A lot of these decisions are made on the fly by homeowners when the contractor or builder brings it up on site. When you bring a designer or decorator in on your project they are coming in with a professional eye & are thinking about the whole home & how it flows together, not just what one room will look like when it’s complete. They will create a full plan for you so your home is cohesive.

Designers & decorators also help you narrow down your choices of selections. If you’ve ever walked into a tile showroom or slab warehouse you know the possibilities are endless. Here at MHI, we develop a plan for each client & their home. When we are selecting materials we are thinking about what it’s going to look like in the space, how it fits into the clients budget & the types of materials that should be used in each space. Our clients don’t have to run from showroom to showroom to choose from multiple selections. We narrow it down for them & they get the final say. Designers & decorators save the client time & frustration when choosing finishes.

We also help the clients & builder by having the selections all made in a timely manner. There aren’t last minute decisions being made on-site about materials & selections. When we begin working with a client, we have a clear schedule laid out on when things need to be selected & we get all of that information over to the builder for the client.

Problems & Issues. They come up with every project. When you have a designer or decorator on your project, we work with the builder to come up with solutions to those issues. We can help guide you to make informed decisions on these problems to help save you time, money & the headaches that come with building.

Budget. Any good designer or decorator understands your budget. Yes, paying for a designer is an expense, but in the end, we can actually save you money! We advise you on where to invest in your home & where you can cut costs. More often than not, the expenses add up from the selections you choose, not the designer’s fee. It all depends on how nice of finishes you want! Whether you want real marble tile or you’re good with marble-look tile, your home can and should be beautiful without breaking the bank.

These are only a few of the reasons why we believe having a designer or decorator helping with your new build or remodel project. Of course there are numerous advantages, but we’d be here all day listing them out.

Just like when hiring a builder to build your home, you are going to have to do a little homework if you plan on bringing a designer or decorator in. We aren’t a one size fits all!

#1 Do Your Research

I cannot stress enough how important it is to find someone whose portfolio looks like what you want. And you've got to be realistic too....Sure, you may love their Instagram feed with all the bright white walls & white couches, but if you have toddlers running around that may not work for your season of life.  

I’ve had potential clients come to me wanting very dark, rustic design & one look on my website, you can tell that’s not our style. While we can design those spaces & make them beautiful, I think it’s always best to find someone who’s portfolio matches the look you are hoping to achieve in your home.

Go check out the designer/decorator's website, Instagram & Pinterest page.  Look at the work they've done, see if their work looks like what you want in your home.  

Check Out Their Services

Most designers/decorators have their services listed on their website.  Check them out & read through them thoroughly.  You may not need a full room redesign, you may just need a refresh with a few new accessories, but want to get a new look by having the designer come out and work with what you already have.  

If they don't offer what you are looking for shoot them an email to see if it's something they would be willing to do.  They may say no, but it never hurts to ask.  

Look at Their Design Philosophy. 

Some designers/decorators love using higher end tiles, countertops, fabrics, furniture & accessories, while others like Ikea hacks, DIY projects & love shopping for the best deal on items. You want to make sure your pocketbook is comfortable with your designer’s taste in items.  For example, your designer may want you to spend $200 on a pillow, if that's not your thing or it's not where you want to spend your money, then you probably don't want to go with a designer/decorator that offers a lot of high end styling accessories.  No matter who you end up going with on your project, make sure you let them know your expectations on spending. Every good designer/decorator appreciates you’re upfront honesty about budgets, because nothing makes us happier than giving you a beautiful home within your budget.

For me,  I don’t believe that a beautiful space has to cost a ton. Here at MHI, we pride ourselves on creating beautiful designs & doing so with quality affordable options. Most of my own house has Ikea curtains and Target pillows because I don’t want to spend a ton on those items because I know that I will either change them out on a whim or my kid’s dirty hands will be all over them.  Most of my clients feel the same way & we respect & understand their reasoning.

Do you love or have vintage & antique pieces that you want to incorporate into your home? Then you want to make sure that the designer's portfolio shows her designing with older pieces & making them work with a fresh style. 

Read Their Reviews & Testimonies

In this day & age of social media, people aren't afraid to say what they think about everyone & everything.  You should be able to find reviews of your prospective designer/decorator on Facebook, Yelp, Google Reviews, Houzz, etc.  Read them all, and don't let one bad review turn you away. Go with your gut on what you believe in these reviews.  If there are 10 great, 5-star reviews then the one bad review probably doesn't hold much truth.    


#2 Is there Chemistry?

When looking for a designer, you will want to make sure you think you can work with them.  Have them come out & see your space.  Make sure they understand your vision for the space, but also listen to suggestions they may have.  Remember they are the experts. You should be able to tell right off the bat if they are someone you can work with. This is your home & you are going to want to find someone who loves it as much as you do.  You should be able to trust that your designer/decorator is going to treat your home just like they would treat their own & that they design it with you, your family & needs in mind. Even if you love the designer's work, but you know that your personalities will more than likely clash, I'd recommend not getting into a design relationship with them.  You are going to spend a lot of time with your designer, picking selections, shopping, styling, so make sure you feel comfortable with them. Go with your gut feeling after your initial meetings! If you walk away feeling iffy or even a little turned off, follow that instinct and look elsewhere. But if you leave a meeting feeling giddy and excited, that’s a great sign that you’ve found someone to partner with!

During your initial consultations have a list of questions on hand & ready to ask.  As designers/decorators we are interviewing you, just as much as you are interviewing us.  We also want to make sure the fit is right for the project so we don't mind you asking a tons of questions.  Here is a short list to get you started....

  • How does their design process work? 

  • Can they work with specific pieces that you already have? 

  • Estimated time frame for the project?

  • What's the best way to communicate with them---phone, email text? 

  • How often can you expect to hear from them throughout the process?

  • How many revisions are allowed throughout the process?

  • How & when do they want to get paid?

  • Do they have any contractors or tradesmen that they work with or recommend? 

  • How many times will they come to the job site and/or if you're working online, how many FaceTime or Skype sessions do you anticipate to have? 

Using these few tips will help you get started to finding the perfect fit for a designer/decorator on your project. What other questions do you have about looking for an interior designer?  

Good luck on your search & remember....DO YOUR RESEARCH! ;)