One of the questions I always get asked is whether it’s worth it to hire an interior designer. I’m a little biased, so my answer is yes. The decision is extremely personal, because some homeowners would never consider starting a project without professional guidance, while others can’t reconcile how the added cost will provide value. The decision is ultimately up to you, but there are some questions to consider that can help you decide if working with an interior designer is right for you.
HOW WILL YOU PAY FOR THE PROJECT?
Budget is one of the most important considerations I ask of potential clients. I need to know if they have a realistic idea of what their project will cost, which also helps determine if it makes sense for a client to spend their money on my services. I don’t mean this is a Linda Evangelista “I don’t wake up for less than $10,000 a day” kind of way. If you have a budget of $5,000 to refresh your living room, you most likely need all of that for the project. It may not make sense for you to pay a designer’s design fee and take away from your overall budget.
If you want to save money over time and complete your project in phases, working with a designer is probably not right for you. When you work with a designer, they schedule and plan your project based on your goals and their availability. If your project goes on longer than necessary, they are likely turning away new projects so they can maintain their availability with you. You’ll need almost all of the budget right away so you can begin paying for things like the designer, your architect, the contractor, and purchasing materials and furnishings.
WHAT SERVICES DO YOU REALLY NEED?
Consider what you need a designer’s help with. Do you want an Instagram-worthy living room? Or the prestige of saying you worked with a specific designer? Or are you just all over the place with your design style and need someone to help make sense out of it all? Design seems easy for designers because of their education and experience. Most of them have an innate understanding of how to balance aesthetics and function while also keeping the finished big picture in mind. Some designers offer everything from one-time consultations, space planning, design concepts, purchasing, and project management.
If you are going to involve a designer from concept to completion, this is going to be the most expensive option. Think about what steps you may be able to take on yourself and ask if the designer is available to help you with the remaining tasks. In the past, I’ve had clients pay for 2 hours of my time to make rough sketches of a new kitchen layout and a page of ideas they pass along to their contractor. After one-time consultations the client and their contractor handle everything. Which brings us to our next question…
DO YOU HAVE A SENSE OF YOUR STYLE?
When you have a firm idea of the aesthetics you like, you are closer to imagining your finished project. But a full Pinterest board ≠ success. Unless your inspiration images match your exact room size and shape you’ll need help translating your inspiration photos into your own home.You may be able to handle the project on your own with a skilled and patient contractor. This is something that is easier said than done.
When you work with a designer you show them your inspirations and they handle the problem solving that comes with creating a design tailored to you. It’s still essential to bring a clear idea of what you like and what you don’t, because being clear with your designer from the beginning prevents guesswork and miscommunication. Trust me, you don’t want to be paying for costly revisions. Even if you don’t bring in a designer, you’ll still need to know what you like and what you want to accomplish.
HOW COMFORTABLE ARE YOU WHEN MAKING DECISIONS?
Some people love making decisions; it comes easily and quickly to them. They don’t find themselves struggling with Cloud White vs. Whisper White to paint their new bedroom. Other people find themselves shying away from decisions, or are afraid of selecting the “wrong” option. Only one of these personalities works well with a designer. A designer’s job is to present you with streamlined options for every single aspect of your design. You’ll be making lots of quick decisions. An entire home remodel involves thousands of decisions, most of them dependent on the other. Don’t work with a designer if you are easily overwhelmed by making decisions.
Most clients leverage their designer because they don’t want to agonize over a wall-mounted or deck mounted faucet. They trust their designer to present them one or two options to choose from. They don’t spend months waffling over wallpapers, or long nights online searching for the Holy Grail of lounge chairs. If you do a project on your own you’ll still have to make these decisions, but you’ll be in full control of the pace. Sometimes this leads to projects taking much longer or going unfinished. Some homeowners find it a relief to take the responsibility off their shoulders, but others have a fear of missing out or losing control when a designer is involved.
If you’re still unsure of whether it’s the right time for you to bring in a professional, try visiting our Frequently Asked Questions. I’m confident that you’ll land on the right decision for you.