One of the questions I get asked all the time is whether it’s worth it to hire an interior designer. I can’t answer that question because it is an extremely personal decision. Some people wouldn’t even consider starting a project without professional guidance, while others can’t justify the additional cost. The decision is ultimately up to you, but there are some questions to consider that can help you decide.
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” way. What I mean is that if you have a budget of $5,000 to refresh your kitchen, you most likely will need all of that for the project. It may not make sense for you to pay a designer’s hourly rates that eat into 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 turning down other projects so they can continue to be available to you. You’ll need most 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 other tasks. In the past, I’ve had clients pay me 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. I’m not involved in the project after that one-time consultation – the client and their contractor handle everything else, 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 having a full Pinterest board alone does not equal success. You may be able to handle the project on your own with a skilled and patient contractor, but you will also need to translate your inspiration into your own home. This is something that is more easily said than done.
When you work with a designer, you can show them your inspirations, and then they handle the problem solving that comes with creating a design tailored to you. It’s still essential that you come to a project with a clear idea of what you like and what you don’t. If you’re not completely clear with a designer from the beginning, it creates space for guesswork and miscommunication. Before you know it, you’re paying for costly hours of revisions to the design plan. Knowing what you like and want to accomplish is necessary whether you decide to do the project on your own or bring in a professional.
How comfortable are you at making decisions?
This is probably the toughest part of working in design, but it’s absolutely necessary for projects to get finished. 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 creating conflict if they select 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 decisions, quickly. An entire home remodel involves thousands of decisions, many of them hinging on one another. ’Don’t work with a designer if you are 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 hinges. Of course, you will still have to make decisions if you do a project on your own, but you will be in control of the pace based on what’s best for you.
For some people, it’s a relief to have the responsibility taken off their shoulders, but others have a fear of missing out or losing control when a designer is involved. If you’re unsure of whether it’s the right time for you to bring in a professional, come back to these questions and consider them carefully. I’m confident that you’ll land on the right decision for you.