Interior Design Q&A
Hello wonderful people! I know it has been a while since my last post. There have been a couple of busy months here at Detail Movement HQ, not to mention relocating from London to beautiful, mystical Edinburgh!
While here, I’ve been hearing lots of people asking different questions about interior designers and, of course, about what they do. So I decided to do a little Q&A about this topic (actually start a series) - Interior Design Q&A!
So let’s start with the first blog post of this new series and answer some of the most common questions I hear.
What does an interior designer do?
An interior designer is a professional that works with interior spaces. Her/his job is to create or (in most cases) transform an existing space into a functional, safe and beautiful one. Besides creating plans, elevations, light plans and all the details necessary for the contractor to be able to complete the job, an interior designer creates the concept, the design style based on the client’s needs and wishes, selects the best materials, fabrics, furniture, decorative lights and accessories that will bring the design to life.
If agreed upon with the client, an interior designer communicates with all specialists working on the project (be it the architect, contractor, decorator, plumber, electrician etc.) to makes sure that the client’s design is implemented correctly. The interior designer also sources, purchases, arranges deliveries of items and their installation to project site and styles the place.
Why and when should I hire an interior designer?
An interior designer has extensive knowledge and expertise. She/he can create a beautiful and cohesive design that works, looks and feels beautiful. She/he can foresee potential problems before they happen on site (and cost you money), communicates with other professionals and gets your point across. Also, an interior designer can use her/his connections with suppliers to obtain discounts for certain items for you (saving you a considerable amount of money in the process).
As for when to hire an interior designer, the best time to do so is before starting your home project. An interior designer can help you form your design vision, review your budget for the project and help you decide if your project is feasible (meaning if it can be done). This way you can make an informed decision whether or not to pursue your project and not find yourself later down the line (or in mid-project) in need of more money in order to finish your home.
How do I choose the right designer for me?
Choosing to work with an interior designer is, like everything else, a matter of personal taste and common interests. Just as you look at product reviews before buying a certain product, you can look for what other clients have said about the designer and see if anything resonates with you.
You can also look at their projects, blog post (if available) and social media to see with you like their style, align with their values or if you like how they think/talk about certain topics. But most importantly, trust your gut. You can always have that initial face to face meeting and see if you connect.
Why hire an interior designer / decorator instead of an in-store designer / decorator?
Although there is nothing wrong with choosing an in-store decorator/design service, most (if not all) designers are required to exclusively use the company’s products. If you want a variety of products or a bespoke design, you will have access to a wider range of products and discounts if you work with independent interior designers.
What should I do before I contact an interior designer?
Before contacting an interior designer, it’s best to have an idea of what you want to do in your home. Think about what would you like to change (take out and/or replace), what activities do you want to do, i.e. entertain friends twice a week or hold a movie evening for friends/family, have a home office etc.
It’s also useful to think about how much are you willing to spend on this project. It’s a question that your potential designer will ask you so it’s important to become comfortable talking about this subject. Your designer is there to help you better understand the market and see if your project is feasible. Talking freely about your budget will help you get the most out of the initial meeting.
What happens at the first consultation?
During the first consultation the interior designer will ask you a lot of personal questions. While this can seem pretty intimidating at first, the only reason we (as interior designers) do this is to get to know you better.
The more we know about you and what you want out of the project, the less likely it is for errors to appear later down the line (especially in the concept stage). Besides asking questions, you will both be talking about the budget, the design look you want to achieve and what the next steps are.
Usually the meeting lasts between 1 - 2 hours but can differ from client to client.
How long will our project take?
It depends on the complexity of the project and what design service you have chosen. For example designing a 2 bedroom flat will not take as long as designing a 2 story townhouse for example. There are other things to consider such as availability of contractors, decorators (and any other professionals that might be needed for the project), the availability of products (furniture, lights, accessories, fabrics etc.) but also how long they would take to be delivered to your home, once purchased.
For example, even though an armchair might take 2 weeks to be delivered, if it’s not in stock, a new one can take 8 week to be made. If we add the 2 weeks of delivery and getting your permission and finances for the purchase, it can take up to 10-12 weeks for the same armchair to arrive.
That is why it’s very difficult to estimate how long a project might take. However, as a guideline, a project takes at least 3 - 4 months (to begin with).
How do I work out a budget?
The interior designer can help you create a more accurate budget, but it is always helpful for your to think about the items below before you start a project. Here is how to get an idea of what you want (and do a little internet search for how much it could cost):
Room Inventory - go room by room and make a list of existing items, which ones do you want to keep and which ones you do not. Also, make a list of new items or activities that you want to be doing in these rooms. This will give you an idea of what you need and want to spend money on in each room.
Budget estimate – think about all the things you see and decide if you want to change them. Besides furniture, do your want to change the paint colour of your walls? Do you want new curtains, carpet or rugs, better mattress, better looking floor finish, new kitchen or bathroom, new skirting boards, radiators, electric sockets, door handles etc.? Take into account that every item might also have a delivery charge.
Then combine the two lists and think of or assign a sum of money you are comfortable spending on each item (a quick google search can help sort out most of this items). If you already have a budget in mind, then you can do a different kind of exercise I like to call “the % list”.
You make a list of all the items you want and add a % next to each item. This percentage means how much of the total budget you are comfortable spending on that said item. For example, you might want to invest more in a good mattress that costs between £350 -£450 and not as much in bedside tables or a rug. Perhaps you don’t want to have wallpaper in the Living Room, and instead opt for a paint on the walls, which as a result, will give you more freedom (and money) to buy a better quality sofa.
Something to consider as well when putting together the budget (most people don’t do this), is to take into account labour costs, contractor and interior designers fees, demolition and rubbish removal fee (if applicable), cleaning, delivery and installation fees, taxes (if applicable) etc. Also, think about your living arrangements over the duration of your project. Will you be living there while construction and decoration works take place or will you be renting a different place/live with a friend or family member? It’s an extra cost to take into account.
Lastly, it’s best practice to set aside at least 10%-15% of that newly and total calculated budget for overruns and unexpected things. If you end up not using it, that's great. But if you do, then you will be covered and/or more prepared.
That’s it for this part of interior design Q&A. I hope this was useful and interesting. What do you think? Should we turn this into a series?
If you have any other question I haven’t covered on here yet and you’d like to see next time, let me know below or on our Facebook Page; alternatively, you can always share your experience on Instagram. Just tap @detailmovement and leave your message there. Don't forget to join our tribe and stay up to date with everything Detail Movement does. (all you have to do is click the picture below).
Looking forward to hearing from you!
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