As an Interior Designer in Atlanta, GA for the last eight years, I’ve noticed a few common threads running through the most popular misconceptions about using Interior Designers. If you’ve never used an interior designer, ask yourself why right now.
Go ahead. I’ll wait.
Wow, that was quick! I bet you have a pretty good answer, too. I also bet your answer falls into one of the following two major categories:
1) COST: “I can’t afford one. Using an Interior Designer is an excessive luxury reserved for the wealthiest of people that live in mansions and drive Bentley’s.” Or, “I’ll save money if I do all the design work myself, which means I can buy more furniture.”
2) CREATIVE EXPRESSION: “If I use an Interior Designer, I’m afraid I’ll feel like my home won’t be an expression of my unique style and tastes. I have good taste – I can do this on my own.”
If your answer for not hiring an interior designer fits into one of these categories, then read on for some answers that might surprise you.
First of all, I want you to know these reactions are completely normal and understandable based on the amount of information that exists in the marketplace about how the client/ designer process works.
So let me respond to each of these arguments in order.
1. COST: Professional interior designers typically are able to purchase furniture at discounted rates from furniture and accessory manufacturers or distributors because of their purchase volume. When you use an interior designer you take advantage of their discounts to purchase furniture through your designer at a cost that is lower than what you would pay on your own. Every designer operates a little differently, but a typical pricing/ fee structure used by a lot of interior designers in Atlanta (where I am based) is “cost plus”. This pricing formula is very common among industries that make purchases on behalf of their clients.
The “cost” in this pricing structure is the designers’ reduced cost for the items you purchase (furniture, accessories, window treatments, etc). The “plus” is a percentage of that cost added to compensate the designer for their services and their sources. Many designers will even waive any hourly fees for clients purchasing a certain amount of furniture through them. In the end, you pay LESS for your home furnishings using a good designer than you do without one. AND, your budget actually goes further with a designer than without one.
An interior designer can save you money in other ways, too, like:
- A designer’s “industry-insider” knowledge helps clients achieve the best results through sourcing options not available to the general public.
- Soft-costs include time saved and higher likelihood of your satisfaction in the end result (no replacement costs for that sofa that’s just too big!)
So, as you can see, using an interior designer actually makes strong financial sense. A professional designer will save you money, save you time, and stretch your budget further than you could on your own.
2. CREATIVE EXPRESSION: A good interior designer listens to what their clients’ tastes and styles are and involves them heavily in the selection process. Your style will show through in each selection you make. Designers will take you with them to furniture stores. Bring fabric samples to your home to have you review, and involve you in lots of other ways to make sure the final outcome is a reflection of your style – and one that you will bring you great satisfaction in the place where you spend most of your time – your home!
If you don’t feel your designer is listening to you carefully enough, let them know. Keeping an honest and open channel of communication is critical to make sure you’re happy with the final design of your home.
Using a professional designer who makes his or her living by decorating does have its advantages. Think about the number of times you’ve painted a room. Have they always turned out just the way you had imagined? And were they coordinated with the furniture and flowed from one room to the next? Or did you find yourself either repainting a room you just painted or, worse yet, think “ugghh” every time you walked into your bathroom?
Think of your designer as just a helping hand whose advice may save you from some expensive and time-consuming design set-backs.
Plus, the little finishing touches that truly make a house a home are the things that only the client can add to a room. I know as an interior designer, I take the responsibility of helping my clients achieve a great living space that they’ll love and feel accurately reflects their personality and likes very seriously!
I hope I’ve helped clear up some of the main reasons I’ve seen why more people don’t take advantage of professional design help when decorating a home or even just a room in a home.
Stay tuned for my next installment in my series where I’ll be discussing how to evaluate and hire an interior designer.
Jeff Mifsud is an interior designer in Atlanta, GA and owner of Interior Classics. Jeff has been helping clients achieve beautiful, livable spaces since 2003. In his series, “Interior Designers“, Jeff is providing his industry-insider perspective on everything from mental hurdles to overcome, design tips and tricks, and how to hire the best interior designer.
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