By Ann Robinson and Annie Vernon
Remodeling is generally a big undertaking that requires a great deal of planning and a concerted effort by many people to bring the project to a successful conclusion. Under ideal circumstances, a strong team will be assembled with each person taking responsibility for a portion of the work. Obviously, we think a good architect is key to this team, but today we want to talk about another possible contributor: an interior designer.
The line between the responsibilities of an architect and an interior designer is not always obvious. The separation is clear if you think about it like this: The architect is in charge of everything permanently attached to the building, such as walls, windows, roof and structural beam, and the interior designer is in charge of less permanent features, such as paint colors, window coverings and furniture. However, the line blurs with items such as flooring, plumbing fixtures and cabinetry, which can be specified by an architect or an interior designer. Just be sure to select a team of professionals who can clearly define responsibilities and cohesively work together.
With swatches of carpets, samples of wood and photos of fixtures, a color board can make choosing details for your home easy.
A good interior designer will meet with clients, observe their existing lifestyle, discuss their ideas and budget, and draw relevant conclusions as to what will ultimately be needed for the project. You can do your part by gathering pictures, magazines and books that show the interior designer your tastes and style. Such information from you prevents the designer from wasting time and money by going down dead ends in the design process.
You can find interior designers at firms that specialize in interior design, at retail stores that sell furniture or carpeting, or as independent consultants. Designers are either paid by charging an hourly rate or by marking up wholesale furniture or other items they are ordering to cover the cost of their time and effort.
When selecting an interior designer, seek referrals, interview several candidates, ask to see portfolios and speak to references. You should be prepared to define the scope of their involvement in your project. This may range from something as dramatic as having them take complete charge of the design to something as simple as having them help you come up with a color scheme.
Interior designers can be a great help not only in giving your project a truly “pulled together” look, but they can also save you a lot of time and effort. It is probably not practical for you to become an expert on every different thing you need to select for your remodeling project — every color pallet, every bathroom fixture, every carpet style and every door knob. A designer can sort out all the issues of function, cost, color and more and bring together choices he or she thinks will match your style. You still get to be part of the selection process, but you don’t have to do all the research.
In our book, interior designers are well worth the money spent. As you think ahead to your next big project, remember to budget a portion for this important member of the design team. As always, we welcome your home architect design questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.