TIMES ARE TOUGH for most of us right now. And the large and small projects at home or the office still need to be completed. Why do you need a professional’s help when it seems like you can do it yourself for less? The reason you should consider hiring help is to make sure you spend your money wisely and that you don’t make a costly mistake. There are many important factors to consider when making the decision to hire an interior design professional for your project.
First of all, ask yourself, can I afford to make a mistake? Designers have the education and experience to narrow down selections for you to choose from. This eliminates the possibility of a poor purchasing decision – a common result if an item you have chosen does not fit properly or function the way you had imagined. Or, the quality that you thought you were getting wasn’t there. Trained designers measure carefully, create a scaled furniture plan using Cad or drawing by hand, before ordering to make sure things will fit. Designers have the knowledge to choose the right style for the room. They can also look at the way something is built and determine whether it’s worth the price, and whether it will have longevity.
Second point to consider is that Designers offer you solutions that you may not have considered as an option. Just as any another professional in their line of expertise can offer you alternative solutions, so does a designer. Designers travel to trade shows, attend seminars, and maintain large libraries of catalogs and samples to choose from. They save the client the effort of research and travel to get what they need. They offer solutions and products that aren’t seen in stores you normally visit. Wouldn’t you want someone’s input on a major purchase just to have confirmation that you’re solving your problem the most effective way?
A professional has the responsibility to the public to offer quality products that will last longer than mass produced products, which don’t have the same level of quality that smaller, artisan companies can produce. In our store, I hear this all the time: “My wife only keeps a sofa for five years anyway”. We have to look at this argument from two directions: one, our landfills are filling up with “throw-away” furniture; and two, over a lifetime you will spend triple or more on new sofas versus buying one quality sofa the first time. Who wants to spend their time finding that perfect sofa every five years, when you could have the one you love recovered for less and enjoy it for even longer. It’s better for our environment and for future generations, and you have more time to be enjoying life instead of constantly shopping for new furniture.
Lastly, a professional can also assist you in getting the best price on your project, especially if it involves hiring out subcontractors for a renovation. They do this by providing drawings and specifications, which are called construction documents. They will supply these to you so you can get bids from multiple vendors and contractors. All vendors and contractors are then bidding “apples” to “apples” and not “apples” to “oranges”, and you’ll know if you are getting a fair price.
You’ll also have the drawings for the contractors to use in completing the project. This eliminates miscommunication on ideas and materials. Everything will be detailed on the drawings and your contractor won’t have to guess at what he/she thinks you want. Your expectations will clearly be spelled out.
How do you hire a professional? The best approach is to contact an interior designer, and simply ask how they charge. Do they charge an hourly design fee or will they make their fee by selling you products? It may also depend on the type of services you need. For instance, if you need help space planning or designing custom millwork, an hourly fee would be appropriate. If you intend on purchasing furniture for a room, the designer may charge a flat fee to create a furniture plan, make furniture and fabric selections and price out different options. This way the designer’s time is paid for if you choose not to purchase the furniture right away, and you get to keep the floor plans. But additional fees, for ordering, delivery and setting up the room, can be covered by the purchase of the furniture from the designer.
As with any major financial decision it is always best to have a plan. You wouldn’t purchase a stock or investment property without educating yourself first. And typically you would seek the advice of an investment broker and real estate agent. Why, because this is what they specialize in and they know the trends. Interior Designers are experts not only in furniture and window treatments, but in creating the spaces you will live in with your family. They can help you buy the best quality for your budget. You’ll need proper storage, good lighting, and easy traffic flow, and a designer’s input is invaluable for that type of planning. Your relationship with your interior designer can be a valuable part of your family’s lifestyle for many years.
Layla S. Altman, ASID is the co-owner of Posh Living in Surfside Beach. She can be reached at 238-0078 or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Copyright 2009 Layla S. Altman. May not be reproduced without permission.