Why do I need an Interior Designer?

Detail of a house plan

Maybe your bedroom walls still bear the sample splotches of last year's lilac paint experiment (it seemed like a good idea at the time!), the old nylon carpet that was there when you moved in is shedding tufts of grey fuzz, and the living room chimney breast is still awaiting its reclaimed Victorian fireplace. It's not that you haven't got ideas, but somehow last winter turns into this Christmas, the summer holidays fly by with the days filled by outdoor activities, the well-intentioned plans for DIY during Bank Holiday weekends get forgotten when the barbeque is fired up, and it all means that you still haven't managed to decorate your home. What you need is someone to help you get organised, someone to focus your ideas, someone to tell you how much it's all going to cost!

Maybe it's time you talked to an interior designer.

You're probably thinking that is going to be expensive. What if they take over completely and your dreams of a period Edwardian interior sink into the stripped wood and leather sea of nouveau American rodeo ranch style? What, you wonder, will you be committing yourself to with that first telephone call or email?

 

 

There is no need to worry. A qualified interior designer is a professional individual as much as a solicitor, a doctor or an architect. They are in business to offer you, the client, a professional service. Many designers offer the first consultation free of charge, either face-to-face or over the telephone. This means you can dip your toe into the interior design water without any risk whatsoever.

So, you made first contact and broken the ice. Now what can you expect from your first meeting? Your chosen designer should, by talking to you about your lifestyle and looking at your existing living environment, diagnose your taste in general and from that get a good indication of your favourite interior design style (even if you didn't realise that preference yourself).

You'll need to show them the spaces you want decorated and, if possible, show the designer some photographs styles you like and (possibly more importantly) styles you dislike. They should be asking you about your hobbies, your family, your general colour preferences, your pets, how frequently you entertain at home and have overnight guests. By learning about you and analysing your requirements, the designer is putting together the first building blocks of the design that will eventually nail your brief.

 

 

It is at this point that the designer will revert to you with a proposal letter which will detail what he or she has understood about the scope and style of the project, the steps that are proposed to bring the project to completion and the cost of his or her services.

At the second meeting the designer will bring along a package of ideas to discuss with you. This can be presented in any number of ways; a sample board which contains samples of suggested fabrics and pictures of example furniture is one option, sketches of room ideas together with larger swatches of fabric is another. Whichever style of presentation the designer chooses, find out in advance what happens if for some reason you don't like what you see. Many designers will "go back to the drawing board" until you're happy, sometimes free of charge, sometimes for a nominal fee.

We once had a client say that a design was "just what I wanted, but didn't know I wanted". Interior designers have the training, resources and experience to explore design options that will fit your lifestyle. The result of their input can lead you to see a room in a whole different way, just by the addition of some built-in furniture, a new colour scheme, a different curtain design, or simply by re-arranging the furniture. A designer is skilled at combining elements in total harmony with each other while staying within the general guidelines of your initial brief (no matter how simple or how bizarre that brief may have been).

A good designer will nudge you further along pathways upon which you may have already placed a tentative step. But a good designer will never impose their taste on your environment. Designers are there to work for you and to help you to achieve the personal design goals that fit with your personality and your family's life.

 

 

© Adrienne Chinn - London