A reader writes: I’m thinking of getting an interior designer to do up my home but don’t know how the whole process works. Can you tell me a bit about it, please?
I may be biased, but getting an interior designer to help with an upgrade of your home is a worthwhile investment that can save you time and money in the long run.
Where it can be especially helpful is if you have a complex project with many elements, such as a new kitchen or bathroom, and are reorientating the use of rooms or spaces.
A good interior designer will help to bring your dream home to life; they will work with you to maximise your budget, and act as your mouthpiece with the architect and contractor to ensure the end result matches your expectations. Each interior designer will have their own way of working, but here is a standard way the process usually works.
First, you must find the right designer for you, and you can begin your search by looking in design magazines, newspaper supplements, such as Move, and social media sites, including Pinterest, Instagram and Houzz. You can also use the British Institute of Interior Design website (biid.org.uk) to find a list of registered designers, including Ireland-based ones. Websites such as houseandgarden.co.uk and houseandhome.ie also have directories. However, the best way to find your dream designer is probably through word of mouth.
Always ask for references and to see their portfolio. If you can visit one of their completed interiors, even better. If you are worried about fees and costs, be upfront with the designer. Different designers charge in different ways, and it is important that you are fully aware of the fees involved before they start work. Signing a clear and robust contract at the beginning, which protects both you and the designer, is paramount to a happy outcome for both parties.
Once you have signed a contract, the fun — and sometimes hard work — can begin. The first part of the process is to create a core concept for your interior scheme. The stronger the concept, the better the end result. There are often hundreds of decisions that need to be made every day on a project and having a strong concept to refer back to ensures the end result has consistency and flow.
Once the interior concept is agreed, usually in the form of a mood board, the designer will start to source furniture, furnishings and art, while putting together costings and programmes. This is an exciting part of the project, and once you have decided on your fabrics and furniture — and have agreed the budget — the deposit is paid and orders are placed. Things can be added in as the project progresses, but be aware that late additions can add to project timings.
A huge part of a designer’s expertise is knowing when to get the right tradespeople in to ensure the project comes together in a seamless manner. I usually approach it in this order: walls, floors, lighting, furnishings, furniture, art and accessories. Once the interior is installed, a final “snag list” is signed and agreed upon, and a time set to complete this. Then it is time for the family to move in — and start living in their dream home.