Why Hire an Interior Designer?

The bigger question is: Why wouldn’t you?

Don’t confuse the terms interior designer and interior decorator. An interior designer is licensed and works with the project’s entire structure—a master of not only design, but building codes, environmental regulations, space planning, fixture selection, etc. An interior decorator is generally not licensed and expertise includes the furniture, colors, and ambiance of a room—also important functions.

Q:  What does an interior designer do that I can’t?

A:  Designers know the market, what is available, and the best choices in every relevant product category. Areas of expertise include:Room_In_Progress

  • National, state, and local building codes
  • Construction documents and specifications
  • Historic restoration
  • Environmentally friendly design
  • Space planning and utilization
  • Safety and accessibility
  • Special needs accommodations
  • Ergonomics
  • Selection of appliances and plumbing fixtures

A designer can resolve complexities such as unusual angles and rooms with odd dimensions—basically anything that interferes with the function, efficiency, safety, and aesthetics of the space.

Q:  What are some qualities of a good interior designer?

A: Following are 7 key traits of an excellent interior designer:

  1. Enthusiasm: The designer you choose should be energized and ignited by the project. 
  2. Great Listening Skills: This is especially important, since you want the designer to choose options that not only make the most sense, but reflect your requirements and taste.
  3. Creativity: The designer should propose creative solutions to design challenges.
  4. Attention to Detail: Pay attention to the care that the designer takes in small things, such as interview notes. That care will translate into a finished project with no cut corners.
  5. Professionalism: The designer is responsible, reliable, and an obvious expert.
  6. Knowledge of Available Products and Design Styles: Your interior designer should be familiar with both new and traditional products and styles that work within your budget.
  7. Organization Skills: Interior design requires the seamless coordination of a variety of vendors and service providers.

Finally, there is no substitute for experience. Always ask to see a portfolio. If you are unsure about any of the above after meeting with your designer, ask for references.

Q:  Why are designers especially important for the kitchen and bath?

A: Certified kitchen designers (CKD) and certified bath designers (CBD) are experts at cost-effectively maximizing the use of space without sacrificing function and aesthetics. Renovating a kitchen and bath involves careful planning, research, and familiarity with what’s currently available in terms of fixtures and appliances. The kitchen space needs to function well for both meal preparation and entertaining. The bath space needs to focus on function, without shortchanging style and warmth. Kitchen and bath designers know how to get maximum utility and livability from any space.

Q:  What do designers charge and where can I find a good designer?

A:  Most interior designers use one of the following billing methods: fixed or flat fee; a percentage of the project; a retainer; or a fee based on the square footage. A great place to find a qualified interior designer (along with a rating) in your area is the Find a Pro option at Houzz.com.  For a designer that is uniquely qualified in kitchen and bath design, visit the National Kitchen & Bath Association website: nkba.org. Other good sources are showrooms, architects, and real estate professionals.

Interior designers bring a lot more to projects than a talent for decorating.  They have a wide range of invaluable skills that are unique to their profession. This is especially true for certified kitchen and bath designers—who are held to even more exacting standards.