The right interior design can transform a drab, dated and dilapidated interior into a stylish, cozy and welcoming place to enjoy. The problem for some is that even when they want a professional looking space, many don’t often consider hiring a designer.
It may be because of the myths and misconceptions that have latched onto interior design services over the years. While some may have a small grain of truth, most highly exaggerated. Let’s displace non-truths with some discourse on the subject.
Myth #1.” I can’t afford to hire an interior designer. “
An interior design firm is like any professional business. They will scale their work to fit the needs of the client. We have clients who just need help in establishing a general direction, while some others want to have us take their vision and create a master design plan. Design professionals are particularly cost effective when there are complex issues to address such as the remodel of a kitchen or an addition to an existing residence. Plus we are often called up to help select the team of contractors to ensure that the design is implemented correctly and the work is done appropriately.
The real value of an interior designer is how much they can save in on costly mistakes or by offering alternatives that you may not have considered for the interior while keeping to a desired budget.
Myth #2. “My place isn’t good enough to hire a design professional.”
An experienced interior designer has the vision to see the potential of your surroundings. That is one of the most important components of design we bring to the table every time we start working with a client. We also know how important it is to not “over-design” the real estate. Everyone wants an interior to look great but you also want to get back a return on the investment you make in the design should you decide to sell.
Myth #3. “I can do it myself so why would I want to hire a designer?”
Shopping for furnishings and fabrics can be fun for many. And the Internet has opened the doors to many more options for the consumer than in years past. But designers have relationships with suppliers and vendors that can provide items you might never be able to find yourself in the retail establishments.
And when it comes to the other elements of design, interior professionals will first consider how a space is to function, rather than how it will look. Designers will also address the needs for lighting and maintenance and will ensure a home is a place to live safely and securely, no matter the age or ability. Plus in this age of technology, planning a “smart home” can mean simply getting the outlets and connections located ahead of time to operate the TVs that might hang on the wall and the appropriate placement of your computer, printer, modem and other tech equipment so it can be used effectively.
Myth #4. “Designers’ personal own homes are picture perfect.”
You’ve probably heard the expression, “A cobbler’s children go without shoes.” For many of us in the profession, this is very true. It also means the last home we design is usually our own. Most of my own design colleagues have homes that are a collection of furniture, accessories and art that have been assembled over time. While that doesn’t mean that the space is picture perfect, it is usually just perfect for, that is, until such time that they find another piece to bring into the home and make space for it.
My own home is a unique time capsule, with pieces that have become treasures to enjoy from a variety of resources as diverse as Baker, Schumacher, West Elm, IKEA and Palecek. When mixed with an antique Coromandel screen, an Asian tapestry rug, a contemporary white leather sofa and an odd collection of art and object d’art, it reflects my own individuality.
Keep in mind something else we truly believe in: Design is always an evolution, changing with the times and subject to a sudden inspiration. The best interiors are never meant to be static. They should develop, grow and change with the owners and occupants.
Myth #5. “Designers will do what they want + not what I will want.”
Being a good designer means listening carefully to the client and understanding the client’s objectives long before we put pencil to paper or use a computer mouse to draw a space and create the design on a computer screen. There certainly are designers who have a single style and taste, just as you find in clothes or cars. Ralph Lauren is a good example. But in our office, we strive to create a space that is unique to the client. This ensures that the result is an interior that reflects the needs of the client and showcases their personality.
You should also remember, once you have selected your designer, let them do their magic. With three decades of work, we can say that none of our projects look like any of the others. Want proof? Check out our portfolio of design projects. You will see a great diversity in our designs, each just as unique as the client.
And finally, if you've done your due diligence and you like your designer, relax, enjoy the journey and take their advice. That's why you hired them in the first place.
4/2/2016 08:13:53 am
My mom and poppa always used an interior designer for their homes. Alan was a part of our family so I can't imagine not having someone to make our places look as good as possible. But you point out the part about making the design functional. When I think of function, I think that I'll have to give up some part of the design and how it looks just to make it function. I want both but I really want the rooms to look good first.
4/2/2016 10:07:59 am
Cindy.... It was Louis Sullivan, a famed architect in Chicago during the late 1800s and into the 1900s that said, "Form Follows Function." Seems to me that you can have both function and aesthetics. You just need to start out addressing the needs of the space and how it will interact with you before you begin to consider what it will look like. That way you can ensure the room with "operate" and will "look great."
Jones and Phyllis Levy
4/3/2016 08:34:16 am
Michael Thomas, I can already say that I doubt my wife would ever let me hire a designer. She has always taken care of doing the homes we've lived in. But let's say that I want to,...just for conversation...what do interior designers charge? Would you mind sharing?
Michael A Thomas
4/3/2016 09:30:55 am
Jones... glad you asked. In the broad picture, designers base their fees on the type of work the clients need. We have clients who want to just bounce ideas back and forth and for that we charge by the hour with a two hour minimum and at $150. an hour.
Michael A Thomas
4/4/2016 07:41:46 am
Cherished Readers,... I forgot one important myth... and that is interior decorators and interior designers are one in the same. And that is not true.
4/9/2016 08:31:06 am
Michael Thomas,... enjoyed these posts and you are right. My mom was an interior decorator / designer for thirty years and she was always having to explain herself to her clients. So your list of myths is right on and or so true. -- I would add another myth: Designers always drive Mercedes, have two hour lunches with their clients, wear fashionable attire and have cocktails by 5pm.
4/9/2016 08:39:34 am
Janice... • Funny Myth • Well,... perhaps some designers do as you suggest but I drive a Ford SUV, don't have the time for two hour lunches because I'm probably spending time working on an urgent problem, rarely wear fashionable clothes during the day since I can be on dirty, dusty job sites and while a cocktail at 5pm is a fine way to end a day,... rather have a beer and chips. I am just more "practical" when it comes to doing my job. And many of my designer friends would probably agree with me.
4/26/2016 09:18:49 pm
You are right on the mark with your ideas. You know we think a great deal of you and Michael Baker. You are practical and at times, more creative than anyone we've ever met. You consider a client's dollars as you design and that makes the design you do even more valuable to us. We are both glad we discovered you and that we embraced your ideas because we would not have gotten anywhere without your guidance.
Michael A. Thomas, FASID, CAPS
4/28/2016 08:26:22 am
James... You two are very nice to post your comments. We did enjoy working with you to do the renovation and hopefully made it just a little easier for you to endure. Appreciate your business. Now let's start working on the condo in downtown Chicago. I'm sure it is showing a need to be updated after ten years... ( it was ten years where we did that, right? )
Leave a Reply.
Michael is an award winning interior designer based in Palm Desert, CA. He is a Professional Member of the American Society of Interior Designers and a member of the ASID College of Fellows.
As a Certified Aging In Place Specialist, he creates smart looking spaces that are safe and secure and create homes for a lifetime.
And with thirty plus years in the profession, he has honed his humor, elevated his passion for design and sharpened his wit to not take anything too seriously except his design work.