Do You Really Need an Interior Designer?
Yes, You Do—and Here’s Why

Anyone who has ever walked into a home-furnishings store knows the feeling. So many choices, so many styles, so many slight but possibly significant differences—and always, it would seem, so much money than you intended to spend. And that’s if you can stick it out long enough to make a purchase: For many homeowners attempting the Herculean task of designing a home, or even a single room therein, the process can be so overwhelming that few manage to complete it all at once.

With the abundance of online resources for every style of home design and innovation in decoration, and the accompanying proliferation of retailers specializing in home décor across the price spectrum, homeowners looking to design their new or renovated space can be forgiven for thinking that’s it as simple as buying that bar chair trending in décor circles or selecting the same paint color declared the “most popular shade of the year.” In truth, giving a room or entire home a sense of harmony and cohesion, and making all the various elements—from styles to furnishings and colors and textures and—fit together in a way that both looks and feels right is no easy task. For many homeowners, the easiest and arguably best way to accomplish it is to engage the services of a professional interior designer.

Spend to Save

Spend to Save

Achieving a design vision within a budget isn’t always easy, but—perhaps surprisingly—hiring an interior designer may be the most cost-effective way to do so. Interior designers know what products are available at every price range and level of quality, as well as whether a certain effect can be achieved with a lower-cost material and complemented by less-expensive accents, as well. They also know where to find all these products, and can save you in time spent shopping around and in money on purchases from a dealer with higher markup than a competitor.

In addition, many homeowners who undertake the process of design themselves end up regretting choices later, when they find that their space is high on style but lacking in functionality. Money spent on repeat remodels or large replacement purchases could be much better spent on an interior designer, whose careful planning and well-thought-out selections pay for themselves down the line. And of course, money spent to achieve a beautiful and highly functional space can increase your home’s value if and when you put in on the market.

Listening to An Interior Designer

Make it personal

Poring over themed salons in decor magazines and gazing at pristine modern kitchens in online design sites may be the starting point for many homeowners’ design visions. Yet the end point of such straightforward implementation may be a salon or kitchen that doesn’t suit your lifestyle or that of your family at all. Consulting with an experienced designer even before you begin construction can ensure that form truly follows function—that is to say, that the aesthetics enhance the space, and not infringe upon it. After all, as attractive as an upper-cabinet- or shelving-free kitchen may be, avid cooks may end up frustrated by the lack of storage or the ease of having food-prep tools at hand.

A good designer will not only listen as you describe your dream living room, kitchen, or home office, but also ask questions about how you use these spaces, what your needs might be in a few years (if your family may grow, for instance, or an elderly relative might move in), and the like in determining the right way to lay out, furnish, and decorate your surroundings. In other words, a designer is the link between that gorgeous period style you have your heart set on and the home in which you’ll actually live, making sure that you enjoy both its finished look and day-to-day feel.

Listening to An Interior Designer

See the Big Picture—and All the Small Details

A designer who works in concert with your architect and contractor can see where the construction may be overlooking something important, as well as head off costly and time-consuming mistakes at the pass. They’re trained, for instance, to know how lighting needs must be addressed early on to achieve the desired effect; if your dining table is meant to be on one side of a large living room, an electrical outlet square in the center of the ceiling can ruin both the intended effect and functionality of that fantastic chandelier.

Also, for interior designers, details are the name of the game: It’s their job to keep a running list of all the small things that you contracted for in a given project, and to make sure that nothing is forgotten in the busy atmosphere of home remodeling and construction. Indeed, with so many team members focused on an individual task—the carpenter on the woodwork, the plumber on the plumbing, etc.—it’s often only the interior designer who keeps his or her eye on both the big picture and the small details, making sure that both are proceeding in tandem toward the desired finish line.

If you’re considering building a custom home or remodeling part of an existing one, ask your architect or contractor for recommendations for interior designers who have experience in similar projects and in working with a multi-player team. Also, make sure to select a designer who both listens carefully and offers generously the kind of advice and insight you need to ensure a satisfying result.