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Taking the Mystique Out of Interior Design

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Q: Why do I need an interior designer?
A: Professional interior designers do everything from planning and laying out furniture to completing a complicated remodel or new construction project. With an interior designer’s advice and guidance, you can move seamlessly and efficiently through your project. They are adept at finding the exact products and tradespeople you need to get the best results for your project at the best price. You don’t need to spend countless hours searching the internet for the latest and greatest or seeking the best value and price, because they’ve done that for you already. 

Whether you’re reconfiguring your existing home or contemplating an addition, interior designers have the professional education and skills to design and draft a new space plan just for you. They select flooring, countertops, tile, paint colors, wall and window treatments, as well as specify what is needed for plumbing, appliances, cabinetry and furnishings. Interior designers know when your project might involve changing structural elements that require an architect or engineer, and they’ll use their connections to add the right professionals to the team.

Q: Why should I work with an interior designer when so many retail stores offer free design help?
A: While many retail stores offer free design advice, these consultants are primarily salespeople who might not be educated in scale, proportion, space planning, color theory and health-and-welfare home design. Additionally, they can offer you only product selections from their featured lines. Independent professional interior designers have access to hundreds of trade-only vendors and manufacturers, which prevents your home from looking just like your friends’ spaces.

Q: Isn’t it expensive to hire an interior designer?
A: Interior design fees are based on the scope of work and size of your project. Typically, interior designers charge a combination of a flat design fee and hourly rate. This fee covers the initial design study; schematics, space planning, lighting design, renderings, working drawings and finish selections of new materials; research and selection of all fixtures and furnishings, including upholstery, case goods, built-ins, decorative accessories and artwork; design of custom window and bedding treatments, shades and blinds. It will cover the designer’s preparation of estimates, procurement and expediting; coordination with contractors, architects and installers; subsequent consultations with the client and suppliers and overall project management and installation.

Working with an interior designer also prevents a massive amount of stress from stealing the joy from your project. Rather than feeling overwhelmed by hundreds of design decisions and timing issues, you can sit back and enjoy the process.

Q: Why do interior designers have a design fee and a purchasing fee on products?
A: The design fee is for the design concepts, solutions to any problems and guidance in getting your project to completion. The products specified are purchased from exclusive vendors, and a great deal of time is spent on procurement. Your interior designer will prepare the purchase orders, track the order, receive the order, inspect the order, handle damage claims and warranty issues, and is responsible for the delivery and the installation. Interior designers do this with vendors they trust and know will provide the best service possible. 

Q: Should I hire a designer or go the DIY route?
A: Not everyone wants to spend an entire year of their life meeting with contractors and tradesmen, going to every tile store on the weekends in search of the right tile combinations, or trying to figure out the best wall colors with tiny swatches from the paint store. Furthermore, not everyone wants to purchase a room of furniture at a retail store only to get it home and be disappointed with how the furniture looks or fits in their space.

If your time and happiness are valuable to you, you should consider hiring an interior designer for your next project. A professional interior designer can take your project from conception to completion with a well-thought-out plan and reasonable timeline.

Written by: Kathleen Jennison 

Before becoming an interior designer, Kathleen Jennison worked as certified public accountant for a national firm. A near-fatal car accident changed her career path and life forever. She suffered serious brain injuries, and her doctors suggested she take art classes to help with her rehabilitation. With her newfound love for design, she studied at the Art Institute in Sacramento, obtaining her bachelor’s degree in interior design. She is a member of the American Society of Interior Designers and has served as the director of marketing for the National Association of Remodelers for the Greater Sacramento area. In 2009, she started KTJ Design Company.