The Shortcut to Your Beautifully Designed Home

Shortcuts, by definition, save us time. They are the shortest distance between two things. When it comes to designing a great home, a home that looks as glorious as it feels to live in, there is indeed a shortcut to getting there. It saves very real time, dollars and aggravation. Use it and you’ll “‘get there” faster and right on target, eliminating confusion and angst along the way. Contrary to common belief, the shortcut to your beautifully designed home is not found watching hours of HGTV or devouring design magazines. If anything, the prevailing thought leaders of the day note that information saturation and too much choice most often leads to overload, confusion and paralysis.

So what is the shortcut to your beautifully designed home – whether creating a single great interior or your entire dream home? The answer lies in three words – use a Designer. Make that four – use The RIGHT Designer.

The right designer – she is worth her weight in gold. Find the right design coach, design mentor and design guide and she will be your invaluable resource to steward, marshal, coax and carve your individual design dreams from thin air into “enjoy-living-in-it-every-day” reality. The right designer can make manifest your greatest design dreams and possibly on a thinner than ideal budget. (It takes knowledge and skill to know how to work on the down-and-dirty.) Find the right designer and the payoff will be interior design that is truly life enhancing. Imagine interior design that makes the most of every inch of your square footage. You’ll experience enhanced quality of life since your enjoyment of your home will skyrocket. I’m not talking about “oh that’s a pretty room” interior design. No, I’m talking about interior design as it should be, the sensitive use of design that makes your house a home you can’t wait to come home to, a place you love to live in, a place you love to just look at, let alone proudly share with loved ones and friends. Wise design is valuable. It affects your well being. Interior design is that powerful…like electricity. So be careful of sticking your finger into that socket.

Here’s a quick guide on the hills and valleys of working with the right interior designer.

The Shortcut to Your Beautifully Designed Home

The Upside

The right designer will:

  • Eliminate the dirth of choices – namely all the poor or off track ones – as she shows you how to carve your ideally beautiful home space.
  • Easily guide you across the design finish line as simply as breathing because she is expert in her craft.
  • Show you how to work to your budget, make cost prudent choices, advise when to spend and when to hold.
  • Amaze you as she sails through the umpteen “are you kidding me?” details and endless decisions required in even a “small” project.
  • Guide you in the wise use and benefit-driven use of your design dollars so you can make the best choices for you and your family.
  • Explain the design logic and long/short term benefit in a design choice you are being presented with so your decision making should become easier and less stressful.
  • Do the legwork, the research and the headache/hassle work so you can live your life, go to work, go “to play,” take care of the kids – because your designer is doing the things you don’t have the time or desire to tackle..
  • Get you that pulled together look that you simply do not have the training, skill set, time or talent to do on your own. (Sorry do-it-yourselfers….there are good do-it-yourself interiors – and then there are Great Interiors. The latter requires a skilled hand and practiced eye which requires a design professional.)

The Downside

The right Designer will:

  • Cost you some dollars. Just like the right accountant, lawyer, doctor or other knowledge worker. You have to weigh the value you place with the end result. If you want to write your own contract, do your own taxes, diagnose and treat your kid’s skin rash – then go for it. All knowledge workers are expert in their area. If you value their expertise and the payoff it brings – then you must pay for their skill.
  • That’s about it. There is no other down side to working with the RIGHT designer.

Here are some cautionary tales to help you weed out the good designers from the not-so-good ones:

  • Good designers do a single style over and over and they do it well. They will lay their “signature” look over you, too and you run the high risk of tiring of it quickly (in less than five years on average). Great designers are able to cross a variety of design styles and know how to cull through all that you share with them to determine your personal interior design fingerprint so they can apply excellent design principle to those cravings of yours. The result of working with a good designer: A good looking interior. The result of working with a great designer: An authentically beautiful interior that you will love living in and looking at for a longer time. It should have 10+ years’ staying power – most likely far more.
  • Old school designers are used to reckless mark-up and hidden fees. The best designers I know believe in transparency in billing and embrace today’s savvy consumer. I like to share with my clients how I bill; I even give my clients a choice in how they’d like to be billed. The best designers “have their clients’ backs,” so to speak. They are rooting for their client’s success and happiness and understand well that a happy client will be back – and will be spreading the good word to friends, family and colleagues.
  • Serious designers do this full time. They are not hobbyists. I wouldn’t want a part-time accountant to figure out my complicated tax return or a medical dilettante to diagnose and treat my blood pressure. If you are spending your dollars, interview the designer and do check references. Experience is important.
  •  A good designer may want to sell you things. A great designer should have no attachment to where you shop. She will know where to find what you are looking for – and yes, sometimes that will mean purchasing from one of her resources. But…it shouldn’t always mean that. And depending on the project and budget, sometimes it will never mean not purchasing anything at all from her.

Human beings need a marvelous home to come home to. That home need not be a house, nor have a particular size, shape or flavor – but for ideal living, a home must be enriching to us, the inhabitants. Wise design is invaluable because it drives well being. Savvy design, like great sculpture or great music moves us to a reaction. Rest assured that the home you admired in a design magazine was done by a designer. The most discerning home owners do not work on their own; rather they hire an expert to guide them through the vast waters of the choppy Design Ocean. Excellent home design requires an excellently skilled, knowledgeable designer. Having a great experience as a client working with the right designer requires that she not only possess these qualities but I’ll go so far as to say that design is also a very human experience. And so, as you search for your designer, look too for qualities like good naturedness, a highly ethical quality, an organized pro, and – I’ll throw in – somebody who demonstrates basic kindness and joyfulness (why work with a pill?). Plan to be a great client in return, mirroring all the fine qualities I just listed – and prepare for marvelously delicious experience and off-the-chart fabulous results.