Who Should Work With an Interior Designer?

I love running an interior design practice. I love being a designer and working with the busy, successful and on-the-go clients who ask me to show them how to put more beauty and therefore balance in their homes. But I have never believed that hiring a professional designer is the right choice for everyone. Certainly, excellent interior designers bring great value and benefits to the clients who engage them. If I didn’t believe this, I wouldn’t do what I do. However, without question, designers are luxury items and the people who tend to engage interior designers are generally affluent, busy, discerning – and they want a particular quality and type of design in their homes. I am neither for nor against hiring a professional designer. But I do believe it  has to be the right choice for both parties – meaning both client and designer alike. If you’re on the fence as to whether you’d enjoy working with a designer, here’s a little guide to help you decide if engaging a designer would be a little slice of heaven for you, or a trip to you-know-where…and I don’t mean Hoboken.

Here’s who should NOT hire an interior designer: 

1) Die-Hard Do-It-Yourselfers (DIY’ers).

Don’t do it. It will be a disaster for both client and designer. DIYers are not likely to value the experience, fresh perspectives, studied design technique, service, resources, legwork, and intellectual property a designer brings to the table. It’s much like people who don’t appreciate the value of having an accountant do their tax return. There’s nothing wrong with being a design DIY’er. I have a pal who lives in a palatial home in an upscale area and she and her husband are design DIY’ers through and through. Would their home be featured in a design magazine? Not likely. But who cares? It works for them and for their lifestyle. Hiring a designer has nothing to do with how elegant or “classy” you are. Hiring a designer has to do with your goals and what is important to you.

2) The Bargain Shopper.

Don’t do it. We all want good value, but finding good value is one thing, wanting the cheapest item at the cheapest price all the time is something else. The Bargain Shopper is the person who would choose price over quality every time. This individual would never be happy working with a design professional because they will not value the service a designer provides and they will be suspicious of recommendations. Bargain shoppers probably don’t care if window treatments are in the correct proportion to the windows, if they are poorly made, incorrectly hung, unlined, undercut or out of date. Bargain Shoppers are more likely to want to work independently and will likely feel satisfied with whatever result they achieve. Good enough is good enough for them, and if that’s your MO – I say run with it and keep working on your own.  That’s ok too!

Here’s who would enjoy working with a designer:

  • People who have a very particular aesthetic or look they want to achieve.
  • People who have a particular aesthetic in mind, but who are too busy with family or career – or both – to know how to begin to pull it together.
  • People who are very sensitive to the way their environment looks and feels.
  • People who view home as an extension of – and expression of – themselves and who take great pleasure in being surrounded by a brand of beauty that nurtures and supports them.
  • People who are about to undertake an extensive renovation and feel overwhelmed or confused by the breadth of decisions to make.
  • People who just moved into a new home and cannot make their old furnishings work or get them to “fit.”

  • People who look longingly at design magazines and really want something that looks and feels “like that” but, try as they may, can’t get there themselves.
  • People who have a long narrow room, or an oddly shaped room that they can’t get to feel right.
  • People who recognize that they can’t achieve the look they want themselves.
  • People who struggle with odd or mismatched windows in a single space and have no idea how to handle them all.
  • People who expect excellent value for the dollars they spend, but who also value the service, perspectives, unique ideas, and finished result a design professional brings.
  • People who truly want to love and enjoy their home, but who don’t enjoy the design process.
  • People who are willing to pay a professional for a professional result.

In general, the individuals who are best suited to hiring interior designers recognize that working on their own, they are no more capable of achieving their home and design goals than I am of filling my own cavity – no matter how many dental shows I watch on “The Dental Channel.” If you find that you are in the market for a designer – go for it! The experience should be wonderful for you, whether you want to work with a designer for the first time, or for a better experience than you had with a former designer. Take heart. The right designer for you is out there (every shoe has its match). Talk to friends, talk to designers. Look at web sites. Interview people to find a good fit. You will find your match, and you’ll be so glad you did.