Renovating or building your home can be a daunting experience. Every detail and nuance needs a decision from you, and with nearly endless options, it can be hard to create a cohesive look and feel to your home.
The time and stress it takes to design and decorate your own home leads many people to hire interior designers, who can take your vision and make it a reality through careful planning and consultation with you.
Our showroom experts have met and worked with thousands of designers across Western Canada, and clients have found that a great designer paired with a product expert removes a lot of the stress and time involved in choosing the right look for your home.
However, finding a designer who’s right for you can be a challenge. Of course, a great designer should be able to work with whatever your preferences are, but every professional has strengths and weaknesses and will often specialize in a certain type of home.
Joining us are Jason King from our Winnipeg showroom, as well as Elisabeth Blasner and Danielle Lavigne from our Edmonton showroom.
We’ve compiled some of the most common questions people ask about interior designers and asked these showroom experts to help answer them.
How does hiring a designer make the building/renovating process easier?
Designers know how to take proven methods and concepts for building and renovating, and make your home a functional and practical living space. They will also ensure that your personal style flows throughout the home by taking stock of themes and elements that you like. This creates a cohesive look for your home that extends from the layout of the space itself right down to the individual fixtures and style elements.
Designers, often in consultation with a Robinson product expert, will have a lot of knowledge in selecting products that match your style and balance with each other.
What’s the difference between a designer and a decorator?
A decorator does not need formal qualifications or education. An interior designer will have extensive training in a broad range of topics, from layout, design, architecture, plumbing design, electrical design, project coordination and more.
Designers can knock down walls, basically strip a home from the studs up, while a decorator mainly focuses on the cosmetic but making an existing space look different with furniture, paint and other finishing touches.
An interior designer may do some decorating, but a decorator may not help you design your home for functionality and daily living.
What’s the difference between a designer and an architect?
Both interior designers and architects are capable of designing living spaces for everyday use, so there is a lot of overlap between the two professions. Both will also have knowledge of local building codes and regulations so that they ensure your vision is actually possible.
However architects are qualified to alter the structure of a home and design the actual structure, while a designer can only modify elements of the home that do not interfere with the structure of the home. For example, a designer can remove interior walls, or reduce the size of a closet to give extra space in another room, but any additions to the home, require an architect.
What’s more, an architect is usually responsible for the structure of the entire home, including the exterior while an interior designer, as you would expect, focuses on the interior. And while an architect focuses on the structural integrity of your home, they likely won’t be helping choose your faucets and light fixtures as an interior designer would.
Both professions have their unique specializations, while there is some overlap between the two.
If a homeowner chooses to work with a designer, what are the main things you should look for?
Most interior designers work mainly on referral. That is, people often see their work in friends’ or family members’ homes and hire the same designers for their project.
If you know someone who has recently built or renovated, and you’re impressed with the home’s layout and style, then likely that designer would be a good fit for you.
While not a hard and fast rule, it’s also a good idea to see what trade associations the designer belongs to. If they are a part of trade organizations, this usually means they are up-to-date on the current best practices in their field and on top of the latest developments in the field.
How can you tell if a designer is right for you?
Qualifications and work aside, it’s important to find out what a designer will be like to work with. When you meet with a designer, mentally note the following:
- Are they on time?
- How prepared are they for this meeting?
- Are they listening to what I’m saying or are they trying to push me in a certain direction?
- Does it seem like they understand what I need and what my concerns are?
- Do I feel comfortable with this person?
Of course, while a few awards to their name with help establish their credibility, it’s much more important that their personality and style aligns with yours.
How should a homeowner prepare when working with a designer? Do they need ideas going in, or can they “start from scratch” with the designer?
While you don’t need to have everything mapped out (if you did, you wouldn’t need a designer), it’s a good idea to have some sense of what you like and what you don’t.
You won’t need to be an expert on style, know the difference between industrial and rustic modern styles, and have your colours picked out, but if you have pictures of rooms you like, or magazine articles that resonate with you, this can help your designer get a sense of what kind of space you’ll be happy living in.
Where are good places to go for inspiration to bring to a designer?
Houzz, which is a central hub for the home building and design world, is a good place to start. There’s a good chance you can find a designer you like just from looking at their work on Houzz. Otherwise, you can use the real world examples you find there for inspiration. Many of the projects on Houzz are authentic projects from real life, and not carefully staged photo shoots, so the work is more realistic.
Following design influencers or local interior designers on social media can also be a good starting point for diving into the design world.
In more traditional media, HGTV can be a source of inspiration, as can home design magazines like Canadian House & Home and Western Living
The more your can bring your designer, the better idea they’ll have of what you want.
How do showroom experts work with designers to make the renovating/building process easier?
While interior designers have a wide range of knowledge on layout, design and decorating, they may not always be product experts when it comes to plumbing and lighting. A designer will have a clear idea of what the homeowner wants, but may not know every product available.
The product experts in our showrooms specialize in narrowing down the nearly endless choices into a list of products that will work with the rest of the home, while still providing functionality for everyday living.
The product expert will handle all the ordering and make sure everything arrives correctly so the designer can focus on other aspects of your home build or renovation.
We hope this guide has been helpful for you. By now you should know if an interior designer is the right choice for you, and you should have an idea of how to find one that meets your needs.
Once you’ve chosen a designer, asking them to work with the product experts at your local Robinson Lighting & Bath Centre is the next step towards a stress-free and coordinated renovation/build.
All photographs in this Expert Advice post are from designer features we’ve done with our designer partners. If you’re an interior designer and would be like to be featured in a future post with your projects featuring Robinson products, ask a showroom sales rep to put you in contact with our marketing and be sure to sign up as a designer on our email list here.