If you’ve ever been interested in hiring an interior designer to help you with your space but have been too overwhelmed by the prospect of it all, you’re not alone. We asked three interior designers to weigh in on the most common questions (and fears!) clients have before hiring a designer.
Question: I really like that [insert wallpaper, color, texture here], but I worry that it’s too trendy and will look dated soon.
“Everything is trendy at some point or another. Just give it some time, and it'll come back!” says Nashville based Interior Designer Marcelle Guilbeau. “Being able to work with the trends is all about knowing your own aesthetic—so that no matter what you do, you won't tire of it.” You also need to be honest with yourself and ask the hard question: Would I still love it if it wasn’t trendy?
Another thing she tells her clients: “You don’t have to do it all at once. You can start with the trendy element you want to play with first, and then see how it works. Build it one element at a time so that you’re the trend setter in your neck of the woods.”
Question: I’m not sure if I can even afford design help. What should my budget be?
Guilbeau suggests landing on a budget for the cost of the entire project first, so if you’re redesigning an entire kitchen, you need a budget to handle all the contractors, materials, labor, etc. Once you get the overall budget figured out, your interior designer should cost between 10% to 20% of the project, or higher if it’s a super custom job. “I find it is easier to lean closer to 10% when it’s a clean new construction project, but closer to 15-20% if it’s a tweaky furniture or renovation project, or involves lots of travel,” she says. “A good designer can help you realistically pencil out the overall budget of your project.”
Whether you work with an interior designer or not, putting a budget outline together—itemizing each thing to be done and its cost—is the best way to start your project. It will make you think hard about what you’re doing and how much you really want to spend.
Question: Sofa or sectional? I can’t decide!
“Sectionals are the ultimate in lounging luxury and can maximize seating in small spaces, but they often can’t go with you to the next house,” says Marcelle. “A sofa, by contrast, still affords lounging luxury, but is more flexible in a room. Two sofas in an L-shape with a table in between, or two sofas opposite one another with a couple of chairs in between, are the better choice for entertaining. And they’re more moveable from house to house.” The bottom line: pick a lounging option you love, and don’t get caught up in the shape.
Question: Why are there one million paint colors, and how do I pick just one?
“I suppose there are so many colors because variety is the spice of life”, says Debbie Talianko of Talianko Design Group LLC in California. Debbie suggests using paint color to express your personality and how you want a room to make you feel. “For me, the colors in nature, particularly water, are what draw me. I am calm around soft blues and greens. Mix them with one color or another, and the result can be very different,” she says.
Homeowners often make the mistake of wanting to start with paint, but Debbie suggests saving it for last. “Any paint can be custom mixed in any color so it’s really best to plan out the entire room and scheme before going there,” she says.
Question: There are way too many options for faucets and lighting finishes. How do I pick a room or even a house full of these?
When choosing plumbing and lighting, it is best to consider the finishes within the entire home if possible. “But I would say that you can have a little fun with mixing metals from room to room,” says Talianko. Consider what is seen from one room to the next. Mixing can be fun if you don’t overdo it. If you really love the new light satin golds, for instance, use them in a room that is off the path from the others. The one thing that should be consistent? Style. “If its contemporary that you like, choose faucets that are simple and possibly geometric or angular,” she says. “And if your faucets are in a polished chrome finish, choose light fixtures that are also polished chrome that follow suit.”