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Why should you hire an interior designer?
A designer's knowledge and expertise can save you time and money

by Melissa Galt

Hiring a professional designer can help you achieve that unique, one-of-a-kind style that reflects your personality.

Many times hiring outside expertise to assist you with your interior decorating needs can not only be a real plus, it can also be more cost effective than you may have realized. Designers and decorators come in all styles, levels of service, and cost levels.

Designer vs. Decorator:

What is the difference?
A designer, typically, has a degree in design backed by years of education and experience in the field. A designer is likely to be more familiar with the technical aspects of design, in addition to excellence in the decorative aspects. They are skilled in spaceplanning, can tackle remodeling and new construction projects with ease (while still providing furnishings, rugs, artwork and accessories), and handle all phases of an interior project.

Decorators, on the other hand, do not necessarily have formal education in design, and while they may have experience, they tend to be more familiar with the decorative parts of the job (e.g. fabrics, finishes and colors). Often they have worked into the field from enjoying it as a hobby. Fees for each are different, decorators ranging from $35-$50 per hour, while designers often charge $75-$150 per hour.

Saving time
A designer can save you valuable time, by knowing the best places to shop and knowing exactly what to look for. Sometimes you may find you will go to the same place but overlook just the right accent or accessory. What may take a homeowner several hours or weekends, can take a skilled professional just a couple of hours to locate. These professionals are also more likely to have access to unique and distinctive elements to custom fit their clients' needs.

Saving money
A designer can save you money. Their knowledge, expertise and guidance can help prevent costly mistakes. They can provide more timeless and appropriate solutions to aesthetic dilemmas than the stop gap you may be tempted to buy. In some cases, discounts are received and the designer will share these or split these with their clients.

Simplify your life
A designer can simplify your life by making the most of what you already have. They preserve cherished treasures and family heirlooms, and research those hard-to-find pieces to fill in the gaps. They assist you in making informed selections from a vast number of product resources.

Define and enhance your style
A designer can help you define and enhance your own style. They work with you to create a home that reflects your personal taste and meets your changing needs. The best designs showcase the homeowner and the lifestyle they have, it tells something about the people living there. Your home is your external heart, and opening the door is like opening a book on your life.

Finding the right designer or decorator can be challenging. Not everyone fits every client. It is important to find a professional that you are comfortable with, that listens to your needs, preferences and style, and can deliver as promised.Where to look

When looking for a design professional, check with your friends, check with a favorite local gallery or furniture showroom, consider a design instructor featured at a local university or college, check local publications and, of course, check the web. Design resources are largely global now, and many designers work at a distance with ease, so it is more important to find a designer that fits you than to find one based on location. Many designers will provide a minimum initial consultation for a fee, (one to two hours of their advice, suggestions, and ideas) which can be invaluable in deciding if they are right for you.

Review their portfolio
You will want to check out their work by looking at a portfolio. Check online, if they have a website. Often it is important that they indicate an ability to handle a wide range of styles rather than a signature look. This shows a flexibility and willingness to provide you with a custom look, unique to you, rather than a look that speaks of their own style. Finally, check references and ask for comments from clients.

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