Want to know the most important thing about working with an interior designer? Bring them in at the beginning of the remodeling process. “We look at things from a different perspective than the architect or remodeler,” says interior designer Stephanie Henley, a principal with Beasley & Henley Interior Design, in Winter Park, Fla. “Many remodelers mistakenly think interior designers simply pick out paint colors and furniture at the end of the job. If you want to use our scope, you need to bring us in at the beginning.”
She points out the value of working with an interior designer to review floor plans to determine lines of sight, placement and direction of door openings for optimal traffic flow, window position, and furniture placement. “It has to do with the floor plan and how you are going to live in your house,” she says. “We make the house more comfortable.”
Finding an Interior Designer
Henley suggests that remodelers ask their peers for interior designer referrals, and she advises remodelers to interview prospective designers to see if your personalities will work well together. She also suggests creating relationships with several designers so that you can better match client to designer for each project. Henley offers this advice for selecting a designer:
- Experience: Ask the designer if they have experience working on remodeling projects because, unlike new construction, the scope of remodeling jobs changes often and the designer must be flexible.
- Range: Ask to see a range of the designer’s projects, and carefully review them.
- Collaboration: It’s critical for a designer to be able to work successfully with the client, architect, remodeler, and subcontractors. Is the designer a team player?
Though Beasley & Henley Interior Design, like most interior design companies, contracts with the client, it works closely with the remodeler, providing detailed specification sheets for all the job’s tile details, paint colors, and electrical and lighting details cross-referenced on the floor plans.
For a large whole-house remodel, designers visit the site weekly. “We try to get [the contractor] complete information up front, but re-selections happen all the time, so we are in constant contact,” Henley says.
—Nina Patel, senior editor, REMODELING.