When interior designer Patsy Zakian-Greenough teams up with her favorite remodeler, their joint efforts not only create the best possible project for clients but also award-winning remodels. She says remodelers should understand the design perspective she brings to interior spaces and not hesitate to bring her on board at the consulting and preplanning stage.

The Bay area designer is certified in the state of California. She says her best work is with contractors who are professional and educate themselves about the industry.

In her work with Gayler Construction, she meets with owners George and Darlene Gayler and the clients for an interview process to determine if her services will suit the homeowners. “We talk about the time frame, the budget, the scope of the work,” she says. It's at this stage that she helps to focus the clients on one project and one budget, so they're not distracted by other home improvement jobs.

If her services match the needs of the client, George Gayler develops an as-built plan of the existing house. Zakian-Greenough uses this to develop ideas based on an extensive client questionnaire and her conversations with them. She and the remodeler work closely to make sure the plan is within the clients' budget. “I ask him, Can I raise the ceiling? Can I change this structural component?” she says. It works best if she is also able to meet with the foreman and subcontractors to brainstorm on how to make the project more efficient and the clients happier. “We're all a team before we step foot on the project,” she says.

Before a remodeler hires an interior designer, Zakian-Greenough recommends checking to see if the designer is state certified. It's also wise to consider someone who has NKBA certifications.

“Make sure you can get along with the person. You can disagree, but don't take things personally,” Zakian-Greenough says. Both the remodeler and designer should have a proactive response to any problems or issues. Interior designers can be allies when it comes to problem clients. “You can work together to overcome that hurdle,” she says.

An interior designer often keeps product selections on schedule, too, because homeowners are paying the designer for guidance. “Whether they are paying me or delaying the job, it's a cost they do not want to incur, which is incentive to stay on schedule,” she says.