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The One Thing to Know Before Reaching Out to a Designer

Studio office of Houston based interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

Today's post is more of a PSA for anyone considering reaching out to a designer before starting a big house project! As glamorous as HGTV and other shows strive to portray a house project, it really is a large undertaking that normally requires the expertise, time, and creativity of a team of people. That team includes not only the interior designer, but the architect, contractors, and subcontractors like plumbers, tile installers, painters, wallpaper installers, window treatment installers, cabinet makers...the list goes on and on.

Just as with any service that can be provided, there is almost always a do it yourself option, or more economical choices vs. luxury choices. Hiring an interior designer falls into the luxury category, and it is up to each particular designer to structure their business according to their own goals and what level of design work or project they would like to take on. You might be wondering why hiring an interior designer automatically puts the project into a luxury category. The standard for quality that an interior designer holds is higher than a typical homeowner simply because they are exposed to all of the various options within any given category on a daily basis.

Designers have a keen eye when it comes to hard surface materials and soft goods alike, taking into consideration texture, fabrics, name while some selections may be more expensive than others, you can rest assured that every item was well-considered on its own merit and as part of the design as a whole and together that in itself adds value. It's true that some designers might use retail big box stores, I daresay most designers prefer to stick to trade only furniture makers and contractors or custom-only studios in order to create unique, bespoke designs using higher quality selections.

Designers are the professionals that can easily determine what pieces are made to last at a glance, and which ones are acceptable to choose the more economical option to stay within budget. Remember this is what we designers do on a daily basis. We know the pitfalls that may lay ahead based on experience. Part of our job after all is to anticipate problems or issues and head them off at the pass when possible. Bottom line: That expertise comes with either a lot of trial and error on your own, or by hiring a professional who has that knowledge from the beginning who can help you to avoid costly mistakes.

Modern transitional bedroom by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

Speaking of money, the one thing to know for a fact before reaching out to a designer is exactly what your working budget is, including planning for design fees. Please know that there is absolutely no shame in sharing that number - all you will hear back is either something to the effect of "great, that is a correct and reasonable expectation for the scope of your project," or "no, that won't be a sufficient budget for the scope of project you requested." One would hope you'd rather know that you have adequate money up front to move forward to get exactly what you wanted or hoped for, or that you may have to either save more money or change the scope of work in order to make the project a feasible undertaking from the beginning. Otherwise, you might start a project and realize halfway through that you cannot continue, and that is definitely not the outcome we want for you! Honesty is the best policy, in all things!

It's worth a mention too, that pricing can change on a whim, as we've seen with so much in the past two years. Price increases from vendors for materials especially are a common occurrence these days. Budgets can be moving targets, but you won't know what the current going rate is for a kitchen or bath remodel, for example, if you don't inquire! For these types of construction projects, we offer what we refer to as an exploratory. The purpose of this exploratory agreement is to establish a scope of work and useful budget to accomplish it.

Modern traditional marble bathroom updated and styled by Houston interior design firm Nancy Lane Interiors.

If you're ready to have a home you love that reflects you and what you love and how you live, don't hesitate to reach out to schedule a discovery call!


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