By SUSAN CONDON LOVE
Pinterest, HGTV, designer blogs — all these resources are helpful when planning a home redesign. Sometimes, however, they give homeowners a false sense of confidence.
There may be several reasons homeowners are unwilling (or scared) to hire a professional designer. It could be they trust their own judgment and want to put every penny toward a new kitchen or bathroom. Or, they may be uncertain about how designers work or what they might charge.
Interior designer fees vary greatly — most charge anywhere from $50 to $200 per hour. The homeowner pays for the furniture, accessories, artwork, appliances, countertops and backsplashes. Sometimes, a designer charges a percentage from those purchases.
Not all designers, however, charge by the hour except maybe just as a consultation, according to some professionals. Homeowners interested in working with designers (after checking references) should ask specifically about charges, the budget and how payment is expected.
“Working with an interior designer is key for a successful project and best use of budget,” said interior designer Laurie Lindbloom, owner of lzl interiors of Shaker Heights.
“A designer will save the homeowner time and money … and isn’t time money anyway?” Ms. Lindbloom said. “Designers are familiar with the myriad of choices that can overwhelm a homeowner. The designer is used to making decisions on a daily basis that many times baffle homeowners. They are aware of the pitfalls that can be encountered – and hopefully avoid the majority of them. They can ‘think out of the box’ – and when combining the homeowners’ wants and needs with the existing space can many times come up with creative solutions that would have gone by the wayside.”
“Working with an interior designer in a store setting gives one the opportunity to sit, touch and appreciate the size and scale of the furniture they are looking to purchase,” said Jan Gruber, Renee Wesemeyer and Laurie Kotik, designers for Leopold of Leopold’s Fine Home Furnishings in Brecksville. “Designers are very well-versed in the details of the lines they carry and can recommend the right style and fabric selections from the company that best fit the client. Plus they have access to more selections from vendor catalogs to complement what is shown on the showroom floor.”
They added, “Customers can select furniture pieces that are either too large or too small for their space without the help and advice of a designer. Scale is very important and is often overlooked when customers try to put a room together on their own. Often they are not clear as to where to start with their room design and working with the designer right from the start is an invaluable decision.”
Interior designer Kathleen Bliss Goldfarb of Decorating Den Interiors in Chagrin Falls believes there are several reasons homeowners should opt for professional help when approaching renovations or new decor. “We will expose you to options and vision/s you would never imagine or see otherwise on your own. We know the entire industry and how to elicit who you are,” she said.
Mrs. Goldfarb also has advice on picking the best designer. “Those who think they need an interior designer must first define their project scope, goals, priorities, timeline and vision and articulate these details and more to multiple design pros to find the best fit. I ask: Why do you think you need me? How would you like me to assist you? Many who think they need us, do not. I do not hold hands and take clients shopping online or in retail stores or catalogs. I spend a lot of time at the beginning asking questions and listening, distilling it all. I call this the discovery process.”
Interior designer Barrie Spang, of Sapphire Pear in Rocky River, said “I believe working with the right designer truly saves the customer time, money, and aggravation,” she shared. “We are there to be a sounding board, present unusual or unexpected ideas, and help you understand the process.”
If you choose to work with a designer, “you have to go with the person you click with,” said Ms. Spang. “Your designer is someone you will be potentially meeting with on a weekly basis for weeks, months, even years, and you want to be sure your personalities fit well together.”
When it comes to a kitchen redesign, it is especially important to use a professional who will help with building materials, themes, colors, patterns, and room layout. When considering the cost – even a modest budget can go into the tens of thousands – mistakes can be costly. In Northeast Ohio, an upscale kitchen remodel costs about $122,991, according to a 2017 Cost Vs. Value report in Remodeling Magazine. The homeowner can expect to see nearly 62 percent of that cost recouped in a resale situation.
Working with a highly trained kitchen designer ensures “you get a well-planned design that will stand the test of time,” said Nikki Trivisonno, a certified kitchen designer with Somrak Kitchens. “We pride ourselves on educating our clients on all possible solutions for their space.”
“Planning for a new kitchen includes an enormous amount of details. Combine that with the countless options in cabinetry, countertops, backsplashes and flooring and it can be overwhelming. A well-trained kitchen designer can specify products that fit with each individual client, said Ms. Trivisonno, who encourages clients to schedule a meeting with a kitchen designer at their showroom.
“Kitchen designers know their products and what those products can or cannot do both from the design and performance aspects,” said Darlene Somrak, also a certified kitchen designer with Somrak. “Kitchen designers offer valuable knowledge at no cost when the clients understand they will commit to purchase those products designed and specified by the kitchen designer from the same kitchen dealer’s store.”
Emeil Soryal, designer and president of Kitchen & Bath, Etc. of Chagrin Falls said, “An interior designer determines space requirements and sets up decorative items like color, lighting, and materials so that your room is functional, safe, and beautiful. An interior designer with a showroom will save you a lot of running around to select products. A showroom will help you visualize, touch, and feel things before you purchase.”
According to Mr. Sorval, common mistakes made by consumers when designing a room for themselves include “having too many things in a room, not knowing space requirements for certain objects, and having too many focal points.”
“Have a clear picture of the finished project before you start,” said Mr. Sorval. “Get some help in creating a blueprint, or an inspirational picture. Decide on all the materials that are going into the project before you start any part of the project.”
The following are some tips on design, as well as suggestions on how to research hiring an interior designer:
- Good designers have an innate sense of what works when mixing and matching such items as furniture styles, colors and materials. Without that finesse, well, a room can look like a mish-mash mess.
- Interview several designers who you know will help with the overall layout of your home and take into consideration the look and feel of the space.
- A designer is the homeowner’s advocate and can prevent overpaying on items, as well as preventing ordering wrong sizes in furniture, appliances and even dining room tables.
- Interior designers are a good middle man, so to speak, when dealing with contractors, electricians and stores.
- A designer, as noted before, can “think out of the box,” giving the homeowner options they might not have considered themselves.
- If you are about to place your home on the market, a good designer will help you stage rooms for quicker sale.