Mention interior designers and most people think glossy magazines, luxe fit-outs and big bucks. But interior designers are not necessarily expensive, and the right advice from the right style guru could add some panache and pizzazz to your décor for fewer dollars than you think. It's as much about knowing who to use as it is about knowing how to use and when to use an interior designer.
An interior designer can help inject your personal style and personality into your new home. If building a custom or architect-designed home, an interior designer will help connect your carefully crafted exterior with what's within. Your architect and designer may even work hand in hand to ensure there's continuity throughout. It's about creating spaces you enjoy but also those that function efficiently.
Inviting a designer to work on a new home is like presenting a painter with a blank canvas. But don't wait until your house is complete to introduce your designer. Bring them into the project while it's under construction to help choose materials for critical design features, such as the kitchen, bathrooms and floors.
Even if building a project home, with limited choices of features and materials, you can make the most of a designer to stamp your own style. Find a designer who is willing to work for just a few hours at an agreed rate to provide advice on colour, art choices and soft furnishings.
Avoid incorporating too many fads into permanent fittings and fixtures. Tastes, trends and technology change so limit bold statements to furniture and décor you can switch out easily.
Before you knock down walls or put up new ones, invest in a visit from an interior designer for sound advice and fresh thinking. A good designer will listen to your brief but overlay it with their experience and insights, which means they can see around the corners you can't, helping you maximise design opportunities and avoid costly mistakes. Your designer can also project manage some aspects of the renovation for you, which is handy if you work full-time. Costs vary but add at least 10 per cent to your renovation budget for this service.
Show your designer any special items you wish to display, such as a painting or a collection, to ensure your remodel will accommodate them. Interior designers focus on the big picture but also bring an eye for detail to ensure your renovation reflects you, your interests and your lifestyle.
One of the biggest benefits of using an interior designer is their ability to act as a renovation referee, ensuring the project caters to both his and her needs and encouraging compromise where required.
This is when designer tastes can really pay off. A well-staged home can help seal the deal sooner and potentially fetch bigger bucks than if you styled it yourself.
Staging can cost thousands, especially if you hire furniture and art (which can be worth it), but a designer can also help you show your house in its best light on a budget.
One of the first priorities is to declutter. A designer is likely to be more ruthless and less emotional about what to display and will know how to make rooms appear as light and bright as possible.
Ask your designer to advise on paint, window dressings and soft furnishings, all of which can be easy and inexpensive to change before your house goes on the market.
How to work on a budget with an interior designer
• Find a designer who is willing to work for an hourly rate and be specific about how you wish to use their time. You might, for example, ask them to come up with design ideas on the proviso you put the effort into bringing them to life.
• Share your decorating budget with the designer so they select furnishings, fixtures and fabrics you can afford.
• Ask your designer to develop a mood board with colours and materials so you can create the look yourself.
• If your budget is super skinny, engage a designer just to scope your colours. You can get expert advice on the right paint palette for as little as $150 an hour.
• Find images in magazines and online to explain what you do and don't like.
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